Medicine Cabinets: Functional Storage or Outdated Eyesore?

The medicine cabinet – a staple of bathrooms for decades. These unassuming fixtures provide concealed space for toiletries, medications, and all those little bathroom essentials. Yet, with design trends ever-evolving, a question lingers: are medicine cabinets officially out of style? Let’s investigate!

The Legacy of Medicine Cabinets: A Practical Past

Medicine cabinets rose to prominence in the early 20th century for practical reasons. Bathrooms were often small, and storage was limited. These wall-mounted units offered a space-saving solution, providing immediate access above the sink. Their mirrored doors served a dual purpose, reflecting light and functionality for daily grooming routines.

The Rise of Style-Conscious Design

The practicality of medicine cabinets kept them reigning supreme for many years. But as interior design became more about expressing individuality, standard-issue medicine cabinets began to fall short. They were deemed generic, sometimes even clunky additions to an otherwise stylish bathroom. Designers and homeowners began exploring alternatives that better aligned with contemporary trends.

Factors Affecting Style Perceptions

The perception of medicine cabinets as “outdated” hinges on several factors:

  • Recessed vs. Surface-Mounted: Traditional medicine cabinets that protrude from the wall can indeed feel dated. More streamlined recessed options offer a sleeker, integrated look within the bathroom’s design.
  • Framing Options: Bulky frames surrounding the mirror door contribute to a boxy, uninspired aesthetic. Frameless or minimalist frame designs bring a far more modern appeal.
  • Interior Construction: Simple shelves within the cabinet can limit organization and make the space feel less purposeful.

The Medicine Cabinet: A Multifaceted Fixture

While the classic medicine cabinet design may not be the trendiest option, it’s crucial to remember that these fixtures are undeniably practical. They offer several advantages:

  • Out-of-Sight Storage: Medicine cabinets conceal an assortment of items, reducing visual clutter and promoting a sense of tidiness, especially in smaller bathrooms.
  • Sink-Side Convenience: Items used daily are within easy reach, eliminating the need for bending or digging in distant cabinets.
  • Space Savers: They maximize vertical space, a significant asset in compact bathrooms where every inch counts.

Alternatives for the Style-Centric

If you love the concept of storage above the sink but seek alternatives to conventional medicine cabinets, here are some trendy options:

  • Open Shelving: Aesthetically pleasing open shelves can showcase decorative objects and frequently used items while adding an airy feel.
  • Mirrored Wall Cabinets: Shallow cabinets with entirely mirrored fronts blend seamlessly with the wall, offering storage and an illusion of more space.
  • Recessed Niches: These architectural additions combine function with modern style, providing storage pockets within your bathroom wall.

FAQs About Medicine Cabinets


Can I update an existing medicine cabinet?

Absolutely! Consider repainting the frame, replacing dated hardware, or upgrading the mirror for a refreshed appearance.

What materials work best for medicine cabinets in humid bathrooms?

Opt for rust-resistant materials like stainless steel or aluminum. Glass and wood can be suitable options with proper sealing.

Are recessed medicine cabinets difficult to install?

While more involved than surface-mount options, DIY installation is possible. However, consulting a professional ensures proper placement and structural integrity.

Are medicine cabinets hygienic?

Regular cleaning, good ventilation, and avoiding storing overly damp items will promote hygiene within your medicine cabinet.

Where can I find stylish medicine cabinets

Explore online retailers, home improvement stores, and specialty bathroom boutiques for diverse options that suit your desired aesthetic.


Medicine cabinets may not be the darling of cutting-edge design trends, but that doesn’t negate their practical benefits. If streamlined storage near your sink is a priority, a modernized medicine cabinet or one of its stylish alternatives can absolutely work for you. Ultimately, the best solution is the one that marries functionality with your desired bathroom style.

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