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Make creative use of bathroom space

(ran HN, HH editions)

Here are tips for adding extra storage in your bathroom:

For a colorful decorative touch, store towels on open shelving in the bathroom. The wall over the commode is a good place, and one or two 12-inch vinyl-clad wire shelves work very well. You also can use the shelves to store extra rolls of toilet paper, tissues and other bathroom supplies.

If your sink has a cabinet beneath, and the unit is wide, consider creating a recess that will keep a towel where you need it, right below the sink. Make the niche 2 or 3 inches deep, line it with wood to match the surrounding cabinetry and fit it with a towel bar set back about a half inch from the front of the cabinet.

To encourage your small fry to hang up their towels, make sure that racks are accessible. If you have the wall space, mount one or more towel racks below an existing rack or build a towel ladder using 1-by-4s as side rails and 1-inch dowels as rungs. Attach the ladder to wall studs using large L-brackets.

If wall space is limited, fasten an expandable wooden mug rack to the back of the bathroom door at a height that your smallest child can reach.

If you're nautically minded, make an eye-catching towel rack from an old wood canoe paddle varnished with several coats of clear polyurethane. Mount the paddle to the wall studs with leg screws going through spacers made from 2-by-2 blocks.

The area above bathroom windows and doors is often wasted. Put the space to work by installing a decorative shelf or vinyl-coated wire shelving. Use these out-of-the-way shelves to store extra towels or items you wish to keep out of the reach of children.

Take advantage of every inch of bathroom space with a door-hinge-mounted towel and robe rack. Available at hardware stores and home centers, this hinge hanger comes in different sizes, materials and finishes and is easy to install.

Simply remove the door hinge pins (drive the pins out from below with a large nail), then position the rack and reinstall pins. There are no holes to drill, and if you move you can take the rack with you.

A plastic magazine file, sold at office supply stores, makes a handy holder for bathroom reading materials. Just mount the file on the wall next to the toilet, and your private reading room is ready.

Many space-stretching cabinet accessories designed for kitchens can also help bring order to your bathroom cabinets. An example is a Lazy Susan, available in single and two-tier models from home centers and kitchen supply stores.

You can also get roll-out bins specially designed to fit under a sink. Before buying one of these hardworking organizers, measure the space inside the cabinet carefully to make sure that the items you store on it will clear the sink drain pipe.

Organize your bath products (and avoid spills) with a wall-mounted push-button plastic dispenser, available with one, two or four compartments.

Shower storage units with several shelves and racks are easy to install in the corner of a tub or shower enclosure and provide a place for everything. They are available at home centers.

If your bathroom has an old fashioned sink with exposed plumbing, hang a skirt on it to create new storage space. You can buy such skirts ready-made or make your own out of heavy, washable fabric.

Sew a Velcro strip to the top edge of the skirt and glue another strip to the sink rim with silicone-base adhesive.