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Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Organizing a 30-Inch Wide Vanity Area

I hadn't planned on posting about this, as I was just cleaning up my space. However, I watched a lot of YouTube videos on organizing small bathrooms and vanity areas and didn't really see many ideas that would work for my tiny space and even smaller budget. I don't have room to add shelves anywhere. And I'm not interested in spending a small fortune on cupboard/closet organizers. I came up with some good solutions that didn't cost me anything. So, I thought there might be a few ideas here that could help someone else.

My plan was to use what we had. I admit, I did have a couple of good organizational tools already, such as the chrome under-sink shelf and slide out drawers (had one already under this sink and borrowed another from the other bathroom) and the over-the-cabinet door acrylic caddies. I also have a wall-mounted mirrored cabinet. But no base cabinet drawers. I don't know what you think. But I think 30 inches is really pretty small for a vanity.

As I mentioned yesterday, the first thing I did was pull everything out of the cabinet and clean off the counter. I sorted all of my junk into categories. I stored non-vanity items in better places in the house (I don't really need 14 trash bags under the sink). To my surprise, I only threw away a small bag of stuff. 

It really bugged me that there was no drawer space for holding unsightly items like toothbrushes, floss and toothpaste or hairbrushes, nail clippers, and tweezers. Drawers are such handy receptacles for all of those necessities.The over-the-door caddies are the next best thing for daily used items. 

I decided to use the caddy on the left cabinet door to house all of these basic items. Every daily essential is now handy at my fingertips. I found that I can stand at the sink with the left cabinet door open and access my dental care stuff or fingernail clippers or tweezers easily, and without bending over very much. The cabinet door caddy really is the next best thing to a drawer just below the counter. Although the caddy is sectioned, I added a couple of square plastic containers to the large section to corral and sort various items.

The other caddy (hanging on the right cabinet door) is for my sunscreen, hand sanitizer, and some specialty skincare products that I only use occasionally. The style of this caddy is one long tray without sectioning. It's also not as long or deep as the caddy on the left door.

In the hull of the cabinet I already had one of the chrome shelf and drawer units. I borrowed a second one from another bathroom cabinet to see if two of these would be good organizational tools for me. As it turns out the other chrome unit had been holding bath towels, which actually stack nicely on that cabinet floor. So a "free" shelf and drawer unit for me to use here. 

On these units I used containers that we already had, such as round plastic shortening and Rubbermaid containers, cardboard boxes cut down to the right height, and a lidded plastic bin. I organized items according to their purpose and placed those that I needed often near the front and those less frequently used at the back of the shelves. In between the shelves I have a tall round tin where I store a hair straightener, a curling iron, and my hairbrush standing on end. I keep my scrunchies on the barrel of the curling iron, one stacked above another. Behind this tall tin and under the sink's pipe is where I store the sink plunger. I only rarely need that tool, but I can get to it when I do.

The one bulky item that simply would not fit in the cabinet now that I've reorganized is a wastepaper basket. For now, this bin sits on the floor up against a wall 6 feet away from the vanity.

Above the sink is a wall-mounted, mirrored shallow cabinet. I grouped like items and housed them in repurposed freezer containers and smaller square plastic containers that came as packaging for sets of toothbrushes over the years (we went through a lot of toothbrushes in the orthodontia years). The freezer containers are ones that had developed cracks and so could no longer be used to freeze liquids. 

I have containers for hair products and accessories, nail care, and extra moisturizers on the top shelf. On the middle shelf I keep essential oils, extra tubes of hand cream, foot care products, and medicines/first aid products. The bottom shelf of this cabinet has all of my cosmetics. On the left is an acrylic make-up organizer that had previously been sitting on the countertop. It was very functional when out on the countertop, but it tended to look unsightly as products and brushes spilled out around the edges or didn't get put away when I was in a rush to get out the door. I used more of the small square plastic containers for cosmetic brushes and for eyelash and eyebrow related items. The far right container behind the tinted moisturizers contains miscellaneous travel-sized cosmetics. 

I have a lot of stuff here, I realize that. When my husband looked into my cabinet, that was his comment, too. I tend to keep products forever. When something expires or just gets old, I repurpose it. I found several purse-sized containers of hand lotion. I now use those in the shower in place of soap or mixed with a bit of shower gel. I also found numerous partially-used, purse-sized containers of hand sanitizer. I am currently using these as cleaning agents for the sink area. Ditto on an expired container of ear piercing solution. I do throw out expired medications without hesitation, though.

I've worked to make the counter look as attractive as possible.  I haven't mentioned this, but this sink area is in the master bedroom. So, I don't want it to look all junky. My CeraVe moisturizer and silver cup of faux flowers is on the right, and the cut glass tray of perfumes and colognes, the glass sundae dish for holding hand soap, and my towel is to the left.

the 1970s towel ring I plan to paint a creamy white

The whole area is still a work in progress. As mentioned, I have a towel ring that I will mount on the wall after I paint. That will get the hand towel off the countertop. The phone charging cord still hangs there to the right. I'm working on a solution for where to keep and charge my phone.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with how the organization has worked out. I can find things easily and am still putting them away in their spots without trouble. I used items we already had in our house, tidied up the messy areas, and sorted and stored items according to purpose. Successful organization of a tiny space without any expense.


  1. I need to go through my bathroom cabinets and organize them. We have what is possibly the tiniest half bath ever. It is located in our master bedroom. Despite it being tiny, it was one of the primary reasons that we bought this house. Having grown up in a home with one bathroom for 6 people, I wanted, at a minimum, a bath and a half bath in our home. Our toilet is next to the sink, and there is a pocket door for privacy. All to say, I understand the challenges of dealing with a tiny sink area. You have come up with solutions that are both practical and attractive and you may have inspired me to improve my space!

    1. Hi Kris,
      I'm sure it was challenging at times with a family of 6 and 1 bathroom. I can definitely understand wanting at least a bath and a half.

      I had a friend who was 1 of 3 daughters in a family of 5 total. Their house was a two bedroom, one bathroom. All three daughters were close in age. The bathroom was a source of a lot of conflict on school and work mornings. When the oldest was about 13 or 14, the parents decided to finish the attic space and make it into a large bedroom for the three girls. Then they turned the second bedroom (which was right next to the bathroom) into a grooming center for the daughters and mom. In this room they put a table with a make-up mirror, the iron and ironing board, and a place to do hair with another mirror. At least the mornings were easier for all of them in this tight home.

      Good luck with your bathroom organizing!

    2. I grew up in a family of girls and one bathroom. Getting ready for school could be challenging at times.

  2. It must feel good to have everything organized and a decluttered top. Sometimes when I organize a cabinet, I go open the door just to look at it. You have come up with good solutions for everything. Our old master bath had a vanity area about the same size as yours for both of us. We relied heavily on the cabinet above the sink and installed another one over the toilet. In our new house, we have a bigger vanity that holds two sinks and drawers underneath. While it is not spacious, it is much easier to use that what we had before. A couple of months ago, we went through everything in the bathroom and reorganized. I gave a a large bag of little toiletries to a women's shelter. I had intended to be thrifty and us them myself, but never did. Rather than having cluttering up our cabinet, it was better to give them to someone who would use them.

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      Ha ha, I do the same thing, just go and look at how tidy a space looks.

      That's a very good thing to do with the unopened containers of travel toiletries. I'm sure the women's shelter really appreciated the donation. It feels so good to organize a space and know exactly what you have and where to find it, doesn't it?


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