21 Bathroom Shelf Ideas That Add Storage and Look Great

Whether you have a tiny city bathroom or a spacious primary suite, there’s always a need for more storage in one of the most used rooms of your home. There are extra towels that need safekeeping, candles for self-care evenings, and plants to add a little life. While vanity storage is nice, sometimes you want these pieces out in the open, where they’re easily accessible or nicely displayed. 

Installing shelves can help you add both storage and style to your bathroom, and they don’t need to take up a single square foot. These space-saving solutions can make the most of an underutilized nook or make a dramatic statement over a tub or sink. Bathroom shelving can add color, texture, and contrast—or seamlessly blend into the background. No matter how you plan to use your bathroom shelves, these functional (and beautiful) ideas from interior designers will help you get inspired.

Make a Functional Nook

Jake Shea

This shelving nook wasn’t part of the initial design plan, but it ended up bringing the entire space together. “Originally, it was intended to be seamlessly integrated with the shower wall,” says Becky Shea, founder of Becky Shea Design. “However, it seemed impractical not to unveil its potential and transform it into a distinctive feature wall.” She turned it into a backdrop for the freestanding bathtub, where it offers convenient access to towels and extra storage. 

Use a Fun Material

Vivian Johnson

While wood is beautiful, a little pattern can add whimsy and interest to a small space. “Don’t be afraid to make open shelving beautiful and incorporate it into your design,” says Laura Hur, founder of Lorla Studio. “In this small bathroom, we used extra terrazzo floor tiles and had our contractor create three floating terrazzo shelves, which tie in perfectly to the rest of the space and provide room for towels, a candle, and extra soap.”

Build Out a Niche

Sarah Shields Photography

Go beyond the standard shower niche, as Sallie Lord, founder of GreyHunt Interiors, did in this space. Instead of one block for shampoo and conditioner, she created a built-in shelf that reaches several feet tall. It includes multiple compartments for shower accessories and guarantees you’ll never have to store items on the shower floor again.

Add Floating Shelves

Jean Bai Photography

Floating shelves in a small bathroom with limited floor space provide additional storage and can help make a room appear larger, open, and airy, says Alice Chiu, interior designer at Miss Alice Designs. She juxtaposed the green handcrafted tiles with the warmth of the wood, bringing out the contrast and texture in both.

Utilize Shelves as an Open Linen Closet

Robert Peterson, Rustic White Photography

This bathroom is primarily neutral, but Tami Ramsay, partner and principal designer at CLOTH & KIND, wanted to bring in elements that would feel fresh against the white backdrop of wall and floor tile. The colors throughout the shower curtain and styling items are inspired by the abstract painting, adding punches of color throughout.

Wallpaper Around the Shelves

Jason Varney

You can make a statement even with minimalist shelves if you use a bold wallpaper in the background, like in this space from designer Ghislaine Viñas. The sleek white shelves disappear into the turquoise lines of the pattern, and decorative elements draw out the colors, bringing the entire palette together.

Place Shelves in a Convenient Spot

Carina Skrobecki Photo 

If the number one goal of shelving is to add more functional storage, then this design from Cohesively Curated Interiors does so perfectly. By placing bathroom shelving right by the sink, everything you need is right at arm’s reach. Washing your face? The cleanser is right there. Need a cotton ball? On the second shelf. It doesn’t get more convenient.

Incorporate Warm Wood

Chantelle Hartman Malarkey

Create a spa-like look in your bathroom by hanging simple warm wood shelves accented with pottery. “I love a neutral, natural look in bathrooms, and incorporating wood is a great way to warm up the space,” says interior designer Chantelle Hartman Malarkey.

Leverage an Awkward Nook

Caroline Sharpnack

If you have a small, non-functional space in your bathroom, repurpose it by hanging shelving. “By adding built-in wall shelves, we turned what could have been an awkward nook into extra storage space for bathroom essentials,” says Lauren Sullivan, founder and principal designer of Well x Design.

Use Shelves for Bath Accessories

Jess Isaac

When styled nicely, bathroom shelves can double as décor. “I wanted to add some warmth and an area for styling in the bathroom. Instead of art, I opted for a pair of white oak floating shelves near the large bathtub to balance out the black marble floors and white walls,” says Jaimee Longo, founder of The Layered House. She styled it with bath salts, a pair of glass jars filled with natural sponges, and cotton rounds alongside a dry brush set and room spray. The items give it a cozy, authentic feeling.

Add Contrast

Sean Litchfield 

Break up your bathroom’s color palette by introducing shelves in a contrasting color. “Given the neutral tones of the floors and walls, I wanted to introduce some complimentary tension to that corner with darker hues. The oxidized walnut perfectly complements both the light finishes and the sleek black tub,” says Shea, who likes to create space for comforts like candles, hand balms, and other decorative accouterments.

Make it Feel Like a Hotel

A modern, monochromatic palette is an effective way to make your bathroom feel like a hotel. But if you’re short on space, add functionality and storage without detracting from your luxe vibe with floating shelves. “We chose floating shelves with an open design to upscale the aesthetic and paired them with a medicine cabinet to ensure the client had ample storage,” says Isabel Runsewe, founder and creative director of Isy’s Interiors.

Blend Them Into the Walls

Stacy Zarin Goldberg

If you don’t want to draw attention to your bathroom shelves, you don’t have to. In this chic black and white bathroom, Lord used white shelves that blend in with the monochromatic white walls and fixtures. If not for the pop from the singular black vase, the shelves would practically disappear.

Tile the Shelves

Meghan Bob Photography

While you often see shelves made out of wood or another material that contrasts the walls, Hub of the House Studio opted to tile the shelves in this bathroom. By using the same material as the bathroom walls, there’s a seamless effect that makes the shelves seem like an architectural element rather than a styling piece.

Embrace an Unconventional Shape

Erin Konrath Photography

Shelves don’t have to be simple and straight. This arched built-in design from Element Design Network makes a huge statement with its dramatic shape and wood-paneled background. The candles and framed prints add height to the silhouette. 

Match the Countertop

Carina Skrobecki Photo

If you want a space that feels perfectly tied together, consider matching your shelving material to your countertops or other elements within your bathroom. This space from Cohesively Curated Interiors uses marble throughout. An added bonus, a stone or manufactured stone material is more water-resistant than wood.

Tie in Warm Wood

Meghan Bob Photography

Give an all-white bathroom more warmth by introducing wood shelves throughout. This bathroom from Hub of the House Studio uses warm wood elements in multiple spots in the room, including on the vanity and in the minimalist open shelves, which are located right by the sink for easy access.

Look Low

Jenn Verrier 

Get creative with where you hang your extra shelves. In this Lorla Studio bathroom, a shelf was added beneath the sink for hidden storage. “One way to sneak in some additional storage is to add a shelf under the vanity. This is a great solution when you need the utility a shelf offers, but don’t want it to be a major focal point of the design,” says Hur.

Accent it With a Tile

Jacob Snavely Photography

Have fun with your bathroom shelving. Curated Nest added an eye-catching geometric tile to the back of these shelves, providing an artful backdrop to any items that are styled there. Whether it’s functional bottles or a lively plant, it all works against this neutral yet bold tile. 

Hang Shelves On a Mirror

Meghan Bob Photography

No wall? No problem. Hub of the House Studio hung wood shelves on this bathroom mirror for a contrast in rustic and sleek design styles. The wood against the glass of the mirror shakes up the otherwise sophisticated bathroom and gives it an unexpected touch. 

Put in a Functional Shelf for Guests

Ellen Vanessa Photography

You’ve probably been in a bathroom where there’s nowhere but the sink to set your things. This bathroom from Kristen Elizabeth Design adds just enough shelving to avoid that problem. A tiny shelf by the toilet and a small one above are just the right size for personal necessities.

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