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After: Recessed, Open-Air Bathroom Shelving Storage

Replacing Bathroom Medicine Cabinet with Open-Air Shelf Guide

When my husband (Eric) purchased our home new in 2007, there were many contractor-grade items which grew dated over the ten years. One of which was the mirrored recessed, wall-mount medicine cabinet in each of the bedroom-level bathrooms. The mirror was just pointless, since both hinged-open away from you, so you could never really use the mirror that was to your side. And, we just really didn’t use them much because they hung so low to the counter-top, that anything you set in front of them made it difficult to swing the door open.

Before: Recessed, Mirrored Medicine Cabinet
Before: Recessed, Mirrored Medicine Cabinet

In early 2014, when we got married and I moved in, we tackled repainting the three rooms (two bedrooms and the bedroom-level, hallway bath) previously used by a renter. The bathroom had originally been painted with an “Oops! Paint” found at Home Depot. (Please remind my husband to never ever paint with Oops Paint again…it’s somebody else’s Oops for a reason). The color just wasn’t the best fit in the small space, so we selected a Toasted Cashew color, which you can see on our House Paint Swatch Chart post earlier this year. It instantaneously brightened the space and also complimented the colors of the flooring, tile, etc. At that time, we also replaced the contractor-grade towel, toilet paper hardware, and the vanity mirror with more modern items from Lowes, including a framed mirror.

We also detached the medicine cabinet from its home on the wall (and shortly thereafter removed the same item from the Master Bath) so we could simultaneously donate both to Second Chance in Baltimore for a new life.

Before: Guest Bathroom Recessed Cabinet Void
Before: Guest Bathroom Recessed Cabinet Void

For this hallway bath, Eric built a simple box frame out of 1″x4″ and closed off the backside with 5mm poplar plywood in our garage. The box allowed for holes to be drilled with a KREG Jig for pins to support relocatable shelves. We then painted the exposed surfaces with the same Behr Dried Leaf color that we had recently used to repaint the contractor-grade vanity as well.

Once the paint was dry, the entire unit was set back into the wall and adhered with wood screws. Measurements were taken for the inner width of the box, so that glass shelves could be ordered from OneDayGlass.com. We ended up doubling the shelf order, so that we could replicate this project in the Master Bath at a later time.

We then looked at our local hardware stores as well as online for a shelf backer. We ended up going with an easy-to-use, peel-n-stick brushed nickel backsplash found at Lowes at the time. Easy in the sense you could take a pair of scissors to it. No grouting needed either.

As a finishing touch, we added a skinny trim to the front edges of the shelf, also painted in Dried Leaf. To seal off any remaining gapping, we used bathroom caulk in a brown color. To hang the shelves, we used shelf pins we found on Amazon.

After: Recessed, Open-Air Bathroom Shelving Storage
After: Recessed, Open-Air Bathroom Shelving Storage
After: Recessed, Open-Air Bathroom Shelving Storage
After: Recessed, Open-Air Bathroom Shelving Storage
After: Recessed, Open-Air Bathroom Shelving Storage
After: Recessed, Open-Air Bathroom Shelving Storage
After: Recessed, Open-Air Bathroom Shelving Storage
After: Recessed, Open-Air Bathroom Shelving Storage
After: Recessed, Open-Air Bathroom Shelving Storage
After: Recessed, Open-Air Bathroom Shelving Storage

In early 2017, when we proceeded with a “light makeover” to our Master Bathroom, we did nearly the same process, except the exposed surfaces in trim were painted in the standard house trim color and we skipped the plywood backer board since we decided to replicate the wood wall found in our Master Bedroom for the backer of this shelf. Since this was thicker than the peel-n-stick backsplash used earlier, we wanted to make sure the glass shelves ordered 3 years prior would still fit once the outer trim was installed. Naturally, since the trim was white, we used a white caulk to seal this later project off.

Before: Master Bathroom Recessed Cabinet Void
Before: Master Bathroom Recessed Cabinet Void
After: Recessed, Open-Air Bathroom Shelving Storage
After: Recessed, Open-Air Bathroom Shelving Storage

We now have extremely useable, fully-exposed recessed shelf space in our two most heavily-used bathrooms.

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