Yes: this may sound very simplistic and bare, but this really is all you need. What’s a bathroom for: keeping yourself clean and presentable and – if you have a toilet in there – to relieve yourself and clean up afterwards. Contrary to this, I often see images of bathrooms that sport whole shelves of towels and beauty products, showers filled with up to 15 different shower gel and shampoo bottles, not to mention a battery of conditioners, creams and lotions, candles, potted plants, decorative elements, and additional furniture. The larger those rooms get, the more we seem to feel the need to cram more into them.
Of course, there is more to a bathroom than the bare necessities. As with any things, the truth is in the balance between the necessary and the enjoyable. Nobody will scorn you for adding a bit of decoration and the odd potted plant into the bathroom, as long as they are not adding unnecessary clutter to the mix. What you want to keep in mind, though, is that the bathroom not only has a very specific function, but it also is not usually a space you would spend a lot of quality time in, at least for most of us. Even if you are in the habit of taking long luxurious baths every other day, there is a limit to how many scented candles you might need, and there is a point to be made to bring those into the space as a preparation ritual, and take them out again after you are done to finish the whole thing off.
Bathrooms are also notorious for accumulating nearly used-up bits of kit like all but empty bottles of lotion, tightly squeezed toothpaste containers, bits of used dental floss and used razor blades. If you have a dustbin in the bathroom, how often do you actually empty it? If you only have small amounts of rubbish that accumulates, the contents of your bin could well be on their way to develop a completely new eco-system before the bin is full enough to be emptied…
Having a lot of excess furniture in the bathroom will create a lot of narrow spaces for all kinds of stuff to get stuck, and don’t forget that this room tends to be rather more damp than the rest of your home! Anything that sticks around and is made of organic materials (think cotton wool, cosmetic pads, cotton ear swabs, etc) is likely to develop mould or degrade at some point.
Similar concerns prevail when it comes to having a clothes hamper in the bathroom, especially if one of the bits you chuck into it happens to be a damp towel after you took a shower! Just one piece of damp clothing can lead to bad odours in the whole hamper!
Having a toilet in that space only exacerbates the issue: even with the toilet cover down, each time you flush you’ll release lots of droplets and germs that are only too happy to settle on every open surface. And those surfaces include EVERYTHING in the bathroom, like your toothbrush, the mirror, any open materials, the walls and especially the floors.
The solution? Stick to having things in the bathroom that are really necessary there: have all your grooming and shower/bath stuff accessible but inside a closed cupboard, especially things like your toothbrush and anything that touches your skin or is ingested, really. That full shelf of fresh towels will contain not so fresh towels in a short time, so stick to having only a couple of them – if any at all – in the room and preferably bring fresh ones in from a towel cupboard just outside, or create a closed cupboard space inside the bathroom.
Lots of people have a medical cabinet in the bathroom. While that seems sensible for things like iodine tinctures and first aid stuff, regular medication really has no place here: most medication is sensitive to damp, and the packaging is not always safe once the seal is broken. Keep medication away from the bathroom and store in a dark space with regulated temperature, rather on the cool side, like a safe space in your pantry or in the bedroom wardrobe.
Having less stuff in your bathroom will also facilitate cleaning the whole place: at the end of the day, isn’t the bathroom theoretically the easiest to clean space in your home? It’s all tiles and can be easily soaped up and wiped clean in no time. Each bit of decoration and other stuff sitting on the various surfaces will make the task more time-consuming and less attractive.
This being said, of course the bathroom can be a place for relaxation, but it will be that much more easily if it is clear of unnecessary clutter. Stick to the absolute minimum, then add touches of luxury, and you’ll be just fine.
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Hi, my name is Tilo Flache. My mission: help clients declutter mind and space.
This blog contains pointers for your journey towards a happier living experience.