C.O.P. Week 6 — Quick and Easy Bathroom Organization

You may have noticed that I skipped last Saturday’s C.O.P. post. (That stands for cleaning, organizing, purging, in case you’re new around here — that’s my overarching goal for this year.) Life just got too hectic and I didn’t have time to focus on any organizing or purging for that week. I decided to let myself off the hook as long as I picked right back up this week, and I did just that. This week, I focused on purging and organizing the hallway bathroom.

Right now, this is THE main bathroom in our house. On the surface, it looks nice and put together…

Colorful small bathroom makeover with coral vanity, wood countertop, floral shower curtain, and white painted mosaic tile accent.

But what you’d never know from those pictures is what an unorganized mess lies behind those cabinet doors and inside those drawers.

These cabinets and drawers did start off with some semblance of organization at one time. But because I had no real organization systems in place, those somewhat organized areas have just turned into a jumbled mass of confusion and junk over the years.

This is really embarrassing and humiliating, but I’m going to show you anyway because if my C.O.P.ing journey can help other messy people like myself, then it’s totally worth it. So as embarrassing as it is, let me show you the mess that these cabinets and drawers had turned into…

The top left drawer of the vanity used to hold my makeup. But until yesterday, my makeup sat in a bag that was almost always on the countertop because it had been displaced by this mass of random items…

bathroom vanity organization - top left drawer before

If I absolutely needed to (read: if someone was coming over), I could shove that bag of makeup into that drawer. But because it was such a hassle (and such a small drawer already filled with random junk) that almost never happened.

The top right vanity drawer is where I used to keep toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, etc. And until yesterday, those pretty much always stayed on the countertop right along with my makeup bag, because they had been displaced with these items…

bathroom vanity organization - top right drawer before

Well, evidently the deodorant still managed to find a spot among the jumbled mess of other items that included (among other things) a crumpled plastic cup, a random LED light bulb, and Cooper’s nail clippers.

The middle cabinet in the vanity used to hold cleaning supplies, and that was pretty much it. But over time, all of this random stuff has crept into the cabinet. And a lot of this stuff — the shampoo bottle, the body wash — are bottles that have just a tiny bit of product left, and rather than being thrown away, they found their way to this cabinet.

bathroom vanity organization - middle cabinet before

This left cabinet is where I keep my hair dryer, curling wand, etc. They’re usually just piled on top of whatever this is, but when I took this picture, they were also sitting on the countertop.

bathroom vanity organization - left cabinet before

The right cabinet didn’t have anything in it except dust (and plenty of it) 😀 , so I didn’t take a picture of it.

So the entire interior of the vanity was a mess, but the chaos didn’t stop there! This other cabinet was also a mess.

colorful small bathroom makeover - 8

At one time, the drawer held Band-aids and other first aid things. But I never really had a plan or purpose for it, so just like the others, over time it has become a jumbled mess.

bathroom organization - drawer before

The lower cabinet has never had a purpose, other than the little towel rack that I installed inside the door to hold the little bath mat. The rest of it has been a mess from the beginning. (The lesson here is that if a cabinet or drawer doesn’t have a specific purpose, I will fill it with random junk over time.)

See those two white trash bags filled with stuff and shoved in there? Those are from the condo. As in, I filled those bags with stuff from the condo when we moved out, brought them to the house, and at some point, they found their way into this cabinet. In six-and-a-half years, I’ve never gone through those bags to see what’s in them. Embarrassing.

bathroom organization - cabinet before

Obviously, this room needed help. Where there may have once been some semblance of organization, as of yesterday morning, there was none to be found. There was no longer any rhyme or reason to any of these drawers or cabinets. My storage plan for this bathroom until yesterday amounted to “find an empty space and shove it in.” And because I had so little empty space because of all of the random junk I was holding onto, so much of the stuff I actually use on a regular basis (hair dryer, curling iron, makeup, hairspray) ended up staying on the countertop pretty much all the time.

So yesterday, this room was my goal, and my mission was to empty out all of the drawers and cabinets, throw away the empty bottles and other random junk, find homes elsewhere for items that didn’t need to be in the bathroom (e.g., lightbulbs, power supplies, flea combs and clippers for our pets, etc.).

Unlike the kitchen, I didn’t want to add a whole lot of highly customized storage in this bathroom. This is the main bathroom we’re using right now, but it won’t always be. So there’s no need to fully customize this bathroom to hold our stuff since we’ll be customizing the master bathroom for that purpose. So I headed to Lowe’s and Bed, Bath & Beyond (because we don’t have a Container Store in Waco) and bought some simple containers to help me organize my drawers and cabinets better.

Ready to see my progress?

We’ll start with the left side of the vanity. (And one thing you’ll learn about me in this process is that I’m a sucker for Facebook and Instagram ads. 😀 How many Facebook/Instagram ad products can you spot in my bathroom?)

In the top left drawer, I added two plastic containers, and this is now where my hair clips, ponytail holders, bobby pins, etc.

bathroom vanity organization - top left drawer after

Side note: If you’ve seen the ads for the braided hair headband and the messy bun hair doodad, here are my reviews. I don’t love the braided hair headband, but I do love the messy bun hair doodad. 😀

In the cabinet below that drawer, I kept with the hair care category. Since the cabinet was so tall and narrow with so much wasted vertical space before, I decided to add a second shelf. This was quick and easy, and only required two pieces of 1″ x 2″ lumber as the shelf supports (attached with 1.5″ 16-gauge nails), and a piece of 1/2-inch plywood that I cut to size on my table saw. Then I found these plastic bins (which I think were labeled as refrigerator bins at BB&B), and used those to store my items…

bathroom vanity organization - left cabinet after

The bottom container holds my hair dryer, curling wand, etc.

bathroom vanity organization - left cabinet after - bottom shelf

And the top container holds my hairspray-covered brush 😀 , hairspray, hair cutting scissors, etc.

bathroom vanity organization - left cabinet after - top shelf

So now all of my hair items are on the left side of the vanity.

For the middle cabinet, I purchased this under-the-sink shelf unit at BB&B (you can also find it here on Amazon) that has mesh snap-on shelves that you can configure around plumbing. I didn’t attach the front bottom bar or the bottom mesh shelves so that I could have a little more room. So now that area looks like this…

bathroom vanity organization - middle cabinet after

So much better, right?! After throwing out everything I didn’t need (or everything that was basically empty) and relocating items that didn’t need to be under the sink, this is all that was left. I kept one bottle of mouthwash and extra bars of soap on the top left, first aid stuff on the top right, my sinus rinse (similar to a neti pot) and saline packets in the basket, hand soap and soap pump (which I’ll go back to when I’m through with the current bottle of Mrs. Meyers soap I bought, and after learning that almost all Mrs. Meyers products have a rating of 8 in the Think Dirty app…ugh!!), Matt’s hair clippers, my coconut oil, and Epsom salt. I have no idea why that wheat grass was in the bathroom, or why I kept it under the sink. That should be in the kitchen — an obvious oversight last night.

The right vanity drawer is also looking so much better. Here’s what’s in there now…

bathroom vanity organization - top right drawer after

Only necessities that I actually use! All of the other stuff has been thrown out or relocated.

And even though the right cabinet started out empty, I still went ahead and created a second shelf and added storage bins in there as well.

bathroom vanity organization - right cabinet after

It’s amazing how good purging and organizing feels! So now my vanity not only looks pretty on the outside…

colorful small bathroom makeover

…but it looks nice and organized on the inside as well!

before and after - bathroom vanity organization - top left drawer
before and after - bathroom vanity organization - left cabinet
before and after - bathroom vanity organization - middle cabinet
before and after - bathroom vanity organization - top right drawer

But obviously, I wasn’t done. I still had that other cabinet to conquer. So after emptying out the drawer, purging, relocating, adding containers, and organizing, here’s how the drawer looks now…

bathroom organization - drawer after

Side note: More Instagram/Facebook ad product reviews. Face Silk reusable makeup remover pads — amazing! Jerome Alexander MagicMinerals Foundation? Also amazing! Ever since I’ve started using this foundation, every time I see my mom, she has commented on how amazing my skin looks. Last time she said, “I don’t know if it’s your diet, or your makeup, but your skin looks so pretty!” I think it’s both, and I love this foundation.

And that just leaves one more cabinet, which now looks like this…

bathroom organization - cabinet after

I think Matt must have accidentally ordered a 5-pack of Listerine on Amazon rather than just one bottle 😀 . Anyway, this cabinet now holds our overstock of Listerine, cleaning supplies, paper towels, the little bath mat, etc. So much better!

So now this cabinet is pretty on the outside…

colorful small bathroom makeover - 8

…and also nice and organized on the inside…

before and after - bathroom organization - drawer
before and after - bathroom organization - cabinet

So this week feels like a huge accomplishment in the C.O.P. category. If you’re C.O.P.ing with me this year, how have the last two weeks gone for you?

If you’ve missed any previous posts about my cleaning, organizing, purging journey this year, you can get caught up here:



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      1. Nothing exciting. Two bags of cotton balls, a container of Q-tips, hair clippers, some mostly empty bottles of shampoo and conditioner, dog shampoo, a big bag of jewelry (three valuable pieces, but mostly a big mass of tangled necklaces and bracelets), some bathroom cleaner, etc. It was all stuff that came from the two condo bathrooms.

        1. I can’t throw away nearly empty bottles of
          anything – especially shampoo. Turn them upside down and get at least 2 or 3 more hair washings from them. My daddy was so tight he squeaked when he walked. He would be proud of my little money saving tip!

      2. I had to replace my bathroom cabinet last year and discovered these same bin!!! They are the best thing for the bathroom that’s for sure. No more standing on your head to get items from the back. Just a quick slide out!

  1. I too have been on a massive C.O.P.mission. I started in the garage, then utility room, laundry room,and this week kitchen drawers. Next, are kitchen cabinets. It is such a great feeling when you are finished with an area. I’m trying to continue from back of house to the front. Most of the time if I come across something I haven’t used since moving in this house 15 years ago it’s donated or in the garbage.

    1. HA! My thoughts exactly! But, not take away from the end product! It looks amazing! I use those clear plastic trays also – I love them!

    2. Nothing exciting. Two bags of cotton balls, a container of Q-tips, hair clippers, some mostly empty bottles of shampoo and conditioner, dog shampoo, a big bag of jewelry (three valuable pieces, but mostly a big mass of tangled necklaces and bracelets), some bathroom cleaner, etc. It was all stuff that came from the two condo bathrooms.

    1. Good work! I’m making slow progress. Is like to work on our main bathroom soon. This week I made huge progress on our guest room.
      We bought our daughters bunk beds in November and their old beds, box springs, and mattresses were in our guest room (along with other random junk—including papers from preschool from ten years ago). I sold the beds on Craiglist two days ago and donated and threw away a bunch of stuff. I also unrolled the vintage Persian rug that just came back from the rug cleaner (it was a Craigslist purchase that was really stinky before) and cleaned up the dust that was still there from when done of our floors were refinished in December. Now the room looks the best it has ever looked. Just in time for my mom’s visit from out of town. It feels so good not to have our guest room trashed and unusable!

  2. I cleaned and organized my garage (4 10 hour days) and purged and reorganized my craft closet (2 6 hour days). Now after reading this I realize I need to do our master vanity. It looks a lot like your befores. But worse. So I’m going to get some organizers from amazon and tackle that soon. Thanks for the continued inspiration.

  3. I love looking at before/after photos like this. You did a fantastic job! You’re so inspiring. Off to BB&B for a couple of containers.

  4. I, too, have been on a mission to clean and purge my home! I have yet to tackle my bathroom that looks very much like yours..or worse! This is just the inspiration I needed!

  5. I am also C.O.P.ing with you in 2020 — you definitely inspired me to do this! The rooms (i.e.; the visible areas) in my house aren’t really cluttered; there isn’t random stuff piled around on the tables and floors. However, it is the hidden spaces — the closets, the drawers, the cabinets, the attic, etc. — that need the attention. And thanks to you (and the books you recommended), I am on my way! The first projects I tackled were my closet (my clothes and shoes) and our laundry room. There is some organizing going on, but mostly purging! Thanks for the motivation!

  6. Where do extra rolls of toilet paper live?

    I’m impressed with your COP progress. How do you deal with a resistant spouse who second-guesses all your purging decisions??

    1. I keep a few rolls in the basket in the open shelves (top shelf) and the big package in the hallway cabinet.

      I have no idea how to deal with a resistant spouse. I’m blessed to have a spouse who lets me do whatever I want, both in decorating and in purging.

    2. Maybe you could have a box or bin that has all the purged stuff in it, then keep that in the top of a closet or in your attic. If your spouse decides they need to want something you purged, they can get it out. Otherwise it’s out of sight…and after a while they probably won’t even remember what was purged and won’t need or want it. I don’t know if that would help, just a thought.

    3. Ann, I have one of those spouses! Or at least I did. He has come to the light now, LOL, but at first he was horrified that I would ever think about getting rid of something that he “might need” in the next millennium or two. I’ve always been organized and I knew that he could be too if he had the right systems in place-but I had to be paitient and let him find his own way. I would take the things that I knew we could purge, put them in a box in the garage, and if, in a few months, nothing was taken out of the box b/c it was “needed”, out the box went. Took a bit longer than I would have liked, but now our home has no junk drawer, everything in every closet/drawer is there on purpose, and it takes very little to keep it all in place. Good luck with your stuff!

    4. Great job Kristi, before and afters v. impressive.

      I have a super-resistant spouse with varied hobbies. Over the years we have accumulated masses of things with accompanying tiny metal pieces, dusty wires or attached cords- when asked he invariably replies that he needs it all. When he is not home, I separate the pile into smaller piles of “like” items (drills + sanding discs + drill bits vs. the pile with anything having to do with batteries), but I don’t throw anything away. I just lay it out for him to see what he has. That way it’s easier for him to take the next step and throw away broken items and box up the remaining into tiny clear boxes that he can stack into a tower.

  7. I’m also cleaning and purging, but not because our space necessarily needs it. We are in the process of buying our first home and I refuse to pay to move stuff that we don’t want or need. Our teen daughter’s room has been the worst so far. We got rid of a ton of clothes and toys that she has outgrown. The people at Goodwill have seen a lot of us recently.

  8. My bathroom could use some of those shelves. Unfortunately the vanity has no drawers so everything is either on the vanity or under the vanity.
    I found the “refridgerator” bins at Dollar General for a bit cheaper price than at BB&B but did have to go to more than one to get the sizes I needed.
    I use them in both the fridge and the cabinets and absolutely love them.
    I moved almost three years ago and still have boxes in the garage I haven’t opened so I know you mean. Why don’t I find out what is in there and decide what could be given away? As soon as it warms up here I will make it one of my spring cleaning priorities. Thanks for your inspiration.

  9. I hate those half shelf cabinets. Why do they think they are helpful? Smart to add full length shelving there! You did a great job of purging and organizing this week! When we moved temporarily into an apartment to build our new house, I realized we had at least one junk drawer in every room! Since we didn’t have room in an apartment for five junk drawers, I purged a lot of it and got down to two large-ish tupperware rectangular containers. We ended up being in the apartment for 9 months, and in that time I realized I opened the containers three times, always for the tape and two other items. So when we moved into the house, I took out the things I had used those 9 months, and tossed everything else! So now we’ve gone to five junk drawers to none! After 42 years of junk, we’re free!

  10. I love the clear plastic storage bins. I use them in the fridge, freezer, pantry, bathroom supplies closet we built in the upstairs hall and in the bathroom cabinets. They make it so easy to get to the things that end up at the back of the shelf. All of my Keto essentials are in them too.

  11. Wow! Organizing makes life easier in the long run. Things are eager to find and maintain. My jaw keeps dropping at the gorgeous job you did in rehabbing this bathroom. It is just stunning, Kristi!

  12. Thank you Kristi for showing us the real state of affairs in your bathroom drawers and cabinets! This is so comforting for those of us who have the exact same thing going on in multiple areas of the house. This is so relatable and encouraging. I think the trick is to do just what you did–focus on ONE area and get it done even though there are many more areas to tackle. Having an area organized is calming and encouraging and helps spur you on to do another area. Great job!

  13. Well…I just opened my nightstand drawer, then shut it again. I think I’m due for some COP goodness, not cop-out.
    Thanks as always for the inspiration, Kristi.

  14. I was envious of your pretty bathroom before, but now that it’s so organized, I’m even more envious! If I didn’t have a nosy 1 yr old and 4 yr old, I’d probably be more organized in the bathroom. Everything is either locked up or I’m prepared to have it thrown about the house!

  15. So happy to start my day with inspiring before and after pictures! I just love them. Hopefully, I will be doing the same thing on my Wednesday off! I bet it makes you smile when you walk into the bathroom!

  16. How thick are the sides of the cabinet Kristi? Did you worry about having the tips of the nails go right through the sides of the cabinets?

  17. This is awesome!!! I need to do this to my small hallway linen closet. I’ve come to the conclusion the right size storage containers are a must!!!!!
    Off topic…What shade of the Jerome Alexander foundation do you use?? I think I’m going to give it a try 🙂

  18. Nice job! You’ve really put yourself out there but it’s very inspiring. A question to challenge you: if you don’t love the braided headband, why are you keeping it? Just something to think about…

    1. Well, I only tried it once, and I had my hair curly (as in, naturally curly) at the time. I didn’t like the braid with the natural curl of my hair. So I want to try it again when my hair is straightened and see if it looks better. If not, then I don’t think I’ll be keeping it.

  19. That’s amazing! I’m impressed by how few things you actually have – you don’t seem to need much purging, mostly organising. So you are halfway there!

    I have a comment about organising (and it’s a general comment/idea, not just for this example). The key to KEEPING things organised is to make it easy to both get things out and put things back. And I mean really easy, extend-your-arm-and-grab-them easy. Having your makeup in the drawer behind you seems a bad idea to me, because it’s not under the mirror (you would need to get one thing, go to the mirror, decide you want another, go back and forth – no matter how little makeup you use). If you are really diligent that won’t be an issue (don’t know who is though; I’m not personally, and I actually AM very organised, my personal problem is with cleaning). So if you see that you end up leaving makeup stuff on the counter again, try switching it with the hair bands etc – those are the go in, grab one and leave with it kind of stuff, so they don’t need to be under the mirror.

    I’m admiring how you made a decision and are sticking to it btw – I’m sure you are feeling very relieved already, but I know you’ll feel your life being easier and yourself less tired when you get to the end of this! Cheers!