Dressing-table solutions that will transform your morning

Streamline your routine with handy storage and multitasking accessories

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By Sally Newall on

How much time do you waste in the morning looking for stuff? By stuff, I mean make-up, jewellery, hair potions and those creams the lady in Boots persuaded you are essential for not looking haggard. They are the items you use every single day, but somehow they manage to migrate from where you thought they were to strewn all over the bedroom, bathroom and other places that make no sense. I always seem to have a random collection of "things that need to be taken back upstairs" in my kitchen.

The upshot of all this haphazardry is running round the house each morning as though on a glammer-than-average treasure hunt, then making it out the door 10 minutes late, feeling – and looking – frazzled.

Well, this was me until very recently. Until I got a new dressing table – a lovely, actually vintage mid-century number with just three elegant little drawers. Enough was enough. I did some stalking of other more organised, better-groomed people on Pinterest and Instagram and set myself some rules to stem the morning madness:


Put an end to rummaging through every drawer to find the concealer that’s the right colour – not the one three shades too dark that you thought you’d keep for post-holidays but really is just a bit too orange – and the posh moisturiser that cost as much as a day’s wages. The key is to have the things you use every morning in their place, grabbing distance away.


For make-up sorting, Muji is your friend (fashion editor Frankie Graddon is a big fan). Pieces from its inexpensive vanity range will help you separate everyday make-up by type – face, eyes, lips – ditto your everyday skincare.


If you want something to pretty up the organisers, Danish brand Bloomingville has some cute glass storage jars that are just the right size for cotton pads and buds.

Then, in your drawers, or elsewhere on your table top, stash the rest of your collection. Lipstick or nail polish fiends might want something with individual small compartments – good old Ikea can help with that.

For anyone after wooden storage, I rate Canadian design company Umbra’s selection, particularly this blonde wood and white caddy, with a handy drawer. There are also well-thought-out jewellery boxes in the range (see below).


If surface space is an issue, you can always go upwards with a stack of drawers, then place other bits on top (in an organised fashion, obvs). Again, Muji has the reasonably priced answer, something that a lot of beauty bloggers have cottoned on to, according to my Instagram feed. The transparent acrylic means you will instantly be able to see what is in each drawer when time is of the essence. Or, try a carousel you can spin around, which will be large enough to hold those taller products, such as eye-make-up remover or hairspray.


Before, my hairdryer and straighteners seemed to get permanently tangled. Knots in the cords would appear mysteriously (ditto with my necklace collection, of which more later). And, at least once a day, I’d trip over the wires, having plugged them in too far away from the mirror. My new dressing table only has those shallow drawers, so I’ve opted for a basket to keep everything together that can be put under the table. John Lewis has a selection of chic seagrass options. This set of two will add a bit of subtle colour to proceedings and, if you don’t have multiple hair tools, the other one could be seconded to the bathroom. Keep cords tidy with a cheap cable tie and make sure things are in a logical position within easy reach of both the mirror and plug socket.  

I’m also guilty of popping my straighteners down on any available surface. Note to self: cream carpet and electricals heated to 230ºC do not mix. There are plenty of heat mats out there to stop that happening. This one works as a surface protector, then it zips up into a pouch so you can put the GHDs away without having to worry about any melting incidents.


Organisation doesn’t have to mean things are devoid of personality, as the zillions of Instagram posts devoted to the art will show you. Make-up brushes work well in decent-sized mug. Anthropologie has a regular roster of pretty, bright designs, including these flowery ones from the latest collection.


If you’re after a paired-back vibe, Oliver Bonas’ sleek marble and gold version is good for taller brushes. Just make sure you measure your collection to make sure they are the right height.

For something a bit special, Bridie Hall’s glossy, bright brush holders come in an array of cheery colours, inlaid with an initial. These are handmade in London and make a great present (my mum can personally attest to that).


The same rule we’ve used for make-up applies to jewellery: keep your day-to-day pieces where you can see them. A small trinket tray works well for a couple of rings and your go-to earrings . Then other bits can be stashed in a box. H&M has a great-value glass one that looks pretty on your tabletop and will mean you can see exactly where everything is. Again, Umbra is a reliable bet for a practical but sleek-looking wooden option, as well as stands for longer necklaces.

Depending on how much space you have to work with, Urban Outfitters has a fun selection of trinket trays, ring and earring holders and necklace hooks. Or, look for a wall-mounted option for your neckwear to stop things getting too cluttered.



It might sound OTT, but putting the likes of perfumes or a hairbrush on a coloured vanity tray (or a jazzy table mat) will stop clutter building up and it will mean that even if you’re only half awake you’ll know exactly where everything is – just make sure you put it all back in its spot.

It's all in the seating

Don't underestimate the impact of a decent dressing-table chair. I realise this sounds ridiculous, but to go with my new table, I purchased a stool covered in super-soft fleece. It adds texture to a wood-heavy set-up and there is something that feels luxurious about sinking on to a soft seat, at exactly the right height for your mirror – don't forget to measure and leave space for your legs to fit under the stool – and taking a few precious minutes of me-time while you get ready. Maison du Monde has an impressive selection of very well-priced faux-fur options. For the real deal, my latest discovery is Baastools, made in Wales, with sheepskin only from UK flocks. They come in a huge range of colours and sizes. 

So, there you are: follow all these rules and, next time the alarm goes off half an hour late, you will breeze through your morning routine and arrive at work looking, at the very least, better groomed than you did last week and a lot less frazzled. You’re welcome.

Click here for the dressing-table edit



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