The Transformation of My Scary Bathroom Vanity

Happy Labor Day Weekend, Everyone!

Guess what?

My darling son Cale is with me in Bronxville for the long weekend.

And, knowing that I didn’t want to be tethered all weekend to my laptop, I decided what might make for a somewhat interesting post that won’t take me 12 hours to produce.


Actually, I’ve been planning on attacking my crappy (no pun intended) bathroom vanity for some time.


However, I wasn’t sure if I just wanted to get a new vanity. See the post here. The problem is that by the time I purchase the vanity and get it installed, it’s going to be a fair amount of money. And while a slightly larger one with a better design would definitely help, it won’t be enough for all of my stuff.


Still, I hadn’t the foggiest idea of what the best option would be for my bathroom vanity. Thus, inertia sets in. If I just ignore it, it will go away, right?


But, Laurel, aren’t you supposed to be an expert?

In the case of Chocolate cake, definitely. But organizing? Um, no. So, please stop asking me for help with your organization. The image below will most likely explain why you don’t want me to help you with your organizing.

However, before you assault your eyes, a few words.

I know from a survey 100s of you took a couple of years ago that 25% of you are “neat freaks.” That’s wonderful. And, I mean that. However, please try not to judge(too much). Just because the rest of us struggle in this area doesn’t mean we’re enjoying it. Please remember that.

(The clutter sensitive might wish to skip ahead.)


"organized" lol bathroom cabinet

I know. It’s terrible.

Do you STILL want me to give you organizing advice? haha

Please also note that my entire apartment does not look like this. Most of it is perfectly presentable.


So, why has it taken me so long to fix this?


I don’t have a good answer.

Plus, it wasn’t always this bad.

But, yes, of course, I’m not proud of this mess. I am showing it to you because it’s my reality. And, I know that I’m not alone. However, that doesn’t mean it has to stay that way.


Therefore, I started looking for bathroom vanity storage organizers.


There are a lot of them. And, my crappy little bathroom vanity is only 25″ wide. Also, what’s frustrating is that there’s plenty of room for a 30″ vanity. So, naturally, I was confused by which organizing system would work best for me.

My criteria are:

  • Sturdy
  • Easy to install
  • Nice looking.
  • Maximize the available space with enough storage to find things easily.


Anyway, I’ll stop blabbering and tell you what I did to solve my bathroom vanity issues.


I realized that I needed the help of some pros. That one was easy. Once again, I contacted the fabulous professional organizing mother-daughter team, Ann and Kate of Done and Done Home.

Some of you may recall that Ann and Kate came over a little over two years ago and did a number on all of my closets and my entire kitchen.

I emailed Ann, and she got back to me immediately. First, she asked for more measurements than I had initially given her. I gave her those, and then she got back to me right away with the answer to my problem.


She sent me a link for the perfect storage system for my 25″ bathroom vanity.


Elfa Bathroom_Sink_Organization

This is one option out of dozens of possibilities for cabinet and closet storage by Elfa. Here’s the link so you can check it out if interested.

I know of Elfa and believe it to be a brand with an excellent reputation. And, great, it’s on sale too! Plus, the reviews at the Container Store are excellent.

I love the unit on the left and decided that two of them would be fabulous. However, I wanted to do the other one with two small drawers and a medium-deep drawer. No problem. They have that option available, as well.


Naturally, since I’m the queen of procrastination, I didn’t do it right away.


However, knowing that Cale was going to be showing up and that he could help me gave me the push I needed to put in my order.  That was the easy part, as was fetching the merch from my local Container Store.

By the way, the trick for you procrastinators is something I realized exactly five years ago while working on my first guide, Laurel’s Rolodex. It was very difficult for me. I kept wanting to stop. But what made me push through it was that I had told thousands of people that it was coming out September 26th.


That is when I realized the secret to getting things done.


ACCOUNTABILITY is the answer. At least it is for me.

Did you ever notice that when company is coming, all of a sudden, you are motivated to clean and tidy?

Ummm, Okay. This is not for you neat freaks out there.

Message to the compulsively neat and tidy.


Organizing comes NATURALLY to you.


However, for most of us, organizing and tidying does not come naturally.


It is possible to learn new strategies. But it takes awareness, education, and systems to make it happen.

That’s where Done and Done Home comes in.

Not only will they come and organize your stuff, but they have also created a how-to course to help you bring out your inner neat freak.


Love Your Home Again - Done and Done Home

They are calling it, Love Your Home Again

So, I am going to take this course.


Who wants to take it with me?

I mean, I need you! I need the accountability.

Okay. Full disclosure. If you sign up for the course using any link to it on this page, I will make a small commish. However, please note that product links on this website are probably going to make me a small commish. And if they don’t, it’s either a mistake or the company/brand does not do affiliate marketing.


Butttttttt, I know that this course is going to be amazing.


I’ve already done the first module, and it flooded back memories of working with Ann and Kate. Not only are they super expert at all things organization, but they are also the kindest, most understanding, non-judgmental people ever. I was sad to see them leave.


Ann and Kate’s approach is not about perfection; it’s about doing things BETTER. And, they give you the tools and encouragement necessary.


There’s even a Facebook group you can join for additional support. If you’d like to learn more about the course, please click here.

Oh, and here’s the best part. They are offering an incredible discount during these difficult times. It’s a discount of 60% off the regular price. I don’t know how much longer that discount is going to be.

However, I do know that if you want an in-person organization, Done and Done’s day rate is $2,450.00. If you can swing it, they are worth every penny and then some. And, I cannot recommend their services highly enough. However, not all of us can afford that expense.

Taking this course is the next best thing. That’s because, in the ten modules, they’re promising to teach every trick and technique they know.

Therefore, if anyone is interested, please sign up for the course, and let’s do this together.


Okay, back to my crappy bathroom vanity and its reorganization.


Can I tell you how excited I am?

I’m so excited that it put me right back in bed.


Of course, I began writing this blog post.

But, now, it’s time to get to work!


Cale and I put the cabinets together.


Elfa storage pieces

Above are the elements minus the storage drawers of which there are five.


Elfa pieces bathroom cabinetHere’s a close-up. I very much recommend that you get the mallet if you don’t have one already.


Elfa instructions bathroom storage cabinetInstructions that make Laurel dizzy. It’s just me, I’m sure.

So, how was it putting the pieces together?

Well, we did it. And, it wasn’t too bad. Actually, once Cale got into it, he did most of the work.


Could one person put these shelves together?


Yes, absolutely. But, if you’re not used to putting things together. Or, you’re not great about reading instructions like I am, then, I do recommend two people.

Of course, the second cabinet went much faster than the first one.

It really isn’t too difficult. And, everything fits beautifully together. Plus, they feel super-sturdy.

Now, all we need to do is stick those babies into the horrible bathroom vanity and then organize everything.


Well, that’s how it’s supposed to be.

Only one problem. And, it’s an even crappier problem than the bathroom vanity itself.

The crappy plumbing


crappy plumbing bathroom cabinet

See that ring in the center pipe? It sticks out an eighth of an inch too far. And, I couldn’t get the unit on the right far enough in so that the front legs weren’t hanging slightly off the front edge of the cabinet.

However, there is close to an inch on the left side.

Cale fixing crappy pipe
The pipe seemed to have some give, so Cale thought he could squeeze the cabinet in.

And, hooray, he did it! Phew! That was close.


Just one problem.


When I turned on the water, the pipe started freaking leaking! Now THAT is seriously crappy!

Cale tried to fix it and couldn’t.

Laurel called the super, and it’s Saturday night. I’m sure he was swearing at me under his breath when I hung up. Like, did I REALLY just ask him to come over and fix my leaky bathroom sink? Of course, he couldn’t come over tonight. So, the cabinets are in, but we can’t use the sink. Isn’t that a riot? It’s okay; we’ll get it fixed. Hopefully, later today.


However, I’m loving the new Elfa storage drawers.


And, I’m so glad I got one with the extra tall drawer because I definitely need it for some of my stuff. Like the giant bottle of Kiehl’s moisturizer I got at the Nordy Anniversary Sale.(actually, they are having another sale!)

Right now, I’m taking a break. But, here’s the thing. I AM going to finish this tonight because I HAVE to. Well, I don’t have to, but I kind of do.

That’s what I mean by accountability.


Okay, I’m finished now.


One issue is the gap behind the cabinets. It’s about five inches, and you know, and I know that stuff will fall back there unless I figure something out.

I found a small basket and a shallow tray. At least those two things will prevent most things from falling back there. I just have to be careful with what I put on top.

Of course, the cabinets come out of the vanity easily. Or, the right one will, when the super comes to fix the pipe, hopefully, later today.


Bathroom Vanity beautifully organized Elfa system

And, here’s the finished result! Yes, it was a bit of work. But, in the end, it’s going to make finding things so much easier. The drawers do come with labels. However, that’s difficult because some of the drawers have a fairly large variety.


One thing I learned from Done and Done Home is to try and put like with like as much as possible.


before and after bathroom vanityPlease pin to your Pinterest boards for reference.


Again, if you would like a link to the Elfa Storage System, click here.

This is the link to the cabinet on the right.

And, please check out the Done and Done Love Your Home Again – organization course.

Also, please be sure to check out this week’s HOT SALES. It’s one of the top five shopping weekends of the year. Sensational sales!




PS: Update: September 16, 2020

The super fixed the leady pipe, however, he assured me that he could NOT get the cabinet in. I thought I had measured carefully. But alas, I didn’t notice the ring that sticks out an 1/8″ too far. Or, I just ignored it. I would’ve been far more anal if it had been a real client. I suck when it comes to doing things for myself.


Elfa Bathroom_Sink_Organization

Anyway, if I had gotten the piece on the left and the plastic containers that are part of the original vanity set at the Container store, I would’ve been fine.

Sooooooo, I should do that. They aren’t expensive. However, now I’m thinking that I would like to change the vanity. What bugs me is the gap on both sides. It’s frustrating that they didn’t put in a 30″ vanity! Then, all problems would’ve been solved.


55 Responses

  1. Hi, Laurel!

    I love reading your blog…I save it till the end of the day to see something beautiful before I go to sleep! Congratulations on tackling the vanity organization…that is one thing done. I read about Done and Done on your blog back when you mentioned it in the spring, and signed up as my gift to myself and my family AFTER completing spring distance learning 😝

    Creative people don’t organize like organized people…we are big picture, project- driven…maintaining (for us) is boring. I have learned so much from Mindy Starks Clark (“The House that Cleans Itself”), Dana K White ( & her first book …she’s hilarious), and taking their ideas, along with Done and Done’ s videos and game plan, this clutter thing is do-able!

    And then I can actually start decorating😄

  2. OK, I’m on the re-org train with you, Laurel! Signed up and heading for success with the rest of your readers with the help of Ann and Kate.

    Love your undersink Elfa re-do.

    Paper and procrastination along with indecision and sentimentality are my stumbling blocks. Hoping this burst of energy will make my “after” as happy as your sink cabinet looks!

  3. Oh, goodness! Clutter! Paper is my downfall, so a lot of my organization involves an outdoor trashcan! And I’ve stopped taking out magazine subscriptions. At 69, living in a 4500 sq. ft. house, I’ve finally come to the point of being tired of taking care of stuff that doesn’t love me. So on the rare occasions I step up to organize, I’m brutal. I’m paring down make up (because my vanity looks worse than your undercounter area did) and clothes. Books will be my next move. And then cabinets. Mind you, this will take years! And I’ve found that the only way I will actually do it is to just empty everything in that area out on the floor. Then I will be so eager to get finished with the job it’s easier to throw away what I don’t use. Also, I’m making myself not buy anything until I’m out of what I have. (Currently working on the 8 bottles of shampoo/conditioner in my shower.) The Rona has broken my shopping habit!!! Thanks for the post!

  4. On a more serious note, I think my problems with disorganization are not due to lack of knowledge, but rather to lack of effort/motivation. I bought a rack similar to yours for my kitchen cabinet, but it’s been weeks and I still haven’t installed it. Do you know whether the Done&Done course addresses this issue?

    1. I struggle with that too, Anne-Marie. It is actually painful doing menial tasks. I haven’t done the entire course yet. They provide a blue print and strategy for organizing. And, a lot of kind words. However, this is why I was talking about accountability and its first cousin, motivation. It’s essential for us that struggle in this area. And, that’s where the facebook group is so helpful. Or, it could be a friend or two or family members.

  5. Okay, I just bought the Done+Done course for me and my husband. Your recommendation means a lot and the sale price is awesome. Now we just need the energy to start reading the modules and applying some elbow grease, I guess. Thank you for always providing such informative, valuable info to your readers. PS: Your vanity organization looks terrific!

  6. Dear Laurel,
    Loved your post, as always! You’ve inspired me to tackle my own problem areas, like my bathroom and well, the rest of my house. Thank you for sharing the info on Done and Done. I am doing their course and LOVING it! They beat all the books I’ve ever read on organizing, hands down. I’m so glad to have found them! They are a game changer. Thank you.

  7. First time commenter. I just found you a couple of weeks ago and I’m in the process of reading way back. You are very good at what you do! The bonus is you crack me up. You should try standup, but I know you don’t have the time. Wonderful post today. I have one question: Is your book 333 essentials only for download or can I get it hard copy? I don’t have a lot of space on PC and I don’t do the cloud. Thank you, Terry

  8. I’d like to take the Done and Done Home course….how should I proceed? I see the offer is $98.00 …is that correct?
    Thank you, Kathleen


    1. Yes, I got your message, Kathleen. :] If you don’t know where to begin, then you’ll definitely benefit from this course. They explain very carefully, how to begin, and how to deal with all of the extra stuff that gets accumulated. And, then once you’ve dealt with all of the stuff you don’t need and aren’t using, they go over how to organize all of it. And, they do this for every room/area in your home.


  11. Sure wish I had this course in July as I started to prepare our home for sale in MD. We decided the market was perfect to start our preretirement in our South Georgia home. The decluttering has been more difficult than I had ever imagined. 23 years in a home that I bought as a single woman, 3 years later married the man of my dreams including 2 wonderful children 3 and 5, and a whole bunch of stuff. My car never saw the inside of the garage after we became a family!

    Thank you for sharing “Love Your Home Again” information. I just purchased the course so I don’t lose control and bring too much stuff to Georgia. My 120 year old home lacks closet space and overall storage but I am looking forward to the challenge of designing more storage and closets that will be fitting to the home.

  12. I am very cluttery. If I can’t see it, I don’t always know I have it. This drives my tidy naturally organized husband crazy. So, we are fortunate enough to have a basement bathroom where I can spread out. Every few weeks (or months) I tidy up a little.

    1. I can relate so well to putting stuff “away” and THEN you can’t find it! Of course, it’s supposed to have a designated home. And that home needs to make sense. Oh, how many times I’ve cleaned up and found something I had been looking for months or years earlier!

    1. That sounds like a place where you work for 3 hours and it still looks the same when you’re finished. That’s very difficult for us who need some instant gratification to stay motivated.

  13. Fun post, Laurel! I just finished a book that I think you’d love: The Clutter Connection. It’s about how there are four basic different organizing styles, and about how people struggle if they try to organize their home the way someone else’s brain works rather than the way their own brain works. I found it to be very insightful.

    1. I’m the put it in a pile or throw it in a drawer type. haha One trick I just figured out is instead of putting things like bank statements in a pile is to put them immediately in a bag to be shreaded. I have a shreader but it’s a pain in the arse.(the taking the shreaded paper out is messy) It’s worth it to take the full bag to the local UPS store. For a few bucks, they’ll do the shreading.

      I have tried to go paperless as much as possible. However, they some sources STILL send paper! #frustrating.

  14. So funny (not really) – I just (like, last weekend) tackled my vanity of shame with the Container Store! And likewise cursed my sink pipe…

    Speaking of commish, I also just purchased the Tanja Trunk from anthro. I actually found it on my own and then saw you had it linked so I re-added it to my cart – not sure if anthro does affiliates but I like to make sure you get the monies if they do 😄

    1. I so appreciate that Cathlin and your unending support! I thought I had measured very carefully. But, with all of the stuff in there, I most likely didn’t notice that bulge. I was just imagining if this had been for a client. I had visions of losing hundreds of dollars to have to pay for a plumber to fix everything. ugh.

  15. Thank you, Laurel, for another great post. I have to admit that my bathroom vanity looks about the same! I just organized my deep kitchen cupboard, so it’s given me the desire to keep going. I’m going to check out the organizing class, thanks for that tip!

  16. Love this kind of post but of course, I want to see how you organized your stuff. Please show us the inside! Yes, I’m a voyeur and nosy too but I really just love organization pictures.

  17. I did the “low rent” version for under my bathroom vanity. The clear plastic shoe boxes from the dollar store with nicely printed labels on the box ends works for me.

    For accountability, I put an appointment reminder on my Outlook calendar to review the contents of those bins every 6 months. This keeps me from keeping products that I receive as samples or travel sizes forever. If I haven’t used them, I simply donate those products to a shelter or my local student university pantry. At least I know they are used.

    1. I love that calendar reminder! And, twice a year is also key to maintain what’s been done. It’s so easy to just throw stuff in there, like “freebies.” And then you realize a year later that you’re never going to use it. Whenever I go to trade shows, they always give us a lot of crap like tape measures, notebooks, and stuff like that. Usually, I just leave it all in my hotel room, unless it’s something I know I’ll use like the pens. Otherwise, I’ll take it out of my suitcase and it will just sit around forever. So, the point being, it’s better not to bring stuff into your home, if possible, that you don’t need or want.

  18. Just wanted to add–I checked it out and the discount on the organizing course is awesome! If you’re interested, get on over there. Many folks are offering online courses during Stay at Home times, but this is really a bargain.

  19. Thank you for the pointer to this course! At the price, it’s a no-brainer!

    Just signed up and plan to use so I can make the most of the storage in my home.

    1. I think it would be worth it just for the facebook group, alone! Like I said, accountability and support is key. 5.5 years ago, I joined a small blogging accountability group from a larger FB group I was in.

      The first thing I did was to create my optin to help grow my email list faster. I needed that accountability to force me to get the job done. And, it worked.

      One day, about six months afer joining the group, the leader and I were exchanging info in a phone call. He asked me when I was going to create my first product as that was one of my goals. I said. “I’m working on it.” And then he asked me how much I was going to charge and how many I thought I could sell. When I quickly did the math, I went. “Holy Crap! Thank you so much Scott!!! I have to go now and get started on Laurel’s Rolodex for real!” It was the lightbulb moment of all lightbulb moments for me on numerous levels.

      Honestly. I’m the laziest person on the planet. I realize it doesn’t appear that way. Momentum is a powerful force and motivator as is money. lol

  20. What timing! We recently purchased a new (to us) home and there are no drawers in the bathrooms. There’s good storage (cabinetry/linen closets) but I find myself really missing the accessibility of drawer space. I think yours is a great solution, so thank you!

  21. Hello Laurel, In Taiwan bathrooms there are no enclosed spaces because it is so humid. Even the towel bars which are present cannot be used because the towels will mildew before they get dry. So all storage is outside the bathroom. I have a Shaker peg arrangement just outside the door for towels, and a nearby shelf for my shaver and odds and ends, but these are in the bedroom itself.

    I never get those those fancy catalog or “decor” shots of a neat, empty nightstand, say, with two tiny things on it, perhaps a cell phone and a tiny light. I have and constantly need a hundred miscellaneous items–pens, lip balm, clippers, bookmarks, eye drops, remotes, etc.–don’t other people need this stuff, too?

  22. You are going to be so much happier! I installed those under my kitchen sink a few years ago, and it really does make life in my kitchen so much easier!
    I LOVE the container store. You should also check out their velvet lined jewelry organizers.

  23. Dear Laurel, amazing post! I dream to attend your course about everything. Not to mention that I read your blog consistently but it’s my favorite and I smile and feel so relaxed when you write and I read. It’s just happiness. If you ever create a course I would never live lol and you can talk about anything you like. Hehe

  24. Laurel, It looks awesome and it’s got to feel great to have it done! You have motivated me to take on a few cabinets that look very similar and I will definitely check out the course. Thanks for the inspiration! Have a great holiday weekend and enjoy your son.

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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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