How to Decorate Bathroom Shelves Like a Pro

bahroom with three built-in shelves

Kip Dawkins for InSite Builders & Remodeling

Whether your bathroom solely belongs to you or is a space that you share with other members of your household, you know by now that keeping bathrooms nice and orderly is extremely important. After all, the bathroom serves as key storage for toilet paper, makeup products, shower supplies, and so much more.

If your bathroom doesn't feature built-in shelving but you're craving a bit more storage space, you can always install open shelving to better accommodate your needs. No matter the types of shelves you have in your space, though, you will want to be thoughtful when it comes to styling them. "Decorating bathroom shelves can add interest, depth, and dimension to a primary bath, and help to create the overall mood," Hannah Rasa, of InSite Builders & Remodeling, says. If you're looking to make your bathroom shelves shine but aren't sure where to get started, you'll want to keep reading. Below, we're sharing tips from design experts on what to keep in mind step by step as you get decorating.

Meet the Expert

Decide How Many Shelves You'd Like to Install

If you are designing a bathroom from scratch and will be selecting shelves to hang, keep in mind that three is an excellent number. "Don’t go for 100 percent symmetry," Allie Mann, of Case Architects & Remodelers, says. "Three shelves stacked has a way of feeling more balanced and interesting than two." When it comes to shelf color, subtle is best. "Keep the color palette of the shelves simple and in line with the colors of the bathroom," Rasa offers. "Try using contrasting paint color or stain on shelves for added dimension." Need a little more guidance? Julianne Hendrickson, of Hendrickson Interiors, offers some helpful tips. "Coastal bath? White oak is a great choice," she shares. "Modern bath? Gold and glass will make a statement."

three bathroom shelves

Stacy Zarin Goldberg for Case

Then, Consider Shelf Material

This is a key first step before purchasing any organizational supplies, Mann notes. "When decorating/styling bathroom shelving, it is important to consider the material used on the shelf," she explains. "Is it a floating shelf? Is it part of a cabinet ensemble? Is it glass and mixed metal? Depending on your base, you may opt for different materials and heaviness."

Work in a Mix of Functional and Aesthetic Pieces

When it comes time to style your shelves, follow this Mann-approved approach. "Start on the outside end of the shelf and work your way in," she advises. "Place tall objects in the back and layer short items in the front. Arrange objects in groups of three or five." Rasa adds, "Grouping objects together in odd numbers, arranging them in varying heights, and mixing vertical and horizontal pieces results in well-styled and balanced shelves."

In terms of functional items, you'll want to store on your shelves, don't forget about basics like toilet paper, rolled hand towels, and other day-to-day essentials. Rasa is a proponent of using storage bins. "Baskets serve a two-fold purpose; they are perfect for storage and add a textured element to bathroom shelves," she says. When it comes to everyday beauty items like cotton balls or Q-tips, place them in glass jars, Mann suggests. Other items that can go in glass jars include makeup brushes, lipsticks, and spare toothbrushes, to name a few.

While your bathroom shelves should be functional, first and foremost, it's certainly ok to add in some aesthetically pleasing pieces to bring some extra personality into the space. "The objects on the shelf can be more spa-like, too, such as candles and bath salts," Mann shares. "It is also nice to sprinkle a little green into the bathroom space by adding a real or faux plant." Rasa agrees. "Succulents, ferns, and orchids thrive in the humid environment of a bathroom," she shares. She suggests finishing off the look with a framed photo, commenting, "Lean a picture of your favorite happy place like the beach on a shelf against the wall."

built in shelves in bathroom

Stacy Zarin Goldberg for InSite Builders & Remodeling