The area over the toilet is often unclaimed real estate that can prove priceless as a bathroom storage solution. Shelving — open or closed — is one option, and an alternative to the traditional toilet topper.

The bathroom never seems large or organized enough for our liking. When you consider all the toiletries, cosmetics, towels, washcloths, medicines and miscellaneous bric-a-brac littered throughout the average loo, it’s no wonder that navigating the bath feels more like a scavenger hunt , even if you already have vanity storage or wall cabinets in this room.

Fortunately, there’s a remedy for restroom spatial and clutter challenges. It involves thinking outside the box — or, more specifically, over the toilet. Therein lies unclaimed real estate that can prove priceless as a storage solution.

 “Many people overlook the storage limitations of an average bathroom. If your bathroom is on the small side, it’s common to think that there isn’t any extra room for stashing items. But it’s important to make sure you have enough storage space in this area,” says Charlie Worrall, interior designer with U.K.-based NGI Design.

That zone atop the potty can be ideal for a cabinet, rack or shelf — providing more room in which to stow your stuff.

Many who venture this route opt for a toilet topper featuring either open shelving, a cabinet with swing doors or both, and made of wood, metal or a combination of the two. Toilet toppers can be floating (hung on the wall) or freestanding (supported by legs that fit on either side of the toilet tank). A variety of options are available in stylish modern designs and featuring nice touches like chrome knobs, tempered glass fronts and attractive finishes.

Alternatively, you could choose a pair of floating shelves of shallow depth to display décor or of longer depth and width to hold necessaries like folded towels.

“For small bathrooms with little counter space, wall shelving is the key to spatial efficiency,” says Marty Basher, home organization expert with Lakewood, New Jersey-based Modular Closets. “They’re ideal for storing toilet tissue, towels and cleaning supplies.”

Peter Albanese, certified kitchen and bath designer with Bellari in Branchburg, New Jersey, agrees, noting that “a floating shelf or two could provide a more sleek, modern look than a toilet topper.”

A third option: utilize the space to the right and left of the toilet.

“We’ve done bathroom designs using two shallow pantry cabinets on either side of the toilet,” Albanese says. “Because of the nature of what’s typically stored in a bathroom, you can get away with shallow storage in this area.”

If you need more storage depth, think about moving forward — into the wall itself.

“A storage cabinet or shelf can extrude quite a lot, which means your already small bathroom will look even smaller. For this reason, you should consider cutting a hole in the wall and having the cabinet sunk into the wall cavity. Depending on the cavity depth, you’ll be able to hide a lot of the cabinet while utilizing the otherwise dead space within the wall,” suggests Worrall.

Look higher for even more creative ideas, too.

“One way of countering a lack of space is by building up,” adds Basher, who suggests hanging racks or storage totes from the ceiling directly above the toilet, instead of the wall.

Regardless of which space-saving idea you pursue, be sure you’ll have enough space to sit comfortably without hitting your head on something behind you. Note, also, that you’ll want enough clearance above the toilet tank in case you need to remove the lid .

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