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Medicine Chest Makeover

Martha Stewart Living, February 1996

If opening your bathroom cabinet invites an avalanche of cotton balls, try a new kind of cleansing ritual: Reorganize the medicine chest. Found objects and flea market bargains make appealing, practical keepers for toiletries. A vintage teacup makes a pretty container for cotton balls, and an eggcup doubles as a bobby-pin dispenser. Use a tin shaker as a talcum-powder sprinkler, and an old flask to hold mouthwash. Don't forget to clean containers thoroughly and carefully label all medicines.

Comments (44)

  • Leo Voisey 18 Jun, 2012

    David Summers, a 37 year old MS patient from Murfreesboro, Tennessee was a score of 8.0 on the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) when he had the Combination Liberation Therapy and Stem Cell Transplantation at CCSVI Clinic in March of 2012. Having been diagnosed in 1996 he had been in a wheelchair for the past decade without any sensation below the waist or use of his legs.For more information please visit http://www.ccsviclinic.ca/?p=904

  • Leo Voisey 18 Jun, 2012

    David Summers, a 37 year old MS patient from Murfreesboro, Tennessee was a score of 8.0 on the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) when he had the Combination Liberation Therapy and Stem Cell Transplantation at CCSVI Clinic in March of 2012. Having been diagnosed in 1996 he had been in a wheelchair for the past decade without any sensation below the waist or use of his legs.For more information please visit http://www.ccsviclinic.ca/?p=904

  • flowerboxzgela 16 Apr, 2010

    the pictures should be bigger!!!

  • Racheletto 7 Dec, 2008

    I have learned to not use glass/ceramic containers in my bathroom cabinet. The thought of cleaning up glass in possibly less than bare feet is unappealing to say the least. I use a lot of metal tins, saucers, lids ect. Even thimbles can hold those tiny safety pins!

  • Racheletto 7 Dec, 2008

    I love these ideas! Personally I have learned to NEVER use glass/ceramic containers in the bathroom. If one should accidentally fall and shatter all over the floor the odds are pretty good that you're standing there in your bare feet (possibly in less than just bare feet). The last thing you want to deal with is glass cleanup! I prefer metal tins, cups, saucers ect. Even thimbles can hold tiny safety pins!

  • marjorie1984 23 Sep, 2008

    Safety alert: Medicine cabinets/bathrooms/medications do NOT mix. Medical personnel strongly advise against keeping prescriptions and any medicines in the bathroom due to elevated temperature and humidity. These factors can contribute to accelerated degradation of medication, potentially rendering them ineffectual or even harmful or deadly. Please do NOT store medicine in the bathroom. Stay safe!

  • sharonc9630 19 Sep, 2008

    I love having a glade candle (or similar small candle) in the bathroom. I recycle the glass holders by using them in my medicine cabinet. They are the perfect size for cotton swabs, razors, tweezers and nail clippers , etc, etc. I found a slightly taller votive holder for holding my toothbrushes. Who doesn't have some small votive holders? They look elegant in the medicine chest!!

  • bevmarshal 19 Sep, 2008

    The best thing I ever did in my bathroom was to install 4 mirrored medicine cabinets around the room. (It's a small bathroom.) One holds skin care products, one vitamins and prescriptions, one bath items and the other perfumes and scented items. When I open certain cabinets the mirrors show me the sides and back of my hair.

  • Giddygirl30 19 Sep, 2008

    I think it's a GREAT idea....if I could keep my kids nasty (I do love them) hands off the stuff it would stay nice and neat. OH and clean!! I would love to stay with Martha for a week just to feel like I was in heaven!!
    Love you Martha and I love your teams ideas!!

  • peaceandlight 19 Sep, 2008

    Sissy, you might try self-adhesive gasket used to insulate doorways. It would be easy to apply and would provide a rubberized lip to hold back items wanting to slip off a glass or enameled shelf. I haven't tried this myself, so I don't know how well that stuff adheres to highly polished surfaces. The main thing, though, is to make sure the shelves themselves are stable.

  • bananaboat 19 Sep, 2008

    I think this is a neat idea and I'm going to give it a try with some of my smaller containers. I do wish Martha would post bigger pictures of projects though so we can get a better look.

  • missvito 19 Sep, 2008

    This is one of those "cute" but impractible deas. First of all, I don't store any medicine in the "medicine" cabinet; the humidity from hot showers and baths can deteriorate medications. The shelves are impossibly shallow; we put contact lens stuff, razors, toothpaste, etc. As for cotton balls and q-tips, small plastic tumblers are fantastic. Please keep your ideas for people who yes, like nice things, but lalso live in the real world.

  • mariah81766 19 Sep, 2008

    There is no way that most of those items would fit in my medicine cabinet. The shelves are very shallow. I ended up buying a few of the shower bins (they come with suction cups to adhere to the tile in the shower) and set them on the shelf (without using the suction cups) to put small items in. They work great and being clear, you can easily see what is in there.

  • enidr 19 Sep, 2008

    Picture this my daughter just moved into her brand new condo, her mother was visiting put a few glass lotion bottles in the medicine cabinet, which happened to be one of the new ones with plastic molded shelves which are not stable, should have known better the shelf wobbled when I put the first bottle down, opened the cabinet later, out fell the bottles and not only shattered the bottles but also the new sink that had not even been used yet. No porcelain or glass will reach those shelves again. Expensive lessen.

  • mepeters 19 Sep, 2008

    I do have glass or porcelain items in my medicine cabinet and have never had a problem with them falling into the sink or on the floor. I think the key is for their to be enough space between shelves and between items on the shelf- if there is, it gives your hand plenty of room to go in and retrieve the item. There are also some nice looking, interestingly designed plastic items on the market now which have a rubberized bottom - mixed in with the glass stuff, you'd never know it was plastic.

  • mepeters 19 Sep, 2008

    I do have glass or porcelain items in my medicine cabinet and have never had a problem with them falling into the sink or on the floor. I think the key is for their to be enough space between shelves and between items on the shelf- if there is, it gives your hand plenty of room to go in and retrieve the item. There are also some nice looking, interestingly designed plastic items on the market now which have a rubberized bottom - mixed in with the glass stuff, you'd never know it was plastic.

  • sassyradish 19 Sep, 2008

    my only fear at having 'breakables' in the bathroom is that you tend to be barefoot there quite a bit. having potential shards of things on the floor and stepping on them would prevent me from considering a glass/porcelain item.

  • sassyradish 19 Sep, 2008

    my only fear at having 'breakables' in the bathroom is that you tend to be barefoot there quite a bit. having potential shards of things on the floor and stepping on them would prevent me from considering a glass/porcelain item.

  • kateoverjoyed 19 Sep, 2008

    Unfortunately, the way my bathroom is layed out, my medicine cabinet happens to be over the toilet. We've had several "accidents" with stuff coming out of the cabinet. I do love the idea of using teacups and similar items though....I have a Jadeite teacup and saucer holding my disposable razors. Michael's Arts

  • MarthaV 19 Sep, 2008

    I've found replacement shelves at yard sales, flea markets, anitque dealers, and once in a recycling box. We had an old medicine chest with only one shelf in a house we rented before we purchased a home. The shelves had a thick lip at the front. I found two replacement shelves with the metal brackets to hold the shelves in the cabinet one day. Someone had put their old medicine cabinet out in their recycling box. I had looked everywhere before that and could not find replacements.

  • MarthaV 19 Sep, 2008

    I've found replacement shelves at yard sales, flea markets, anitque dealers, and once in a recycling box. We had an old medicine chest with only one shelf in a house we rented before we purchased a home. The shelves had a thick lip at the front. I found two replacement shelves with the metal brackets to hold the shelves in the cabinet one day. Someone had put their old medicine cabinet out in their recycling box. I had looked everywhere before that and could not find replacements.

  • terivanhecke 19 Sep, 2008

    Sissy - that is a terrific idea - I wonder if a line of clear caulk would do the trick?

  • pattyoo 19 Sep, 2008

    For people who've commented about things tipping over, get a jar of museum gel. It's easy to use and works miraculously. A $10 jar will last possibly a lifetime. Agree with observation that there's NO MEDICINE shown ... My question is, where can you buy replacement shelves? Home Depot, BB

  • Sissy 19 Sep, 2008

    Wouldn't it be great to come up with a way to put a 'lip' or edging, maybe just 1/4" to 1/2", along the front of each cabinet shelf, to keep things from so easily getting scooted out?

  • jfriend9966 19 Sep, 2008

    After burning candles, I found I had many glass containers in various shapes and sizes. They were perfect for cotton balls, Q-tips, bath salts, manicure supples etc. My kids caught on too and now use them in their bathrooms.

  • Encee 19 Sep, 2008

    Oh, and one of my favorite storage idea is to use vintage salt cellars, usuallly glass but you can find other types too, also plentiful on ebay. They hold all the lttle "stuff". Small safety pins, clips for ace bandages or whatever...

  • Encee 19 Sep, 2008

    I've done something similar to this with old ball jars, etched glasses or cut glass bowls of different sizes for cotton balls, swabs, bandaids, tweezers, and everything else that's in my cabinet. i like the Depression era glass and there's plenty of it to be had on ebay. I like some of these ideas too. I

  • Sissy 19 Sep, 2008

    Sorry about these "double comments"---I don't know how it happened with the first comment (5 minutes apart), but this time, after clicking on the 'submit' button and having nothing happen for almost a minute, I clicked again--it's odd that there's no indication on the button to indicate that it has actually been clicked, like the usual little 'flash' on other website's buttons...reminds me of the blank look one gets from some people, so you don't know if they've heard you or not...!!

  • princesspaperlover 19 Sep, 2008

    OH yes, and you should NEVER keep medicine in any other container other than the one the pharmacist puts it in....very dangerous!! (RN speaking!)

  • princesspaperlover 19 Sep, 2008

    It looks so pretty! Love the vintagey containers. I will be sad when my husband reaches for a cotton ball and the cup shatters in the sink below.......that's why we have a large framed mirror over our sink and utilize the cabinets....:) Plus, I think most medicine cabinets are ugly and people like me snoop in them when they come to your party!!! Not really....I've seen the tv shows where people booby trap the medicine cabinets and if a guest opens it.........well, you get the idea!!

  • Sissy 19 Sep, 2008

    Personally, I think lots of these things would work better in a drawer in an organizer with lots of different-sized sections!
    Also, I wouldn't want to use an egg cup to hold anything like pins--its high center of gravity would cause it to be easily knocked over, and you'd have pins down your sink drain! Anything light-weight has the same problem--you'd want things that are relatively heavy, that can't be easily knocked over with a slight hand movement.

  • Sissy 19 Sep, 2008

    Personally, I think lots of these things would work better in a drawer in an organizer with lots of different-sized sections!
    Also, I wouldn't want to use an egg cup to hold anything like pins--its high center of gravity would cause it to be easily knocked over, and you'd have pins down your sink drain! Anything light-weight has the same problem--you'd want things that are relatively heavy, that can't be easily knocked over with a slight hand movement.

  • diannam 19 Sep, 2008

    I will second Sissy's comment....would love to enlarge the pictures.

  • Sissy 19 Sep, 2008

    How about adding the option of enlarging your pictures on this site (and recipe sites as well? Those of us who are visually impaired would surely appreciate it!

  • Sissy 19 Sep, 2008

    How about adding the option of enlarging your pictures on this site (and recipe sites as well? Those of us who are visually impaired would surely appreciate it!

  • westshoe 19 Sep, 2008

    Who need a flea market, I could use all the things I inherited from my Mother. I should open a flea market.

  • lbuser 19 Sep, 2008

    Well, this might make the cabinet pretty but it doesn't really reorganize it. I like the look but I could really use some organization tips. Moving items from one container to another is time consuming but doesn't organize. Does anyone have any ideas for actually organizing all this stuff?

  • lbuser 19 Sep, 2008

    Well, this might make the cabinet pretty but it doesn't really reorganize it. I like the look but I could really use some organization tips. Moving items from one container to another is time consuming but doesn't organize. Does anyone have any ideas for actually organizing all this stuff?

  • laboerschig 19 Sep, 2008

    that is what a medicine looks like in a SINGLE person's home

  • shikham 19 Sep, 2008

    It look sooo beautiful-- but wont work with my 3 kids and husband

  • scrapbookdi 19 Sep, 2008

    Cute but I don't even see any "medicine" LOL.

  • deb1117 19 Sep, 2008

    Only works if other people using the bathroom actually will put things away, into those lovely containers you've worked so hard to organize.

  • virginiabound 19 Sep, 2008

    Nice to dream. . . . . .

  • miracledebtor 19 Sep, 2008

    thanks for some wonderful ideas...now to find all these tiny containers...they must be in high demand