How to eliminate bathroom clutter

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Even the prettiest spa bathroom can be defeated by a common enemy: the clutter created by bottles, soaps, washcloths, toothbrushes, cosmetics, and other toiletries left on every available surface.

“The bathroom is a space that can set you up for success or failure throughout the day,” said Marissa Hagmeyer, founder of home organization company Neat Method. “If it’s a disaster, it’s hard to prepare for the day and you automatically head out the door in a bad mood.”

But if your bathroom is clean and tidy – and every item has its place – “you can quickly locate what you need, do what you need to do and move on to more important things,” Ms Hagmeyer said. . And at the end of the day, “you can come in, take a deep breath, and relax.”

We asked professional organizers and designers how they eliminate bathroom clutter.

If your vanity drawers and medicine cabinet aren’t well organized — and you’re just throwing away everything you buy at the drugstore — you might be surprised at how much space you already have. The best way to start a bathroom cleaning, Ms. Hagmeyer said, is to strip everything down and get rid of anything you know you’ll never use.

“When we organize, people are really surprised by the number of samples and travel items they accumulate,” she said, in addition to bottles of expired lotion, sunscreen and medicine. . Keep only the few products you actually use, she advised, and throw out everything else.

Once the purge is complete, take a look at the storage space you have and determine if the remaining items will do in a reasonably clean fashion.

If you conclude that you don’t have enough bathroom storage space to hold everything, it’s possible to create more.

During a renovation, one option is to embed one or more cabinets in the wall cavity, between the studs. “You capture little nooks to create extra storage space,” says New York interior designer Monica Fried.

Many medicine cabinets are designed to be recessed into the wall above a vanity, but that’s not the only option. Ms. Fried sometimes drives shallow cabinets into other bathroom walls, with mirrored or painted doors. “Sometimes it’s a flat panel, so it looks like part of the wall,” she says, but opens up like a small cupboard to reveal toiletries.

Jessica Davis, the founder of Atelier Davis, a design studio with offices in Atlanta and South Orange, NJ, has added cabinet-sized built-ins to select bathrooms and semi-recessed cabinets from a few centimeters deep to others.

“Shampoos and hair products don’t take up a ton of space,” she said. “It’s not like storing books on a shelf, where you need 12 inches deep.” In the bathroom, three or four inches will usually suffice.

If you’d rather avoid drilling holes and mounting cabinets to the wall, an easier option is to add a freestanding cabinet. In large bathrooms, some designers install chests that look like they came out of a bedroom.

In smaller bathrooms, you can buy a tiered rolling cart that can be stored under a sink or in an unused corner, said Wendy Silberstein, the founder of Aesthetic Organizer in New York City, who loves models from the Container Store. A rolling cart is “self-contained, and you can put a set of towels on the bottom and everyday items on the top,” she said.

For a truly tiny bathroom with no wall or floor space available, Ms. Silberstein recommended an Elfa over-the-door shelf with baskets.

When you’re ready to put your toiletries back into drawers and cabinets, grouping similar items together will help you keep things organized.

“You want to categorize everything – but think in broad categories,” Ms Hagmeyer said. “Face, everyday things, lotion, hair, teeth, travel, vitamins, medicine. The further you go, the more likely you are to be able to keep up. »

Then use drawer dividers or small bins to separate each category. Ms. Silberstein likes to use clear plastic bins, which make it easy to see items stored in drawers and medicine cabinets. And she often removes products like cotton swabs, dental floss, bandages and razor blades from packaging and stuffs them into bins, to minimize the space they take up.

“It’s a money saver because you can see everything you own,” she said. “Not only is it easier to use, but you don’t restock when you don’t need it,” she added, simply because the box of cotton swabs disappeared under the washcloths. .

Bulkier items like hair dryers, brushes, toiletry bags, and cleaning supplies can be stored in baskets that fit in a large drawer, cabinet, or closet, or stowed under the sink.

It is not practical to store the last bottle in a drawer all the time. The products you use every day – hand soap, shampoo, conditioner – should stay where you need them: near the sink, shower or tub.

If you plan on keeping soap, a mug, a few cosmetics, and maybe a bottle of perfume on top of the vanity, an easy way to organize them is to put them on a nice tray. “That way it’s all packed into one beautiful little tray,” said Barbara Sallick, founder and senior vice president of design at Waterworks, whose latest book, “The Ultimate Bath,” will be published in September.

Some trays are sold specifically for use in the bathroom, but Ms. Sallick likes to look for vintage trays and containers that would work in any room.

There are a few functional benefits to using a tray: “First, it makes cleaning easier because you can pick up everything,” Davis said. “But also from a water spread perspective, when my kids and my husband wash their hands and get water all over the counter, a tray keeps it from getting into the produce.”

Next to the tub, a cart, stool, or small side table can serve a similar purpose, so you don’t have to balance bottles on the edge of the tub or set them on the floor.

For a step closer to aesthetic bliss, consider the bottles themselves: Leaving out a hodgepodge of bottles of different shapes, sizes, and colors creates visual clutter.

“Containers matter a lot,” Ms. Sallick said. Try to keep only an essential selection of bottles and consider favoring products in attractive packaging. (There’s a reason Aesop bottles show up in so many professionally photographed bathrooms.)

Or do what Mrs. Sallick did. “Years ago I found some really nice clear rectangular containers at Muji and bought a boatload of them,” she said. Now she pours all her soaps and shampoos into it.

If you prefer a different style of container, a wide range of attractive refillable bottles are available on Etsy.

To keep your bathroom serene, figure out where you’re going to put your towels and washcloths. A stack of clean, fluffy towels can be a beautiful thing, so when they’re freshly laundered, fold them up tightly and pile them up in a closet or on a shelf. “They all need to line up, whether you sort them by color, size or trim,” Ms. Sallick said.

Once these sheets are used, you’ll need enough space to hang up every wet towel and washcloth – which isn’t always the case in busy households – to avoid leaving them on a doorknob. Or throw them on the ground.

“It’s essential to buy hooks and towel racks, sometimes in multiple sizes, so you have a place for everything and everyone’s towel lives in a certain place,” Ms Sallick said.

If you think you don’t have enough wall space, there are plenty of options that can help. Wall mounted towel racks can hold multiple towels. Freestanding racks can be placed on the floor. You may be able to mount short towel bars on the sides of your vanity. You can add hooks on short walls or on the back of a door. And if all else fails, you can slip in a stool or side table.

“Sometimes when it’s a more modern aesthetic and there aren’t as many places for towel racks, we incorporate a stool with folded towels on top,” Ms. Fried. “It’s an expanding piece of furniture where people can keep a towel handy or put one down.”

By making sure there is a dedicated place for everything, your bathroom will not only look better, it will also be more pleasant to use.

“Your bathroom should be a haven,” Ms. Silberstein said. “You deserve to have a clean bathroom to be productive, to get ready for the day, and to look in the mirror and feel good about yourself.”

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