9 Ah-Ha Hacks the Pros Use to Max Out Bathroom Space

Bathroom storage can be awfully tight. Bust it out with these ideas.

Image: Thamires Moleiro, Brazilian Architect

You fantasize about a bathroom big enough for hot yoga after a steamy shower — a space that can be your personal refuge from the hurly-burly of your house (your life!).

Instead, you’ve got a bath cluttered with all your toiletries right out there in plain view for all your guests to judge, umm, see. It’s like a metaphor for your life; so cramped, you dread trying to blow out your hair tomorrow.

You need space. Here’s how to gain some in your packed bath (collected from the pros who do it for a living).

#1 Hang Shelves in Unusual Places

Being savvy about the type of shelf you choose (think picture ledge instead of bookshelf) and where you hang it (like in that dead wall space between your sink and mirror) can make all the difference in a teeny bathroom (now you’ve got a toothbrushing station — and more sink space!).

Above-the-door shelf filled with towels in bathroomImage: The 2 Seasons

Or go big. And UP. A wide shelf above your bathroom door is instant storage for your vacation beach towels.

#2 Go Into the Walls for Even More Shelves

Feeling cramped often leads to daydreams of taking a mallet to those close-together walls, “Fixer Upper”-style. So do it, really. You’d be amazed how much storage space hides behind bathroom walls between studs that stand 16 inches apart.

Cabinet Behind a Picture | Surface Mount Medicine CabinetImage: Michelle Hinckley

Knock out some drywall (just be sure to check for electrical and plumbing lines first!), then throw in some shelves between the studs.

Keep it open if you’re storing towels or nice-looking bottles of lotion there, or add a door for a little more discretion.

Related: Tips and Ideas for Using the Space Between Wall Studs

#3 Add Storage to Your Pedestal Sink

Just because your pedestal sink came with the same amount of storage as your yoga pants doesn’t mean there’s no potential there.

You can buy (or build, if you’ve got the DIY bug) cabinets that wrap around the base and, literally, create storage out of thin air. There are lots of options, like Hammacher Schlemmer’s fancy pedestal cabinet that’s priced at $130 and comes with two shelves, tilt-out drawer, and even a magazine rack.

A cream-colored bathroom with a pedestal sinkImage: Cody Ulrich

Another DIY solution: Dress your pedestal with a skirt that hides whatever you stuff behind it. It can even be a no-needle, no-sew project. Just use heavy, double-sided tape to attach and hem it.

#4 Put Part of Your Toilet in the Wall (for Real!)

Unless you’re raising sea creatures in your toilet tank (just kidding! Don’t do that!), your large, porcelain cube is eating up valuable space.

Bathroom with white/green wallpaper and wall-hung toiletImage: DXV, Designed by Beth Dotolo and Carolina Gentry of Pulp Design Studios

Consider a wall-hung toilet (starting at $400). It’s minimalist-chic, and frees up floor space because the whole thing sits closer to the wall.

Since the tank and plumbing hide behind the wall, be sure to leave an access panel to save yourself grief down the road. 

Tip: A towel bar, or even some light shelving, can be mounted on the access panel for added storage where your toilet tank used to be.

#5 Get the Most Streamlined Faucet You Can

Itty-bitty bathrooms are perfect for simple, single-handle faucets that save space on your sink surround. 

White bathroom sink with chrome single faucetImage: Katherina Dewson

Sure, it’s just a few square inches you’ll save, but that’s valuable bathroom real estate when you’re in the middle of trying that new updo, brushing your teeth, and doing some self-maintenance.

#6 Hide Toiletries in Hanging Baskets

These hangables give even ugly bottles and brushes some style, as well as a home. Most baskets are light enough to mount to the wall using a 75-pound picture hook hammered into a stud (we love those studs!). Or, install an extra towel bar — or the infamous Ikea storage rails — and attach baskets and buckets via S-hooks.

Cream-colored bins filled with toiletriesImage: The Homes I Have Made

#7 Get a Spacious Feeling With a Window

If your dark, dank bathroom has no window, and it’s on an exterior wall, add one! It’ll reboot your mornings like nothing else.

A vintage bathroom with a window in the showerImage: Anne Jones

It’s not the cheapest option (about $2,100 installed). But it’s sooooo worth it to get those sunny rays.

Because your bathroom will just feel bigger. And it’ll let fresh air in, which puts the brakes on mold and mildew. Pick a vinyl window, which won’t rot like wood will (plus vinyl is usually cheaper).

#8 Mount a Second Shower Rod (or Double Rod)

If your shower surround is minimalist in all the wrong ways, you know the misery of stashing bottles and razors and soap in tiny, wet, slippery corners.

Toiletries hanging from a second shower rodImage: HomeTalk

But no law says a shower can only have one rod. If you hang a second tension rod inside the shower and add some S-hooks, you can turn your shower into a hanging storage jungle with buckets and caddies.

Tip: You can also buy a double shower rod to do the same thing — or, put the shower curtain on the inside rod and use the outside one to hang towels.

#9 Hack Some Suction Cup Hooks

For something super easy, super quick that’ll give you some instant relief in your cramped bathroom, try suction hooks, which you can hack with elastic hair ties and mount to shower walls.

Shampoo, conditioner attached to suction cups in a showerImage: Anne Arntson for HouseLogic

Slip razors, shampoo, conditioner through the ties, which will corral the usual shower mess.

Related: Bathroom Storage Ideas