The Infinite Possibilities Of Bathroom Shelves

Let's Begin

Bathroom decoration can be difficult. It can often feel like you’re missing that je ne sais quoi, like something is missing.

Instead of piling more decoration onto your basin or around your bath, it may be best to look further afield, to your walls.

They’re empty, barren and cry out for something to give them style and purpose.

They demand a shelf.

What Is A Shelf?

But what exactly is a shelf? We all know the rough concept, but what’s the nitty gritty? The dictionary describes them as “a surface for the storage or display of objects” which is apt for their common use in modern day.

Can You Put Shelves In The Bathroom?

Yes, in fact they can be extremely useful in a bathroom space. However, you need to be careful and keep a few things in mind. Firstly, the material matters, some woods or other untreated materials could actually begin to bend, break or mould in the humidity of the bathroom, which is obviously less than ideal.

As well as this, you need to be careful where you install your shelf. There are many potential negative consequences of haphazard installation, damaging tiles, damaging wires or even damaging pipes and causing flood damage. If you need to drill into the wall when installing your shelf, always make sure you are doing so in a safe segment of the wall that does not overlap any potentially hazardous elements.

Why Have A Shelf?

Any shelf, even a small shelf, can be a lifesaver in the bathroom. For starters, it can store all your essential toiletries like your toothbrush and toothpaste. This can save having to store them on the basin and in turn gives you more room to operate while using the basin. This is especially useful for the clumsier among us.

As well as this, they give you more room for decorating and added utility. With the addition of a shelf, you have a place to put your waterproof speaker and candle out of harm's way. You could also fill it with plants or other decorative items to really help personalize your space.

The Different Types Of Shelves

So, we understand what shelves are and their usefulness. But which shelf should you buy? There are actually a lot of options. But don’t worry, I’m here to break them all down for you.

Over The Toilet Shelf

Like the name would suggest, this shelf sits above your toilet. What the name doesn’t give away though, is how. Typically, these shelves are built like a large ‘n’ with legs that sit either side of the toilet that prop up the shelf.

This is a fun, unique and quirky design that not only makes vital use of small space, but also adds a distinct flourish to it. This kind of shelf is perfect for the person looking to maximise space and craves efficient, yet fun design. It would also pair very well with our toilet with a sink on top. This is because the added shelf above the basin would be perfect for keeping your toiletries at hand, while saving as much space as possible.

Over The Door Shelf

Speaking of space saving, this shelf adds extra utility to an already useful item, the door. The over the door shelf has hooks that go over the top of the door, allowing the shelves to hang below. By hanging your shelves off the door, you gain utility but lose no space. This is the perfect shelf for someone looking to save as much space as possible.

Wall Hung Shelf

A Cloakroom Shelf

The classic shelf is the wall hung shelf. It has brackets that either hold it from above or below that are screwed into the wall. This is a sturdy and smart shelf. Because of its simplicity, it can be tailored to a wide variety of different styles, plus because of its supports it makes the ideal counter for counter top basins. So, for someone looking for a good base to build off, this shelf is perfect.

Floating Shelf

A Wall Hung Shelf

The younger sibling of the wall hung shelf; the floating shelf has an innate air of cool about it. this is because there are no visible brackets, making the shelf look like it is literally floating. This sleek, clean look is perfect for any modern or minimalist home, as it cuts down on any complications for a nice, simple silhouette. This is achieved through the use of long internal brackets that go into both the wall and the shelf, holding it up without being seen.

Free Standing Shelving Unit

To be free standing is to be able to stand on your own legs and be placed anywhere. That is the convenience of freestanding shelves. Another boon is that they often come as units, with multiple shelves. This means you can store and display much more with this option. However, these shelves take up much more room, as they actively take up floor space. This makes them perfect for the person looking to add more storage to their bathroom and isn’t worried about space.

Ladder Shelf

A unique trend that has gained a lot of traction in the world of bathrooms is using a ladder as a shelving unit. This is because the steps of a ladder can make for perfect shelves when the ladder is placed against a wall. The use of a ladder adds a very unique rustic charm to our space. This can be compounded on through the use of other earthy materials and elements like decorative twine.

Of course, if you don’t want to use an actual ladder, you can buy shelving units that mimic the aesthetic of a ladder but attach to the wall to increase safety. If you’re looking for a rustic or unique aesthetic, the ladder shelf is the one for you.

Swivel Shelf

Interactivity is not something people instinctively associate with shelves, yet when designing any piece of furniture, the ergonomics of how it will be used has to be considered.

It’s this considered approach to how the user interacts with the item that makes the swivel shelf a marvel.

As you’ve probably guessed, the shelves have the ability to swivel. This works by having a central rod with multiple shelves built around it on nuts, which gives the ability to move left and right.

This means you can hang your shelf in your bathroom and fill it with useful items. As and when you need something specific, you simply turn the shelf and you have access to it.

This saves space and allows you to store more items in a practical and reachable way, making it perfect for the person looking for utility above all else.

Different Shelf Materials

So, you’ve chosen your style of shelf, but now you need to figure out what that shelf will be made of. Is it best to go for something natural or a composite? Is it okay to have wooden shelves in the bathroom? Once again, you are faced with a lot of options and once again I am here to break them down for you.

Wooden Shelves

A Wooden Shelf

As we all know, water rots wood, so how can wood be fine in the bathroom? It’s all about choosing the right wood and the right finish. Pine wood shelves are commonly used throughout houses, but have an extremely low water resistance. If you were to use pinewood in your bathroom, you would have to treat it with varnish or another waterproofing element. However, we don’t recommend using pinewood for your bathroom shelves, as it is a softwood and therefore more likely to bend or crack under the weight of carrying things. It is best to use a hardwood, as they are more resistant to these pressures.

Teak is the ideal wood for creating bathroom shelves as it is a hardwood which is extremely durable, but also because it is naturally very water resistant, making it the ideal choice for any home.

Glass Shelves

Not only does a glass shelf match the typical aesthetic of a classic and modern bathroom, it makes the items you store and display on the shelf easier to see. This is because of its transparency, which allows you to see more of your item, even if you are at a typically obfuscating angle. Plus, glass is waterproof, meaning you don’t have to worry about the humidity of your bathroom negatively affecting it, other than the fact it might steam up. This makes glass the ideal choice for the person looking for a practical shelf that can suit any environment. Just make sure the shelf you order is made from safety glass.

Plastic Shelves

Plastic is waterproof, sturdy, lightweight and safe. This makes plastic shelves ideal for the bathroom, as they suffer no ill for being in the humid environment, but also because of their lightweight nature making them perfect for alternative types of shelves like the over door shelf. As well as this, thin plastic is not as hard as glass or wood, meaning it is safer for children to be around, making this the ideal choice for the person looking to design a bathroom with children in mind.

Metal Shelves

A Metal Shelf

Metal shelves are the sturdiest option and the least likely to break, which makes them ideal for industrial settings and businesses. However, it can also add a unique aesthetic and charm to your home. Using recycled metal can create a rustic, environmental aesthetic. Contrasting this, using polished metal can create a very modern and industrial aesthetic. Just remember when using metal to use an alloy to try and decrease the chances of rust.

How Thick Should Bathroom Shelves Be?

Now you’ve chosen your style and your material, let’s make sure it’s safe. How thick should a shelf be? This will be different for different materials, such as metal and plastic generally needing less thickness. However, the average shelf made from would should be at least two inches thick. This is to give the items on top as much support as possible and prevent falling and breakages.

How To Install A Wooden Wall Hung Shelf

An Installed Bathroom Shelf

So, how do you actually install a shelf? I’m glad you asked! Interestingly, if you have a freestanding shelf, you just need to assemble it and then place it wherever you want, no installation necessary.

However, today we will focus on the classic, wall hung bathroom shelf.

Prepare The Wall

First up, you need to decide which wall you are hanging this on. If you choose a masonry wall, which is typically an exterior wall, you need to drill into it and insert wall plugs so that your screws can hold firm. If you decide to install on a stud wall, typically an interior wall, you need to use a stud finder to find the stud behind the wall and mark it, so you can anchor your shelf to that. It is worth investing in a more expensive stud finder that can also reveal the location of wires and pipes, just so you can be extra certain your wall is safe before installation. Don’t forget to make sure the wall is level using a spirit level before installation!

Install The Brackets

Now, screw in your stainless steel brackets. You will want to test their positioning on the shelf beforehand by placing the shelf on some bricks and testing different brick positions while weight sits on the shelf. You want to make sure the brackets are positioned to ensure the shelf doesn’t sag. Once you have screwed them in, make sure they are level.

Install The Shelf

Finally, you need to install the shelf itself. Place the shelf on top of the brackets and mark the exact spots you will need to screw into and begin screwing the shelf to the bracket. Once this is done, check it is level with a spirit level and check that it remains that way once weight is on it. if so, hoorah! You have officially installed a shelf.

How To Decorate A Shelf

It’s all well and good having a shelf, but now the juicy bit, decorating your shelf. What should you put on there? What’s the right blend of practicality and prettiness? This all depends on your theming. Theming your décor is very important as it allows you to create specific moods and feelings. An industrial look and a biophilic look will evoke very different moods for example. So let’s look at some example themes and how you should decorate your shelves to suit them.

Minimalist Shelf

Decorating with minimalism in mind can be both very restricting and very freeing. It’s all about focusing on what you need. So, we recommend installing a floating shelf for the minimalist look and using it to hold your toiletries, a candle and a single low maintenance plant. If you want to really bring it to life, get toiletries that are all a uniform colour to give subtle contrast to the shelf.

The candle and plant have shared air purifying and aroma based benefits that not fit minimalist theme of adding function while not taking up much space.

Maximalist Shelf

For the maximalist approach, we recommend getting a freestanding shelving unit with plenty of space. Here you can show off a variety of your toiletry products like your shampoos and bath bombs, etc… on one shelf and on another you can highlight collected knickknacks. For example, lots of people collect rubber ducks for their bathroom and this could be a great place to display them. Maximalism is all about fitting as much of you and your personality into the space, so think of things that reflet your interests and personality and show them off on your shelves.

Biophilic Shelf

A Biophilic Bathroom Shelf

When opting for a biophilic design, we recommend choosing the ladder shelf. This is because the rustic connotations it adds blends beautifully with the natural theming of biophilic design. Now, choose a variety of plants that favour humid conditions and don’t need much maintenance and spread them out over the multitiered shelves of the ladder. We recommend getting a variety of colours, but focusing on having a lot of green. As well as this, get a mix of plants that droop and stand tall to really emphasise the verticality and multileveled nature of the ladder.

To Conclude

Hopefully, you now see the value in a bathroom shelf, as well as the ways in which you can make yours your own. The shelf is often the gateway to the world of DIY, so if this is your first project and you’ve enjoyed it, don’t stop there. There’s plenty more projects for you to pursue!