Which Types of Bathroom Storage Do Designers Favour?
...and which would they avoid? Discover tips from four professionals on making the best use of your bathing space
Professional advice from: Karen Knox of Making Spaces; Ana Rezende and Neil Curtis of Ripples Bathrooms; Eva Byrne of houseology
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Making sure your storage caters for each member of the household and all the items that need to be stashed is key. “The first question I ask when designing a bathroom is always: ‘Is it a family bathroom; is it an en suite; is it a guest bathroom…?’” Karen Knox says. “In a family bathroom, we try to incorporate some kind of pantry-style unit, floor-to-ceiling ideally.”
All the storage pictured here was designed by Karen; she has something similar in her own home. “Half of it in our bathroom hides the pipework,” she says. “There’s a section for towels, big bins that we pull out to chuck in our stuff, and room for toilet rolls at the bottom.
“A lot of bathroom storage can be very square with lots of handles everywhere,” she continues. “This unit is birch ply and there aren’t too many bits poking out for kids to bang their heads on.” Or adults to get their clothes caught on.
Finding a concealed but accessible space for laundry baskets in the bathroom is a game changer,” Eva Byrne says. “Our baskets are housed in a recess at the back of the bath, accessed by means of a lift-up panel.”
Eva’s bathroom, and this nifty feature, can be seen here. “Two laundry baskets nestle there,” she says, “a black one for darks and a white one for whites and lights.”
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“Some of the most standout bathrooms incorporate alcoves and niches into the stud walls,” Neil Curtis says. “These provide perfect additional space, maximising a room’s size, and give you a wonderful opportunity to put feature lighting into them or a striking finish into the rear with a mosaic or glass.”
“Incorporate a niche into any space you can,” Karen adds. “Plan before you’ve tiled – it’ll be so much nicer than drilling into new tiles. Note that they should be designed to include a very slight slope so the water drains off.”
More: 10 Nifty Ways to Fit a Shelf in Your Shower
If you’re having a back-to-wall toilet, take advantage of the necessary pipework to create a useful unit. “Wall-mounted toilets with a concealed cistern have the advantage of both looking attractive and offering a handy storage zone above the cistern,” Eva says.
Here, there’s a shelf for display and three good-sized cupboards that hold plenty, but don’t encroach on the room.
All our professionals agree that closed storage is preferable. “Toiletries involve spills and mess, so open shelving is best kept to a minimum and used only for decorative touches, such as plants or candles,” Eva advises.
Karen agrees “There’s lots of cotton dust in a bathroom from towels, and it tends to settle and stick to the contents of open shelving, almost as if they’ve been flocked,” she says. However, for a guest bathroom, it can work well, she adds.
“Shelves or alcoves can make a real statement,” Ana Rezende says, “but unless they’re in a shower or bath area, they can be tricky to keep clean.”
More: How to Design a Bathroom That’s Easy to Clean
The designers are also united on a strong preference for drawers over cupboards in vanity units. “Drawers beneath the basin are always preferable to cupboards, which involve stooping to rummage for items at the back,” Eva says.
“Things often fall out of cupboards, which tend to be quite shallow,” Karen adds. “Also, as a vanity unit is base cabinet height, you’d have to bend down and peer into a dark space with a cupboard.”
“Drawer dividers are essential and great for organising make-up or shaving gear,” Ana says. She adds, however, that if your bathroom is especially small, under-basin storage might be something to avoid altogether. “It can make the bathroom look smaller and busier,” she says.
More: How to Choose a Bathroom Vanity Unit
Think about the footprint of your storage and try to minimise it. “Bathroom floor space is at a premium,” Karen says. “A ceiling-height cupboard uses only a small amount of floor space for the maximum amount of storage. Lots of different types of storage that all take up floor space will be a nightmare, as you’ll have no room to move,” she says.
If you have an alcove in your bathroom, all the better. “While it’s preferable to store household linen on a landing or in a hallway, an alcove in a bathroom can also serve the purpose well,” Eva says.
This room has wonderful full-height storage built into just such a space. “Make shelves around 25cm apart, and protect them from view with simple, full-height doors,” she advises. “Shelving 45cm to 50cm deep is perfect here (items can get lost at the back of deep shelving).”
“Hooks, of course, are always really great,” Karen says. “Don’t just go for cheap chrome bathroom hooks, though. Look at all the materials out there that could help to soften the room and make them part of the design, rather than purely functional.
“You can hang baskets from them – potentially freeing up some more floor space – or nice-coloured cord bags for kids’ stuff on the back of the door,” she adds.
To see more from any of the designers whose photos are featured in this article, click on the image, then on Learn More if you’re in the app, and follow the links to the professional’s profile.
A mirrored cabinet is a great multi-tasker, taking up little room and looking neat. “I like a combination of drawers beneath a washbasin – for large toiletries, small towels, facecloths and so on – and shallow, mirrored storage above, for smaller toiletries,” Eva says.
“The cupboard over the basin need only be maximum 14cm deep, which will accommodate, for example, toilet rolls and most toiletry bottles,’ she says. “Bottles vary in height, of course, so adjustable shelving is a bonus.” The design pictured is Eva’s own.
“Using mirrored cabinets is great for being able to store items at eye-height,” Ana adds. “An integrated design helps if the room is small, as it doesn’t take space over the basin.”
What’s your favourite type of bathroom storage and what would you avoid? Share your tips in the Comments.