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The Big Secret To Spa Bathroom Design (Hint: It’s Storage Cubbies)

These days, the goal of most bathroom remodels is to transform your space into a relaxing, rejuvenating destination – a spa retreat right in your own home. But any project with this goal is bound to run into the same problem: hotel and resort bathrooms are designed to host guests for a day or two, with a good daily cleaning, while your home bathroom is occupied day in and day out, and you have to clean it yourself. The good news is that storage cubbies – a main feature of actual resort bathroom vanities – are perfect for solving the problems presented by both types of spaces.

Seriously, Storage Cubbies?

I know what you’re thinking. This is a solution so simple it can’t actually be useful, right? Well, let me break it down for you before you make up your mind. Many spa and hotel bathrooms feature vanities with cubby storage. In that case, the goal is to make it as simple as possible for people entering the space for the first time to find everything they need. Towels? Out in the open. Toiletries? Visible and easy to access. But in a bathroom you actually occupy, storage cubbies are the perfect antidote to countertop clutter.

Make Your Bathroom Clutter More Visible…On Purpose?

Countertop clutter is stress-generating. Full stop. It’s also a little bit inevitable in a high-traffic bathroom. After all, not many people have the energy to fully take out and put away all of their daily-use items twice a day every day. But vanities with cubby storage offer a surprisingly reasonable third option: put your stuff away, but only a little bit. Whether it’s a supply of rolled-up single-use face towels, a palette of makeup, or a pot of pomade, open-front, easy-access storage cubbies make it easy to pull out and put away frequently used toiletries. More importantly, they turn all that stuff that typically gets left on your countertops into a nice display that’s reminiscent of… you guessed it, an actual spa bathroom!

Storage Cubbies Make Storing Easy

People who are naturally neat and organized might be looking at me askance here, wondering if people really leave that much stuff out on their vanities. But if you’re still with me, I want to share the secret I’ve learned about countering my natural messy instincts. The easier you make it to clean, the more likely you are to do it. And cubby storage is about as easy as it gets. It’s only a smidge more difficult than just setting your stuff down next to the sink, but with much greater rewards – aka, a final look that anyone will assume took a LOT more thought and care than it actually does.

Another Spa Staple: Open Shelves

Open shelf vanities are also a mainstay of spa bathroom design, and for largely the same reason: having everything from spare TP to hair spray out of the cabinets and visible makes it easy to find what you need in an unfamiliar space. This design has also been really popular in home bathrooms. After all, those casually-elegant looking storage baskets that often come with the look are perfect for hiding all manner of clutter-related sins. Just toss stuff in the basket, shove it under the sink, and forget it, right?

…But Updated To Help You Declutter

Unfortunately, while this open-shelf-plus-baskets layout makes stuff easy to put away, it can make it harder to find your toiletries when you need them. That’s why I prefer vanities with a more modern open shelf design – specifically, one that’s divided into smaller, cubby-like compartments. Not only will you still have space for the traditional rolled or folded spare towels necessary for that spa-like vibe, but having smaller sections makes it easier to keep small toiletries organized and accessible without making your vanity look overstuffed. A good place to start is having a small tray instead of a basket. They’re easy to pull out, sift through, and put away, and will add a lovely touch of class that will make even the most basic bathroom supplies feel ornamental.

Measure Twice, Buy Once

All that said, of course, no form of storage is perfect, and (unfortunately) there’s no true miracle cure for clutter. Often the storage cubbies on bathroom vanities can be quite small – definitely deeper than they are tall or wide, which can be impractical for most toiletries. As nice as it looks to have individually rolled towels in an actual spa bathroom, you want to be a little pickier about finding a vanity with storage (including cubbies) that are the right dimensions for what you need. That said, even the smallest storage cubbies have their uses – like stowing a curling iron or hair straightener – that can help do their part to keep your counter clear without wasting much-needed storage space.

Sometimes the best way to beat a cluttered bathroom is to lean into it. Make your odds and ends an integral part of your design, and they’ll never feel like a mess. Bathroom vanities with storage cubbies and tiered shelves can help, giving you a dedicated but easy-to-access spot to put all the stuff you’d ordinarily leave sitting out.