Top 6 stylish and functional bathroom shelf ideas for 2023

Hands up – who needs more storage in the bathroom? Oh, good, not just me! I need more storage, but I don’t have the floor space, so there is only one logical way to go: and that’s up. Time to use the wall space.

The humble bathroom shelf has a lot of potential to create many functional storage options. It is also a way to jazz up the bathroom with decor items like plants and cute objects.

Amit Malhotra, co-founder at Aflux Designs, says his pro list includes storing everything from hand towels to toiletries. Plus, shelves are an opportunity for the homeowner to be creative and introduce accessories and personal touches such as framed pictures or plants.

“If you prefer a lower maintenance bathroom, incorporating shelves will mean more cleaning compared to your items being stored away in your bathroom furniture. It’s also important to only store items on shelves that can withstand a high moisture environment also, otherwise they can get damaged,” he adds under the cons list.

Whether you need a solution to keep things tidy or for the aesthetic (or both), we have plenty of bathroom shelf ideas for you…

Marble bathroom with wall niche and lighting
The Multiliving collection from Scavolini.

1. Bathroom shelf ideas: styling

With open shelves, there is always a risk of things looking cluttered. So, styling is a key factor when creating an Instagram-ready shelf.

A few basic rules include: decant products into pretty bottles, add some house plants, and put any unappealing products in baskets and out of sight.

Ruth Foster, interior designer at Victoria Plum, recommends using organisation boxes or baskets to keep your bathroom products and toiletries neatly stored.

“Also use matching, labelled dispensers for your shampoo, conditioner and shower gels to make your shelf look organised and aesthetically pleasing. Add a plant or fresh flowers to add interest to a shelf in your bathroom. Or, you could even paint contemporary shelves in the same colour as your wall paint for a cohesive look, ” she suggests.

Copper bath in front of marble wall with niche
This beautiful design by Gurnaam Sharma from Ripples Bathrooms in Solihull features a practical recessed niche, which provides useful extra storage and is perfect for keeping toiletries on hand.
Blue and white bathroom with freestanding shelf unit
In this scheme, the ladder-style bathroom shelving holds house plants and spare towels. Wedding Veil and Blue Danube paint, from £20 for 0.94 litres, Benjamin Moore.

2. Bathroom shelf ideas: recessed wall niches

Recess niches have to be thought through at the early stages of renovations, but with foresight can have a huge payoff.

Niches are a great bathroom shelf idea, commonly used in showers. However, they can also be a smart and stylish storage solution in other spaces, such as above the toilet and basin.

As they are sunk into the wall, the items are often slightly hidden compared to wall-hung versions. To ensure the shelves make a bigger statement consider including integrated lighting in the shelf.

Walk-in shower with Euphoria 310 system by Grohe, and a practical recess niche.
Bath in front of wall with illuminated niche shelf
This master bathroom with niche, @final_family_home, provides some handy extra storage.

3. Vanity and built-in options

Mixing wall-mounted and built-in bathroom shelves can give you the best of both worlds: hide away the spare toilet roll and make space for your best toiletries. Make your life easier and put the items you need front and centre on the shelves for easy access.

“If your bathroom space looks too crowded with lots of units, or if there is no space for wall units, instead install open shelves for the storage of frequently used items,” advises Simon Collyns, marketing and retail director at Symphony.

“This makes items easy to access and is a lovely way to display stylish products and décor – if well organised!”

Compact WC and vanity unit
Fiora WC unit and vanity basin in Ivory, Symphony.
Pink and grey bathroom furniture
Roseberry vanity unit in Rose Quartz and Dove Grey, Utopia.

4. Wall shelves

Cleaning the bathroom is one of my least favourite tasks. So, as much as I love the aesthetic of open shelves, they can be a trap for dirt and dust.

“Open storage can easily become home to all kinds of dirt and dust, this shelving therefore requires a lot more regular cleaning than closed storage. Closed shelving often lacks ventilation, which can cause excess build-up of mould and mildew. As a bathroom is a humid environment it is key to ensure a good airflow for any products stored to keep health hazards at a minimum,” explains Anna Elkington, from the design team at Melody Maison.

Floating mirrored shelves in white bathroom
Bathroom shelf ideas: Inga smoked mirror floating corner unit, from £109.99, My Furniture.

5. Maximise bathroom storage

Is your bathroom overflowing with stuff? Rikki Fothergill, bathroom style expert at Big Bathroom Shop, recommends adding bathroom shelves, door hooks, and wall-hung units to maximise on space in small bathrooms.

“Shelves are a great way of storing luxury products that you want to show off. Instead of wasting cupboard space intended for uglier bathroom paraphernalia, create a spa-like display with a mix of candles, body lotions, reed diffusers and plants, just ensure that everything is fit for purpose and keep on top of this,” she says.

“Hooks on the back of a door can come in handy for towels and robes, but remember to not place too much on them as this will make the room look crowded.”

bathroom shelf ideas: freestanding furniture in a classic scheme
Mardi Gras 592 Sagre vinyl, from £24.99 per sq m, Carpetright.

6. Customise your organisation

There are so many different options for shelf storage these days – you are not just restricted to wall solutions. You can now pick from vanity units to shelves with mirrors.

If you want to take the customisation further, there are many options for modular furniture. “With the modular shelves from String, you will have no problem maximising stylish storage for any bathroom size or type of space. Towels and other bathroom essentials all need their dedicated spot and with String’s unique shelves, you can find a place for all your things while giving your bathroom a contemporary design,” says Bo Hellberg, CMO at String Furniture.

“Even the smallest of bathrooms needs plenty of storage and with a combination of wall panels in plex, mirrored cabinets and a metal shelf, you will go a long way. Alongside the clever range of accessories such as hooks, organisers and rods, there’s somewhere to give all those little things a place of their own.”

bathroom shelf ideas above a freestanding bath
String Pocket shelves, from £140, String Furniture.
bathroom shelf ideas with a tall, mirrored cabinet
Dockside Mirror with open shelving, from £395, Origins Living.

Your questions answered:

What are some creative ways to use shelves in a bathroom?

With all the different types of bathroom shelf ideas available, which one is best for you? Amit thinks low shelving can help make your bathroom feel more spacious. “Position low shelving underneath your bathroom vanity. For example, as this allows them to be easily accessible, it makes the most of potentially dead space and they remain out of sight.”

“If your bathroom is on the smaller side, opt for a built-in ledge near the sink to store hand wash, towels and other necessary items. This creates a really clean and streamlined look to the space, without losing any space in the process,” continues Amit.

“Shelving doesn’t just have to be functional. Dedicate floating shelves to express your own style. Adding greenery through plants is always a great addition, resulting in a calming oasis,” he concludes.

How do I choose the right size shelves for my bathroom?

In order to work this out, you have to first figure out how much stuff you need in your bathroom. Get all the bottles and products out, line them up and calculate how much space you really require.

Anna recommends making sure you have enough shelving to easily store all of your products. “However, shelving shouldn’t overwhelm your space. Floating shelves can be a good idea as they take up free wall space while ensuring there is still ample floor room. This often creates the illusion of added space and leaves your bathroom feeling more open,” she explains.

How do I keep shelves tidy?

As we’ve mentioned, shelves can get messy quickly – something most of us struggle with. Anna suggests having a cabinet with shelving inside as a way to easily control clutter. “Some of these cabinets include a mirrored design. So, this is a win-win situation as it is both practical but also stylish,” she says.

bathroom shelf ideas in wetroom area
Terrassa bath, from £3849.80, Victoria + Albert Baths. Photography: Forma 011 Design and Isadora Fabian

Do you need more organisation ideas? Check out these genius bathroom storage solutions for a clutter-free space

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