Need more room? Steal some space in your bathroom

By Tom Phelan - ReminderNews
Home & Garden - posted Mon., May. 7, 2012
- Contributed Photo

If you think the bathroom in your home wants for more space, chances are the family you will eventually sell the home to will find that space lacking, too. A bathroom is the smallest room in any home, so finding extra space is a challenge. Think about these options to create more space without rebuilding your bathroom.

An extra 3 and a half inches is hiding behind your wallboard. You can reclaim it by installing a recessed medicine cabinet. If you only have a mirror over your sink, replacing it with one of these concealed storage options will add space without subtracting from your room. A flush-mounted cabinet will add storage space for hair spray, shaving cream, pill bottles, etc. But it will protrude from the wall by several inches. That’s not a lot, but it makes a visual impact.

What could you do with even a small or partial closet in your bathroom? Certainly it would be a perfect place to store towels and small bathroom appliances such as hair dryers, electric razors and curling irons. It’s also a place to hide the extra rolls of toilet paper, bottles of lotion, shampoo, cotton balls, etc. The space you need might be hiding in the room next to it.

Many showers and bathtubs back up to a closet in the adjoining room. That closet sometimes provides concealed access to the plumbing for the shower and tub. The closet walls rarely conceal electric wires, so modifying them is not complicated.

The space between studs set 16 inches on center is 14 and a half inches. Combine and recapture space from two stud bays by cutting out a portion of the middle stud and framing a wider opening.

You should be able to create a half- or full-height cabinet that is 12 to 14 inches deep by maybe 36 inches wide. Stealing that space would still leave 18 to 24 inches of depth in the other room’s closet. A few modifications will render it quite usable. Adjust the closet shelf and/or the clothes pole up or down to free up space for the new bathroom cabinet. Moving the clothes pole toward the front will relinquish several inches for the bathroom closet on the other side. Get creative with the orientation of the pole and the space at the sides of the closet.

You can frame in and finish off the new closet yourself, or look for prefab kitchen pantry cabinets as an option to build into your new space. The door(s) on the new closet should be flush with the bathroom wall. Finish them with stain or paint that matches the other woodwork in the room.

The most obvious way to recapture some of the unused space in your bathroom is to replace a pedestal sink with a vanity and sink. A vanity can be just the right space to hide a bowl brush, cleaning supplies, hair curlers, and the other stuff you just can’t seem to do without. You may be less inclined to make a small bathroom look even smaller by such a renovation. Many people simply don’t like the vanity look, as it subtracts from the visual effect the pedestal sink gives of a more open room. Before you run to the home store, get an idea of the impact a vanity might have by fashioning a cardboard mockup that would fit under your sink. Slide it in place, and stand in the doorway to see how the loss of open space under the sink affects you.

There is also a fair amount of dead space over the toilet tank. Most people use that space to decorate and dress up the bathroom. Installing an attractive freestanding rack or shelf system made to fit around the tank will provide space for both decorative and functional uses.

If that alternative seems to close the room in, settle for something just about as functional, but with a more open look. Mount glass shelves on the wall over the tank. The transparent nature of the glass lets light through, but holds a few necessary items and perhaps some decorations, as well.

You can also employ the recessed cabinet idea in this space. Recapture that space with a functional cabinet that also has a mirrored or decorative door.

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