Shower Design Ideas

By Kate Riley April 13, 2016

I have three shower remodels on my calendar right now, the first is my brother’s bathroom which I’ll be sharing in the next few weeks. The second is a client’s house down the street, they are friends of mine and we’re collaborating on a space makeover, and the third is the master bathroom in the Vegas house I’m flipping, it’s cramped and unpleasant and I want to make it a selling point for the eventual resale.

Homeowners repeat the same request when they’re thinking of a shower space, they are looking for spa like conditions and a space that is relaxing and pretty to look at. We spend 5-15 minutes in this space every day, shouldn’t it be both functional and beautiful?

When it comes to tile selection, I’ve always believed you cannot go wrong with a marble or marble look tile combination. I followed this philosophy to achieve a timeless look with Grandma’s shower remodel last year and I saw a lot of it at the Kitchen and Bath Show earlier this year. I also love to see a mix of complementary tiles, perhaps a mid to large size on the walls with smaller tiles on the floor and something interesting in a niche, but really there is so much opportunity and no set rule, penny tile on the wall is just as beautiful as large scale planks.

I’ve been focused on what makes a shower both functional and beautiful and here are a few ideas I assembled.

Niches. The space between wall studs is a perfect place to add a recessed niche. With advance preparation during construction or remodel, the contractor can place them strategically in the wall to create a place for shampoo, conditioner, soap etc. A wall niche is also a place to break up the spans of wall space and even add a different size tile as a feature.

 shower wall niche

milton development

 shower niche

sage design

Benches. When remodeling a bathroom with a walk in shower, consider the addition of a bench. It’s worth the loss of a few square feet of real estate since a bench provides seating for relaxation while the steam circulates, a place to corral all the cleansers, and for us ladies, the perfect perch for shaving our legs.

 marble bathroom tile

mark Williams

 shower bench

grant k gibson

Windows. Bathrooms with natural light don’t feel as cave-like compared to ones without windows. Even in a shower a window can be strategically placed to allow for natural light and still maintain privacy.

 walk in shower with window

via one kind design

 walk in shower plus window


Feature Tile Walls. The far wall of a shower is an opportunity to create a focal point in a bathroom and a place to mix tile patterns, the look is almost like a modern day mural. My brother did this in his new shower and I’m excited to show it off to you soon.


 feature tile wall

traci rhoads interiors

feature pattern shower tile

libby greene via decorpad

 feature tile in shower

coats homes


Statement Shower Doors. Most of the time remodelers opt for frameless shower doors and clear glass like the many seen above, but you can also be daring and make the shower doors a focal point. How stunning are these two examples of steel doors?

 black divided shower doors

david tsay

 steel shower door

trad home

Have you added any of these elements to your shower? What amenities do you find appealing in your shower spaces?



  1. Love the steel shower doors but would the rust? Are there any options out there that are not custom?

  2. I agree with all your thoughts on this, Kate. Recessed niches and built-in benches are extremely functional and comfortable in showers (especially for the elderly, but not only, of course) and there’s a spa-like feel to showers with seating. I love a great statement shower door, particularly in an all-white bath (like the last one).

    Good luck with all the remodels!


  3. Kate, We recently remodeled our master bathroom and had a 2 shelf niche installed in the shower. Each shelf is the same height. Now that we have used the shower for several months there is one thing I would change with the niche. I would have three shelves installed: 2 of equal height and one not very high at all. We have found that razors, soap and pumice take up a lot of horizontal real estate and leave a lot of empty vertical space. A short height shelf would leave the 2 taller shelves for all of the taller products. Just a thought.

    • That is a brilliant observation speaking from experience I will keep that in mind ! I have three small 12×12 niches in my own master shower and you’re so right those tiny objects take up precious horizontal space !

  4. I think all the different panes of glass in the steel doors would be a cleaning nightmare. But they sure are beautiful!

  5. Hi Kate, I love the idea of building in shower niches. In your experience, are these hard to keep clean? I’m fearing build-ups of soap scum, mildew, etc. Thanks for the great ideas!

    • Kristin, you’ll also want to make sure to keep a small slope to the tile when doing niches, that way the water that would normally get trapped in the corners will run out of the niche, and not behind your tile wall causing more and more problems down the road! Having that small slope (you shouldn’t even notice it really) will help keep everything cleaner as well!

  6. Love all the pictures. Recent master bath remodel gave me the chance to eliminate the bathtub and make a doorless shower that is 5\7, we added a water closet and raised the vanity. I love, love it!

  7. I couldn’t handle the steel doors. I would feel like I was in jail.

  8. The problem with all of the showers you showed is they all have thresholds. My mom remodeled her bathroom last year and I insisted the shower have no threshold so it is wheelchair accessible if there’s ever the need. It’s beautiful and very clean looking! The drain is concealed. Much better than the death trap she had from the 70s with tiled steps leading to a sunken shower.

    • I appreciate you mentioning the thresholds, and it being a consideration for a wheel chair or elderly person.
      Can Kate comment on whether or not a threshold is actually needed, or if it is more of a design detail? Thank you.

      • I am in the planning phase of our master bath remodel (because of mold) and I was wondering why some showers had curbs and others did not. I asked my home designer friend and she gave me the scoop. If on the ground floor, the shower pan is typically built into the slab, allowing you to step down from the dry floor into the shower and making a curb unnecessary. For upstairs showers, you have to have a curb to accommodate a rubber membrane to hold the draining water. For ADA showers, you can go curbless if you pitch the floor if you need to not have a curb. Hope that helps…I love the look of curbless and am planning to do that with my new shower.

  9. Just beginning our master bath remodel and my husband and I have been anguishing over our difference of opinion for tile. Love the idea of the focal wall since we could combine elements of both our preferences!

  10. We are currently in the middle of remodeling our shower. I’m beyond excited to show it off. We used extra large subway tile with gray grout to really show case the tile size and built a niche with design tile for some pop.

  11. Lots of great ideas but we just finished our master bath Reno. I did put in a tall niche with 1 shelf in the middle. It holds the really big pump bottles from Costco. And we positioned the niche on the side wall so it’s not the first thing you see when you come into the room.
    The contractor suggested a curb less shower and we went with it. But I wished I’d thought about it more and how we use the shower.
    While I do like the look of it – we can’t put a shower mat outside because the door swings out and doesn’t clear it like a curb shower does.
    The door does swing both ways but our shower controls are on the same side as the hinges.
    To get around this and avoid slipping on a wet floor I position the mat to the side of the door. I open the door out to turn on the taps and then when I get out of the shower I pull the mat over with my foot and open the door into the shower.
    In hindsight I could’ve had the shower made without a door!

  12. Great article. Marble is such a classic.
    Regarding niches: please remember to put them on the non-focal wall. Your sight line won’t see a mass of plastic bottles upon opening the bathroom door (water pooling inside is a non issue then too). Start the shelf just 3 inches up from the bottom of the niche for razors, soap, etc.
    Our last two shower remodels were doorless. You would be surprised how many showers function well with only a glass wall depending upon the size.
    Having no thresholds is wonderful but not easy from a structural stand-point to achieve in the average home since they require pre-planning of drains, floor height, slope, etc, which affects the substructure or concrete. Planning a barrier-less shower needs to become more of the normal design of a home as we get older.

  13. Hi Kate, I really need to know this…
    I have a blog question. The beautiful photos you have in this post belong to architectural firms or designers, how do you get permission to show their photo’s on your blog? Or do you just create a link so the photo has reference back to the original owner? When I clicked on Mark Williams shower and opened his page in a new tab I noticed all his photo’s were not accessible by just saving them. The options were facebook, twitter, or pinterest, so how did you obtain the access of the photo to put on your blog? Please email me your reply. thanks Connie

  14. When it comes to decorating, it’s all too easy to neglect the shower. However, it is important to understand that the shower needs attention too! These design ideas are the perfect starting point.

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