Bathroom cabinet ideas - 10 ways to maximize space and style in the smallest room

Bathroom cabinet ideas are a way to get cool colors, elegant shapes and hidden depths into your space, with these designer-approved looks

bathroom cabinet ideas
(Image credit: Project: Carden Cunietti / Photography: Andrew Beasley)

Bathroom cabinet ideas have been elevated recently to become a hero in their own right. There is now a dizzying array of fixtures and fittings to choose from,  which is brilliant news for anyone embarking on a bathroom redesign. 

And while it's tempting to focus on the statement features such as walk-in shower ideas or free-standing baths, getting your bathroom storage ideas right are what will truly make the space work. Yes, the right bathroom cabinets will ease your route to a fabulous and functional sanctuary.

'Bathrooms are often compact, so when it comes to bathroom furniture it’s important to strike a balance between it being useful and not overwhelming the space,' says the interior designer Irene Gunter, founder of Gunter & Co. 

She's not the only one who puts such a high store in storage. 'My general approach is to build in as much inconspicuous storage as possible without affecting the aesthetic,' says he interior designer Charu Gandhi, founder of Elicyon. 'If I’m planning a big mirrored wall, I integrate a hidden cupboard behind it.' 


1. Build into a recess

recessed bathroom cabinet

(Image credit: Project: Gunter & Co)

The beauty of bathroom design is that there is often a lot of pipework that has to be hidden behind a stud wall. This often gives designers the opportunity to build storage into the void that it creates above, and is useful to know how to work around when it comes to small bathroom storage ideas. Someone who has done this to beautiful effect in this  project is Irene Gunter, founder of Gunter & Co. 

'It's important that a cabinet above a basin doesn't protrude too far,' says Irene. 'From a purely practical point of view, it’s easy to bang your head, so shallow mirror cabinets are preferable. This stud wall allowed us to recess a pair of bespoke mirrored cabinets. At first glance, the cabinets look like mirrors. But you can open them up to reveal a decent amount of storage.'

Now that bathroom TV ideas are so popular, they often need to be taken into account, too. 'It’s possible to have all manner of technology delivered via bathroom furniture, such as access to the internet, smart speakers and even TV,' Irene says. 'But in my opinion, the bathroom should be a sanctuary from everyday life, so I like to keep technology simple and functional'. 

2. Introduce an accent color

bathroom cabinet

(Image credit: Project by Imperfect Interiors / Photography: Chris Snook)

Bespoke storage is the best way to max space in a small room and designers have plenty of ways to make it look interesting.

'Paint the frame or open shelving in a contrasting and unexpected color and consider the cabinet a feature of the room rather than something purely functional,' says Beth Dadswell, founder of Imperfect Interiors. The frame above is a blush pink, adding a gentle note of prettiness to the overall effect.

'If the cabinet is decorative, reeded glass is a prettier option than clear glass,' Beth continues. 'Although if it's above a basin and you need it to double up as a mirror, stick to standard mirrored glass and add "demista" heat pads to the backs of the mirrors to prevent them from steaming up.' Add that to your list of bathroom mirror ideas.

3. Create a sense of grandeur with rich timber

Sliding vanity mirror in open plan ensuite bathroom

(Image credit: Thomas Kuoh)

Rich natural materials and textures add warmth and character to what can easily feel like cold, clinical space.  

'Our clients are coming to us wanting unique and highly personalised cabinetry in their master bathrooms and even their guest bathrooms,' say Katie Glaister, co-founder of K&H Design.  

Bathroom vanity ideas are a perfect way to introduce a new material to the room. 'It's a great opportunity to be creative and design either an immersive maximalist experience, a serene haven, or a room to just be enjoyed,' Katie says. 'We start with the ergonomics of the room and create bespoke cabinetry in styles, and with materials, which will stand the test of time.'

4. Hide your cabinet behind the mirror

Cielo oval bathroom cabinet

(Image credit: Project: Gunter & Co)

If you've gone bold with your bathroom color ideas then it makes sense to balance this with coordinated but minimal styling on the bathroom cabinet. 

'I tend not to be led by trends, rather to choose materials and styles that will look good both now and for years to come,' says Irene Gunter, founder, Gunter & Co. 'Choose something you both like the look of and is practical. I’ve used the Oval Box mirror by Cielo in a number of my projects. With minimal framing it doesn’t overwhelm, but still makes a great focal point above the basin.'

5. Go for simple symmetry

mirrored wall cabinet

(Image credit: Future / Anna Stathaki)

Although the owner here has focussed on white bathroom ideas, this serene space feels very elevated thanks to its clean lines and the symmetry of the mirrored cabinet above the vanity unit. 

'Bathroom cabinets need to be shallow in depth, as you need space above the basin and taps, so plan for them to be deep enough internally for a bottle of shampoo or perfume,' says Beth Dadswell, founder, Imperfect Interiors. 'Think about your bathroom lighting too; if you're taking your wall cabinets full width, consider adding warm LED light strips below them for a wash of flattering light, or add a projecting picture light or wall lamps above.'

6. Go for a glamorous spa-like feel

bathroom cabinet ideas

(Image credit: Project: Carden Cunietti / Photography: Andrew Beasley)

Depending on your storage requirements and available space, it can be worth considering cabinets beside the basin. This space is usually reserved for your bathroom shelf ideas, but sometimes it's neater to hide your things behind a door. These glamorous Art Deco style cabinets in this project from Carden Cunietti offer the option to store bulkier items like fluffy towels - and somewhere out of sight to charge toothbrushes and electric razors.

'We're seeing an upsurge in requests for spa-type bathrooms,' says Eleanora Cunietti, co-founder of Carden Cunietti. 'The bathroom is the ultimate space where we can pamper ourselves.'

7. Coordinate the color with vanity units

burnt orange bathroom cabinets

(Image credit: C.P. Hart)

When planning a scheme, it pays to have longevity in mind. That often means saving your dark bathroom ideas for the parts that can be easily updated, such as painted surfaces.

Teamed with the double vanity unit, this colorful duo (available in 20 colors) make a bold statement in a bathroom. It's also rather nice to have a cabinet each, so there's no fighting over the floss.

‘Well planned storage has become an absolute essential in bathroom design today,’ says C.P. Hart director of design, Yousef Mansuri. ‘Somewhere to stow toiletries and cosmetics out of sight allows surfaces to be kept clear of clutter, enables easy cleaning and enhances calm and order.’

8. Add wall lights to the frame

Caballero bathroom cabinet

(Image credit: Caballero)

We've become rather partial to bathroom chandelier ideas, though we appreciate others may prefer something more subtle. 'Eye level hidden storage in a bathroom is so important for keeping surfaces clear. This makes for a more holistic space when getting ready or winding down for the day,' says Lucia Caballero, Director of Caballero. 

'Trying to keep a mirror clear with no lines in front of the basin is a good design practice,' she continues. 'To do so we add smaller panels between each panel by either adding a space for wall lights or even over shelving to break up the vast number of mirrors.'

Also adding warm recessed LED strip lights to the top and bottom of a cabinet makes for a lovely glow of light when having a bath or shower, creating a relaxing atmosphere.

'We always add shaver sockets (at least two sets for each basin), which can charge toothbrushes too,' Lucia adds. 'As well as pull out shaver sockets with manual switch lights for practical use and closer inspections.'

9. Prevent finger marks with dainty handles

Caballero bathroom cabinet

(Image credit: Caballero)

Fluted kitchen islands have become big news, and ridges are making their way into the bathroom, too. So as not to distract from the hero texture of the sink, the homeowner has added finger pulls to the bottom of the cabinet to creates a sleeker look. This also avoids having a push touch mechanism which creates finger marks, which is hard to keep clean. 

'For a more traditional look, we add handles which can add to the aesthetic and practical factor,' says Lucia Caballero, director, Caballero. 'We generally add a bevelled edge detail to the mirrors too, however big or small, to add a sense of sophistication.'

10. Go big and bold 

yellow bathroom cabinet

(Image credit: Future / Paul Massey)

Bathroom cabinets tend to be hung on the wall but if you have the space a tall floor-standing model can be an attractive alternative. As well as offering ample storage space for towels, toiletries and more, it can serve as a stylish room divider too. 

The bold splash of sunny yellow on this bathroom cabinet is contrasted with the vivid red brassware packing a primary punch. Together they inject a joyful jolt into this otherwise neutral scheme. 

Is wood good to use for bathroom cabinets?

Yes, wood is good to use in bathroom cabinets, and providing it's sealed and varnished it will withstand the humidity well. According to Kyra Cotgrave, home designer at Neptune, 'Warmer tones and textures, like exposed timbers, can complement the cooler surfaces and colours often found in bathrooms.'

Katie Glaister, co-founder, K&H Design adds, 'If the budget allows, we will always advise solid wood when designing bespoke bathroom cabinets. There is a certain grandeur that is always achieved and it will last a lifetime.'

How big should a bathroom cabinet be?

The size of a bathroom cabinet obviously depends on the size of the bathroom and the style of vanity unit or basin you've chosen, but the minimum size would generally be the width of the basin. 

'It can also depend on the faucet projection and basin depth,' says Beth Dadswell, founder of Imperfect Interiors. 

'Shallow mirror cabinets are the go-to choice,' says Irene Gunter, founder, Gunter & Co. 'It’s surprising what can be stored in a depth of under 6 inches. Most medicines and cosmetics that you want to keep out of children’s way will fit here. If you're installing sockets for shaver and toothbrushes inside the cabinet, make sure there’s enough height for the toothbrush to stand up.'

Jacky Parker is a London-based freelance journalist and content creator, specialising in interiors, travel and food. From buying guides and real home case studies to shopping and news pages, she produces a wide range of features for national magazines and SEO content for websites

A long-time contributor to Livingetc, as a member of the team, she regularly reports on the latest trends, speaking to experts and discovering the latest tips. Jacky has also written  for other publications such as Homes and Gardens, Ideal Home, Red, Grand Designs, Sunday Times Style and AD, Country Homes and Interiors and ELLE Decoration.