Condo Blues: How to Build Recessed Bathroom Storage Shelves

Sunday, April 26, 2020

How to Build Recessed Bathroom Storage Shelves

I never liked the cheap plastic medicine cabinets that came with my condo. I was even more perturbed when I removed the medicine cabinet to paint the walls and found the hole and framing for the cabinet less than square - to put it mildly.

 I figure I better replace it and poked around window shopping while I was searching and pricing every thing else I needed for the guest bathroom remodel.

Have you ever priced medicine cabinets?

Be prepared for some sticker shock. Even the cheaply made medicine cabinets like the one I have are a couple of hundred bucks. The medicine cabinets  made from actual wood are even more expensive while still lacking style. That’s more that I wanted to pay for a medicine cabinet in a second bathroom we don’t use often.

I really don’t need a medicine cabinet with a mirror door because there is a mirror hanging over the sink.  Actually I really don’t need a door either because the way it was installed, the current medicine cabinet door smacks into the bathroom vanity light if we’re not careful. Open bathroom storage shelves are the only answer.

how to replace a medicine cabinet with recessed shelves in a bathroom
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I stood in the guest bathroom staring at the wall and trying to visualize how to turn the medicine cabinet hole into an open storage niche as pretty yet affordable as possible when I realized I was standing on my answer – use leftover tile from the bathroom floor!

How to lay a tile floor
The new slate bathroom floor tile. Also known as The Precious.

How to Makeover a Bathroom Medicine Cabinet into an Open Storage Shelf Niche

Fortunately, I got this idea as I finished tiling the bathroom floor and still had time on the wet tile saw I rented. It was just a jump to the left side of the room to start tiling with all of the materials I already had at hand.
First, I measured the inside of the niche to see if it was even possible to make the interior square with what seems like a boatload of shims (shims look like this.) I did a dry fit with my leftover tile cuts and roughly traced and numbered the back of tiles and wall  with coordinating numbers to make sure I laid the now odd size tiles in the correct order in the medicine cabinet wall niche.  (Disclosure: I am including affiliate links in this post for your convenience.)

how to replace a bathroom medicine cabinet with storage shelves
You can't tell from the photo but the bottom of this hole is the wall is not level

I checked, double checked, and checked again, said a little prayer and cut the only pieces of tile I had left to fit the niche with the wet tile saw. Success! Whew!

how to cut porcelain tile
From the type of dust mask I’m wearing you can tell I did this project BP – Before Pandemic.

I tiled the back of the bathroom shelf niche the same way I tiled the floor. I measured and cut the Schluter Ditra tile underlayment (learn more about it here) with regular scissors and used this premixed thinset mortar and a notched tile trowel (you can find them here) to attach it to the inside of the niche.  Just like tiling the floor, I could start tiling the wall after I installed the tile underpayment.

easy wall tile underpayment
Ready for tile!

Then I used the thinset and grout float to tile the back of the niche.

how to tile a wall niche
I usually favor reusable over disposable options with the exception of wearing disposable work gloves (there are several types and styles here) during the messy tiling and grouting parts of a tiling project. If I didn’t I’d probably still be trying to get my hands clean from all of the yuck I have to handle during the project.

While I waited for the thinset to dry overnight, I cut and painted the wood framing for the interior of the storage niche with leftover wall paint.

The following day I grouted the tiles in the shelf niche and the floor . I also gave the wood frame a second coat of paint and let everything dry overnight.

After sealing all of the tile grout and allowing it to dry, it was time to assemble the recessed bathroom storage shelves. I shimmed and attached the framing to the niche with liquid nails and a nail gun all the while checking the everything with a torpedo level like this guy.

Next, I measured, cut, and used liquid nails to attach leftover floor molding to frame the outside of the niche. I used wood rosettes like these in the corners like I did with the molding around the door frame. I let everything dry overnight.

how to make a recessed wall niche
Almost done!

Now I came to the most difficult part of the project – trying to find glass shelves to fit the recessed bathroom niche! I didn’t want to use wood shelves because I wanted my beeeeauuutilf tile to show in all its glory.  I ended up buying these exact bathroom medicine cabinet shelves on Amazon as a last resort because I couldn’t find glass replacement bathroom medicine cabinets shelves in the size I needed.

how to make a bathroom recessed wall storage shelves
The plant mister (you can buy a similar glass and metal plant mister here) holds DIY poo pourri made by filling it with water and adding several drops of essential oil.

Lastly, I shopped the house for pretty medicine cabinet organizers and filled my bathroom storage niche.  My new recessed storage shelves are a better use of storage space than the medicine cabinet.  It also allows me to free up storage space in the very crammed to the gills cabinet in the master bathroom.  Tip: Empty candle jars with lids make fantastic – and free – apothecary storage jars!

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1 comment :

Melynda@Scratch Made Food! said...

Thank you for sharing with Encouraging Hearts and Home! Have a great week ahead!

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