Creating temporary storage that can be reused over and over again

The master bathroom in my home is a nightmare. It has zero built-in storage. There isn’t a single drawer, shelf, or cupboard in the entire space. Not only that, it doesn’t even have a toilet paper holder or towel rack attached to the wall. I wish I were kidding, but I’m not.

I have no idea what the previous owners were thinking when they gutted the room and redesigned it. It’s as if storage were something they feared.

After we finish our bedroom redesign project, we’re planning to take on the bathroom problem. But, until that point, we had to do something as a temporary solution:

We decided to use InterMETRO Shelving because it can be disassembled and reused in another area of our home when we create built-in storage in the bathroom. Additionally, we can reconfigure the set-up of the system as our needs change — add more shelves, swap out the shelves, make it taller, etc.

We also chose to use inexpensive boxes that look nice and can be repurposed when they’re no longer needed in this space. We went with white because it’s one color that appears in every room of our home.

(As a side note, if you’re trying to decide on tile colors for your bathroom floor, do not go with white. Every stray cat and human hair screams “LOOK AT ME,” which means that we are constantly cleaning the floor. A nice light gray would look just as nice and not require daily sweeping.)

If you have a temporary storage problem in your home, think about a solution that can be reused someplace else when it’s no longer needed in its temporary space. The InterMETRO Shelving also is a great idea for renters who need more storage but aren’t looking to make a permanent installment.

21 Comments for “Creating temporary storage that can be reused over and over again”

  1. posted by Springpeeper on

    I heartily second the note to avoid white floors in bathrooms. Kitchens, too. Learned this the hard way…

  2. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Springpeeper — The previous owners also put white tile in our kitchen. It perplexes me greatly.

  3. posted by martha in mobile on

    One of the previous owners of my house also put in white tile in the bathrooms and kitchen. They also heeded the tile commandment to make your grout the same colour as your dirt. Soooo, white tiles that constantly need cleaning surrounded by dirty-brown grout. One could weep.

  4. posted by Xerxes3rd on

    Furthermore, in addition to avoid white tile, choose a dark-colored grout as well. We mistakenly went rather light on our grout, and it’s a pain. Granted, the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser works WONDERS on dirty grout, but it’s still a nuisance.

  5. posted by Michele on

    I love Intermetro shelving. It looks great and is sturdy enough to later be used in the garage.

  6. posted by bbot on

    Question–what is all that stuff you’re storing? I see the towels, but it looks like a LOT of TP and toothpaste for one master bathroom…

  7. posted by Meg on

    Does the Mr. Clean Eraser REALLY work on grout?!?! You made my day! Light grey tile in the kitchen with light grout isn’t much better. . .hence the savings project for bamboo floors. . .we’re almost there. . .!

  8. posted by Erin Doland on

    @bbot — The towel you see in the picture is actually in a dirty clothes basket. Most of the storage boxes are full of towels and wash cloths. One of the big bins has toilet paper in it. Our daily toiletries (toothpaste, shaving cream, etc.) are in the two small boxes on the top shelf and my makeup is in the silver metal box on the right.

  9. posted by gnomchik on

    Tile/grout suggestion – regardless what color tile you choose, advise using a latex-based grout. It is a bit more expensive than the regular stuff & it’s a bit harder to find people who know how to install it, but definitely worth it: don’t need to seal it & it’s very stain-resistant. This is the same stuff that’s used in commercial kitchens, but it comes in enough colors to be decor-friendly. Mine was a cafe au lait color at time of installation & ten years later (despite numerous spills of red stuff) is still the same color. The tiles are a variegated cream/beige swirled pattern.

  10. posted by Anne on

    We had a similar problem in our main bathroom that’s upstairs with the bedrooms. Our storage ended up being out in the hall linen closet which wasn’t a good long-term solution.

    We found shelves at IKEA that have worked beautifully! I don’t have the name but they hang on the wall, they are three cubes in a row with doors on them (corner notched out to make a place to open). The display had these hanging horizontally – three across – but we hung two side by side vertically. They don’t stick out from the wall past the toilet tank and they hold all the personal supplies that are now out of our linen closet. They have an oak finish that matches our wood trim.

  11. posted by Ang on

    We have THE SAME problem in our bathroom – it was remodeled, but with zero storage, no mirror, and on top of that zero outlets. The room is also small and has very little room for a floor unit. We’ve pursued a couple of (unsatisfactory) solutions, and have settled on a small wall-hanging unit with three shelves, one with a door, that holds our immediate needs (dental care, deodorant, etc). The rest we keep in the linen closet just outside in the hall. The downside, as Anne mentioned, is that it eats up valuable space that could be used for other items; our 1940s house has a dearth of storage.

    And ditto about the white floors/surfaces/grout. We have an all-white kitchen (OK, they used green floor tile but with WHITE grout) and I constantly think that it was not designed by anyone who ever cooked (i.e. made a mess) in a kitchen.

    I do like the wire shelving. It is neat, minimalist, and adaptable.

  12. posted by Mike on

    This post reminds me of this, “Add an Additional Room to Your Apartment” article.

  13. posted by Dream Mom DBA on

    In my apartment, they also used white cabinets and solid white countertops. I have found that Bon Ami works nice on the countertops to keep them white and fresh. I shudder to think of white grout and love the tip regarding the latex-based grout.

    Good idea on boxes you can reuse elsewhere.

    I can’t see the entire bathroom but would a furniture piece have worked in there-maybe something with drawers?

    Also, when I had my house a few years back, we had a 3/4 bath with a shower but no real place to store towels. I used a pretty three drawer decorative chest in my living room (it was located near the 3/4 bath) and stored my towels in the drawers. You just grabbed one before you went in there and it kept the vanity under the sink free for toiletries.

  14. posted by Lisa on

    Can you tell me where you got the boxes? My problem is that whoever previously owned our house took all the cabinet doors off in the kitchen and bath. While we have enough storage, the problem is that you can see everything. I have everthing in open bins for organization, but there’s the problem with dust. I like the idea of covered boxes but don’t know where to find them.

    I sympathize with everyone’s tile/grout issues. My kitchen counter is tiny six-sided tiles with white grout that has never been clean. We are trying to figure out what to replace it with (not being the granite counter top/stainless steel appliances kind of people). Any ideas?

  15. posted by Lee on

    We must be the exception. Our 1920 home was built with white 1″ hex tile on the floor of the entry hall and both baths. We liked it enough that when we remodeled our kitchen/breakfast room, we looked for hex but could only find 1″ x 1″ square, which we used and still love. We had 4″ square ceramic tile on the kitchen and bath walls. We were albe to keep most of the bath tiles, but had to tear out the entire kitchen and used flat 2″ x 2″ tiles on the backsplash. I find them hard to keeep clean.

    We just purchased a 1942 Cape Cod. We took down the bumpy beige 4″ x 4″ counter and backsplash tiles that the previous owner applied to “upgrade” the house and replaced the backsplash with 2″ x 6″ glazed white subway tile. It looks great. We put it in our new half bath and one section looks fine. In the other section, we found that the “white” is actually various shades of white – white with pinkish, blueish, and greenish looks – kind of like the variation you would see in color samples of various white paint. The contractor has had the tile man put it up twice, and we are going this morning to lay the tile out on the LR floor and pull out the “off colored” tiles before tile is applied for the 3rd time. We had hoped to repeaat this tile in the laundry room, master bath, and upstairs 3/4 bath, but don’t think that we or the contractor want to go through this again.

    We were able to find 1″ hex tile and have put that in the new breakfast room and half bath because we have enjoyed living with it. My housekeeping standards may be a little lower and I don’t wear my glasses while home, so I’m oblivious to the daily pet hair issue. I may buy one of the new Flylady floor dusters with removable and cleanable microfiber cloths.

    For storage, both in the master and 3/4 baths, we have been planning on finding and using wardrobe type pieces with shelves for towels, toiletries, and cleaning supplies. We are going to use a fabric skirt and 2 short rolling carts under the vanity counter in the half bath, rather than using a cabinet with drawers.

    Those Metro shelves are great. We have used and reused them in many places.

  16. posted by Erin Doland on

    @Lisa — I got these specific boxes at The Container Store. I know that Ikea sells ones similar, and so does Target (at least my local Target does … I couldn’t find them online).

  17. posted by Melissa on

    the bath in our last house as remodeled by the landlord (my grandmother) who thought the white tile looked “nice and crisp”. so did I until we used the new bathroom for 1 day. at that point I vowed no white tile on the floor ever again.

    she also did not include any storage space in the new bathroom. we moved out the house soon enough that it wasn’t n issue. but when my uncle moved in he built a cabinet that provides storage and fits over the steam radiator. a 2-for!

  18. posted by John on

    I cannot believe the mistake with the grout color! Another commenter mentioned Container Store – highly recommended in my book.

  19. posted by alisonann on

    For Lisa:
    We just re-did our kitchen and purchased oak butcher block from IKEA. Less than $100 for a 5 foot “slab.” It comes in a few different widths and is super easy to install. I think all of our countertops were less than a granite backsplash, and much more fitting in our 1940’s house.

  20. posted by DJ on

    At least you have room to put some storage boxes and shelves into play.

    In my master bath if I stand facing the shower and hold out my arms, I can touch each wall. If I turn 45 degrees and stand facing the sink, I can touch the shower door and the opposite wall.

    It’s one crazy-tiny bathroom. The only problem is lack of storage… and I don’t need much of it, really. I recently saw an article about painting the back of a bathroom door with a magnetic additive in regular paint, and then getting boxes or shelves or towel racks with magnets on the back and sticking them to the door.

  21. posted by Another Deb on

    If you hate your grout color, it CAN be painted. We have Saltillo tile and the grout looked like dirty cement. A professional came in, stripped the sealer, painted the grout and resealed the tile. It took 3 days for the whole process, and about $600.00 for the 1600 sq ft house. He painted every grout line with a small brush and three years later it still looks fabulous!

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