How to fit a shelf in a small bathroom — 5 expert-approved tips

If you're wondering how to fit a shelf in a small bathroom, our design pros have got you covered

Gold and glass bathroom shelf with candles and toiletries on on pearly tiles
(Image credit: Roper Rhodes)

Learning how to fit a shelf in a small bathroom is a great way to ensure all your toiletries and decor will fit in your space. It's super simple to do and is so effective style-wise. 

We've spoken with designers and DIY experts to find out how you can slot shelving into your small bathroom. From going for clever angles to being mindful of shape, it's totally possible to fit at least one in. 

If you're looking for small bathroom ideas, utilizing vertical space is one of our favorite ways to maximize capacity in this room.

How to fit a shelf in a small bathroom

Looking to organize your small bathroom? Adding a shelf or two is a great place to start. Here's everything you need to know about adding one to your walls.

We've also rounded up some handy buys to help you get started with your bathroom shelving. 

The prices below were correct at the time of publishing this article. 

1. Assess available space

A blue green bathroom with marble wand wallpaper walls and a green and copper bath

(Image credit: Ca' Pietra)

We know you want to get started ASAP, but first of all, you’ve got to check where exactly your shelf can go.

“Before installing a shelf in a small bathroom, it's essential to assess the available space and determine the most suitable location,” says Jack Williams, DIY expert and founder of Handyman Reviewed.

A picture of Jack Williams, a man wearing a black leather jacket and t-shirt
Jack Williams

Jack Williams is a DIY expert and founder of Handyman Reviewed. He's a pro at home improvements, including adding shelves to bathrooms, and knows what it takes to create a quality installation. 

He explains, “Look for unused wall space above the toilet, next to the sink, or above the bathtub or shower area.”

As well as this, Jack says to consider the height and depth of the shelf to ensure it doesn't obstruct movement or create a cramped feeling in the room. This is especially important for those with narrow bathrooms.

2. Consider what the shelf will hold

A white bathroom with a circular mirror, a blue sink, a pink shelf, and a white bath

(Image credit: Tap Warehouse)

Let’s face it — you’re probably adding a shelf for a reason. You either want to store something, add some small bathroom decor, or have a combo of the two.

“Will items need frequent access? How much weight are we talking about? Those answers dictate shelf size and placement,” says Ryan Fitzgerald, design expert and realtor at Raleigh Realty.

A picture of Ryan Fitzgerald, a man wearing a blue jumper
Ryan Fitzgerald

Ryan Fitzgerald is a design expert and realtor at Raleigh Realty. Interior design is a key party of realty, and fitting shelves into small spaces is something he has guided many people through over the years. 

For example, if you’re going to have heavy storage, you probably don’t want the shelf above your toilet. No, thank you, avalanche.

3. Choose the right shelf

A gold and glass bathroom shelf with candles and toiletries on on pearly tiles

(Image credit: Roper Rhodes)

This has to be one of the most important steps, as you don’t want to end up making a small bathroom storage mistake by choosing a shelf that is too bulky.

Jack explains, “When selecting a shelf for a small bathroom, opt for a slim and streamlined design, as this won't overpower the space.”

“Floating shelves or wall-mounted shelves are ideal choices, as they take up minimal visual space and can be installed without the need for bulky brackets or supports.”

It’s also worth considering the material, such as considering ones like glass, acrylic, or metal, which are visually unobtrusive and will help make a small bathroom appear bigger.

You could even DIY your own shelves with recycled materials, for a sustainable and budget-friendly addition to your bathroom.

4. Install the shelf

A gold metal bracket holding up a white shelf on a white wall

(Image credit: Armac Martin)

Once you've chosen the location and type of shelf, it's time to roll up your sleeves and get installing your shelf. 

“Begin by measuring and marking the desired placement of the shelf on the wall, using a level to ensure it's straight,” Jack explains.

If you don’t have a level, we like this Amazon Basics Level on Amazon, which has over 3,000 five-star reviews.

Jack adds, “Follow the manufacturer's instructions for installation carefully, and double-check that the shelf is securely attached before placing any items on it.”

You might want to place a couple of items on and leave the shelf for a day or so to check it’s strong and stable before you add more.

5. Add finishing touches

A bathroom with a green wall and wooden shelves next to it with towels and toiletries on it

(Image credit: Crosswater)

Once you’ve installed your shelf, you can get down to the fun part of designing it.

“Make it a gallery of joy with beautiful items like soft rolled bathroom towels, cute woven baskets, and glass apothecary jars,” says Christine Tree, lead designer and founder at Proven Interiors.

A black and white picture of Christine Tree, a woman wearing a white turtleneck
Christine Tree

Christine is a seasoned residential interior designer, with over a decade of experience in the industry. Her passion lies in developing timeless designs that will endure the test of time, especially concerning constructions such as small bathroom shelves.

She adds, “Your bathroom's about to become the coolest and most functional spot in the house — let every inch be a canvas of fun and function!”

Even if you don’t want to decorate it completely, you can still use it as a way to create more space in a small bathroom.

By learning how to fit a shelf in your small bathroom, you can create more opportunities for decor and storage in this room. You can even apply some of the logic from this to fitting shelves in other rooms.

If you’re struggling to fit key fixtures, we’ve also you covered with how to fit a shower and bath in a small bathroom

Eve Smallman
Content Editor

Hi there! I’m a content editor at Real Homes. I've been a lifestyle journalist for over five years, previously working as an editor across regional magazines. Before this, I graduated from Nottingham Trent University a degree in journalism, along with an NCTJ gold diploma. I love running, decorating my rented Victorian home, and discovering new cheeses. For Real Homes, I specialize in interior design, trends and finding the best viral buys.