How to Organize a Tiny Bathroom, According to an Expert

Every apartment I move into seems to have a smaller
bathroom than the last.
I’m certain that’s not
what’s supposed to happen as you grow
, but a year ago I found myself living in an apartment fitted
with the smallest bathroom of my life. I wish I could say that my
nine years of moving
to increasingly tiny spaces has resulted in my being an expert
organizer—but in fact the opposite is true. Sadly I’m an
objectively messy person who loves skincare and
(and hoarding both), and this tends to be adequately
represented in my bathrooms.

The other day, when I found myself
sitting on the floor of my bathroom, surrounded by products I’d
dug out of a New Yorker tote bag I’d stuffed under my sink—all
to find a retainer cleaning tablet, I realized I needed to make a
change. So in the name of Renovations
, I reached out to professional organizer Tidy Tova, who has previously
worked magic on Harling’s
and Amelia’s
, for help.

Before Tova arrived at my apartment, I spent an entire night
sorting through my products. This means my before photos aren’t
true befores, but I didn’t want to waste any of my allocated
tidying time staring at a blush I hadn’t worn in two years,
wondering if this weekend might be the weekend it makes a
reappearance on my face. So I recycled or threw away all empty or
expired products and put everything I could bare to part with into
a separate bag to be rehomed. Finally, I stuffed everything back
under the sink and began counting down to Tova’s

Here’s everything I learned about bathroom organization when
she did. May it help you as much as it helped me.

1. Keep the Products You Use the Most in a Prime Position

Before Tova touched anything in my bathroom, she asked me to
pull out the products I use every single day. I obliged, and after
a totally warranted moment of disbelief at the sheer quantity
(unsurprisingly, Tova is a big proponent of less-is-more beauty
routines), she moved each of these products to the
easiest-to-access position on the shelves above my sink.

“My thought process, in bathrooms particularly,” she said,
“is that what you use the most should go front and center. I
really believe in streamlining your life and routine so that in the
mornings, all you need to do is open your cupboard, look to the
bottom right, and systematically work through those products
without searching for anything else,” she said. As obvious as
this seems, it made me realize how many products I had in my
typical line of sight that I was barely using. Why were they ever
there in the first place?

2. Add Containers to Shallow Shelves to Keep Products From Falling

Things falling out of the vanity and into the bathroom sink is a
pet peeve Tova and I share. However, unlike Tova, I had no plans to
do anything about it. She added these plastic organizers that would
normally be used in drawers to my shelves to keep everything in
place. Each container also had a category: My boyfriend got his own
container for his handful of products, my essential oils got their
own space, as did my serums and medicines.



3. Make Use of Vertical Space

While my solution for making use of the empty space in my
cupboard involved stuffing everything into a tote bag, Tova’s
version was slightly different. Before coming over, I sent her some
photos of my bathroom and she asked that I buy a couple of things
to help her organize my mess, including two sets of these removable drawers—one in
large and one in medium.

“I immediately saw an opportunity to take advantage of the
vertical space under your sink,” she said. “I really believe in
cheap, good purchases that go a long way in helping you get
organized.” While only one of the drawers fit under my cupboard,
the smaller of the two sat on top as a basket with dividers. I
never would have thought of investing in the vertical space under
my cabinet, but once I did, it seemed ridiculous that I

4. Make Everything as Visible and Accessible as Possible

Unlike the tote-bag method, putting everything in drawers means
I can now see and access everything I have stored. Tova also sorted
everything into separate product categories (hair, body, and face),
so it’s now just a matter of knowing what I want (dry shampoo)
and looking to that area under my sink (far right). As someone who
is constantly one misplaced product away from running late, this
has been a game-changer.

5. Avoid Product Samples and Doubling Up on Products

During the organizing process, Tova
and I spoke a lot about how so many of us end up filling our
bathroom cabinets with more than we need—especially when it comes
travel-size products and free samples. “Samples are a big issue
for me,” she said. “They come into your life so easily, and I
find that people rarely use them. But they get into every crack and
corner and are hard for people to throw away. I think they should
literally be outlawed,” she joked (I think). “Duplicates are
also a problem. You can’t find your deodorant, so you think you
don’t have any and buy a new one. You start using that one, then
find the old one, then neither get actually get used up and you end
up wasting money.” As she spoke, I saw a lifetime of
replacing—then finding—lost deodorant, sunscreen, and bars of
soap flash before my eyes.

6. Reorganize Your Bathroom Quarterly

Organization functions best when it’s in a constant state of
progress. As you finish and dispose of products, bring more into
your life, and shuffle things in shelves and drawers, your tidiness
will slowly start to fall apart. This is why Tova recommends a
quarterly bathroom organizing session. (If she had her way we’d
all be organizing once a month, but we both agreed quarterly felt
more reasonable.) So, mark your calendars or just aim to do a
clean-out at the beginning or end of each season.

7. Aim for “Real-Life Tidy” Not “Perfect Tidy”

Of all the tips Tova shared with me, this one was my favorite:
“I call what I aim for ‘real-life tidy.’ It’s my rebellion
against this current culture of perfection where people want
everything to line up, match, and look a certain way. I’m trying
to retrain people’s brains to know that for something to be
organized, it doesn’t have to look beautiful—it just has to be
functional,” she said.

Real-life tidy is very much how my new bathroom feels. Since
Tova’s visit I’ve saved time during my morning routine and have
already saved myself from buying seconds of products I already had.
It doesn’t look particularly Pinterest- or Instagram-worthy, but
everything has a place and that feels uniquely good.

Photos by Franey Miller.

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to Organize a Tiny Bathroom, According to an Expert
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How to Organize a Tiny Bathroom, According to an Expert