Space is often forfeited in bathrooms in modern homes in favour of larger bedrooms and living spaces. Incorporating clever storage ideas will help you make the most of the space in your bathroom
When planning a new bathroom or revamping an existing one, an important but often overlooked aspect to consider is factoring in storage space for the many cosmetics and odds and ends that seem to accumulate in this room. Well-thought out storage areas will allow you to conceal these items and give your bathroom an uncluttered, sleek look.
“Before you rush out and stock up on trendy little knick-knacks and bathroom accessories, take a look and find out exactly how much space you actually have,” advises Jasmin Kraneveldt from Bathroom Bizarre. “A sure-fire way to make an already small space look smaller is by filling it up with lots of stuff. Sophisticated but simple ideas are the way to go in order to create an inviting and comfortable bathroom space.”
Less is more
“2014 is all about minimalism in the world of bathroom décor,” says Jasmin. “The last thing you want to do is to add bulky furniture or large decorative pieces into a small space, so it’s best to choose an all-in-one sink and vanity solution that is proportionate to the space in which it will be featured. Fittings such as floating vanities that attach directly onto the wall can help create a larger looking and more flowing space in the bathroom area, as well as giving it a clean and modern atmosphere.”
Cabinets (or vanities) are important elements in any bathroom – they offer a practical and good-looking place to keep all your bathroom essentials neatly stored away, ensuring that your bathroom space looks neat and uncluttered at all times. “One of the biggest trends in bathroom cabinetry today is that it has begun to resemble furniture – complete with attractive legs, inviting finishes, purpose-built drawers for storage and open shelves where bottles, towels and other attractive items can be showcased,” says Jasmin.
“Bathroom vanities and cabinets are available in a range of fashionable designs and materials and can be used to great effect to influence the character of your bathroom. Vanities offer ample storage space, either in the cupboard below the basin if it is a floor-mounted vanity, or in the drawers underneath the basin if it’s a floating, wall-hung vanity,” says Liza Watermeyer, retail and display coordinator at Tile Africa.
“One of the latest materials for vanities is bamboo and it’s a beautiful choice because of its durability, sustainability and natural beauty,” says Liza. “Bamboo is renewable and a natural product, and also has its own antimicrobial agent called bamboo-kun, which makes the bamboo wood naturally resistant to various fungi and insects, including mildew and termites, and for this reason bamboo is ideal for damp areas like bathrooms. Combine your bamboo vanity with floating shelves in bamboo to add extra storage space.”
Jasmin adds that warm wood finishes, integrated handles and clean, unfussy design lines are also all bang on trend. “Genuine wood is a hot commodity throughout the home, and this is also true in the bathroom. Many opt for non-traditional woods for a nature-inspired theme that is unique and inviting. Rift-cut woods with straight grains, have become increasingly popular, as well as wooden cabinets that boast more of a rustic finish and overall design.”
Jasmin says that laminates have also evolved: “Updated laminates are a popular cabinetry trend that is showing up even in the most exclusive, high-end bathrooms. Often, when people hear the word ‘laminate’ and ‘cabinetry’ in the same sentence, they think of peeling boxes and low-end quality. However, the laminate of today is far from that – it is durable and available in a multitude of attractive finishes.”
Plumbing is bound to take up a lot of space inside your bathroom cabinet, which is why many of Bathroom Bizarre’s cabinetry has partial-depth or U-shaped drawers that fit around pipes, maximising storage space. “Some of our cabinetry uses roll-out drawers or adjustable shelving in the sink base cabinet to allow for better access to items stored there. This space can house your blow dryer, curling iron, lotions, make-up, hairbrushes and other beauty essentials,” explains Jasmin.
Liza shares some tips on how to select a vanity:
* Decide on the look that you are after, consider your needs and identify who will be using the bathroom. Remember to allow for adequate storage space. All these considerations will affect the size and style of the vanity you choose.
* Vanities should be in proportion to the space available. Select a slim vanity for a small bathroom and an oversized one for a spacious bathroom.
* To create a masculine look, opt for a mahogany or pitch black vanity with a black basin.
* Family bathrooms require more storage space so a practical double-vanity unit that can accommodate two basins will take care of the clutter and help alleviate the morning and evening bathroom rush.
* Keep the look simple and make sure that new fittings and fixtures match the rest of the bathroom décor, especially if you’re only upgrading one section of your bathroom.
Towel rails are the most obvious and convenient means of storing your towels. Choose a spot that is easily accessible from the bath or shower. There are many designs of towel rails, including single rails, double rails, ‘ladder’ rails as well as heated rails.
“An area that’s often overlooked is the back of bathroom doors,” says Liza. “A towel rail doesn’t necessarily have to be used above the bath or next to the shower. They’re handy behind the door as additional storage space, especially if you have a large family. Remember to check whether the door will be able to open fully against the wall or alternatively opt for a slender towel rail.”
How to hang a towel rail
Follow these guidelines from Tile Africa’s Liza Watermeyer to successfully hang a towel rail:
Step 1: Get the right height. The rail should be easy to reach, but should not touch any objects when a towel is folded over it. Also be aware of electrical points and waterlines to ensure that you drill into a sound substrate.
Step 2: Mark the points. Use a spirit level to ensure that the bar is perfectly horizontal.
Step 3: Drill one hole at a time. Drill one hole and fit the rail, then mark the second hole; this will ensure that it is exactly in the right place.
Step 4: Fit the pole. Once the second hole is done and the bracket is in, you can insert the bar and tighten the two brackets.
Step 5: Make sure you use the correct drill bit for the job. TAL Tilemate tiling tools has a range of products for this purpose (for both ceramic and porcelain tiles).
Upcycling and repurposing storage ideas
Liza Watermeyer from Tile Africa explains how to take unique existing bits and pieces from the home and view them with new eyes.
* Give old drawers and cabinets a new lease on life
Instead of tossing out a chest of drawers, why not use it in the bathroom as a vanity? Add a coat of paint or varnish and incorporate your existing basin at the top; this will then be a multipurpose unit that caters for storage and offers the functionality of using the basin too. Another option is to invest in a new free-standing and over-sized basin or trendy tap to enhance the aesthetic appeal of the upcycled vanity.
* Jars, baskets and hooks
Position old hooks on your bathroom wall and hang towels from them. This adds character to the bathroom and is also a space-saving tool.
Another take on repurposing products is the use of old door knobs as ‘hooks’ to hang towels on. “Old door knobs can provide a rustic look and also allow you to hang slightly heavier items than towels, such as bath robes or laundry bags,” Liza explains.
Old glass jars can also be reused; line them up on the side of the bath or the edge of the window sill and use them to store toothbrushes, cotton balls and face cloths or as individual storage pots for each member of the house to store their small personal items.
Stack old baskets or picnic baskets and use them to store linen and bathroom ware.
Use tomato crates as floating racks against the bathroom wall. Keep them in their natural state or give them a colourful lick of paint to strengthen and protect them from moisture. These crates can then be used to store bath and shower paraphernalia.
“There are many items that you may have in your home which can be reused, however, it’s best to note that the bathroom is a damp area and that you need to use pieces that are steam and moisture resistant,” say Liza.
Tile Africa, 0800 002 783, www.tileafrica.co.za.