How to Build a Towel Cubby in a Bathroom Wall


You can never have too many towels and all the better when they're easily accessible. It might not appear that you have any room left in your bathroom for towel storage, but there's more room than you think. Extra space for a towel cubby can be obtained by tapping into the empty space between studs. Add a shelf to the cubby and you've got enough room to store towels where and when you need them.

Finders Keepers

  • Select an open wall in your bathroom. With that in mind, use a level to draw horizontal lines 12-inches apart. The bottom line, or bottom shelf, of the cubby should be at least 42- to 48-inches up from the floor but it's subjective; place the cubby any height you desire. Run a stud finder along the wall and locate all the studs, and if possible pipes; some stud finders locate pipes. Use a noncontact voltage meter to locate all possible wires that might be in the wall. Mark all the locations. Move the location of the cubby to avoid wires and pipes, if possible. If not, you can still work with it. Draw the cubby or cubby's on the wall using the locations of the studs as center points and sides of each opening.

There's An Opening

  • Drill 1/2-inch holes at each corner of the cubby at least 4 inches diagonally from each corner. Insert the tip of a reciprocating saw into the holes and cut out an opening. Remove the drywall so that you can look inside the cubby for wires, pipes and studs. If you see wires, pipes or any other obstructions, use the straightedge to draw lines on the drywall to allow them remain behind the drywall. Using the information, draw the outlines of the cubby from stud to stud, between the horizontal top and bottom marks. Use a reciprocating saw to trim the remaining drywall off the size of the cubby. If you're working with pipes or wires, measure and cut blocks that are taller or wider than the pipes. Nail them onto the studs to work as blocking to prevent the cubby from interfering with pipes or wires.

I Was Framed

  • Measure the inside dimensions of the cubby opening. Cut and use 3/4-inch poplar or pine to build a square or rectangular frame that's 1/2-inch smaller in width and height than the opening. Poplar and pine are affordable, and considered as paint-grade lumber, but you can use stained hardwood if you like. Nail or screw it together with glue and insert it into the opening. The sides of the box should fit against the blocking, creating a hollow space behind it for pipes and or wires. The front of the frame should fit flush with the drywall, on the top and bottom and sides, with the back of the frame tight against the back of the cubby. Nail the frame inside the cubby using finish nails through the sides and into the blocking, if necessary. Attach 1/4-inch water-resistant tile board on the back using construction adhesive if desired. Apply caulking to all the edges, corners and joints, sand everything smooth, clean and paint the inside of the frame with an appropriate water-resistant paint.

Shelf The Idea

  • Plan on adding a 6-inch wide shelf to the bottom of the cubby to lengthen it for towels. If you have the room, use a wider shelf. Cut 3/4-inch poplar to the size required, sand and finish it as needed with water-resistant paint. Use L-brackets, or corbels, to attach it to the wall. These types of brackets have 90-degree backs and tops. One side supports the top, the other side screws to the wall. Screw the brackets to the studs below the cubby opening, and then screw the shelf to the top of the brackets, flush with the bottom of the cubby opening. If you're experienced working with crown molding, skip the corbel or L-brackets and use a piece of crown molding diagonally across the bottom of the shelf for support.

Get Some Trim

  • Give a finished look to the cubby by trimming it with PVC moldings, or any other composite, plastic or vinyl molding that's water-resistant. This type of plastic molding is similar to any other door or window molding. Cut and miter PVC door casing to fit around the perimeter of the opening. Place each piece flat on the wall, with one side of the casing flush with the edges of the frame. The bottom of each vertical piece butts into the shelf. For added enhancement, hold the casing back from the edge of the box insert to provide a reveal, lip or shadow line similar to how door casing is installed on a doorway.

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