A few weeks ago we were hosting a guest and I went to my son’s bathroom to do some cleaning and prepping. Our guests typically stay in our son’s bedroom while visiting because it has an adjoining bathroom that allows for added privacy. I realized that the area under his sink could use a better system, and with a limited timeframe, I came up with a quick solution to maximize the awkward cabinet.
I will help my kids with their chores from time to time, but for the most part, they take complete ownership of keeping up on their spaces. It is always my goal to give them systems that are easy for them to maintain on their own, but I definitely didn’t do that here. Under this bathroom sink was a mish-mash of random baskets and bins with no designation or reasoning…
After I painted his bathroom walls awhile back, I left the can under his sink for touch-ups. There were also some accessories waiting to be used, toiletries, cleaning supplies, a random towel which he uses as a floor mat, travel items… All thrown in there somewhere. Yikes.
The problem I find with most of these stock bathroom cabinets is the lack of storage that is provided. There is plenty of space inside but not an easy way to make the most of it. And with the sink and plumbing, it can be challenging to find the right stacking drawers or bins to take advantage of all the vertical space.
This cabinet is nearing 20 years old and on our list of items to update in the future, but I still wanted to find a quick, inexpensive fix to get the bathroom storage up to par.
The process I take with every organizing project no matter what the size/scale is as follows:
- Empty everything out
- Clean the empty space
- Sort through all of the belongings
- Decide what we need in the space vs. what we currently have
- Put everything back
So I emptied everything out and was left with some loud liner…
I replaced it with something more subtle.
My ultimate goal was to add a second layer of surface area halfway up the cabinet. Our local Home Depot sells white laminate boards, so we purchased a single 3/4″ thick, 2′ x 4′ board.
The one board would be enough for us to cut down to use as a shelf and to also add supports for the shelf below (the bathroom cabinet is a 3′ wide cabinet).
Because the cabinet has a trim piece that runs down the front center of the door opening, the new shelf couldn’t be left as a single piece that runs the entire inside length, it wouldn’t be possible to get it into the cabinet. We decided to cut two separate shelves, one for each side, also notching out the plumbing area.
For the notch, we measured the amount of space clearance needed for the plumbing and used the lid of a container to trace out the curved area. The nice thing about the laminate board is that pencil washes off quite easily after you make your cuts.
I originally thought we would just nail ledger boards around beneath the shelves, but because the front and far side have no support on the outside of the cabinet, Bryan decided to just make some legs to hold the shelves instead.
Above you can get an idea of how we dry fit things before finishing off the edges and air nailing everything in place.
There is a small seam where the two boards meet in the middle, but we opted not to caulk it in case we want to easily remove the shelf down the road.
Look at that! Double the storage area!
To now give my little guy (and guests) some easy organization, I categorized everything into their own pull out drawers and bins.
These are my absolute favorite drawers for organizing under any sink (bathroom, kitchen, laundry room, etc…), so I grabbed two standard sizes and one wide size.
I prefer to use drawers instead of stacking lidded bins any time I organize because they ease the taking out/putting things back process. That is especially important when kids are involved.
The top two drawers hold my son’s personal care items (toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, hair care, deodorant, etc…)
While the bottom drawer holds smaller sized toiletries for guests or travel, as well as bars of soap and an oil diffuser.
On the other side, I used two taller bins to wrangle the bulkier items. One has additional personal care items and our son’s travel toiletry case. The other has all of the cleaning supplies for the bathroom.
I love that these inexpensive rolling bins have flexible dividers inside that allows them to be easily categorized while also keeping the contents separate and contained.
The upper shelf is the perfect spot for extra towels, and now they can be stored up and away from everything else in the cabinet.
I had the same question for my husband that you may have, “Is this setup going to be an issue when we need to change out the faucet?”
Well, a couple of days after we installed the shelves we did just that without any problems. There was enough clearance surrounding the pipes that we didn’t have to pull the shelves out, but we could have easily if necessary.
With that, if we could have done one thing differently, we would have considered the location of the water valves a bit more vs. only measuring for the height of the bins when determining the final height for the new shelf.
Because we all heart a transformation before and after, a reminder of the difference this quick makeover gave us:
The storage bins are definitely a key component in categorizing and helping to keep this area of our son’s bathroom organized, but by adding a second layer of storage space we were able to really maximize how the cabinet is used. The bonus is that I have sourced a few under-the-sink-shelves in the past at various retailers, but they tend to be flimsy or not expansive enough. For less than what most of those ready-made shelves cost, we were able to come up with something out of a single board that is custom and substantial. Double the storage, double the organizational win!