Rookie Mistake: Over The Toilet Storage + Art

Rookie Mistakes: a series of common decor mistakes made by a design and DIY rookie…me! And no, I’m not judging because I have made, and continue to make, these mistakes too!

Here are the top five Rookie Mistake posts from the series. You can catch the rest right here.

Remember, the Rookie Mistakes series is a NO JUDGEMENT ZONE. I’ve made ALL of these mistakes in my home and  I simply want you to learn from me so you can make your home look amazing.

Rookie Mistake – Over The Toilet Storage & Art

I’m a little scared to chat about today’s rookie mistake because I know a lot of bathrooms may look like this, and you’re not doing something “wrong.” Instead, I want to open your eyes to the possibility of an upgrade. So bear with me…Over the toilet storage unit

Image via Wayfair

We’re all familiar with these over the toilet storage units, right? They straddle a toilet and provide extra cabinet space and storage. While I love the secret storage aspect of these furniture pieces (it’s always good to hide toiletries and clutter), I’m not a fan of them beyond that. They look a little dangerous… like they might topple over on top of you! Rookie design mistake, using an over the toilet metal organizer

Image via Wayfair

Plus, they look temporary and like they were an afterthought to the overall bathroom design. When you’re designing a space, you want pieces to feel like they belong. That’s why I love built-ins so much, they are custom and built right into your room. Yes, I understand that some bathrooms lack storage and these beauties provide them. But I do think there are better alternatives to these cheap-looking furniture pieces.

Let’s chat about some of those…

Above Toilet Storage AlternativesAdding shelves over a toilet

Image via The Merry Thought

So if you have the toilet straddle situation happening, then it’s likely you need a place to store toilet paper, towels, etc. I would suggest going with shelves, a cabinet, or a towel rack over the toilet instead. These will still provide a bit of storage and will look much more intentional because they’re attached to the wall. Here’s a tutorial for incredibly easy DIY wood shelves.

Towel Racks

Train rack over a toilet

Image via Studio McGee

While I’ve never used a towel rack in my home before (it’s also called a “train rack”…who knew?), I do love the simple look of them.

A few things to note before you go buying and installing. If you’re going with the train rack, it should probably just be devoted towards displaying clean towels and toilet paper. Displaying toiletries and bathroom supplies on here could look messy fast! Also, don’t install too high! Just as we discussed in this rookie mistake post, you want to make sure you’re hanging shelves at the appropriate height.

Wall Shelves

Over the toilet shelves

Another option is to add shelves over your toilet. This provides storage and also makes things look a bit more interesting. I installed IKEA shelves in our master bathroom and filled the shelves with both decorative items and functional ones (on there I hide matches, extra toilet paper, bobby pins, tampons, and more!).

Hanging a wall shelf over a toilet

Wood Shelving Unit from My Mom’s Guest Bathroom

1, 2, or 3 shelves can work over a toilet. Just hang them at the right height and make sure that your display looks curated (or again, it may start to look messy!). Or opt for a shelving unit like this one.

Wall Cabinet

Bathroom after

This last storage idea is adorable. I love this antique cabinet over the toilet in our first floor bathroom. It adds some charm, personality, and storage to the bathroom. This is another great idea if you need storage in a small space.

If you have the room, I also love antique cabinets or tall linen cabinets to put in your bathroom (not over the toilet though!). This is a good one, as is this one!

Over the Toilet Art

If you don’t necessarily need extra storage, then artwork over the toilet can definitely work. A few things to avoid though…

  1. Framed Pictures of People: It can be a little strange to have guests stare at family pictures when they’re doing their business (especially guys who have to stand, gross, but true!). I’d avoid pictures of people and either display artwork or travel photos.
  2. Teeny Tiny Frames: This is a rookie mistake I see often…the too small frame. You can’t hang a 5×7 frame over your toilet and call it a day. It’s going to be way too tiny and will be floating on the large wall by itself.
Small artwork over the toilet

I know I shared this picture in last month’s rookie mistake where we talked about scale, but it certainly applies to today’s topic too. The artwork over the toilet is way too small! That particular piece could maybe work if it was combined with another larger piece of artwork, but by itself, it looks lonely and strange. Displaying artwork over the toilet

Bridget’s bathroom in her first house shows the right way to display artwork over the toilet. Two larger frames stacked take up enough visual space over the toilet, plus they’re hung at the correct height.

Dispaying nude artwork in the bathroom

Image via Room For Tuesday

Sarah’s artwork over the toilet in her bathroom is also an amazing example of doing it the right way! The 3 frames work together to create a big visual impact and the end result is gorgeous!

My Favorite Over The Toilet Storage

over the toilet storage in the bathroom

White Cabinet // Marble Shelf // Wood & Brass Shelf // Black Glass Shelves // Double Wood Shelves // Gray Cabinet

The vanity and toilet in this gray and gold bathroom

So there you have it…the controversial rookie mistake I was a little hesitant to publish today. I hope it was helpful and it encourages you to take your bathroom design to the next level!


The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.