Whether you have a small bathroom or a sprawling main bath that's borderline grandiose, organizing a space of any size can be challenging. To find out how to tackle some of the most common organizational problems in this room, we turned to experts Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin of The Home Edit: a home organizing service that’s garnered over one million followers on Instagram, as well as a slew of celebrity clients including Busy Philipps, Mandy Moore, and Khloé Kardashian.
When it comes to small bathroom organizing ideas, the pros swear by a simple method: the drawer and cabinet test. "If we open it and items aren't contained, it's an organizational red flag," Shearer and Teplin tell MyDomaine. "The key is to create functional systems where items are contained and have a designated home, so you always know where to look for things and where to put them back."
Ahead, learn how to be a small bathroom organizer like the experts as they break down some of the most common organizing mistakes (and how to avoid making them yourself).
Declutter Before Organizing
According to The Home Edit team, the biggest mistake you can make when organizing a bathroom is skipping the editing process. "This means taking everything out, creating groupings, and paring down your items—no exceptions," Shearer and Teplin explain. For the experts, purging is a crucial step when trying to find an organizational system that will work for your space.
Choose the Right Containers
Once you've finished decluttering old items, you'll have a fresh bathroom to work with. "It's the only way to fully access the space, the contents that will live there, and how to best organize them," Shearer and Teplin say. "It will also give you a chance to take better measurements of the space, which is important when choosing storage containers. The wrong product can add to the clutter, not conquer it."
Zone Your Products
As a general rule of thumb, Shearer and Teplin recommend separating your products into a few core categories. "You will almost always be organizing your items into these groupings: Face, hair, dental, bath, and body," they say. They note that you'll also likely want to dedicate spaces for eye makeup and hair tools, along with cotton swabs, travel items, and any back stock of necessities you have multiples of.
Keep Labels General
After separating your items, don't get too specific with labels when corralling your products. "In a bathroom, [labels] can actually be pretty general, as long as your items are contained and live in a designated spot," the pros note. Opt for clear storage when you'll be housing the containers inside cabinetry, or choose standard containers to keep the finished look sleek on open shelving.
Upgrade Your Wall Space
If your bathroom is lacking traditional storage space, look to your walls: Installing wall shelving not only creates room for extra towels and products, but can also be an opportunity for design. By stacking items atop the shelves in this bathroom, the stylist utilized space without taking up room in drawers or closets.
Use Space by Category
Whether you have a large makeup collection, favorite hair care accessories, or an array of skincare products, dedicate a space in your bathroom by category for each assortment of items. By reserving a special place for these makeup essentials, there isn't clutter on the countertops or tossed into drawers in this room. Various sizes of containers fit together to separate items and keep the bathroom clean.
Take Your Back Stock Elsewhere
Rather than storing bulky items like extra towels and boxes of tissues in a small bathroom, stash them away somewhere else until you need them. "Since you don't need to access back stock until absolutely necessary, you can store these items in any linen closet, or even a laundry room," advise Shearer and Teplin. "We like to use stacking bins with labels to keep back stock contained and accessible when we're ready to replenish."
Make Daily Items Accessible
When it comes to developing and maintaining an organizational system, it's especially helpful to keep the items you use the most in a designated space. "Simplify your routine by grouping all of the items you use twice a day without fail: Toothbrush and toothpaste, contact lenses, face wipes, and whatever else suits your daily routine," Shearer and Teplin recommend.
Stick to Your Process
"General categories create a flexible road map, so if there is an outlier, it doesn't get thrown in haphazardly," Shearer and Teplin explain. Be sure to stay true to your labels once they're made—no more saving time by throwing things in unorganized areas where they'll ultimately be forgotten. "It's important that you label the categories, which is basically a guilt mechanism if you try to put something back where it doesn't belong."
Maximize Drawer Space
If you're working with a large bathroom, make the most of all the space that you have. "If a drawer is deep, don't use shallow inserts—use more modular ones instead," Shearer and Teplin advise. "Take advantage of the height, width, length, and depth of every space; even negative space like a floor or wall."
"Consistency is key, so try to buy storage containers in the same collection (or at least the same color)," the pros say. "Matching products instantly elevate a space, while mismatched products make it look sloppy. Streamlining your supplies will make everything look polished." Choose colors of containers or baskets that complement the design in your bathroom for an added element of style.
If your baskets or storage bins are visible on open shelving, opt for matching sets that disguise the contents in style. Choose clear sets for easy access to items that are stored behind closet doors and in drawers.
To keep your bathroom feeling clean and fresh each time you walk in, keep items on the counters to a minimum. While it may be tempting to leave your daily products out for easy access, it also takes up space and creates a cluttered feeling. Choose a few special items—like lotions, cotton balls, or your favorite décor—to keep on the counters at all times. Find other places like drawers, cabinets, and closet storage to organize bulkier things like your hairdryer or collections of products.
An integral part of designing a clean bathroom is making your storage flexible. Opt for containers like caddies or baskets with handles that can house daily items like hairspray, bobby pins, combs, and other products. Easy-grab bins make it simple to stow your daily favorites away in the cabinets when they're not in use, and quick to pull out each morning while keeping them organized together.
Use Every Inch
Especially if you're working with a small bathroom, be sure to utilize every area available for storage. Vanities with open shelving along the bottom can make a great opportunity for folding towels and bathrobes, stacking extra paper goods, or stowing away items that aren't used every day. When you have many small items, store them in short bins that can slide out easily.
Curate a Daily Drawer
A product that Shearer and Teplin swear by for organizing commonly-used products is the modular drawer organizer. "We like to use modular drawer organizers to keep items separated," they say. "Curating a 'daily drawer' also helps when you travel, so you can grab-and-go and not worry about forgetting your essentials."
Store on the Floor
A simple trick to add storage space in your bathroom is to incorporate floor baskets. This versatile solution can be home to fresh towels, or even to store those extra bottles of shampoo and conditioner that take up space in your cabinets. Choose a few matching sets to separate various products, or opt for one large basket for items like bath towels.
Make Hard-to-Reach Areas Accessible
Spaces like the area below the sink can be difficult to organize. Your bathroom's plumbing may get in the way of shelving inserts, or you might find yourself knocking over items in the front when reaching for essentials at the back of the cabinet. Make hard-to-reach areas easy to access by using storage bins that can be pulled out as a whole.
To make your under-the-sink storage even more simple to reach, install sliders underneath your bins to roll them in and out with ease.
Install Wall Hooks
While they're an absolute necessity in the bathroom, towels are also large items that take up a considerable amount of room on shelves. If you're short on space, install a few wall hooks to keep extra towels off the floor and out of your cabinets. Choose hooks in a finish that matches your bathroom's plumbing fixtures, or opt for a bold color to add a pop of personality along with storage in your space.
Invest in Organizers
Whether you're stowing them on the counters or in your bathroom's cabinetry, dedicated organizers can clean up your space while separating a large number of items. If you have more than a few daily essentials, a multi-purpose organizer may be the key: And opting for clear storage makes finding each product a breeze.
Focus on Cluttered Areas
To really maximize your bathroom's storage, don't skip the organization process in any area—especially those that are most likely to invite clutter. By keeping things clean and tidy under the sink or in cabinet shelving, necessities like toilet paper, extra soaps and lotions, and mouthwash can have a designated home without becoming messy. Use storage bins with multiple areas for small products to keep it sleek.