I'm obsessed with my freshly organized bathroom

February 20 2014 | Guest post by Carly Bish

Some of you may know Carly from her gorgeous photography seen on Offbeat Bride. Now you can see her gorgeous organizing work in her bathroom!

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All photos by Carly Bish
My deepest secret is this: I love a good, old-fashioned daily routine. I like waking up at the same time everyday, eating the same breakfast, getting in a good workout, and then starting my work at the same time. 

Every. Day. 

I think most people I know could be shocked by this (maybe it's just wishful thinking). But the truth is, when there are dishes in the sink, shoes scattered across the floor, and my husband's clothes in a pile on the side of the bed… I find it almost impossible to start my day, let alone be creative. It clouds the mind!

And don't get me wrong, I experience a lack of motivation like any normal person. I can ignore a mess for weeks, even months on end.

For example: it took me nine months to unpack every box when we moved into our apartment. We referred to the living room as the "Room of Requirement" for almost a year. But when I'm truly honest with myself, I know that I'm happiest and live my best days when I'm in a clean and organized environment. So if you're like me and need a little step in the right direction? Let me help! Starting with… the bathroom.

My husband and I live in an older apartment. It was originally a house that was converted into five units. With the changes came some odd layout choices. For us, it's a single bathroom that can only be accessed through the bedroom. So when guests come over, they have to go through the bedroom to get there. Talk about motivation to keep our bedroom clean (trust me, we don't). The reality is, the bathroom is a high traffic area, where me, my husband, and even our cat, get ready for the day. With showers, teeth maintenance, and making poops, there's a lot to do in there! And with only one sink and a small cabinet underneath to store stuff, I knew keeping it clean was going to be a challenge.

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Lucky for us, while we were planning our move, a friend of ours was also moving across the country and selling a lot of her furniture. One item she was eager to pitch was a plain-jane Ikea cabinet with some shelves (most similar). I didn't have a use for it at the time but since we had NO furniture, I assumed I'd figure it out eventually. And boy, did I… With hardly any space in an already small bathroom, this cabinet provided exactly what we needed for storage.

I mod-podged a fun fabric to the front (it was so boring without it) and then went to work on the inside. We actually had to carve an outlet-size hole in the back since the outlet was inconveniently placed where we wanted the cabinet to go. It ended up being perfect because now, we plug everything in through the cabinet, which means no hairdryers or curling irons left on the counter or sneaking under the sink to make-out with the plunger (those naughty hair appliances)!

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Then, while on a trip to the office supply store for business-related things, I came across these mini-organizer drawers that quite literally had me lightbulbing all the way to the cashier. With the idea forming quickly in my brain, I grabbed a bag of simple label tags and I was on my way home.

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With everything stripped from inside the cabinet, I went to work reorganizing. First with my my makeup, putting them in drawers at eye level, since they'd be the ones I used most. Categorizing by Foundation, Brushes/Blush, Eyes, and Lips. Then, I moved onto drawers for Hair, Lotions, Bandaids, Nail Polish, Razors… The lists go on and on. It's shocking the number of things we use in the bathroom!

And if you're like me, there have been far too many occasions when you were sure you had something and searched every crevice of your stupid bathroom only to come up short, forcing you to walk down to the corner Walgreens, only to forget what you had gone there for in the first place! UGH! That was so me. But now? With handy drawers with perfect little labels hot glued to the front, I wonder how I ever functioned before!

I loved them so much, I went back to Office Max and got two more sets, as well as multiple short "baskets" that have magnets on the back, which I hot glued to the inside of the door, for even MORE storage (medicines, hairspray, "party hats," ALL THE THINGS)!

It really didn't take that long or require a lot of thought. And the end result is a way more manageable sense of living–at least for someone like me! Hopefully, some of you can relate. Please, don't let leave me alone in my need-for-clean-in-order-to-function way of life! I know you're out there!

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And that, my friends, is the long-winded story of our super organized bathroom cabinet! Next mission? The bedroom closet… Oh, how she taunts me.

  1. I'm totally with you on the need for an organized life (and also the frequent complete failure to live one…), and our bathroom is currently a sore-spot. We have two drawers in addition to the under-the-sink area, and it just isn't enough. One drawer is a jumble of hair stuff, rags, deodorant, and toothpaste, while the other is a mixed-up combination of natural skin-care ingredients (honey, coconut oil, etc.) and the first aid kit (which makes it sound way more organized than the explosion of bandaids, tape, drugs, ointments, gauze, etc. that it is…). Under the sink isn't much better, with extra soap and TP, a towel for the floor where the shower leaks, my no-poo supplies, and of course the bottom of the sink getting in the way of everything. What we really need is a tall cabinet like you have — perhaps we could put it where we currently have the garbage and recycling, and hide those inside… The main problems at this point, though, are a lack of budget for organizational supplies (my husband is a grad student, and I'm a part-time student working on starting a business) and the lack of a car to get them home (you try transporting a cabinet by bicycle…).

    For now, I've been trying to get the office organized, since that's where I spend a lot of my time. It's making progress — I bought filing supplies yesterday, and that is certainly helping. I need to figure out what to do with all of the office supplies that want to be at the back of the desk, though — most of them are currently hiding behind my monitor, and they're a pain to get to.

    3 agree
    • I feel ya! The only way we were able to transport this cabinet was because my dad has a truck and he let us borrow it. The financial aspect too, I totally get it. Before we could afford the necessary drawers, I had a Pinterest board about organization, so I'd have something to reference when I was ready. S0 keep the dream alive! You can even pin photos from this post to check back to later! Thanks for reading! 🙂

  2. Sigh, I'm with you here. I start getting all claustraphobic if Things Arent In Their Correct Places after maybe a week. I can ignore a pile of ribbon which needs detangling though, as long as it's off the table and the horizontal surfaces are uncluttered and wiped clean. Not dusted though, aint nobody got time for that

    I do *mean* to clean and tidy more, I do…

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    • Haha! That sounds like me too… As you might've guessed with my mod-podged cabinet, I do love a good craft! Even now, my living room has a corner with strips of fabric I used to make new window treatments… I really need to get that stuff put away. But I think I'll finish this episode of Drop Dead Diva first… 😉

  3. My bathroom counter has an empty area that looks like it's meant to house a seat for all those fancy ladies who sit to do their make up. Pretty much as soon as we moved in I bought plastic drawers that fit perfectly (plus a gap for a small trashcan at the side). It's not as super organized as yours but I use some of the packaging to my advantage, so *this* corner of the top drawer is for qtips and *that* corner is for the bag of cotton balls. I did put in a random plastic box whose lid has long since disappeared and that box-in-a-drawer contains all the little blister packs. Wedged in next to that box is the bandaid box and other first aid stuff. Those cheap plastic drawers are about 85% of our bathroom storage, I can't imagine what I'd do without them.

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    • That's awesome! I didn't grow up being a super organized person, so this whole process is something I'm learning. The biggest rule I've learned to date? "Everything needs a place." Sounds like you've got that rule down in spades! Rock on!

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      • Yes!! We make everything have a home. We also try to make that home its most convenient or most logical place, so that NOT putting things away often is legit more difficult than doing it right.

        Nonetheless, my partner will walk across the entire apartment to put something down in the wrong spot rather than turn around to put it away where it belongs. Or, sometimes, reach OVER the thing's home to put it where he can deal with it later. I don't even…. Anyway, while he works on not doing that, I'm working on fully communicating why things are where they live, and thinking critically about how we can use spaces to our best advantage.

  4. Oh! Oh my gosh! This post is fantastic!!! I'm in the process of organizing my bathroom and haven't been able to find reasonably-priced drawer-like things that will fit under my sink. These organizer drawers? Fantastic! Your spiffed up Ikea cabinet? Amazing! This entire bathroom organization post? Totally inspiring! YAY!!! (And I just did my bedroom closet, which is now a super-organized haven for my stuff. You can do it!)

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  5. I love that you have drawers of eyes and lips! Makes me think of Jeff and his "bucket of women's ears" from Coupling.

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  6. I love tiny bathroom organization posts! We have a medicine cabinet and some under the tiny sink area, but no drawers. A cabinet like that one would probably fit if it weren't for the light switch and outlet. Cutting a hole in the back for the outlet is brilliant. I wonder if I could find one that is shorter than the light switch, and lined up to cut the hole for the outlet.

    I made some "drawers" under the sink with Sterilite stackable drawers. http://www.amazon.com/Sterilite-20518006-Drawer-See-Through-6-Pack/dp/B002BA5F6G/ref=pd_sim_op_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=0RB9AZ52A17R4DKX00DT
    I think they were originally for shoes- I bought the longest thinnest ones I could find since the plumbing prevented me from fitting larger ones in there. Then I have plastic boxes sitting on top of them for different things like first aid, medications, extra shampoo, etc. Having the drawers on the bottom prevents me from having stacks of boxes that fall over.

    • I feel ya on the undersink plumbing… It really makes it hard to fit anything besides toilet paper down there! Also, I'd check Ikea.com for additional cabinet options! While I'm not a huge fan of their furniture, it sure worked in a pinch for this scenario. Maybe grab a measuring tape and measure from the ground to the bottom of the lightswitch and then check Ikea for any cabinets within that height? Some of them might have "legs" on them too, so if it's a little too high but has legs, you can probably take the legs off and be right where it needs to be. Good luck! 🙂

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    • Nice! We have something like that in our pantry for kitty's food and litter! Which reminds me, our pantry needs a good re-organizing as well… The organizing never ends!

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      • Yes, oh, yes, the pantry/kitchen is my other desperately-in-need-of-better-organization space, in addition to our tiny bathrooms. I don't want to clutter the kitchen island and the little slivers of counter space with appliances, so right now, we have our breadmaker and our mixer sitting on top of a cooler in our pantry "zone."

        This so-called pantry "zone" is currently hidden by a decorative screen that I will need to move or find a way to properly secure before we have our baby in May. Basically, our weird setups in our house would be liveable, were it not for the fact that soon we'll have someone tiny trying to use everything to pull up to stand (yes, I know it's months away, but relatively speaking, it's "soon") and getting into every cabinet.

        I'm hoping that most of our bathroom storage woes can be solved by putting in an over-the-toilet storage system (I'm eying this one from Ikea: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/90241420/#/10241419) and attaching a couple of extra hooks, as the person who built our townhouse only put in one towel bar directly above the toilet paper dispenser, and said towel bar is not big enough for even two bath towels. (This really doesn't make sense for a three-bedroom townhouse, I mean, really!)

        Unfortunately, with our super-crumbly drywall, I'm hesitant to try to hang any shelving, even if I knew about stud finding and all that, so it really cuts down on storage possibilities.

  7. While I have nothing that elaborate – I did take the offbeathome advice this weekend and headed down to Tuesday Morning for a $10 shower caddy. In half an hour I had this everything up off my counter top, no more rust stains from shaving cream and hair spray. And it makes me so super happy to see all the bottles of product and my headbands organized (hanging from a shower curtain ring from a hook on the shelf).

    http://statigr.am/p/657416010075892388_1293737

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    • I used to do this, but I kept taking them off, and then *not putting them back* until I cleaned the rest of the apartment.
      And then I had kids who thought it was hilarious to break the shower ring, and toss the ponytail holders everywhere.

  8. I'm ALL ABOUT routine. If I don't have set days for doing stuff, I can never remember when I did it last. It's Sunday? Time to clean the house. It's the first weekend of the month? Time to scrub out the litter boxes. It's a Tuesday that falls on a full moon? Time for sex. (Okay, not really.) But yes, routine and order FTW. On the same hand, I will put up with a dirty floor FOR DAYS if it gets dirty on a Tuesday. Not Sunday? Not cleaning. But on Sunday, it will suddenly click in me that my floor is fucking filthy and that bitch needs the fear of Swiffer put in it.

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  9. Two years ago we tried getting rid of an old computer hutch, linen cabinet and a few CD racks. Goodwill wouldn't accept them because, really, who needs computer hutches and CD racks anymore? When we moved, we had the "Eh, we'll figure it out" assumption too – and it also worked out with happy anal organizational results.

    As is, we have very little storage in our bath (not even a medicine cabinet!). The linen cabinet fit NO WHERE in our bathroom, so it was moved to the dining area and now functions as our "non-refrigerated beer storage cabinet". Luckily, one of the gnarly faux wood CD racks fit perfectly between the toilet and the sink. We painted that to match the color of the trim in that room. The adjustable shelves are awesome for fitting all the wonky sized bottles and they are just wide enough to have a shelf of emergency toilet paper rolls. Ideally I would like to add some baskets/containers to corral all of the stuff on each shelf, but everything I find is too wide.

    The computer hutch came in handy too. We fixed it up slightly and are using it in our dining room as a pantry/pots and pan storage.

    • Hey, repurposing a cd rack MIGHT just fit in our bathroom. Now I will have to find a cd rack somewhere, as my husband owns literally thousands (I wish I were kidding) of cds, so we don't have a spare–and could use an extra, anyway. All the "narrow" shelving units that I can find being sold seem to be too wide, but a cd rack could work. Thanks!!!

      1 agrees
      • Awesome!

        We had left over racks when we started storing our CDs in under-the-bed containers. The ones we use are deep enough so we can have the label facing upward and easily find whatever we're looking for. That might not be the best route in your CD situation, but thought I'd mention it too.

        Then we also keep our DVDs/games in stackable fabric boxes which are stored in our closets. Then we keep a basket out to corral the media we currently are using. It makes dusting a heck of a lot easier and quicker!

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  10. I have this cabinet! It is currently housing all my kitchen appliances like my Kitchenaid Mixer and food processor, since our kitchen is super duper tiny. Some day when we have a larger kitchen and my appliances can live IN THE KITCHEN *gasp* I am totally going to re purpose the cabinet for bathroom stuffs. Love this!

  11. MORE OF THIS KIND OF ARTICLE, PLEASE!!

    I am literally in the middle of organizing my very tiny apartment to make space for a home office. I'm working methodically through my apartment reorganizing everything to try to find extra space anywhere I can. Partly to find extra space to store extra stuff, partly to just find extra space for breathing room.

    I'd love to read other similar articles in my quest for space.

    6 agree
  12. I hate sharing my brilliant idea on such an old post, but hopefully someone will see it and get some use out of it!

    I have an over the door shoe organizer that I put all my hair stuff and bottles and sundries, even cleaning supplies. It has so many pockets, but they all have stuff. Put the every day things at eye level. It is a bit messy/clutter I suppose. Not as clean as hiding it in a cabinet. But while every bathroom does not have space for a caninet, they do generally all have a door.

    2 agree
  13. Thanks for sharing this! I've just moved to a place that has a bathroom without cabinet storage (just three drawers at floor level and a shelf above… why?) and this looks great.

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