Thursday, October 8, 2015

22 UHeart Organizing: Budget Friendly Bathroom Shelving

I remember when we first moved into our home and one of the first things I purchased was an expensive over-the-loo etagere.  And when we went to update the bathroom, funny enough, it was the first thing to go.

Sure, the storage was great... but it was visually bulky and wobbly and didn't allow me to add styling and character to our bathroom.  Every since then, open shelving has had my heart.

The lovely DIY Playbook duo is here today to share how they whipped up some beautiful, yet budget friendly, shelves for their bathroom nook.  I love how the new shelves visually changed the space, offered functionality and also provided them a place to add in some personality and pizzazz.

My husband Finn & I recently purchased our first home together... a condo in the city of Chicago. We've been moved in for about a month now, and things are slooooowly starting to take shape around here. And when I say slow, I mean it. We're trying to make intentional decisions as we decorate this new space, so we don't end up with design regret. Instead of rushing to hang things on the walls and fill up every nook & cranny, we're first living in the space to see how we use it on an everyday basis. Sounds easy enough... but it's hard for this Type-A, list-loving gal to sit back and take things slooow, when all I really want to do is get 'er done.

One room that we've struggled with is our master bathroom. It's a beautiful, large space but it lacks storage. The only place for bathroom items are the two cabinets underneath the vanity. Other than the vanity cabinets, there are no drawers or a linen closet, and there is no way all of my toiletries are fitting in this space. From day one, we knew that we had to up the storage.

Here's a view of our not-so-glamorous potty. This area seemed like the ideal candidate for an upgrade, and I realized that my favorite DIY shelves would work perfectly in this space. I could utilize the bare wall above the toilet, add some personality, and incorporate some secret storage. That's a win-win-win in my playbook!

  • Wood (Cut to size at the hardware store)
  • 3 sets of these IKEA shelf brackets
  • Wood Stain (I used the finish Jacobean)
  • Rag & gloves
  • Level
  • Painter's Tape
  • Tape Measure
  • Pencil/Pen
  • Anchors & Screws
  • Screwdriver
  • Drill with regular & pilot hole bits

I first measured the area over the toilet and decided to go with wood shelves that were 21 inches long. I found wood at the hardware store, had the guy cut it right in store (for F-R-E-E!) and brought it on home. Then, I got to work staining. I chose the color "Jacobean" to match our newly stained hardwood floors. When staining, I always wear gloves and I just dip a rag in the stain and rub it over the wood. 1 coat, and you're good to go!

I let my wood dry for a couple of days, and then got ready to install them.

The hardest part of this project is the installation. It's not crazy difficult, it just requires some attention to detail. A pen, tape measure, and level will be your best friends for this portion of the project.

In order to make sure my shelves were vertically aligned, I put painter's tape on the wall and used a level to make sure they were straight. I then figured out where I wanted my shelves and marked the wall at all 3 spots. I ended up spacing each shelf about 14 inches apart, but you can do whatever works for you and your space.

These particular brackets call for 2 holes on each side. So I marked the holes for 1 bracket at a time, and then got out my drill to make some pilot holes.

Rookie Tip: Put a piece of painter's tape on your drill bit that is the length of your anchor/screw. That way you don't go too deep into the wall when drilling.

With my pilot holes made, I then drilled in my anchors and then attached the bracket with screws. Next I made the holes and inserted the anchors for the other bracket, and then slide the wood into place before attaching the second bracket to the wall.

Rookie Tip: This is when another set of hands would come in.... well, handy. You can do this by yourself (I did), but you'll cut the amount of curse words, excessive sweating, and dropped tools if you grab a buddy to help you.

In fact, Bridget & I installed these same shelves in her sister's kitchen last year. Here's a little time lapse of the installation process.

If only it was that fast in real life!

After one shelf is up... moving on down to level two.

And before you know it you'll be on your third and final (!) shelf.

Now time for the best part... the styling & organizing!

I decided to showcase some personality on these shelves with sentimental items and artwork. Our favorite vases, a Chicago record, and colorful art really "pretty up" these rustic shelves.

I love incorporating some nature into every space. So greenery and fresh flowers were a no brainer!

I'm so happy that I was able to add some decor & personality on these DIY shelves, but what I love even more is the extra storage they provide.

A shot glass corrals rogue bobby pins. And you'd never know that this pretty white jar holds q-tips and cotton balls!

A bowl of matches from our favorite dinner spots are gathered together in a decorative bowl. Matches in the bathroom are always a great idea to eliminate odors. #sofreshsoclean

I used a wicker basket to store extra toilet paper that was taking up valuable real estate underneath our vanity.

I'm thrilled with our new master bathroom shelves, but I'm even more excited that I crossed something off our mile-long home to-do list.


"Hey There! We're Bridget and Casey, the best friends, Chicago gals, and editors behind The DIY Playbook. Even though we consider ourselves busy girls with full-time jobs, husbands, and never ending to-do lists, we believe there is always time to add personality to our homes. On our blog, we strive to inspire our readers to inject their sparkling personalities into their own spaces with affordable and attainable solutions. We heart Instagram, can't turn down a cup of coffee, have no clue what we're doing in the kitchen, and are beyond excited to be part of the IHeart Organizing team!"


  1. I love those shelves!

    Her Heartland Soul

  2. It looks great! Casey has been one BUSY lady!!! :)

    1. Elise, you crack me up! Even though I feel like I haven't gotten much done in our new home, I suppose I have been pretty busy! Thanks for the support.


  3. Those are truly gorgeous. Nicely done!

  4. Why, why, why are there books as part of the styling of a shelf in a toilet room? No wonder this site is now on GOMI.

    1. Maybe they read while taking a bath? I keep a small stack of books near my tub because it is typically the only few minutes of quiet reading time I have... Negative comments like this make me a bit sad when the entire point of the post was to provide inspiration and a DIY tutorial for some lovely and simple bathroom shelves.

    2. I think it's a great tutorial and the pics are gorgeous! I agree, Jen! You can put whatever you want on the shelves in your own house! Sheesh!!

  5. Love the look of these and the styling is spot on, as always!

  6. The styling is absolutely gorgeous. I do think our idea of 'storage' is a little different, but I'm always amazed at how decor can really upgrade an area! Looks so chic and expensive now.

  7. Bathrooms never have enough storage do they?

    I love the the baskets, will admit I also wondered about that amount of books in a bathroom, but I like the style, and I do like to read in the bath :)

    I have the exact same brackets waiting to go up in our half bath - just need to make a final decision about colour of shelves - either shiney white or 'almost' black, but now youve thrown gorgeous dark stained wood into the mix too - I'll never make up my mind.

    Anyway, great shelves!

    Ann @ Our Handmade Home

  8. We totally understand about how hard it is to be patient and not have design regrets!

    It all turned out great!

  9. So cute!! I think we'll be using this in the future for sure!!! I dont actually see how it added much storage since it's styled with books and whatnot but it sure is pretty. And as for the negative nancy, I read in the tub all the time and would have a shelf of books if I had a modern bathroom with a working fan.

  10. Very inspirational! (Beautiful work and I LOVE the styling!! Something I'm always working on...)

  11. Great post! Love the idea of corralling bobby pins with a shot glass! You could even use a fun one you picked up while traveling. Also love the white jar and basket for storage. And we keep books in all our bathrooms! The ONLY time my fiance will read is when he is going to the bathroom, LOL! Love DIY Playbook, I might want to try this in my bathroom!

  12. This is seriously beautiful and great inspiration. I love that you got a high end look using IKEA, and some genius styling (toilet paper in the cute basket + fresh greenery) complete the whole look. Pretty on a budget - love!

  13. Beautiful, and such a good use of the space! I"m bookmarking this for when we eventually redo our bathroom... we have a similar space above the toilet that I'd like to keep nice.

  14. I also love the look of these shelves and I am seriously thinking of copying them so thank you! I was thinking about the storage question also while I read the post though, even if it is for storage of books. I thought when reading that the books looked more like "decor" books as opposed to something being actually used (I also read in the bath!). But hey - having a place to store your decor and put some personality into a space is also a good thing :)

  15. Love it! Do you happen to know the name of the wall paint color??? We have the same color tile!


Thank you so much for taking a moment to join in on the conversation! I read and appreciate each and every comment, however, I will remove any comment that I believe to be inappropriate, malicious, or spam-like. I would love for this comment section to be used as a place to engage in purposeful dialogue, I only ask that everyone remains constructive and considerate.

All comments will be moderated and may take a moment to appear.