Energy-Saving Accessible Make-Up Desks

I had an enlightening moment one morning. I routinely need to rest after showers, and often use shortcuts to save me time and energy when I’m showering. Even so, by the time I get to applying make-up in the mornings, I’m often exhausted. I had formed a habit of doing my make-up sitting cross-legged on our bedroom floor in front of the mirror that hangs on our door. One morning, though, I just didn’t feel like sitting on the floor. I had taken a quick shower and dry shampooed my hair, and assumed I had saved enough energy to allow me to follow my remission routine: standing by my dresser and using my wall-hung mirror. It only takes me five to ten minutes to do my make-up, so I stood.

It was two hours before I recovered. Two hours.

And that’s the thing about chronic illness, isn’t it? It’s not the big things that knock us out. We plan carefully for those. It’s the simple little things. And it’s why we are constantly making calculations in our minds about how much energy things will require, planning out every step we take to minimize effort, and too often (as I discovered), miscalculating and paying the price.

If you are like me and need a solution for things like doing your hair and make-up (without sitting cross-legged on your floor!), here are some simple options to try at home.

Traditional Vanity

Image of small wooden vanity with drawers, attached mirror, and small stool. Links to Wayfair website.
A bedroom is shown, with a white wood vanity desk next to a window. There is a circular mirror attached to the vanity, two small drawers and a shelf, and two large drawers. The drawer fronts are light brown wood with rectangular gray pulls. A square stool with white legs and charcoal upholstered seat is under the vanity.

The most straightforward option, of course, is a traditional vanity. They come in literally all shapes, sizes, and styles. There are a few things you might want to look for, though. First, a comfortable seat. Make sure you choose one that is easy to pull out or push in, that is comfortable, and that is sturdy. If you live with back pain or have weakness, it might be a good idea to choose a seat with a back for added support.

Second, consider a piece with plenty of storage. Having everything you need right at hand will minimize reaching or getting up, which saves you valuable energy for things that matter more. A set like this has several sets of drawers that would make it easy to organize your cosmetics. If you plan to do your hair here as well, you might want to look for something with room to store hair product bottles, blow-dryers, straighteners, or other things you use.

Image of bathroom vanity cabinet with open space under counter, and drawer with outlet and storage space. Links to Rev-A-Shelf website.
A white bathroom vanity has open space beneath a marble countertop. On either side of the opening, we see stacks of drawers. One drawer is open to show steel cylinder space to store hair dryers and straighteners, and an outlet in drawer with closing metal cover.

If you are fortunate enough to be able to design your bathroom around your needs, an option like this might be a good idea. A lowered countertop with space for a stool gives you a place to get ready while staying seated. Having drawers nearby within easy reach will give you a place to store all of your cosmetics and hair products and minimize your effort. There are many ways to add an outlet to a drawer, so that your dryers or straighteners can be plugged in easily without standing to reach an outlet on the wall. This is also extremely helpful if you use a wheelchair, as it puts everything you need at a height that is easily accessible.

Wall-Mounted Vanity

Image of white floating wall mounted vanity with mirror and storage. Links to Rev-A-Shelf site.
A narrow white rectangular wall mounted vanity is shown. A center section is flipped open with a mirror and divided spaces for storage. We see various cosmetic products and flower vase on the surfaces on either side of the center section.

There are several reasons why a wall-mounted vanity might be a good option for you. If you have limited floor space, a system like this may take up less room than a traditional piece of furniture. If you have a wall within close proximity to your bed, it may be possible to do your makeup from the edge of the bed using a wall-mounted piece. And if you use a wheelchair, something like this is ideal as it allows you to access the vanity easily with nothing in the way, and can be mounted at any height you choose.

A vanity like this one provides plenty of storage for everything you need. When you are finished, it closes down to keep everything concealed and clean and looks like a floating shelf on the wall.

Image of wall mounted wooden cabinet with fold down surface, mirror, and shelving. Links to Povison website.
A narrow square cabinet with rounded corners in shown in medium wood tone, with a beige drawer at the bottom. The front of the cabinet folds down to form a desk top supported by steel braces. Inside, we see a small mirror and shelving with assorted personal care bottles.

Another option, if your space is narrow, is a system like this. The drop-down table will give you plenty of room to set your things as you get ready, and the shelves provide the necessary storage. When you are finished, you can close it back up and the whole piece only takes up a small amount of space. This system is also wheelchair-friendly and can be mounted at any height.

While you could purchase a piece that’s meant as a vanity, such as this one, it’s also possible to get creative and find pieces that can be adapted. A wall-hanging desk, for example, can be fitted with a mirror and work similarly. Or a small bar cabinet with fold-down ledge could function well. Many times, pieces like these can be found secondhand and are less expensive.

Image of wooden shelf with black metal wall brackets, with link to Target website.
A single wooden board shelf in light-colored wood is supported by two black metal brackets that are triangular and appear to loop around the board. The brackets are secured to the wall at the apex of the triangles, where the metal widens into a circular shape.

Another extremely easy solution is to simply hang a wall shelf. This can be placed at any height so that it’s easily accessible. It takes up very little space, so it works in a narrow bedroom. And since there’s nothing underneath, you can easily add a stool or roll up in a wheelchair. While this doesn’t provide any concealed storage, there is plenty of room on the shelf for boxes or baskets with cosmetics. Or, if you keep your make-up in a bag, consider hanging a hook on the wall underneath or nearby to hang the bag within easy reach. Then simply hang a mirror above the shelf.

The space in my bedroom is extremely limited, and this is the option I have been considering. I keep my make-up in a box that I can carry with me to the bathroom (or the floor!), so it would not be difficult to set it on the shelf. I’ve even considered a swing-out stool that could be mounted on the wall underneath, then kept out of the way when not in use. A shelf is by far the least expensive option!

Laptop Vanity

Image of wooden lap desk on metal legs with side drawer and storage. Links to Bed Bath and Beyond website.
Part of a blonde wood lap desk with curved metal legs is pictured with a small drawer opening slightly from the right side. We can just barely see a line dividing the desk top into sections that can be opened, and there are long narrow slits along the back of the desk to hold a tablet or other device.

I am always in favor of pieces that are inexpensive and do double duty. After all, we are all on a budget! If you spend a lot of time in bed, the best solution may be something like a lap desk. Not only will you be able to use it to apply make-up and do your hair (should you so choose), but it will also be invaluable for reading, using a laptop or tablet, writing, coloring, or anything else you might choose to do from bed. There are many options available.

If you need storage for your cosmetics, I recommend choosing a desk like this with a drawer that can be easily accessed and storage beneath the desktop itself. You could also keep a cosmetic bag nearby with all of your supplies in easy reach. Consider a clip-on mirror such as the one shown below to help you see what you are doing.

Image of round white mirror with bendable gooseneck and clamp attachment. Links to Amazon website.
A circular white-framed mirror with long bendable post support is attached to a gray table edge with a large white clamp.

Image of clamp-on faux wood desk top or table top for wheelchair, with link to Monster Scooter Parts site.
A faux wood rectangular table top is pictured attached across the arm rests of a black and blue wheelchair. There is a small black groove at the top of the table to hold a device. Stainless steel metal posts on the underside of the table appear to attach the desk to the wheelchair with clamps.

Similarly, if you spend time in a wheelchair, you could consider a desktop surface that can be attached, or a wide lap desk that can be laid across the arm rests. It’s possible to find options with built-in storage, or keep a cosmetic bag or box handy. The clip-on mirror could be easily attached to the edge so that you can clearly see what you are doing.

Hopefully these options gave you some ideas to find workable solutions for your own home. Save your spoons for the things that really matter!

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