Think your bathroom is neat and orderly? Well, don't forget about the shower. Here's how to organize this often-neglected area.
To organize a standard 5' x 9' bathroom, you've got to go to that zone ordinarily accessed only by crossword puzzle writers and designers of Swiss Army knives. With a lot of stuff to fit into a little space, you must make the most of the room you've got.
After you've installed the toothbrush holders and soap dishes by the sink and hung the magazine rack from the side of the toilet tank and mounted medicine cabinets in available corners, where do you turn next for available space?
The shower. Yes, it's wet in there, but there's plenty of stuff — washcloths, soap, shampoo, shaving supplies — that you'll want to have handy in a shower or tub, and a variety of handy products are specially designed for sensible shower and bath storage. Here's a rundown of the possibilities.
Remodel With Storage in Mind
A good time to plan shower and bath storage is when you're redoing the whole room. If you are remodeling your bathroom, think about the steps you can take to best use your shower space.
"A lot of people are surprised by what you can do with cabinetry in a small bathroom," says Thompson Price, president of Callier and Thompson Kitchen, Bath, and Appliances in St. Louis. "We do a lot of cabinetry over the shower and tub area, so instead of just an open area it becomes a nice storage facility. The code today is that you have to have a fan and if it's properly vented, moisture is not a problem."
Sabrina Foulke, architectural designer at Point One Architects + Planners in Old Lyme, Conn., says storage shelves can be built right into the shower wall. "We call them niches, where you carve into the wall. We do that a lot, but you can't do it with a pre-formed fiberglass enclosure. You have to be using tile, and they have to be installed well or they'll leak."
"If you're doing a complete gut of the bath," Foulke says, "put blocking where you know you're going to put a bar for washcloths before you put the wall in. That way the bar attaches to the wall a lot better."
Work With What You've Got
If you're not remodeling, you are by no means at the mercy of your existing space. Storage products of every description can help you make the most of what you've got.
Caddies and Shelving
There are narrow free-standing shelf units that fit in the shower corner, racks that hang from the showerhead or shower curtain rings, caddies that drape over the inside of the shower door or, like the Cross Tub Caddy from Creative Spaces, stretch like a bridge across the sides of the bathtub. Other shelving is installed on tension mount poles braced between the floor and ceiling of the shower.
You can use caddies to store everything from shampoo and conditioner bottles to shaving supplies to toothbrushes and bath toys. Look for deep pockets and baskets to keep knickknacks from slipping out of the caddies and underfoot. A wire mesh or large drainage holes in the pockets are required for proper drainage. A number of racks, including the Chrome Dual Shower Caddy from Space Savers, will hold bottles upside-down like ketchup so you can easily get that last squirt of shampoo or conditioner.
Form Meets Function
Caddies help you organize the things you have, while other products organize the things you do. Frontgate's no-fog Lighted Shower Mirror, for example, helps men shave their faces.
The Shaving Pedestal, mounted two feet off the floor of the shower, helps women shave their legs. Products commonly combine mirrors with storage racks for razors and shaving cream. Mounted soft soap and shampoo dispensers put those products at your fingertips, and covered bar soap dishes can keep the bars from melting. All these products can be mounted on the walls with suction cups or adhesives; screw mounts in blocking are the most secure.
We've found similar products in enamel coat for $20 (Shower Corner Shelves from Space Savers) and in more expensive stainless steel (Shower Butler from Frontgate), starting at $50.
There's even a $90 shower caddy offered by Aqua Art Enterprises made of weather-resistant teakwood (see picture above). The pricier you get, the more likely the product will have a designer look. Just keep in mind that a pleasing look can be achieved with carefully selected and coordinated components at the lower price range as well.
Aqua Art, www.aqua-art.com
Creative Spaces, www.creativespacesusa.com
Space Savers, www.spacesavers.com
Point One Architects + Planners, www.pointonarchitects.com
Callier and Thompson Kitchen, Bath, and Appliances, www.callierandthompson.com