Creating a Bathroom Pantry

February 8, 2016

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Photos and text by Gabrielle. Photos of me were shot by Maude Blair. This post is brought to you by IKEA.

So I’m totally into this project! I can’t wait to tell you all about it. IKEA issued the Daily Creativity Challenge: Take one area of your home, and organize it or make it more efficient, so that it frees up a few minutes of your day. Then take those minutes and use them to focus on a creative pursuit. Awesome, right?

I love this, because I’m always up for making the house run more smoothly, and because making the most of small chunks of time is something that has been on my mind. I have a lot of very different projects I want to take on this year, and I’ve been thinking about how to divide my day into small segments — each segment dedicated to a different project — in order to move them all forward. So this challenge really came at a perfect time.

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I thought about this challenge for awhile, and decided that at our house, something that could really help free up some brain space, and keep our mornings running smoothly, would be to create a “bathroom pantry” for the kids. If we don’t stay on top of our supplies, it totally causes preventable stress — like having Olive realize mid-shower there’s no more conditioner, or hearing Oscar report that we’re on the last role of TP and wondering if it will last until I can get to the store that evening.

Historically, we’ve been pretty good about staying stocked up on bathroom supplies, but in this house, we don’t have much in the way of cupboard space in the kids’ bathroom, and it’s been more challenging. So I figured we could use some blank wall space to add some shelving and create a bathroom pantry.

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Yes, it’s out in the open, which is tricky, because bathroom supplies aren’t necessarily handsome, but IKEA is actually perfect for that sort of challenge — they’re all about affordable storage solutions! That fantastic red shelf? It’s called VITTSJÖ and it’s $49 bucks! That green rubber laundry basket? It’s called TORKIS and it’s $4.99!

And it turns out there’s actually a big benefit to having everything out in the open: It’s much easier to stay aware of our stockpile. I’ve instructed the older kids to text me whenever they see any bathroom supply hit the 50% mark. Then I just copy the text to my ongoing grocery list and — tada! — we’re doing a much better job of staying on top of our supplies.

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If you’d like to use this idea, here are the products we’ve found most helpful. The VARIERA bins. We used these for the TP, and for general supplies. I like the red and blue interiors combined with the high gloss white — such a fun way to add a color accent. I don’t know if it’s intentional, but they coordinate really well with these GESSAN boxes. Plus I really like the nesting blue PALLRA boxes. These are great for storing things like first aid items and ointments that call for more privacy.

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I’m also in love with the yellow additions — the LANGESUND mirror and the GLOTTEN stool. Adorable, right? Other products pictured: green FRÄJEN towels, white KARDEMUMMA pots, white TOFTBO bathmat.

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Little silver GRUNDTAL knobs to hang the towels, green TOMAT spray bottle (only .99¢!). Everything I used was totally affordable. That’s a nice thing about refreshing a bathroom — you don’t have to spend a ton to make a big impact! Here are the before and after shots:

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Much better use of space!

And now, the best part. What is the creative pursuit I’m working on for this challenge? Textile design! A few months ago I was talking with my sister Rachel when she was in town for a wedding. She’s a quilter and we discussed collaborating on some baby blankets together.

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I would design the fabric, and Rachel would make the blankets. So I’m using my freed up minutes to start working on possible designs!

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Okay. That’s my report. Now it’s your turn. First of all, I’d love to hear how you handle bathroom supplies. Do you stock them deep? Or prefer to keep just one bottle/tube/roll at a time? If you have a good system, please share!

Also, would you like to take the Daily Creative Challenge? Go for it! Take 20 minutes every day for a week (or a month!) doing something creative that is out of your ordinary routine. Ideally, do this in the morning or evening, so you can see how a quick creative exercise affects the start or end of your day — and if you need to, you can free up those minutes with clever IKEA products to get yourself organized. Then snap a photo of your creative pursuit and share it on Instagram using #iamcreative.

I can’t wait to see what you share! It’s always fun to see the cool things you are working on.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Hannah Reid February 8, 2016 at 2:09 pm

All the colors are so fun! Brilliant use of the space!
We have the green tub and use it to keep children’s library books corralled when they aren’t being read. And those TOFTBO rugs are amazing…we have them in both of our bathrooms!
Thank you for sharing this inspiring space and ideas!


2 Maryanne February 8, 2016 at 2:19 pm

I am finding out in the open storage often works better for us (2 adults, 5 kids, 4 pets). Now I’m wishing (for the millionth time!) that our closest Ikea were closer than 3.5 hours!


3 Alysa February 8, 2016 at 6:28 pm

I love what you’ve done with the space. Fantastic! Wouldn’t work for my bathrooms, but that’s not the point, right? The point is so fix up a little spot and let it make your life better. It reminds me of when I met you in Atlanta at your book signing and you were talking about the beautiful trash can that your kids always forgot to shut the lid on. Being willing to give up and get a trash can that better suited the family took a lot of stress out of your life. That story has inspired me. Anyway, I’ve got SO many built-in bookshelves in my new place. I think I’ll tackle a little spot on one of those and use the free time for more blogging! :D


4 Sarah February 8, 2016 at 8:48 pm

I’ve been obsessed with KonMari. She is all about making your home done and perfect so that you can move on with your life and pursue what you love. I’ve never really followed a step-by-step guide like this before, but I have learned SO MUCH doing this. Right now I’m tantalizingly close to the finish, but trying to pace myself so I don’t finish sloppy! I wrote a post about my capsule wardrobe. It definitely simplifies my life as a mom of three.

And I’ve been looking for a pleasant way to store TP. I’ll have to check those out ;)


5 Kathleen February 8, 2016 at 9:47 pm

I love the bright colors in your new bathroom, and especially that yellow step stool. Such great design and fun for kids. I’m a buy-one-at-a-time person but I do try to keep an eye on things and buy replacements before we’re totally out of something. I have three little kids so I’m guessing this might change as they get older and go through things more quickly. Love the idea of spending small amount of time consistently on a creative project – you’ve got my wheels spinning on what I could start working on.


6 Janice Croze February 9, 2016 at 1:27 am

Oh I love your bathroom pantry concept. Great colors too! I love Ikea for cool storage solutions. I must say, I have quite a bit of Ikea in this house – esp for storage options.

As for creative pursuits, this Christmas break I decided to give myself the gift of TIME to let myself learn to knit. I have been loving adding this creative break into my days. It is wonderful because I can take it with me and knit while I am waiting at sporting events, etc. or knit while I am waiting for Livvie to hurry in the bathtub, finish her homework, etc. I even picked it up the other night and sat and knit while she had a 20 minute tantrum that she didn’t want to do her homework. Why didn’t I start knitting a decade ago!?!?


7 ck February 9, 2016 at 10:16 am

This is so cute and goes with your earlier “boxed” suggestion for getting organized and not running out of stuff. I’m mad at IKEA, though. I NEED some more of those great Variera bins, and haven’t been able to order them online :-(


8 Paige February 9, 2016 at 11:32 am

We did something very similar to this in our bathroom last year and from an organization and efficiency standpoint, it was life changing! I love the bright pops of color in your bathroom!



9 Katey// Girls in the Park February 9, 2016 at 12:18 pm

Daily Creativity Challenge – awesome. Why is it so hard to find 20 minutes to do something we know we love doing when we can spend hours doing things we don’t even like?


10 Sarah February 9, 2016 at 4:08 pm

Yay!!!! I love this so much. You’ve been wanting to do textile and I love how you’ve carved out time to dedicate to it. Can’t wait to see more on that. Your bathroom corner turned out so cute and functional. Win win!


11 Hanna February 10, 2016 at 2:06 am

I must tell we love VARIERA boxes, I use them all around the house. They are also great to keep small toys, small everyday-use things like keys and wallets, kitchen supplies and much more. Quite honestly each time I visit Ikea I buy a few more and they are always handy.
In terms of bathroom supplies we always run out of TP at first, so when I see there are only 2-3 TP rolls left I go around house with my list of supplies, check which do we need and go shopping.


12 BrookeJ February 10, 2016 at 12:58 pm

Such a super cute post. I never realized so many bathroom products were already primary colors–love how it all looks together!


13 Claire February 17, 2016 at 11:04 pm

Love this post! I always love your house deco tips because they are so attractive, while actually being inspiring and realistic for real people.
You mentioned adding items to your shopping list via text message. You should check out the Wunderlist app. You can keep a whole lot of lists — some of them shared, some your own. (And you can also program reminders, save titles of books you want from the library, and items you want to buy.) It is terrific for families where everyone pitches in to help out.


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