Updated May 2022
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Buying guide for best bathroom shelves

Like the kitchen or the laundry room, the bathroom is one of the functional rooms in a home — you go there for specific reasons. It isn’t a space where you spend many hours, such as a living room, a bedroom, or an office. For many, the bathroom is also the smallest room in the house. Somehow, you have to squeeze everything you need into that tiny space without making it feel cramped.

Bathroom shelves are an excellent way to do that. Shelves can transform bare walls into convenient storage areas where everything you need is just an arm’s length away. Alternatively, bathroom shelves can be tone-setting focal points that define the mood of your bathroom. The right shelves can make your bathroom more inviting, so it feels more like a part of your home and less like a facility.

To learn what’s available when shopping for bathroom shelves, there are two helpful things you can do. The first is to read a comprehensive guide that answers all the questions you didn’t know you had about buying the right bathroom shelves. The second is to peruse a list of top selections so you know what’s available and how much you can expect to pay.

bathroom shelves
It’s best not to place heavy objects on shelves above the toilet. If they fall off, they could damage the toilet.

How to buy the best bathroom shelves

Where do you place bathroom shelves?

In many bathrooms, space is at a premium. Because of this, you need to consider any and every possible location for shelving. Some obvious locations are above the sink, next to the sink, above the toilet, and above the hamper. One underutilized space in every room, not just a bathroom, is the corners. You can gain valuable (and often convenient) storage space by taking advantage of the corners.

The one thing you have to be careful of when choosing a location for bathroom shelves is water. If shelves are too close to the shower, sink, or toilet, the items on those shelves could receive an occasional splash. Also, make sure the location you choose is easily accessible and won’t inhibit opening doors and cabinets.

What do I place on my bathroom shelves?

One of the most important considerations to make when adding shelves to your bathroom is what their purpose will be. Do you need space to store toiletries and towels, or is this a chance to add decorative items? There are no wrong answers. In fact, many people do both: they place bathroom essentials and decor items side by side to add a little personal touch to the space.

What materials are suitable for bathroom shelves?

When choosing shelves for the bathroom, consider the environment. Items in a bathroom are constantly exposed to fluctuating temperatures, steam, moisture, humidity, and more. This can cause problems with some materials. For example, any metal you choose must be rust-resistant or have a rust-resistant coating.

While it might seem like wood isn’t the best material for a humid environment, it’s actually a great way to add a warming touch to the bathroom. The key to using wood in the bathroom is to make sure it’s properly sealed and finished. Additionally, if you use laminate shelving, make sure it’s made with waterproof glue.

Other shelving material options can be glass, tile, or even plastic.

If you’d like to display a little personal flair, try something uncommon, such as honeycomb shelves.


What features do bathroom shelves have?


The length of your bathroom shelves is extremely important. Shelves that are too long will overpower the bathroom, while shelves that are too short may look out of place. Look for a length that fits comfortably in the space you have available.


While the depth of your bathroom shelves is partly a matter of taste, if the shelves are too narrow, larger items, such as towels, won’t fit. If you go with a deep shelf, you cut into the limited space you have in a bathroom. If the shelves are over the toilet, deeper shelves could be inconvenient when sitting and standing. Roughly 14 inches is a workable size that accommodates most considerations.

Weight capacity

Most shelves are strong enough to support bathroom essentials. Just be careful with low-end options that might not be sufficient for the task.


Wall-mounted shelves are a great option in most bathrooms because they don’t take up any floor space and they can be placed wherever you like. The only downside of wall-mounted shelves is they’re somewhat permanent — once installed, they aren’t easily moved.


A freestanding shelf system is a desirable option for people with larger bathrooms or who have bathrooms with available floor space. The main benefits of purchasing these types of shelves are that installation is effortless and, if you change your mind, they can be easily moved.

bathroom shelves
When accessorizing your bathroom shelves, don’t try to match the color of your bathroom walls exactly. Instead, choose items with a similar or complementary color.

Accessories for bathroom shelves

Artificial plants

While live plants might sound desirable, they can spread mold and the harsh, temperature-changing conditions of a bathroom can make it difficult for them to thrive. Instead, consider artificial plants. They don't require care and add a splash of color.

Scented candles

For items that are both decorative and functional, consider scented candles. Candles can add a touch of warmth and coziness to make the bathroom feel more inviting. They can also help keep the room smelling fresh.

Hand towels

Hand towels are necessary in a bathroom. Placing them on your shelving lets them add to the decor while they’re being stored.

Lotion dispenser

Although it isn’t the best idea to use a lotion dispenser while it’s on a shelf, it can be a convenient place to store one.

Toilet paper

There’s nothing worse than not noticing until it’s too late that you’re out of toilet paper. By storing this essential bathroom item on a shelf, spare rolls are always within reach.

How much do bathroom shelves cost?


Inexpensive shelves for the bathroom cost less than $30. At this price, you may get one quality shelf or several budget options. While you can find some excellent products in this range, be careful of the quality at this level.


There are a lot of bathroom shelving options available between $40 and $100. Most homeowners can find something suitable in this price bracket. It’s possible to purchase freestanding bathroom shelves for under $100.


As you move beyond $100, shelves have more of an artistic design. The materials trend away from wood, and you can find glass, aluminum, copper, and more. At this price, you aren’t paying for increased functionality or durability — it’s all about aesthetics.

Floating shelves have no visible means of support. This can make them a stylish option for the bathroom.


Tips for hanging shelves in the bathroom

  • Studs are best. Hanging your shelves on wall studs provides the most support. However, aesthetically, that might not always be an option. When it isn’t, wall anchors are the way to go.
  • Use painter’s tape. To keep your wall free from measurement markings, use painter’s tape.
  • Measure twice, drill once. As with any project, remember to measure several times to make sure your holes are properly marked, because you only get one chance to drill.
  • Leave a little space. Having 12 inches between shelves is acceptable. However, if you bump that up to 15 or 18 inches, it can make the bathroom feel more open. As a bonus, items on the shelf will be more accessible.
  • Don’t overtighten the screws. It’s easy to overtighten screws when hanging brackets on drywall. If you do this, it could strip the wall anchor and your shelves won’t be secure.
  • Consider unconventional materials. Modern bathrooms can be a showcase for your creativity. Don’t shy away from unconventional solutions, such as using plumbing parts for support or rope to hang your shelves.
bathroom shelves
No matter where you hang the towels in your bathroom, the secret to good hygiene is to wash them frequently.


Q. Can I place bathroom shelves over my toilet?

A. Of course. Like corners, the area over the toilet can be one of the most underutilized spaces in your bathroom. However, it’s important to understand that every time you flush your toilet, a plume of germs rises roughly six feet in the air and settles on everything around the toilet. This means, for sanitary reasons, items such as towels and toothbrushes should not be placed on these shelves.

Q. What kind of paint should I use on my bathroom shelves?

A. If you decide to paint your bathroom shelves, the best option is to use paint with a semi-gloss finish. This is preferred because gloss is better at repelling moisture. Satin can also be an option for people who don’t want a shiny look in their bathroom. Flat and eggshell finishes are not recommended for bathrooms.

Q. Is it hard to hang bathroom shelves?

A. The answer to this question is relative to your experience and your ability to measure and use basic hand tools such as a level, a drill, and wall anchors. It also depends on what type of wall you have in the bathroom. If you have a tile wall, the process is similar to hanging shelves on drywall, but it requires a bit more finesse and skill. If you aren’t comfortable hanging shelves on your own, you may need to hire someone to do it for you. As an alternative, you could purchase freestanding shelves.


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