Bathroom storage mistakes – 8 that waste space, cause clutter and ruin possessions

Wonder why your nail polish doesn't last or there's nowhere to put shower essentials? These storage mistakes are to blame

White bathroom with silver mirrors and storage
(Image credit: Chris Snook for AMC Design)

It's been a long day, and it's time for a relaxing soak in the tub. Except that there's no spot to rest your cup of tea, you can't even find the bubble bath and a roll of toilet paper has just decided to unfurl itself, red carpet style, along the floor. These are just three of the telltale signs that bathroom storage mistakes have been made, but there are many more. 

As Adam Mosley, director at Thomas Crapper points out, any bathroom storage ideas need to be incorporated on day one of the design process. 'You need to make sure you’ve covered all the elements, as small mistakes during the design stage will come to light very quickly,' he warns. 

8 bathroom storage mistakes to avoid

Thankfully, we've come up with a list of common errors to rule out when designing a bathroom, so that you can avoid any clutter-based calamities and enjoy an organized space.

1. Choosing a too-small vanity unit

Double washbasin with blue vanity unit and large mirror

(Image credit: Future PLC)

We'd almost always recommend considering a bathroom vanity idea. All of your storage woes can be eliminated with this miraculous piece of furniture, with the added benefit of the character, color and elegance it can bring to your scheme. That said, it can be easy to get your choice of vanity unit wrong, namely by choosing one that's too small. 

'We always advise clients to specify larger storage solutions,' says Adam Molsey at Thomas Crapper. 'People tend to underestimate how much room is lost due to hidden pipework and the basin itself within under-basin storage units and drawers.' Therefore, to avoid frustrations down the road, go as wide and as deep as your space allows. 

2. Wall-mounted storage that's too deep, or too high

Bathroom storage with fitted storage and marble surface

(Image credit: Emma Lewis / Future)

'Similarly, with wall-to-ceiling bathroom shelving, it is very easy to purchase slim units only to find out none of your essentials fit on the narrow shelves or your bottles are too tall and will not go in,' Adam adds.

Overbasin cabinets can be especially tricky to get right. 'You need to specify a shallow depth to ensure you can still use the basin below easily once installed,' says Adam. 'And it is worth remembering that the height of a mirrored bathroom cabinet is dependent on your height, not the person fitting it.'

3. Not including shelving near electrical points

Royal blue vanity unit with pale blue tiles and gold wallpaper

(Image credit: Heidi Marfitt for AMC Design)

'When specifying electrical points for electric toothbrushes and razors, you need to consider how many you need to use at once and if each product has a shelf to rest on while in use or on a charge,' says Adam Mosley.

In this bathroom by AMC Design, a narrow ledge above the tiled backsplash provides just such a spot. Items can easily be hidden away in the cupboard beneath at all other times, although as we'll discover in point five, you may want to keep your razor elsewhere...

4. Not organizing your storage

bathroom with tongue and groove panel on bath pale blue walls and tiles pale wood effect floor and stripped antique cabinet used as vanity unit

(Image credit: Colin Poole)

'While it’s important to include the right storage element into the bathroom, ensure you don’t forget about organizing within it,' says Juliette Thomas, founder, and director, Juliettes Interiors. 'There’s nothing worse than opening a drawer to items that don’t have a home.' 

'Make sure to organize in a way that will have you find the things you’re looking for instantly, as no one has time to go rummaging in drawers. Separate your items into different sections – such as moisturizers, make-up, bath products, and so on – and only keep the items out on the countertop that you use every day, otherwise, it can make the space feel cluttered.'

5. Storing the wrong items in a bathroom

Bespoke bathroom vanity unit

(Image credit: Zac and Zac)

When it comes to bathroom storage mistakes, it's not just the amount of storage or how it is utilized that can cause issues – what you are using it for can also be problematic. 

For example, did you know that you should never store nail polish in a bathroom? The temperature and humidity can affect the consistency and wearability of the polish, and if stored in direct sunlight, your polish will be prone to discoloration.  

'On a practical level, it’s worth remembering that mouthwash is capable of dissolving bathroom paint, medicine will lose its efficacy if stored in the bathroom, razors will rust and bath bombs will swell,' warns Thomas Crapper's Adam Mosley.

6. Poor towel storage

Neutral bathroom with green towels on ladder

(Image credit: Christy)

If there's one way to make guests feel welcome in a bathroom, it's a collection of freshly laundered fluffy towels, beautifully presented and ready for them to use. Alongside that, you will need a hand towel or two, or perhaps even a basket of washcloths or fingertip towels to use on a visit to the powder room. 

All of this, of course, requires storage. Open storage is best for towels, as they can be easily spotted and grabbed. Try woven baskets or slatted shelving as this will allow damp towels to air, or invest in a dedicated towel rail where they can be heated through, ready for use. 

You may have considered placing towels in a cupboard close to the bathroom, rather than in the bathroom itself, but we're set against it. Because who hasn't stepped out of the shower, only to realize there's no towel to hand. Good bathroom towel storage will, quite simply, save you and your family and guests from any awkward encounters. 

7. Ignoring 'dead space'

A bathroom with large sink on a marble counter, and black shelves holding decorative objects

(Image credit: Future/Jonathan Gooch)

'If you don’t have space for a cupboard or vanity unit, think about using all the nooks and crannies that are available to you within the bathroom,' says Ann Marie Cousins, founder of AMC Design. 'Look for areas of "dead space" such as above a toilet or bath, where you can introduce floating shelves with storage baskets and pots.' 

'If you have a concealed cistern, the gaps at the side of the cistern can house concealed cupboards – the perfect spot for extra storage.' 

If you're considering an alcove, inset, or drop-in type of bathtub, you could also incorporate storage that reveals itself when you lift or slide the bath panel.

8. Not exploring the latest innovations

Vasco bathroom radiator with towel storage

(Image credit: Vasco)

When one considers bathroom storage, a few obvious solutions come to mind. The aforementioned vanity unit, wall shelves, and cabinets, hooks, and rails are all familiar options. And then there are the innovative solutions you may not have heard of.

Take the Niva Bath steel designer radiator from Vasco – a slim radiator panel that is set 325 mm further away from the wall than a traditional radiator. Behind it, a rail and shelves offer space to hang robes and store towels ready for use.

Whether you're using a bathroom designer or conducting your own research, it's worth seeking out these thought-provoking alternatives.

Amy Cutmore
Editor-in-Chief, Homes Audience

Amy Cutmore is Editor-in-Chief, Audience, across Future's Homes portfolio. A homes and interiors journalist of 20 years standing, she has spent much of that time writing about technology, appliances and kitchens. While other people count how many countries they've visited, Amy tots up how many countries' washing machine factories she's toured (it's eight by the way, from South Korea to Slovenia). She can't leave the house without a decent pair of noise-cancelling headphones, and is always ready to explain an acronym – be it QLED, DAB or HDMI.