Bathroom Vanity Storage Upgrades

Three sensible solutions for disorder down under

Maximize bathroom vanity storage space with three simple roll-out and swing-out shelving projects. You can build them all in a weekend for less than $100.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine






$20 - $100

Overview: Three storage solutions

Most vanities are poor storage spaces because they're designed for the convenience of plumbers, not for you. While that big, open box is nice for installing pipes, it leaves you with jumbled storage and wasted space.

But you can convert that box into useful space by installing any or all of these three upgrades. You'll expand the real estate under your sink and make it easy to find anything in seconds. Even a beginning DIYer can build all three projects in a weekend, at a total cost of about $75.

Project 1: Swing-Out Shelf

Get everything within reach! This spacious, double-level shelving unit pivots in and out effortlessly.

Swing-out shelf
Project 2: Mini Rollout

No more tipping! This rollout has taller sides for taller products as well as full-extension hardware.

Rollout tray
Project 3: Drawer Top Trays

Get organized! Make these nifty sliding trays for all your vanity drawers.

Drawer top trays

Project 1: Swing-out shelf

Here's the answer to all that inaccessible clutter on the floor of your vanity. With one pull, you can bring stored items out of the dark recesses and into easy reach.

Chances are, the measurements shown in Figure A won't be best for your vanity. The surest way to determine the right size for your shelf is to cut a quarter circle from cardboard and test the fit. If your vanity has double doors, you can still build this shelf, but you may need to open both doors to swing it out. Here are some tips for building your swing-out shelf:

  • To make the curved shelves, just mark a half circle and then cut it into two equal quarter circles.
  • A pneumatic brad nailer makes assembly a cinch. If you don't have a brad nailer, use trim screws. The awkward shape of the shelves makes hand nailing difficult. Whether you use nails or screws, also use glue.
  • We finished our shelf with a couple of coats of polyurethane. A can of spray lacquer is also a good option.
  • Piano hinges come in various lengths, but you probably won't find exactly what you need for your shelf. That's OK; you can cut it to length with a hacksaw.

Figure A: Swing-Out Shelf Details

Swing-out shelf parts:

Part A: 1/2” x 11-3/4” x 12”
Part B: 1/2” x 13” x 12”
Part C: 1/2” x 11-3/4” radius
Part D: 1/8” x 1-3/4” x 24”

1/2” plywood (A–C)
1/8” hardboard (D)
No. 6 screws and finish washers
Piano hinge
Cabinet pull

Figure A is also available in pdf format in “Additional Information” below.

Swing-out details
Trammel for Marking Curves

A homemade trammel is perfect for marking out the curved shelves.

Homemade trammel

Project 2: Mini rollout

This handy little rollout has tall sides, fronts and backs to keep bottles and cleaners in place as you open it. Our dimensions are given in Figure B below, but you can alter the size to suit your needs. Here are some building tips:

  • Assemble the drawer boxes with glue plus trim screws, finish nails or brad nails.
  • We used a 14-in. “full-extension” drawer slide. This type of slide is typically mounted on the side of a drawer, but it works well as a light-duty undermount slide. If your home center doesn't carry full-extension slides in the length you need, go to any online cabinet hardware supplier. You can use a standard undermount slide, but your tray won't extend fully.
  • Finish the rollout with two coats of polyurethane or spray lacquer.
  • If you add a cabinet pull as we did, be sure to set the base back a bit so the vanity door can close.

Figure B: Mini Rollout Details

Mini rollout parts:
Part A: 1/2” x 3-1/2” x 16”
Part B: 1/2” x 3-1/2” x 16”
Part C: 1/2” x 3-1/2” x 3”
Part D: 1/2” x 3-1/2” x 16”

1/2” plywood
14” full-extension drawer slide
Cabinet pull

Figure B is also available in pdf format in “Additional Information” below.

Mini rollout details

Project 3: Drawer top trays

Drawers are often too deep for small bathroom stuff like razors, medicine and cosmetics. That means wasted space. These handy sliding trays reduce that waste and increase drawer real estate by 50 percent.

  • To size the tray, measure the drawer: Subtract 1/16 in. from the width of the drawer space and divide the length in half. Cut a piece of 1/8-in. hardboard this size.
  • You can make the tray any depth you like. If the opening in the vanity is taller than the height of the drawer, your tray can protrude above the drawer sides.
  • Finish the tray with a couple of coats of polyurethane or spray lacquer.
  • Stored items tend to slide around in the trays, so we added shelf liner (available at home centers and discount stores).

Figure C: Drawer Top Tray Details

Drawer top tray dimensions depend upon the sizes of your drawers.

1/2” plywood
1/8” hardboard
Shelf liner

Figure C is also available in pdf format in “Additional Information” below.

Drawer top tray details

Additional Information

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Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • Table saw
  • Circular saw
  • Brad nail gun
  • Jigsaw
  • Drill/driver, cordless
  • Drill bit set
  • Handsaw
  • 4-in-1 screwdriver
  • Wood glue
  • Sanding block
  • Hacksaw
  • Tape measure
  • Paintbrush

Project 1: Swing-out shelf

1/2" plywood (A–C)
1/8" hardboard (D)
No. 6 screws and finish washers
Piano hinge
Cabinet pull

Project 2: Mini rollout

1/2" plywood
14" full-extension drawer slide
Cabinet pull

Project 3: Drawer top trays

1/2" plywood
1/8" hardboard
Shelf liner

Plus, sandpaper — 60-, 100-, and 150-grits and polyurethane.

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