If You Live In a Chicago Apartment, You Probably Have This Bathroom Feature

If You Live In a Chicago Apartment, You Probably Have This Bathroom Feature

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I live in a hundred-year-old apartment building in Chicago, and while it has its charming details, it has just as many dilapidated features. From missing baseboard corners to uneven floors that require chapter books to be placed under floor lamps, most of these quirks are relatively easy to ignore if you don’t get caught up with perfectionism. But one thing that is hard to turn a blind eye to is the warped window ledge in my bathroom. Chicago is notorious for having small windows in equally small bathrooms, and prior to the rise of showers, it was probably a very charming feature. Who wouldn’t love to soak in a cast iron tub as sunshine streamed in from above? But as showers took over soaking tubs, these wooden window ledges found themselves right in the middle of a sputtering shower stream. After years of direct contact with water, these ledges have warped, flaked, and sometimes rotted in places closest to the shower head. 

As you can imagine, this makes for a very uncomfortable — and unaesthetic — shower. Short of hiding the ledge behind a shower curtain, it was hard to get over the fact I had such an eyesore in my bathroom. After living with it for more than a year, I decided to ask a handyman how to repair it myself, and possibly help fellow renters in the same predicament. 

I spoke with local Chicago handyman Mark Gryko, who has seen this quite a lot in the apartments he maintains. He says the most effective thing to do is to take out the ledge and install a new wooden one or tile the window enclosure. “Since the wood has been compromised, this is the best option. You can take out the ledge by cutting it in the middle, and then carefully prying it in the center, up from the window.” If you want to tile it yourself, add a cement board to the 2×4 ledge that will be exposed, add a layer of RedGard waterproofing, and once it changes colors, you’re ready to tile over it. 

If you’re not handy or don’t think your landlord will let you remove the ledge, you can do some cosmetic work on the water-warped window ledge instead. This won’t give you perfect results, but it will make it a little less gross. “You need to sand off the existing paint and expose the wood underneath. Inspect the wood’s condition, and see what’s salvageable,” Gryko says. “You can possibly cut away the corner piece that looks like it’s passed saving, or sand down the window trim that got warped, making it relatively smooth again.” Often just taking off the flaking paint, sanding down the bumps, and repainting it will help make the ledge look noticeably better. 

Just make sure to clean out any existing mildew and dirt first. Since the ledge is positioned so close to the shower head, moisture accumulates and eventually grows into mold if it isn’t wiped down and aired out after every shower. And since the sill is made out of wood rather than tile, it’s porous and is easily broken down by the moisture. To clean it, wipe away any dirt with a degreaser, and then make sure to neutralize the mildew with a spray like Cocrobium’s Mold Control. 

Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to repaint. Gryko warns to use gloss or semi-gloss paint, which is more durable than matte paint: “If there are severe indents or you need to gauge out rotted pieces, you can add wood epoxy to fill those dents.” Again, this won’t give you perfect results, but it will make the ledge look a little more presentable. Once you repaint, recaulk the edges using waterproof silicone caulk. 

And, of course, prevention is the best fix for these difficult ledges! “After all these efforts, make sure you invest in a window shower curtain so you won’t have the same problem next year,” suggests Gryko. Follow these steps, and your shower window ledge will no longer impede on you enjoying your spritzes! 

Marlen Komar

Contributor

Marlen is a writer first, vintage hoarder second, and donut fiend third. If you have a passion for finding the best taco joints in Chicago or want to talk about Doris Day movies, then she thinks an afternoon coffee date is in order.

This New Shower Liner With a 3,000-Person Wait List Is Available Now — Here’s Why It’s a Game Changer

This New Shower Liner With a 3,000-Person Wait List Is Available Now — Here’s Why It’s a Game Changer

Since it’s not exactly idyllic to shower right alongside mold, grime, and other gnarly stuff that’s built up on your liner, it’s so smart to switch it out as needed. To find out what subscription will be best for you, you’ll head to the website to take a quiz. After I answered questions about topics like how often I use my shower and the ventilation level in my bathroom, I discovered that I should be swapping in a new liner every six months. The website recommended that I purchase The Shower Liner System + Hooks subscription, priced at $75 and sent semi-annually. I also had the option to buy without hooks ($55), and both choices are available as single purchases if you prefer not to commit to the subscription.

The Best Shower Caddies and Organizers You Can Buy Now

The Best Shower Caddies and Organizers You Can Buy Now

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Bathroom storage (in general) and shower space (in particular) are hard to come by, especially if you’re renting a small apartment in the city. Throw in a roommate (or two), and you’ve got a major overcrowding issue on your hands. One instant, easy solution to your cramped space is the classic shower organizer. Since a variety of upgraded caddies have been hitting the market, we tested out the best for every space and style. With picks ranging from compact to large, affordable to pricey, and steel to wood, we’ve found exactly what you need to declutter your shower and save your space.

What to Consider Before Buying a Shower Organizer

So you’ve realized you need a shower organizer. How should you start the search for the perfect one for your bathroom? While there are tons of options out there, it’s easy to narrow them down once you consider these three factors: type, function, and material.

Hanging: These are the caddies that hang from the shower head with a hook and suction cups, and they’re probably the most common. Easy and versatile, hanging organizers come in just about any size but typically have two shelves and a soap dish. On the downside, they aren’t recommended if you have a detachable shower head. Pro tip: If you find that the hook is falling down the shower head, just use a cable tie to keep it in place!

Tension: If you have a detachable shower head or just don’t like the look of a hanging organizer, consider a tension caddy. These freestanding organizers sit in the corner of your shower and act like a tension rod, giving you ample space to store all your toiletries. They’re great for bigger households but are definitely on the more expensive side.

Corner: If you just need a little extra storage space, consider a small corner shelf. These caddies are great for holding a bottle or two and make sense if you already have storage but need to take care of some overflow.

Over door: None of these make sense for your space? Check out over-door organizers, which are great if you, well, have a shower door. These types are similar in appearance to the typical hanging organizers but are placed over the shower door instead of the shower head.

Metal: The most common option, metal caddies are durable but prone to rusting over time. Many options are finished with a rust-proof coating to take care of this issue but still require some maintenance to prevent buildup.

Stainless steel: Aside from being strong and durable, stainless steel is fairly resistant to stains and rust, making it a good option for shower organizers. Just make sure you clean it every so often to get rid of buildup and keep it looking nice and clean.

Plastic: Inexpensive and lightweight, plastic organizers are an attractive option—but beware that they can quickly become breeding grounds for bacteria if not taken care of properly.

Teak: Teak wood is naturally resistant to water and mold, not to mention very stylish, so it’s a great choice for bathroom accessories. Teak is also super easy to take care of and known for its durability, so it’ll look good for a long time.

What We Look for in a Shower Organizer

We tested a wide range of organizers for our list, judging them on the following criteria:

OXO is, unsurprisingly, the go-to source for shower organizers, and their 3-Tier Aluminum Caddy is the best of the best. It’s a tad bigger than similar hanging organizers but isn’t so bulky that you can’t hang it in smaller showers. OXO truly thought of everything when they designed this caddy, from the rust-proof aluminum construction to the pop-out tray that’s perfect for storing soap or another razor. Another feature worth mentioning: the thick wires around the baskets, which prevent bottles from slipping out and falling to the floor. It’s not the cheapest option, but it will last for years and work well in pretty much any shower.

Who It’s Best For: Honestly… everyone!

Good to Know: Two of the side hooks can be used together to store a razor.

This little organizer is simple and straightforward, with no bells or whistles but plenty of functionality. It’s on the small side and is an ideal choice if you live alone or just have a small number of toiletries to store, plus it gets points for actually looking kind of cute (check out that chrome finish). It also has those open spouts for storing bottles upside down when they’re almost empty, a small but nice feature to have. Is it something to show off to guests when they visit? Probably not, but it’ll do the job just fine.

Who It’s Best For: Those with a small number of shower supplies; those looking for something budget-friendly.

Love the look of the OXO 3-Tier Caddy but don’t need quite that much storage? This compact version is for you. It’s basically the same as our top pick minus one tier, making it perfect for single-person households or those who just need a little extra space. Made from rust-proof anodized aluminum, it’ll last a long time, plus it has a lifetime warranty so you can rest assured you won’t be replacing it every year. Finished off with a removable soap tray and three hooks, this is a small but super-efficient piece that’ll totally elevate your shower storage game.

Who It’s Best For: Those with smaller showers; those with a small number of shower supplies.

Good to Know: It’s small, but it holds up to 10 lbs.

I was definitely skeptical when I first heard about simplehuman’s Tension Shower Caddy, but from the first day I brought it home, it was true love. This heavy-duty option holds everything, making it perfect for larger households (I shared it with two roommates). The shelves are surprisingly roomy and able to hold a variety of toiletries, while the four hooks (two up top and two attached to the shelves) are a smart and functional addition. The best part, though, is that all the shelves and hooks are adjustable, so you can shift things around until you have the perfect setup for your space.

Who It’s Best For: Those with tubs; those with shower heads that are not compatible with hooked organizers; those who share a bathroom with multiple people.

How cool is this organizer from Umbra? Made from a combination of plastic and silicone with rubber handles, it’s a smart, attractive option that you won’t mind looking at. The two tiers are nice and roomy, and they can squeeze in even more thanks to the stretchy sides. Four discreet hooks on the sides won’t stick out if you opt not to use them, plus there’s room to store four razors/toothbrushes/whatever. The only downside is that there’s no soap dish, but that’s no problem if you prefer body wash over bars of soap.

Who It’s Best For: Those with a small number of shower supplies; those who want a pop of color.

Teak is a luxe-looking option for bathroom decor since it’s naturally water resistant, and this oval organizer gets top points for style. While the shape is definitely attractive, it slightly limits the amount of usable space, so you’re better off buying this one if you live alone or don’t have a whole lot of toiletries to store. Also, take note that there’s not a whole lot of clearance between the showerhead and the top shelf, so be sure to measure before buying to check that you’ll have enough room. Otherwise, this is a solid choice that’ll last a long time and keep looking good.

Who It’s Best For: Those who want something stylish.

Yup, it’s another OXO caddy! Suction organizers can be tricky because their functionality is completely dependent on how good the suction is, but this one passes with flying colors. It includes two large suction cups that are tightened with a lever, keeping the entire basket safe and secure. It’s also surprisingly roomy, with plenty of space for shampoo, conditioner, and another bottle or two, so it’s useful whether you’re using it on its own or in addition to a larger caddy.

Who It’s Best For: Those who need just a little extra storage; those with limited space.

Nicole Lund

Commerce Editor

Nicole writes about shopping and products for Apartment Therapy, but her specialities are candles, bedding, bath, and pretty much anything homebody-friendly. She has been writing for AT for three years.

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The Small, Chic Shower Caddy That’s Strong Enough to Hold All My Beauty Products (and I Mean a *Lot*)

The Small, Chic Shower Caddy That’s Strong Enough to Hold All My Beauty Products (and I Mean a *Lot*)

We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission.

Growing up, my mom had a habit of buying two of everything. You could always find two colanders in the cupboard, two shoe racks in the entryway, and for some strange reason, two different hand soaps in the bathroom. You know… options! I never knew if it was her nagging fear of running out of an item unexpectedly or her obsession with trying different brands selling the same thing. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve tried to go against tradition by being more of a minimalist when it comes to household essentials. So far, it’s worked for everything — except my beauty products. With all the products I’m gifted from my close friend who’s a beauty editor, and my sister who’s an esthetician, I end up accumulating beauty products and toiletries faster than I’m able to use them. Not a bad problem to have, TBH!

For this reason, it was tricky finding a suitable shower caddy that can accommodate all my stuff. As simple and straightforward of an item as it is, I couldn’t ever seem to find one that could contain all of my products. (The caddies that hang from the shower head become so weighted with my giant bottles of shampoo and face wash that they start to bend the actual shower head.) I’ve tried tension rod shower caddies that rusted within less than a year, and suctioned caddies that come sliding down under the weight of one too many bottles of body wash. At last, during a random Amazon haul, I found one shower caddy that stood the test of time and a ridiculous amount of fluid ounces: the AmazerBath Shower Shelves.

Truthfully, I had mistakenly thought these shower shelves were suction-based when I first ordered them. And I wasn’t completely sold on the idea of trying yet another suction-based shower caddy, given their lack of success in the past, but I was sold on the customer reviews and the fact that it’s touted as a heavy-duty item. Customers raved about the shelves’ durable suction power, proving through photos how much product it can withstand. When they arrived in the mail, I was surprised to see that these shower shelves are equipped with reinforced adhesive pads that are designed to withstand the damp, wet surface of the shower walls. I have a fiberglass shower, which means things don’t always stick. But after applying the AmazerBath shelves, I could quickly tell that they would not budge.

In fact, I gave them a heavy tug after first installing them just to test their grip, and they didn’t move. (My advice is to level it just right before pressing down on the adhesive, because readjusting it will be a task!) Impressed with my initial test, I started to add my body washes, shaving creams, and two jumbo-sized bottles of shampoo and conditioner. The shelves stayed intact, and after weeks of coming in contact with water and shower steam, they didn’t loosen one bit.

Aside from their durability, I love the fact that these shelves are wide enough to fit my shower essentials (4.5 inches, to be exact), but not too wide that I’m constantly bumping into it. There are two convenient hooks per shelf that are great for storing loofahs, razors, washcloths and other shower tools. I’ve been able to organize the monstrous amount of toiletry products in my possession with ease, and everything can be grabbed at a moment’s notice. Ten months later, these shelves are still going strong, despite the fact that I’ve yet to purge my bath supplies. I love this kind of loyalty!

If you’ve been searching high and low for a dependable shower caddy, or your current one can no longer hold your boatload of supplies, I’m happy to pass on the message that these shower shelves will be the answer to your prayers. And at less than $30, your wallet will thank you.

Jasmine Grant

Senior Commerce Editor

Jasmine is Apartment Therapy’s Senior Commerce Editor, where she’s devoted to leading shopping guides and bringing you the best deals on the internet. She knows a whole lot about rugs, candles and geometric vases. Ask away!

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These Unique Bath Towels Are Super Absorbent and Save a Ton of Space in Your Linen Closet

These Unique Bath Towels Are Super Absorbent and Save a Ton of Space in Your Linen Closet

Britt Franklin

Contributor

Britt is a stargazer and sunrise-chaser with a collection of magic erasers, and a fascination with the fantastic. A storyteller at heart, she finds inspiration in all the small things, and can likely be found singing show tunes, catching up on K-dramas, or going on adventures to satiate her natural-born wanderlust. (Sometimes even all at the same time.) An all-around creative, Britt has worked in various facets with Scene Louisiana, The Nerd Machine, and The Daebak Company, Inc.

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