Vanity Makeup Drawer and Bathroom Cabinet Organization

It’s less than a week into 2017 and how am I doing on my resolutions? Great! Because I didn’t set any. That doesn’t mean I don’t have goals; I absolutely do. But, measurable objectives to obsess over? Not so much. I am committing to “doing better and being better” in certain areas where I know I need the most improvement. Fewer things get me more excited than color coding, organized compartments, and well thought out dividers but this past year, I have hustled to add to our home and have lived in such a constant state of transition that my organization has taken a back seat. To start the year, I am focusing on simplifying and de-cluttering. First up- my bathroom vanity makeup drawer!

To be honest, every drawer, every closet, every shelf in every room needs major work. As I work my way through, my posts aren’t going to be “here’s my organized house!” or even “here’s my organized room!” It’s going to be more like “here’s my organized drawer!” – yes, one at a time. I am trying to be thoughtful about the systems I am implementing so even though I have tackled and completed my entire bathroom, it took a couple of days. My linen closet wasn’t completed until a few days after I finished the drawers and cabinets. That will be coming next week 😉

Before we jump in, I’ll give you a little background. I am not crazy about our bathrooms – they are where we skimped the most when building. There are several smaller improvements I can make, and plan to, but they won’t be seeing any full overhauls for a VERY long time. Before my new year effort, my counters were cluttered with acrylic drawers and I didn’t efficiently make use of the little space I did have at my vanity. I made the decision that despite my current quantity, all makeup would go in the narrow vanity drawer. I was going to be ruthless. For someone who had a LOT of makeup (much still stored in the closet), this was a tall order.

First, I cleared off the counter and cleaned out the drawer and cabinet and set everything on the opposite side of the bathroom. I gave my husband’s vanity, drawers, and cabinets the same treatment and while I’m not showing any photos from his side, just know the improvement is huge 😉 I brought in two apothecary jars from the basement and with the freed counter space, was able to bring my perfume back in from the bedroom. I situated everything in a dainty mirrored tray and this beverage stand.

Next, I tossed everything that was old or isn’t worn. I literally had 15 year old eye shadow in there. No, I am not kidding.

TIP: You can take any old MAC makeup containers to recycle at your local MAC counter- six empty tubes/containers will get you one free lipstick of your choice (per six containers). I stash all my old containers in a bag in the closet and after this project, I will be looking at about 384 new tubes of lipstick! haha

I took drawer organizers I had previously purchased – nothing fancy or pretty – and situated them until I found a configuration I liked for my drawer. This is where I started.

And here is the result.

I have had this configuration for about two weeks and have had zero problems keeping organized. Group all like products. Start with your largest items and allocate those to the largest containers.

Next, I tackled the cabinet beneath the sink. Not terrible but nothing great going on here. With the extra stock from my vanity drawer, I needed to make better use of vertical space and keep my most used items in a convenient location.

…and here’s the after. I have a lot of lipstick and lip gloss (likely 20 additional tubes in purses) so I kept my acrylic organizer and relocated it to the cabinet.

I re-purposed one of my acrylic drawer sets for nail polishes and too… there is still a little extra space to grow. First, I washed all the plastic drawers – not fun but it had never been done!

For my daily used toiletries, I used a metal mesh container I already had. This can easily be moved to the counter and back to the cabinet after each use.

Maybe this project took longer than it should have but it was the perfect place to start in my organization quest. If you need a nudge to get started or are looking for just one thing to cross off your list, this is an area that can be made over with minimal costs. And, you will purge so many unused/old items you will have great momentum moving forward. If there are specific places in my home you want to see organized, let me know! It will give me all the more motivation to make sure it gets tackled in the new year. To see more upcoming projects, be sure to subscribe to my emails HERE.

I have a LOT of beauty products and it would take forever to list them all, but here are my absolute favs – all made the “cut” and are pictured in my organization project.

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  1. 1.4.17
    Rene' said:

    Two years ago, I made a decision to keep my bathroom & makeup organized and something so small has been a major life style change. I realized 1) since it is where I start my day, it makes me smile that this area is organized 2) getting rid of items that I no longer use (clutter) gives me the same feeling I get when I loose weight 3) I am able to get ready faster 4) I am able to save money, because I can actually see what I am getting low on or am out of 5) Discarding items every 3, 6, or 12 months I don’t worry about chemical break downs that can cause skin or eye infections. Lastly, the container store is my go to for my makeup drawer and shelf organizing. Also, having plastic containers under the sink area makes things easier to remove quickly if there is a plumbing leak. Happy New Year! Love this blog!

    • 1.4.17

      Rene’, what a way to look at it- you are so right! I can do serious damage at the container store. I haven’t made any recent trips but some of my upcoming posts will have some of my fave organization pieces from them (my entire closet is Elfa, too 😉 ). I can’t believe I had makeup that was over a decade old! Lord! Here’s to a wonderful and organized 2017!

  2. 1.4.17
    Kimberly said:

    Kelley, the transformation is amazing! I’m paring down too since we just moved, and our tastes are extremely and unbelievably similar. (“Hydrangea Love” too!) I’m very excited because we just bought a craftsman-ish style home and are making big changes…your inspiration is just what I needed it’s perfect timing! Thank goodness I just found you! Love, Kimberly

    • 1.4.17

      Kimberly, thank you so much for visiting! Yes, the start of the year is the perfect time to be ruthless. I don’t know that we will ever accomplish and change all we want to here but the journey is so fun! Best of luck tackling all that is on your list and happy 2017!

  3. 1.4.17
    Tonia said:

    Perfect timing! Thanks for sharing your ideas as I am too organizing my bathrooms (preteen daughter and mine). It took longer to do hers! 🙂

  4. 1.4.17
    Jenny said:

    I love the styling with the glass container and tray – so pretty and glam. I did a big declutter using the Konmari method last year and it’s made an amazing difference to how much clutter I have!

    • 1.4.17

      Jenny, thank you and that sounds awesome! I will have to look that up 😉

  5. 1.4.17
    Carrie Cook said:

    This is perfect because we just moved to a new home after 15 years so I am going to be purging as I unpack and want to start out organized. I will be following each area you tackle. I would love to see your linen closet and utility room. I need inspiration for both areas! :o)
    Where are the makeup drawer divers from? I have a makeup drawer and would love to duplicate yours. Thanks for posting!!!

    • 1.4.17

      Oh, that is so refreshing! I have a linen closet coming next week 😉 The dividers were just in a pack I picked up at HomeGoods. I love all the fun acrylic ones from the Container Store but these were good and cheap 😉 Here’s to a wonderful, organized 2017!

      • 1.9.17
        Joanna said:

        I picked up white ones at the Superstore. They have a little lip, so they interlock. I measured my drawers so I could figure out the sizes that would fit snug, therefore maximizing the space. You could also make a template with a piece of paper or newsprint (whatever you have on hand) and take that with you.

        • 1.9.17

          Fantastic idea! I bought my little set a long time ago, and then just crossed my fingers that it would configure nicely haha

  6. 1.4.17
    Tamara said:

    Can you come and organize my bathroom??? I need help and a whole new vanity!!! Love this post!

    • 1.9.17

      Tam, I can’t wait for your spring project 😉

  7. 1.4.17
    Bree said:

    Kelley, I’m seriously going to leave here today feeling so inspired to get organized in my bathroom again!!! This looks amazing but what I really want to know is if you will share some of that free lipstick with your blogging besties?! Lol! Happy New Year sweet friend and thanks for another great post! Love you girly!! :))

    • 1.9.17

      Bree, your bathroom is my dream! AND OF COURSE! 😉 love ya, girl

  8. 1.5.17
    Ann Rourke said:

    Inspirational! Can I ask where you put your blow dryer and flat iron? These items take up so much precious space in my cabinet. I was eager to see if you had a clever way to store them.

    • 1.9.17

      Ann, I just posted my linen closet today (which is next to my vanity). They are stored in there 😉

    • 1.10.17
      Sue said:

      Hi, I have a smaller bathroom with a gorgeous vanity but not much storage. I stored my hair dryer in a “stackable pantry basket” by Inter Design that I got from the Container Store. My vanity is dark brown and I got the oil rubbed bronze pantry basket. I used two bronze colored Command hooks and put them on the side of the vanity and simply set the basket on top of the hooks. You cannot see the dryer when you’re standing at the sink because I positioned it a little bit lower on the left hand side. There was a space on the side of the vanity where I have a hand towel located. It works great. Maybe you can try something like that?

  9. 1.9.17
    Joanna said:

    I love your vanity! It looks so pretty. Your organizer under the sink is perfect for lipsticks and nail polish. And, WOW, you have a lot of lipsticks! I have about six.
    I did a major clean out and bought organizers for my bath about four years ago. Time to get in there again and tidy.
    This series of decluttering is just what I need to get motivated.

    • 1.9.17

      Joanna, I am so glad! I just cleaned out my purse and pulled out several more lipsticks. I think I should probably be ashamed haha. Let’s tackle this together!

  10. 1.9.17
    Sonja said:

    Your photos are always so gorgeous! Can you share the kind of camera you use on your photo shoots?

    • 1.9.17

      Sonja, absolutely. And, thank you! It is a Nikon D3200; I got a lens several months ago that made a big difference, too. I have had a lot of questions so I think I will work on a quick blog post with the deets!

  11. 1.10.17

    Love it Kel! MAC is my makeup of choice too and their containers are so pretty when they are organized! Love that Naked palette too. Back to organizing…..well done!!!

    • 1.11.17

      Jen, yes! Do you ever take your empty/old ones to the counter for a free lipstick? My Naked palettes are the only shadows I use now 😉

  12. 1.10.17
    Sue said:

    Everything turned out nice Kelley! I love your apothecary jars on the countertop. So pretty! I purged a ton of makeup last year as well and have everything down to one drawer. I purchased the acrylic lipstick holder from The Container Store and love it. I am paring everything down. I did a huge jewelry and scarf purge last year and am purging some dishes this week. Less is definitely more!

    • 1.11.17

      Sue, totally agree! I need to purge scarves for SURE this year- so much to do!!

  13. 1.11.17
    Eve said:

    Everything looks great and has inspired me to organize mine. Crazy question so under your sink you have a large pink bottle of the Clinique eye makeup remover. I have searched and searched to find the large bottles. Any suggestions?? Where did you find yours??

    • 1.11.17

      The pink bottle is actually toner so it is available in the larger bottles 😉 Have you checked Sephora?

  14. 3.15.18
    Gem said:

    Where can I find a bathroom vanity like yours? It’s exactly what I’m looking for!

  15. 10.31.20
    Julie Armstrong said:

    Hi Kelley,
    You’re style is something I’m drawn to when looking for decorating or organizing ideas, so thank you for what you do!!! I am looking for guest bathroom ideas for my newly remodeled bathroom, how to organize the drawers and what to put in them for am inviting look! Stay well.

    • 11.2.20

      Hi Julie, Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and for your sweet note! Since my guest bathrooms don’t have a lot of drawer space, I rely on using apothecary jars and fill those with sample and hotel toiletries. I hope you find a solution that works great for you. Organizing can be so tough!