By Cora L. Diekman

Published on February 21, 2016

Pin It
Photography by HUNTED INTERIOR

by Cora L. Diekman

Queen of small space frustration, the medicine cabinet is the bathroom workhorse we love to hate. It’s an evil temptress, providing just enough storage to leave us begging for more. But fear not! There are hacks for taming the medicine cabinet and its many contents — yes, even the electric toothbrush!

Start with a cabinet that works for you

Before you begin organizing, consider the cabinet itself. All medicine cabinets are not created equal. Even if you’re short on space, there are models available with way-useful features for making the most out of seriously limited real estate. This version is big on reflection, with an interior that features a full door mirror plus an adjustable magnifying mirror which (bonus!) reduces countertop clutter. If you’re a renter, do NOT assume you’re stuck with the cabinet your apartment came with. Swap out a tired model for one that accommodates your needs (and style) even better. 

Pin It
Photography by CHRISTOPHER BAKER

Lay it all out there

Before successful organizing can begin, you need to know what you’re working with. Start by completely unpacking your medicine cabinet and taking inventory of what’s there. Throw away anything that’s expired, and remove any items that don’t belong. Then, lay out everything that remains for a full view of your inventory, and sort into categories of like items. When you return items to the cabinet, think about priority. Products used most frequently should be within convenient reach (obvs).

Pin It
Photography by CONTAINER STORE

Contain the small stuff

Small items should be corralled into compact canisters for order and convenience. Instead of traditional glass canisters with domed lids, opt for something way more practical like these clear acrylic mini-storage boxes. The acrylic is shatter-free, and flat lids allow for stacking, which makes use of every available inch between cabinet shelves.

Pin It
Photography by MATTHEW WILLIAMS

Create a clever cubby

File this under: Why Didn’t We Think of That?!? For awkward electrics that clutter the countertop and tip over easily (think electric toothbrushes and razors) create a cozy cubby inside the cabinet for an easy and frustration-free storage solution. Yes, please!

Pin It
Photography by MARTHA STEWART

Maximize with magnets

If shelves and traditional canisters don’t provide the solutions you need, try magnets. A single piece of galvanized steel (available at craft and home improvement stores) transforms any surface into a magnetic board with serious storage possibilities. Adding a piece to the back of the cabinet makes clever use of any unused space with magnetic hooks or small magnetic storage canisters. Still not enough storage? Add a piece to the inside of the cabinet door for even more options.

Pin It
Photography by KATHLEEN KAMPHAUSEN

Make room for cosmetics

With so many chic storage solutions at hand, the medicine cabinet can even be ideal for containing cosmetics. Magnetic boards come in super-decorative varieties that pack enough glam to make them worthy of displaying your most treasured lipsticks, compacts, and palettes. Look for a board that fits inside the cabinet door for a beautiful, space saving display of your cosmetic faves.

Pin It
Photography by POPSUGAR

Consider your budget

A well organized medicine cabinet need not break the bank. To streamline on a budget, skip the specialized storage containers and opt for less expensive all-purpose baskets, boxes, and pots (readily available at discount and even dollar stores). Containers in all-white create a look that’s as stylish as it is organized.

Pin It
Photography by SKONAHEM

Add a touch of chic

With so little real estate to work with, glamming up the medicine cabinet can seem like a serious waste of small space ingenuity. Not so! When an area is attractive and inviting (yes, even a super-small space like this!) we’re more inclined to keep it that way and maintain order. They key is to seek out pieces that do double duty, like these recycled candle jars. They pack a serious punch of old-world Parisian glam while providing much needed storage for bathroom necessities. Or, adhere a small swatch of wallpaper to the back of your cabinet for even more decorative appeal.

Pin It
Photography by DOMAINE HOME

Think outside the cabinet

When you just need more space (period!) think outside the medicine cabinet by expanding with a small set of open shelves. Any available wall space will work – just be sure items are readily at hand. Key to this look is continuity. Select a theme (bath items) and a single color palette, if possible. This petite shelf set is super-charming with a collection of bath salts, soaps, and washcloths in a neutral color scheme that’s organic and inviting.

Pin It
Photography by MARTHA STEWART

Get creative

Still lacking space? Consider non-traditional storage options, like this 3-tier wire basket that tucks away beside the sink or tub. Small baskets may also stacked above the medicine cabinet, if yours is deep enough. Just remember that anything in these open storage bins will be on display, so stick to a few like items to keep clutter at bay.