Small Space Conundrum: Sharing a Tiny Bathroom

oval mirror near toilet bowl

Let’s assume your family shares a full bathroom that looks something like this:

A typical tiny full bathroom floor plan.

It’s just big enough for the tub/shower, single sink, toilet, and door. You need most of your floor space for opening the door and moving, so you’re not going to store much there. There is a tiny amount of surface space – the top of the toilet tank, the back corners of the sink, and the corners of the tub. Finally, if you’re lucky, you have some of the following built-in vertical spaces: towel bars, toilet roll holder, medicine cabinet, under-sink vanity, shower curtain rod, window ledge. But not all. How on earth do you make this work for more than one person?

I can help! Let’s check in on a couple of your shopping habits to see if they work with your space budget. Then let’s talk about storage – what you must store in the bathroom, may store in the bathroom, and really don’t need to store in the bathroom.

No Thank You

The easiest way to keep your small home organized is always to buy less. This is true in the bathroom. Consider saying, “No thank you!” to these bathroom items:

Shared shampoo and conditioner stored in the shower.
What if everyone in your household used the same shampoo? (Photo by Sarah Chai on

Multiple versions of the same toiletry

Imagine how much more crowded your bathroom would be if each family member wanted their own brand of toilet paper. Yikes! Now imagine how much less crowded your bathroom would be if everyone used the same bottle of shampoo. Hmm….

If your space budget is strained, can you choose to share more toiletries as a family? One shampoo bottle takes up half as much surface space as two. Bonus: sharing products makes shopping and managing overstock easier too.

Low-value overstock

Speaking of bathroom overstock, is yours truly helping you?

Buying in bulk can save you money, but only if you use the overstock before it expires. Will you? Overstock can save you time, but only if it actually leads you to shop less frequently. Does it? Overstock always consumes space more space than buying as needed. How much space can you afford to spend on spares?

If your bathroom feels crowded, take a moment to check your overstock habits against all three of your household budgets – time, money, and space. Whatever you are buying, make sure it’s worth it to you.

There You Go

Bathrooms are busy places! Let’s spend your bathroom’s space budget slowly and methodically. Try following these guidelines.

Always in the tiny bathroom

First, there are only a few items I recommend everyone store in their tiny bathroom no matter what:

  • A toilet plunger and toilet brush.
  • An active roll of toilet paper plus an extra roll or two.
  • A reasonable supply of menstrual products or any other products used while toileting (if applicable).
  • A small garbage can.
  • Hand soap and a hand towel.
  • A shower liner (if applicable) and bath mat.
A stand-alone sink with only hand soap on the limited surface space.
Horizontal surfaces in your tiny shared bathroom are rare commodities. Only spend these space on items used multiple times a day by everyone in your household. (Photo by Sora Shimazaki on

Basically if everyone uses it frequently, or if it’s used when toileting, it must be in the bathroom. Feel free to spend your prime floor space and surface space for these priority items.

Usually in the tiny bathroom

Second, use your vertical space for these items:

  • Additional shared daily/weekly toiletries and supplies. (If more than one person uses the shampoo, store it here. If only one person uses it, it belongs in the next section.)
  • Items used multiple times a day every day by an individual: comb, brush, toothbrush, etc.
  • Items that get really wet, such as bath toys and wash cloths.

Sometimes in the tiny bathroom

Third, decide where to store each person’s frequently used personal items:

Each person needs a space to hang their damp bath towel and their frequently used items: personal shampoo, razor, make-up, deodorant, etc. However, while these items are used in the bathroom, they don’t need to be stored in the bathroom. You can keep them in the hallway just outside of the bathroom or in each person’s bedroom.

Contain personal items. If you are storing them in the bathroom, assign each individual a drawer, a shelf, or a basket. Agree that each person will stick to their assigned storage space and not take over the common spaces. If you are storing personal items in the hall or in the bedrooms, give each person a waterproof caddy or basket that’s easy to carry.

Dozens of beauty products. Most of these do not need to be stored in a tiny bathroom.
How many of your products do you actually use each day? Give each person a container for their daily items. If your tiny bathroom has room, store this container in there. Otherwise, make it easy to carry it to and from the bathroom each day. Keep infrequently used items out of your tiny bathroom. (Photo by Hana Brannigan on

Rarely in the tiny bathroom

Finally, you can store these items anywhere in your home:

  • Bathroom overstock (the rest of the toilet paper, extra bar soap, tissue boxes, spare toothbrushes, clean towels, travel size containers, etc.).
  • Individual items used infrequently (special occasion makeup, hair-cutting supplies, etc.).
  • Health and wellness items used “as needed” (At-home tests, over-the-counter medicines, thermometers, bandages, etc.).
  • Bathroom cleaning supplies in a waterproof caddy.

Tip: I strongly recommend using clear lidded boxes to group smaller items. Label each box. All of these items can be stored up high, such as the top shelf of a closet. If you have small children, it’s the safest way to store many of them too.

I hope these ideas make sharing a tiny bathroom easier for your family! Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

For related ideas about finding more vertical storage in your tiny bathroom, see this post.

Kaloumi Small Home Organizing is based in Edgewater, Chicago. If you live on the northside of Chicago or in the near north suburbs and would like my help in person, please contact me today!

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