Recessed Bathroom Cabinets

Get all the information you'll need on recessed bathroom cabinets, and prepare to install an efficient and attractive storage space in your bathroom.



Crisp white walls and marble floors provide the backdrop to this traditional vanity, making the look fresh and clean. Recessed medicine cabinets are flanked by sconces with linen shades.

By: Sean McEvoy

Recessed bathroom cabinets can create an extremely efficient and attractive storage space in your bathroom, utilizing the otherwise unused space in the bathroom wall to store bathroom accessories and other essentials.

Bold and Trendy Small-Bathroom Makeover

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A Contemporary + Colorful Transformation

Before, the contractor-grade en suite powder room of this guest room was lacking in color and personality. With a timeline of just two days, bold hues and simple changes would reinvent it as a personalized place for guests to pamper themselves.

Fresh Walls

To turn the once-drab powder room into something bold and cheerful, the walls and ceiling were painted navy blue in a semigloss finish. The dark-colored walls and ceiling help tone down the intense apple-green paint of the adjacent guest room. Tip: When painting small spaces which open up to larger rooms, keep in mind that painting them the same color will unite the two spaces whereas using contrasting colors helps delineate them.

Creating a Color Palette

Similar to any other room in the house, layering colors in bathrooms is done effectively and practically with accessories. Keep the color palette consistent by choosing bath towels and hand towels in similar shades found on the window treatments or wall covering. Tip: Rather than matching colors exactly, interior designers recommend choosing colors which are slightly off from one another. This will keep a room feeling layered instead of matchy-matchy.

Light It Up

Lighting is one of the most important elements of a successful bathroom. Most contractor-grade bathrooms come with exposed-bulb vanity lights which cast an unflattering yellow glow on skin. Swap the existing fixture for something with diffused lighting such as a frosted-glass sconce. Once illuminated, the soft glow from the glass will cast flattering light onto the skin and allow true colors to read more naturally. If the existing junction box is centered directly over the mirror, it's easy to change out the fixtures without a hired electrician as long as the power is shut off and proper safety precautions are followed. Tip: For situations in which a junction box needs to be moved, it's best to call an electrician and prepare to budget approximately $200 for labor costs and materials.

Playing With Pattern

Pattern plays a big part in decorating small rooms effectively, especially in task-oriented spaces where accessories and decorative objects need to be kept to a minimum. In this powder room, ikat linen is used on the window's Roman shade, instantly taking the focus off the space's lack of square footage, instead playing up the navy-blue and apple-green color scheme. Tip: The key to using pattern successfully in a small space is to choose a repeat with the proper scale. Over-scale patterns are often cut off by walls less than eight feet in width, while small repeats can become too busy. The safest choice for pattern in a small space is a medium-sized repeat.

Clever Repurposing

When storage space is at a premium, the repurposing of everyday objects into clever space-saving solutions can make a tiny powder room much more practical. Consider hanging old baskets, crates or organizers sideways on walls for extra surface space. This will keep travel-sized toiletries neatly stored and easily accessible.

Smart Carpeting

While carpet may not seem like a great fit for wet spaces such as kitchens and bathrooms, it can often be practical in low-traffic powder rooms. Cover up dated tiles quickly and effectively by using bath mats in multiples. Once placed side-by-side, the seams may fade away, resulting in the look of custom, wall-to-wall carpet. Some great styles to do this trick with are shag, flokati, textured stripe and sisal.

Adding Height

Interior designers refer to ceilings as the fifth wall. While many homeowners leave their ceilings painted flat white, designers and decorators consider them important factors for cohesively decorating rooms. When painting small bathrooms, consider adding the same color to the ceiling. This will cause the points where the ceiling meets the walls to recede, creating the illusion of more height. Additionally, painting ceilings may help highlight architectural details such as crown molding.

Vanity Gems

Hardware is considered the jewelry of a room. Not only are drawer pulls, knobs and handles inexpensive, they're also easy to change. To add new life to a small powder room or bathroom, consider using hardware as an opportunity to tie a color scheme together or introduce interesting textures and finishes.

If you're contemplating installing recessed bathroom cabinets or replacing an existing recessed cabinet with a new design, you'll first want to ensure that your bath space can accommodate a recessed cabinet. Measure between the studs on the wall the cabinet will be placed to make sure you have enough space to install the cabinet, and also ensure there isn't any essential wiring or plumbing blocking the way. Once you're clear of any obstacles, you're ready to install the cabinet—but first, you'll have to choose a cabinet style.

Recessed bathroom cabinets are available in a wide range of styles to match just about any bathroom design. In general, these cabinets adhere to the overall style of the bathroom, although it's not uncommon for them to act as focal points that diverge a bit from the core design to provide some visual interest.

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