Making do in a teensy bathroom

JD and I moved into our Chicago apartment about two and a half years ago. We lucked out with a nice vintage building, responsive landlord, refurbed kitchen, and a great overall layout, so we probably won’t leave until we can afford to buy our own place. That said, one of the few things I don’t like about this apartment is the size of the bathroom.



The toilet is right inside the door, and about two inches from the sink, which is shoved right up against the tub. There’s a large standing radiator directly across from the sink. The standing area has just enough room for the door to swing inwards and graze the edge of the bathmat. Basically what I’m saying is that if JD and I didn’t wake up and get ready for work at very different hours, our morning routines would be very unhappy.

Here’s how I’ve managed to deal in a tiny bathroom:

This one’s obvious, but: make use of whatever flat surface is available. In our case, this means that we have things stowed on the windowsill, inside and on top of the medicine cabinet, the back of the toilet (ick, I know, but what can you do?), and, depending on the weather, the radiator.


Make use of walls. This little suction-cup basket is great for holding extra bottles of goop for your hair and face! Just be prepared for, once a year a so, the thing crashing down into the sink in the middle of the night. Pro tip: keep those suction cups moisturized.


Get creative with height. This is the skyscraper principle, right? If space on the ground is limited, build up, not out. I recently bought this little shelf and it has made such a difference. Not only are things neatly organized in the bottom shelf, but there’s no more tossing my extra hand towels into the back of the cabinet, never to be found again.


Prioritize beauty! Just because there’s barely room to turn around doesn’t mean it can’t look cute. This painting of former UK basketball player Anthony Davis as Frida Kahlo is one of my favorite pieces of art (you can find more of the artist’s work at her Etsy shop). It helps make the bathroom look less like a glorified closet and more like a real part of the home.


Clean up and clean out regularly.  Bathrooms are disgusting by default, but it’s extra noticeable in a small space. I sanitize the whole bathroom about once a week and do spot-cleaning as needed. And one thing I really love about living in a small space is that it forces me to prioritize what I have and donate or throw out the things I no longer need. There are few things as satisfying as getting rid of a couple bags of old crap and leaving behind a streamlined, organized storage area.

Nothing revolutionary here, but I love finding ways to make the most out of a less-than-ideal situation, and I’m pretty happy with the way this has turned out!


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