Bathroom Étagère

By Kate Riley August 27, 2012

One of these days, I have to get Matt to sit down to type his love/hate letter to IKEA.  Just to get it off his chest.

Like me, he loves the cost savings but many times I’ve asked him if he would make the round trip to IKEA for me and then it ends badly.  One time he gauged his cheek on a shelf corner in the the loading zone and he had to wear a bandage on his face for a week.  (I heard about that episode more than once.)  Another time he ran out of gas on the way home late at night which was my fault because he took my car and I forgot to tell him the tank was on empty.  Oops.

Still, he’s kind enough to make a trip for me a few times a year as long as I locate online the exact Aisle and the exact Bin number for retrieval and purchase of specific items so he never has to go upstairs into The Maze.

When I chose the Vittsjos for the shelving in the study last month, I asked him to grab one extra skinny one just in case the two big ones side by side were too long.  They weren’t, and it all worked out perfectly, but I was left with a single $40 Vittsjo shelf that sat in the garage for a month.  I almost returned it.  I almost donated it.  Then I realized I had some wasted vertical space in our master bathroom, and I was in need of a storage solution, so why not put it to good use there.

silver painted vittsjo etagere cg

I wish I had figured this out months ago, since we only had a short metal table in there holding towels.  This inexpensive solution is so much nicer, and allows for space for washcloths, hand towels, and toiletries too.

yesterday and today


All it took was a can of spray paint and an afternoon to convert the black metal shelves to silver ones once it was assembled.

krylon spray paint


I was concerned with such a narrow space of wall, there might not be enough room to access the vanity nearby, but I can still grab my hairdryer, flattening iron, etc. even if the drawers don’t pull out all the way.  Bonus – the scale is disguised better now, and since it hasn’t been telling me what I want lately, I’m happy it is mostly out of view.  :)

access to cabinet

I found a chrome wine rack on clearance at Pier One – I thought it would be perfect for holding hand towels!

toiletries and handtowels on shelves

With a pocket door entry to our master bathroom, there’s no concern about the door blocking it so this new shelf fits the space nicely.

silver painted ikea vittsjo etagere


It’s really nice having all those daily essentials in glass containers rather than searching through drawers every morning.

toiletries on shelf

The spray paint finish looks more like brushed nickel than shiny chrome, but I prefer it that way.  It thought about adding a layer of silver leaf for texture, but decided the smooth finish was enough as is.

Not bad for a $40 shelf and a $6 can of spray paint!

.  ..


  1. I love these shelves! Once I read your last post on them I went to the ikea website and searched around. I now want one of those shelves! If you do not want the clear glass the krylon Looking Glass Mirror paint would work so well with those!


    • Great idea Emily, or you could replace the shelves with mirror, glam right?

  2. Kate I love it!!! I was trying to figure out what was holding the hand towels…genius!!! I would have never guessed a wine rack. I’m really starting to love these shelves. I’ve always been a more chucky shelf or bookcase kind of girl. Thanks for sharing!!! :)

  3. Nice job. Since following your blog, I’ve learned the magic that is within a can of paint and can’t wait to take on something else. I’m always looking beyond the color of something now if I think it’s something that can be painted to match my taste.

  4. Thank you for the inspiration! I have this blank area in my half bath that I’ve been trying to figure out how to fill. Never dawned on me until now that this would be the perfect size and functional, too. Will be making the trek to IKEA this weekend! Thanks!

  5. Beautiful! I’m so bummed: inspired by your earlier Vittsjo postings I decided an Ikea hack of the bookshelf would be perfect for my office. Made the 4 hour drive from Tulsa to Dallas this weekend to pick up the shelf and. . . it was out of stock. I had even checked the stock level online before leaving. Phooey. This gave me a chance to see your silver paint job though. I had been trying to decide between silver & turquoise for the hack and beautiful though it is, the turquoise will work better for me. Thanks for your amazing Ikea hack posts!

  6. Love the way it turned out! And, my husband HATES going to IKEA! We went recently and luckily for him just bought small things that I put together easily myself. He just dislikes the maze of it all, so like you I tried to find everything online first, although we were left wandering the place with a ticked-off 2yo trying to find wooden spice racks that weren’t where I expected them to be. Good times. :)

  7. Our nearest IKEA is 8 hours in any direction, but next month we’re going up to Denver and those shelving units are on my list of wants! I want a brass and glass shelf for our retro living room. I’m going to spray paint them to make ’em brassy. I’m so excited! :)

  8. I’m headed to IKEA this weekend! Love all you did. That looks amazing! I was wondering if taking the undersink cabinet door off and putting baskets in the pull outs would increase your accessibility to your hairdryer and flat iron?

    • Great thinking Claudia! Unfortunately they’re pull out drawers, so baskets might impede access, but I love that idea for standard shelves!

  9. It looks great. I saw on Pinterest where someone had stored all their q tips, cotton balls etc in old silver cream and sugars. I think I am going to try that. I am always tempted to buy them at the thrift store. Your projects always look so clean and classy.

  10. Beautifully done as usual. I love all the little touches. I was thinking when I saw the door picture and how it doesn’t open all the way you could unscrew the hinges and attach the door to the bottom pull out drawer with screws from the inside. That way the door would pull out with the drawers and allow better access. I don’t know maybe not, just a thought. ;) Love your style Kate I can always tell one of your rooms when I see the photo. Always soft, calm with a little glam.

  11. that skinny shelf is perfect, right?? I have the exact one in my bath too! Tiny loft bathroom, grr, but when we saw this at Ikea the light bulb went on and we knew it would be the perfect storage solution for our small bathroom! I’m loving the silver… has me thinking about giving it a quick spray paint makeover :)

  12. Well, Mimi beat me to my suggestion, but just thought I’d reiterate. I did that once a while a go and it worked out very well. Just make sure to screw into the thickest part of the wood and use a couple of screws on each side. Where did you move the cute vanity stool?
    Beautiful transformation. CTD

  13. Wow – LOVE it!!! Super smart solution. I love metalic spray paint. Your affinity for spray paint inspired me to re-do some frames with it recently. I am so happy that I was able to re-use what I had. Thanks for this great idea!

  14. I used two of these next to my newly painted credenza but painted them in gold. Can’t beat the price right? I too painted the wood top and bottom pieces but in gold. Such a great shelving unit for any space.

  15. That looks great! You can never have too much storage in the bathroom, and this solution works very well.

  16. So not bad- that shelf looks totally stylish and classy!!! Hmm, gives me an idea for the other tacky looking shelving around my home… Thanks!

  17. Very nice! The new shelf looks great…and so much more pretty storage space now. Matt is a good man! I don’t know if I could get T to head up to IKEA with me unless I bribed him.

    • Ha Amanda! I think my “can you go to IKEA and grab (blank)” for me days are numbered!

  18. very cute. love it. looks like a spa! could you not take the doors off the cabinet and put a ruffle curtain there??

  19. Love it! Looks like a spa bathroom. It is very glamorous with the metallic touch. You are very talented. thanks for sharing

  20. It looks wonderful Kate. I recently picked up a similar looking shelf at my local Salvation Army store for $10.00. It was kind of gross looking – dirty gold colour and a bit sticky – yuck. But it had 3 mirrored shelves so I took it home, cleaned and painted it silver and now it could be utilized in any room of the house.

  21. It looks so fancy in silver! Love it. I keep trying to figure out where I can incorporate some of these shelves in my home.

  22. I just returned from IKEA, and can totally relate to the love/hate relationship thing! I think I also have a love/hate relationship with my navigation system. Took me into Manhattan instead of the Garden State on the way back…more money, more time, way more traffic, but hey, it’s a nice day for a drive :).

    The shelf looks great and that was a terrific solution!

  23. I’m with Matt on this one. I have a love/hate relationship with Ikea. The upstairs maze makes me want to tear out my hair. It’s awful, awful, AWFUL!

  24. Did you spray paint the underneath of the top of the shelving unit. I apologize if you have already answered this. This is fantastic!

    • Hi Spin Girl, I primed the laminate shelves (there are two) first with Zinsser Cover Stain primer then spray painted the shelves.

  25. I love you for posting this! I just painted a double one brass for my family room, but I’m bugged by the plastic top and bottom shelves! They look great painted silver, but I’m afraid brass would be too much. I am debating having glass cut or possibly a mirror for the bottom. Any advice?

    • Hey Cammee, I say “bling” it on! I don’t think the brass/gold shelves would be too much, don’t forget the bottom one is mostly covered with your stuff! If you don’t like the top one the brass/gold color then yes, definitely have a piece of glass cut – that will be fab!

  26. That would drive me crazy not being able to fully open that cupboard! But I do like the etagere.

  27. I love the idea of using the wine rack for hand towels! Makes me wonder how well extra rolls of toilet paper would fit in there…I might have to give it a try.

  28. I absolutely love the way you can take something – no matter how simple it is – and make it so very pretty! I love your styling, by the way.

  29. Love it! I want to re-create the same thing in my bathroom at home. Great job Kate!

  30. I am wondering if you had to sand the surface first? I am planning a trip to IKEA soon! Love your idea! I wanted something light and airy in the living room so this is perfect!

    • No sanding Jenn! I did prime the shelves first since they are laminate but spray painted the metal without primer.

  31. Love this! It looks like a spa! Great idea with the metallic paint!

  32. Love it. My DH Feels the same way about IKEA.

    To maximize your access to the drawers, you could take the door off its hinges and glue or screw it onto the front of the bottom drawer. Then it would pull open and you’d have access to the other drawers above it.

  33. These look so beautiful both here and the ones you did before. I have a question…are there adjustable feet on the bottom? I have a little area between my fireplace(it protrudes out into the living room) and the wall and this would be perfect, but I think the floor is a bit unlevel and I would need something I could adjust the feet for level. I don’t see any mention of it on the IKEA site.


  34. I love the entire look! But it would totally bug me to not be able to utilize the pull out drawers. Castors might be cool :)

  35. I have been looking for a storage solution for my upcoming bathroom reno. I originally thought closed storage but since our vanity is large I’m thinking I might have to try this out. You really can’t beat under $50!

    As always thanks for the tips!

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