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Expert Shopper Bed & Bath

Best recessed medicine cabinet

Which recessed medicine cabinets are best?

We’ve all seen a bathroom sink cluttered with toiletry items. Sometimes it’s hard to find the faucet through the maze of bottles and containers that have taken over the top of the vanity. 

Medicine cabinets have been around for a century and provide a convenient way to store medicine, lotions and other toiletry items so that the sink stays clear and your bathroom stays organized and clean. Recessed medicine cabinets are especially space-saving since they fit into the open area of your wall with a mirrored front that’s flush with the drywall. For overall quality and versatility, the top recessed medicine cabinet choice is the Kohler 16- by 20-Inch Aluminum Recessed Medicine Cabinet.

What to know before you buy a recessed medicine cabinet

Size of your vanity

The general rule is that you don’t want a medicine cabinet that’s wider than your vanity; even a few inches shorter is fine. Most medicine cabinets are 24-30 inches in height, which should provide enough room for ample storage. Just make sure that the doors from the medicine cabinet don’t bump into bathroom fixtures.

Size of containers

Something consumers often forget to consider when buying a medicine cabinet is its overall depth. Some perfume and skin care bottles are extra-wide. Some shampoos and lotions also come in extra-large containers. Make sure your medicine cabinet is deep enough for the bottles to sit on the shelves without impeding the door from closing tightly.

Ease of installation

Recessed medicine cabinets are low-profile and make for a more streamlined appearance in bathrooms. They also require more significant installation considerations than surface-mounted units, which stick out from the wall. If you already have a space created for a recessed medicine cabinet, it should make for an easier installation. Make sure to have your dimensions accurately measured and line up some help, since these units can be heavy and awkward to install. If you need to cut out the space initially, you may need to consult a contractor to make sure you don’t damage existing structures and can fit the new cabinet into its space without any gaps. 

What to look for in a quality recessed medicine cabinet

Adjustable shelving

Most recessed medicine cabinets come with two or more shelves — usually made of glass — that can be placed at different heights or removed altogether. This helps accommodate taller bottles while keeping smaller items separated.


Depending on where you hang your recessed medicine cabinet, you may want the door to swing open from the right, or you may need it to swing open from the left. Look for products that have the option of installing with the doors opening on the side most convenient for your bathroom layout.

Built-in lighting

Lighting around the edges of the medicine cabinet can serve as a nightlight or add extra flair to its overall look. Some units have interior lights when you open up the cabinet to better assist with seeing your personal items. Make sure exterior lighting isn’t in the direct path of bathroom activity that might easily bump or break it.

How much you can expect to spend on a recessed medicine cabinet

Low-end, smaller recessed medicine cabinets run $30-$100, with prices increasing for larger sizes and stainless steel or aluminum. More contemporary styled recessed medicine cabinets run $100-$400, depending on the size and finish. Furniture-style cabinets and those with lighting and built-in power sources can cost $500-$1,000 or more when premium materials are involved.

Recessed medicine cabinet FAQ

Is a medicine cabinet the best place to store medicine?

A. Despite its name, medicine is best stored somewhere else besides a medicine cabinet. The heat and humidity in a bathroom can affect the potency of some medications over time. Try putting medicine on a tall shelf in the kitchen or a bedroom that’s out of reach of children.

Can you lock a recessed medicine cabinet?

A. There are numerous models that come with a locking feature. This is an extra safety precaution for anyone who wants to keep their medicine and other personal items out of the hands of children or elderly residents who might need assistance. Most locking medicine cabinets cost a little bit more than a non-locking unit of the same size and style.

What are the best recessed medicine cabinets to buy?

Top recessed medicine cabinet

Kohler 16- by 20-Inch Aluminum Recessed Medicine Cabinet

What you need to know: This stylish cabinet fits into most bathrooms and offers a sleek and practical addition.

What you’ll love: A rust-free and chip-free finish covers this aluminum cabinet with a mirrored door and mirrored interior. There are two adjustable glass shelves. The cabinet can be installed to open from the left or right side.

What you should consider: Some users report that the hinges aren’t as sturdy as expected.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Home Depot and Wayfair

Top recessed medicine cabinet for the money

Croydex Winster 20- by 16-Inch Aluminum Recessed Medicine Cabinet

What you need to know: This elegant and innovative medicine cabinet fits any bathroom and can be recessed or surface-mounted.

What you’ll love: There’s easy installation with the Hang’n’Lock system that allows for simple measuring. There are double-sided mirrored doors and two adjustable glass shelves. The side panels are mirrored. It can be opened from the left or right side.

What you should consider: Fingerprints are easily left behind on the outside surface.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Home Depot

Worth checking out

Pegasus 31- by 36-Inch Recessed Tri-View Beveled Mirror Medicine Cabinet

What you need to know: This is a large recessed medicine cabinet for bigger bathroom spaces that can also serve as a three-way mirror.

What you’ll love: Made from rust-free aluminum with a mirror back for durability, this medicine cabinet features a tri-view frameless door and six adjustable glass shelves for holding all your personal items. The cabinet can be surface-mounted as well.

What you should consider: Assembly is required and may take several people to install due its bulk and weight.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Home Depot


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Steve Ganger writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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