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Real Solutions: the Perfect Bathroom Shelf

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Admit it: There's something invariably exciting about seeing what's behind a normally closed door, whether entering a neighbor's home for the first time, stealing a glance inside the kitchen cupboard of a cook you admire, or poking around the bathroom cabinet at a dinner party. We're here to open more of those doors and share their secrets. 

Today: Lauren Kelley, Food52's Director of Customer Experience and Operations, tells all about her tiny city bathroom and the one genius upgrade that makes it really work.

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As a city dweller, I've learned that it’s better to forget that I once had a yard with a raised bed garden and a finished basement for storing holiday décor. I don’t mind small spaces -- in fact, I relish that cleaning my apartment takes 20 minutes, tops. But sometimes, just sometimes, I wish there were more to it.

Lauren Kelley's Bathroom Shelf

Case in point: My urban apartment for two has a single bathroom the size of most suburban half-baths. It’s 45 inches by 80 inches. (Total!) I might even be exaggerating the measurements to make myself feel better. Yes, there happens to be a claw foot tub in it, but it’s one of the most diminutive ones ever made and it takes up over half the floor space. Add in the toilet, wedged in the corner, and the smallest standard vanity on the market (or so our super once proudly told us; it just barely fits), and we’ve got ourselves some cramped quarters.

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I remembered the bathroom differently when we went to see the apartment, so you can imagine how I must have felt when we got the keys, and I realized I had doubled its size in my head. Where will we store extra toiletries? How can this space be functional and somewhat attractive? How can I ever let a guest see this? I throw a lot of dinner parties and love having people over. Panic.

The only thing going for the bathroom is amazing light -- it’s got a giant, south-facing window with glorious brightness. In the morning, it is a photographer’s dream. When we first searched for a way to improve the tiny space, our goal was to get some storage in there while maintaining the loftiness brought on by a flood of natural light. We found cool hanging shelves for the back of the door and installed towel hooks, but were still stumped by how to bring it all together. 

That’s when I fell in love with an acrylic shelf. Yes, it’s basic. Yes, it’s affordable. And yes, it changed our bathroom for good. The light streams through, and it stores just enough to be practical, yet showy. It wins through simplicity. It won’t work for everyone, but in a room where there were no other options, we’re now able to store an extra roll of toilet paper, a candle, plant cuttings from friends, and extra vases for décor. 

Our bathroom will always be a tiny, strange space -- but now it’s got a little something to it. 

What normally closed doors in your home are you actually brave enough to let us see inside? Tag pictures of your well-stocked shelves, shoe storage, and inspiring freezer drawers with #f52home. 

Photo by Lauren Kelley

Tags: Bathroom, Shelf, Home Solutions