Here is an easy to build storage shelf that utilizes the wasted space inside a bathroom vanity cabinet. I’m talking about that space below the sink basin and above where all the bathroom supplies pile up on the bottom of the cabinet. The shelf assembles in place and can be made from scraps you probably already have lying around the woodshop. I made this shelf from white pine scraps and left over cherry plywood. (It may not go with the oak exterior but does that really matter for an internal utility shelf?) The shelf unit fits inside a 36″ wide bathroom vanity. It is 35″ wide, 19″ deep, and sits 16″ above the cabinet base. This provides a 9″ high storage area above the shelf, which works well for storing towels, tooth brushes, soap, toilet paper, tissue boxes and other smaller bathroom items. Meanwhile, the larger items such as shampoo bottles and cleaning agents can be stowed below, preferably in a pull-out basket or bin of some sort.
One of the challenges in building a vanity shelf (and perhaps the reason why many vanities don’t come with one) is accommodating the sink basin and associated plumbing. This design tackles that challenge by the use of three panels: two full-depth ones on either side of the sink, and a middle panel that’s only half-depth. This allows unimpeded access to the drain pipe and water inlet pipes. As can be seen in the photos, the middle shelf panel slides into place via cleats screwed into the underside of the two adjacent panels.
The rear shelf support passes just above the water inlet pipes and is secured to the side assemblies. It consists of two pieces that screw together once they are slid into position. With the water pipes in the way, I found that it was too tight to use a single full length piece.
The entire shelf framework rests on the base of the cabinet and is held in place by a couple small screws in the back. If I were to do it again, I would probably figure out a way to attach shelf support cleats to the sides and back of the cabinet. However, the framework approach works well enough and is certainly easy to assemble. It’s also a good opportunity to use up some of that scrap wood that’s always threatening to take over the woodshop…