It took me several years to figure out how to organize my makeup in my tiny, 1958 primary bathroom. Pinterest is rife with posts on makeup organization for standard-size primary bathrooms. Less available are storage ideas for small bathrooms that don’t require wall and counter space. I’m not a fan of open shelves, and because my makeup is mostly a mishmash of brands, I do not want it on display. Plus, I don’t have the counter space.
Almost three years ago, we renovated the original pink and yellow bathrooms in our 1950s home. We would have kept our quirky bathrooms, despite what people thought about them, but the fixtures were breaking down, there were pipe and plumbing issues, and the space planning needed a lot of work, especially in the primary bathroom. The contractor took both bathrooms down to the studs and used the space we already had–no additions. We packed as much space and storage as possible into the original 5×8 primary bathroom floor-plan. I have been told that our bathroom is still painfully small. It is, but now I have drawers and a counter, so it feels luxurious! I’m fine with the small size. It keeps me from stuffing it with clutter, makeup being one of them.
We finished the remodel the week before Thanksgiving and dumped the boxes we were living out of in my mom’s home into the drawers. I was confident I would organize everything over the Christmas and Easter holidays. Christmas didn’t happen; I was too busy (didn’t feel like it). Easter didn’t happen, either. The pandemic had just started and I didn’t have the wherewithal to think, let alone organize.
By the following Easter, I was ready to put the bathroom in order. I took everything off the counter and out of every drawer and cupboard. Then, I laid it on towels on our bed and purged ruthlessly. I already knew it was my makeup that created the most mess and clutter, so that’s where I focused my efforts. I didn’t want to spend any money, so I brainstormed makeup organization ideas using items I already had on hand. My mom has used Clinique cosmetics for over 40 years and insists I take the free bags with purchase. I do. It makes her happy. I finally found a use for them!
Or, so I thought. The tiny bags were convenient for corralling bobby pins and other small bathroom items, but my original plan for makeup organization was a bust.
The plan was to keep all my makeup in a small bag inside my most-used drawer and take it out/put it back every morning. I had strong misgivings about this plan’s success, so instead of posting my first post-remodel William Morris Project, I decided to wait and see if I created a long-term solution. I didn’t.
Inspiration Comes from Day-to-Day Experience
I had to rifle through my makeup bag every morning. Whatever piece of makeup I needed, that is what was at the bottom of the bag. Then, I never put the bag back in the drawer when I was done, even though the drawer is right there. Instead, I left it open on the counter, like a hyena abandons a carcass after a feast. It wasn’t a good look, and there was makeup dust all over my counter from the bag and from the toothbrush holder I used to hold my makeup brushes.
After living with it for almost a year, I figured out what I needed for a successful makeup organization plan.
The touch it once principle
The “touch it once principle” is popular in productivity circles and has to do with efficiently handling paperwork, mail, and other small tasks. I realized it applied to my makeup organization. I wanted a system where my makeup was laid out before me like a surgeon’s medical tray.
Out of sight, out of mind
I did not want my makeup on display because I do not have cute makeup. This meant no medicine cabinet and no countertop makeup organizers.
I am a minimalist when it comes to makeup, and I knew I did not want to devote a large portion of my bathroom to beauty products. I wanted a small space that would prevent me from buying more than what I needed.
My Makeup Organization
The makeup organization setup I finally landed on required me to spend money, but I’ve been using it successfully for months now. In fact, these are pictures of my makeup setup without me cleaning or organizing anything. This is how it always looks.
I bought a desk drawer organizer set on Amazon (currently 20% off), and let me tell you, it is the best money I have spent on a small project.
This picture shows how I use my setup. I grab the mirror I keep behind the toilet, open the drawer, and put on my makeup. When I am done, I close the drawer. It is so, so simple. I used the extra pieces to corral my hairbrushes, sharps (scissors, tweezers, etc.), and deodorant in other drawers. I still had pieces left over, so the rest went to the boys’ bathroom.
This setup requires a minimalist makeup routine in a small bathroom, so it may not work for everyone. I love it, and my morning routine has never been faster or cleaner. Mission accomplished!