1. Inventory Items

In general, most items in your bathroom can be placed into three categories: frequently used, moderately used and infrequently used. Separate your items into these groups to get an idea of how much storage you’ll need for each type. This is a good time to eliminate expired products and items you aren’t likely to use again.

2. Measure Frequently Used Items

Items required for your daily and weekly routines should occupy primary spaces in your bathroom. I recommend measuring the heights of these items to make sure you order or design a vanity (or other storage space) that will allow them to be within easy reach. In general, a 10-inch-deep drawer should fit your tallest items. If you have only a few tall items, a deep drawer may be overkill and result in wasted space.

If you have room for customization, a favorite solution is to build a tiered sliding drawer. A cabinetmaker may be able to build a tiered sliding drawer on only one side of the drawer so the tall items can be stored on one side and shorter items can be stored on the two levels of the tiered side. Alternatively, stackable trays in a deep drawer can achieve a similar outcome, albeit with slightly less convenience.

3. Define the Purpose

Your primary bathroom is probably the workhorse bathroom in your home and needs to be highly functional. A less frequently used bathroom, such as the guest bathroom, may be more cosmetic in nature. Consider keeping your children’s bathroom design flexible as children grow quickly and their needs change.

If storage is limited in other parts of your home, consider using your bathroom for crossover storage. For example, choose a guest bathroom vanity with storage (versus a pedestal sink) to house infrequently used items, such as vacation toiletries, special-occasion hair tools, guest linens and refills. Consider not straying too far from the purpose of a bathroom. In other words, if you decide to use crossover storage in a guest bathroom, store bathroom-related items or guest-related items in that space.

4. Prioritize Your Wish List

What goals do you want to achieve in your new bathroom? Do you want to have clutter-free countertops and floors? A space to sit down while you get ready? Prioritize your desires and incorporate them into your design.

  • Ensure your drawers are deep enough so you won’t have to store anything on the counter if you want a clean and minimalist look.
  • You might consider installing a slide-out base cabinet laundry hamper for an extra tidy look. It will eat up cabinet space, but you can make it work by moving items that would have occupied that hamper space to a different location or paring back more items if possible.

5. Review Floor Plans to Find Extra Space

There are often hidden, usable spaces behind walls. The pro you’re working with on your bathroom project may be able to review the floor plans and identify hidden spaces that can be converted into extra square footage. If this is something you’d like to pursue, be sure to work with a qualified professional. You don’t want to accidentally cut into structural walls or disturb electrical wires or plumbing pipes.

6. Customize Counter Height

An ideal counter height allows for comfortable hand and face washing and an easy reach for items stored on the counter. A standard bathroom counter height typically is 32 to 36 inches. If the counter is too high, water may run down your arms while you’re washing your face and it may be harder for you to reach the mirror. However, if the counter is too low, you might have to stoop to use the sink, which could put strain on your back.

You may want to consider a customized counter height if you’re very tall or very short. You could even add different counter heights if there’s a large enough height difference between you and your significant other. It’s worth noting, however, that a bathroom counter that falls too far outside the standard height range could affect your home’s resale value.

7. Install Full-Extension Slides, Soft-Close Hardware and Rollout Shelves

Functional hardware is a bonus upgrade with one of the greatest rewards. Your drawers can be pulled out completely with full-extension slides, allowing an entire view of and access to the drawer. Items in your drawer won’t be hidden, and the drawer may be easier to clean as well. Even if your remodel includes keeping your existing drawers and cabinets, most can be easily retrofitted with full-extension slides.

Soft-close slides and hinges prevent drawers and cabinet doors from slamming shut, instead closing them softly and silently. This not only reduces noise but also minimizes wear and tear on the drawers, doors and hinges and prevents contents from shifting too much. Additionally, soft-close slides can help keep children’s fingers from getting pinched by a fast-closing drawer.

For deep cabinets, items stored in the back may be awkward to retrieve and therefore become lost and forgotten. I recommend rollout shelves (with full-extension slides, of course) in these spaces so you can see all the contents. Since access is much more convenient, you may be encouraged to put things away properly and more efficiently.

8. Consider Specialty Medicine Cabinets

If you have a number of devices that need charging, such as electric toothbrushes, razors and beauty tools, consider choosing a medicine cabinet with built-in charging ports. Some even come with a refrigerated section to store temperature-sensitive items such as face creams and supplements.

There are many door styles to choose from to suit your needs, including standard doors, sliding doors and doors that lift up.

9. Locate Outlets Thoughtfully

To keep your space as streamlined as possible, carefully consider where you want your outlets. Think about where you might put items like your hair dryer and whether it makes sense to install an outlet on the wall or inside cabinetry. You may even want to include a charging drawer with a traditional outlet and a USB port.

10. Discover Extra Storage Space

Consider carving out extra space wherever possible. Full-overlay cabinets leave very small gaps between cabinets and drawers. The cabinet boxes for full-overlay cabinets typically have a larger opening than that of standard cabinet boxes, meaning it may be easier to get things in and out of a full-overlay cabinet than a standard cabinet.

If your vanity will go all the way to the floor (instead of being wall-hung), it will probably have a toe kick. The space behind the toe kick is usually empty. This wasted space can be converted to a toe kick drawer.

Another pocket of space falls in front of the sink. Many people opt to have a false drawer front to keep the aesthetics consistent. Instead, consider installing a tip-out tray to hold small items such as sponges or combs.