You can get away with a little clutter in the living room and even unwelcome chaos in the bedroom, but when it comes to the bathroom, there’s little margin for error. One false move—one wrong mess—can send your space into a downward spiral. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a natural organizer or self-professed minimalist to enjoy the perks of a tidy bathroom.
If your bathroom falls short of the personal oasis it’s supposed to be, it might be because you simply have too many things—or, more likely, too many new things. No matter how tiny your bathroom, you’ll be surprised by how much it can live without. In fact, it’ll be stronger for it.
In the spirit of making the most of what you love (and repurposing the things you don’t), here are five bathroom essentials you’re better off without.
A Towel Bar
Renters and renovators, listen up: You don’t have to punch a bunch of holes in the walls to prevent wet towels from hitting the ground. Skip the hassle and hardware of a mounted fixture and opt for a ladder shelf that can lean against the wall instead. You’ll be able to hang a lot more towels, and your bathroom will be cooler for it.
The Pro: Anita Yokota’s breezy bathroom might be timeless, but it makes the most of temporary solutions. In the rare case that the SoCal-based designer grows tired of her ladder in the future, the piece can be easily moved into the living room and enjoy a new life as a catchall for throw blankets.
A Medicine Cabinet
Don’t worry—we’re not telling you to give up on storage entirely. This laid-back Melbourne townhouse is proof that there are other seamless ways to make room for the essentials—note the two tiny ledges to the side of the mirror and the matte white ledge behind the faucets. Leaving everything out in the open may inspire you to pare down on the products. Your morning routine is about to get a whole lot simpler.
The Pro: Goodbye, clutter, and hello, statement mirror. With a medicine cabinet out of the picture, you can have some fun with your reflection. Go for something ultra-artful or challenge yourself with a DIY.
A Bath Mat
Vintage rugs have come to be considered a household staple in recent years, and why should they be excluded from the bathroom? In Kassina Folstad’s farmhouse bathroom, a heavily patterned Turkish rug takes the place of a snoozy, disposable bath mat. As long as you don’t step out of the shower totally drenched, it’ll last longer than you think.
The Pro: Going old-school is a great excuse to play up the color in your bathroom. With an infinite amount of varieties to choose from, you’re bound to find one from your local flea or favorite thrift store that speaks to you.
A Shower Caddy
Babba C. Rivera’s minimalist bathroom gets black and white right. Blurring the boundaries between a classic subway tile and a graphic grid, Rivera does her high-contrast walls justice by steering clear of extraneous accessories (*cough, bulky shower caddy, cough*).
The Pro: When you can clearly see what you have, you’re more likely to use it. Small bottles can get lost when they’re hiding up high. Plus, you won’t have to look at a gleaming tower of mold every time you step in the shower.
Whether you live alone or with three roommates, you really only need one source of water. Think of all the room you’d gain if you got rid of just one of your two sinks but kept the vanity the same size Garance Doré’s modern Mar Vista bathroom is a shining example of what can happen when you go solo.
The Pro: You know that stylish tray you’ve been eyeing? Now you finally have somewhere to put it. Top the new look off with your prettiest beauty products and fresh florals.