An in-drawer spice rack and pull-out shelf usually belong in a kitchen, but for disorganized bathrooms, professional organizers like Betsy Peterson pull out all the stops. “I like when you can find things that were obviously meant for something else and use them for other purposes,” says Peterson, owner of Space and Time LLC in Oak Ridge, Tenn. When you have a small budget, the key to a bathroom makeover is to think innovatively. With only $500 and the right organization, your bathroom can become a clutter-free oasis.
Betsy has used both a spice rack and pull-out shelf in her clients’ bathroom makeovers. For small bathrooms where space is at a premium, a spice rack helps arrange nail polish or cosmetics. Also, pull-out shelves give you extra cabinet space and convenience, she says.
Go for Quality
Before you start spending, consider the organizational issues in your bathroom. Betsy’s goal is a bath that’s “clutter free — nothing on the counter.” A bath with the right organization will look and feel orderly, making your time spent in it more enjoyable.
After you identify the problem (piles of towels, not enough cabinet space) you’ll know where to spend your money. On a tight budget “instead of trying to buy a lot of inexpensive components, just buy a few good quality components,” recommends Bruce Chapman, president of Kitchen Planners in Rockville, Md. “It really makes a difference in the space.”
Following Bruce’s advice, you can spend your entire budget on a high-quality towel warmer (great for warming and organizing towels) or a medicine cabinet. It’s important to factor in your own do-it-yourself skill before committing to either of these upgrades, especially if you can’t afford to pay for labor.
But if you need a whole bathroom makeover, focus on a few quality fixtures. For example, decorative baskets, shelving and towel bars all have function and form in the bathroom — and even come with low price tags. Although not initially considered organizational, they can be added or upgraded to add tidiness and beauty to a bath.
A prime way to corral clutter is with decorative baskets and containers. “Baskets are a great way to store towels and toilet paper,” says Bruce. You don’t have to splurge on the most expensive ones to create a serene design. Betsy stocks up at garage sales and stores like Big Lots and Kmart. “You’d be amazed, you can find some pretty neat ones,” she says.
For bigger space solutions, Betsy says: “Go vertical. Find storage space on the wall as well as in the pre-existing cabinets that come with the sink.” Because $500 likely won’t replace an existing vanity, consider an over-the-toilet shelf unit. These units can range from affordable options for $30 to designer versions in the hundreds.
Betsy used one for a client whose teenage girl and boy shared a small bathroom. She chose a closed cabinet instead of open shelving. Betsy says she did this for two reasons. The first was to prevent items from falling into the toilet; the second was that it gave the daughter a storage space of her own. Designating spaces in the bathroom for certain people or toiletries helps to keep your bath more organized.
Find Low-Cost Bath Furniture
Look for vertical options like wall shelves, particularly glass shelves. Glass shelving has been around for years, says Bruce, and though typically used for organizing they’re also decorative. Although pricey, you can find some good looking options in the $60-70 range. Major home stores carry shelves like the Delta Faucet Company’s sleek Michael Graves shelf with towel bar.
If you’d rather not have a towel bar on your shelf, you can always add a stylish one over the door for about $25 from The Container Store to tame towel piles.
Forget Design Gimmicks
Affordable upgrades like these mean you can avoid design gimmicks. Shower pocket curtains, for example, are very impractical says Betsy. “Unless you’ve got a very strong shower rod, don’t even try it.” Also, she says, “I have issues with how sanitary they are.”
If you have children and need a space to air-dry tub toys, Betsy suggestions suction cup nets inside the shower or tub. Plus, like the goal of these other upgrades, your bathroom mess will be hidden.