7 Steps to Stellar Shower Design

Know the important things to consider before tackling your shower renovation

It’s totally normal to feel overwhelmed when you’re designing a new shower. There are many decisions involved, but once you know what to expect, the process will seem more manageable. Here are seven things to consider while you’re planning your new shower space.

Fairview Builders, LLC, original photo on Houzz

1. The Size of Your Shower

If you’re renovating an existing shower space and aren’t planning to expand, the size of your shower is predetermined. But those building a new home or tearing their bathroom down to the studs will have to determine the best size for their space. 

The standard shower measures 3 feet by 5 feet. Many homeowners find this size sufficient for their needs. A 15-square-foot shower allows for wiggle room and can normally fit a bench plus several niches or shampoo corners.

Some homeowners will undoubtedly prefer something bigger than the standard 3-by-5-foot shower. You can create super-sized showers that are anywhere from 4 to 5 feet deep and 6 to 10 feet long. These spaces can fit multiple benches and shower heads and will never feel cramped.

If you’re building a new home, tell your architect to incorporate a large shower into your bathroom. If you’re remodeling, you can get rid of a tub you don’t use and convert the space into an oversized shower.

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2. Where Your Glass Is Going

The majority of showers have at least two full-height walls. Modern and contemporary designs may only have one wall for plumbing. This means homeowners, whether they’re remodeling or building a new home, will likely have the option to include glass walls in their shower design.

Glass enclosures can instantly make a bathroom feel larger and more open. The effect can be more dramatic in smaller spaces. It does, however, involve more maintenance than a tiled wall. Glass must be cleaned regularly to avoid streak marks. It also can cost more depending on your design. The average cost of a glass shower enclosure totals several thousand dollars. It may be less expensive than building a wall and adding tile, though.

You may prefer an enclosed shower design for privacy, or you may already have an enclosed shower and don’t want the added expense of knocking down walls. This type of shower normally has three walls with an open space for a glass door or shower curtain.

If you want an open-shower design but aren’t sold on an all-glass enclosure, pony walls (or half walls) are a good compromise.

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Contemporary Bathroom, original photo on Houzz

3. Your Tile Design

There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of options available for your wall tile design. This can include porcelain and ceramic, natural stones such as travertine and marble, or even glass and glass mosaics. Porcelain usually trumps ceramic and natural stone, as it excels at water resistance and offers low maintenance. Natural stones must be sealed. 

Since there are so many options out there, you may find yourself overwhelmed when you’re designing the overall look of your shower. Here are a few ideas to inspire you.

In love with two tiles or shapes? Incorporate them both into your shower with a wainscot design. This classic bathroom space combines classic subway tile with a herringbone pattern for extra depth.

Run a mosaic border through your shower horizontally or vertically to add a decorative touch to your design.

A natural stone like travertine is another option that can adorn your shower walls. Mixed shapes and colors will showcase the stone’s natural beauty and variety. No matter what kind of natural stone you install, always seal it.

If you’re looking for a clean and minimal design, stick with the same style throughout your shower.

Duxbury Architects, original photo on Houzz

4. Whether to Include a Bench

A shower bench helps create a cozy and comfortable shower design and offers a convenient place to sit while you shave. It also provides a safe space for older or disabled homeowners to sit and reduces slipping hazards.Larger showers (usually any space larger than 3 by 3 feet) can fit long benches that have ample seating space.

If your shower is on the smaller side, a corner bench may be the best solution to conserve space. Corner benches can be built in or portable. A portable bench might save you money, but it won’t be as stable as a built-in bench.

Older homeowners can install a bench underneath a handheld shower head to make bathing an easier and safer experience.

5. Your Shower Floor

Slip resistance is usually top priority for homeowners of all ages. Low maintenance is also high on their wish list. The type of material you select will affect both of these factors. Tumbled travertine, textured porcelain and pebbles, for example, have enough grip to reduce slipping and falling. But they might require more maintenance because they require grout. Other types of shower floors, such as wood and acrylic shower bases, may require less maintenance but not offer enough slip resistance to your liking. Weigh the pros and cons before you buy your shower floor.

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6. The Types of Fixtures You Want

It isn’t just about the style and finish of your fixtures, though these decisions matter. One of the most important things to figure out is what kind of shower head, and how many, your shower will have. Most showers have one shower head, while some have two or three. Some homeowners install rain heads to give their space an extra spa-like feel. Others love the convenience of a handheld shower head. Choose the best option for your needs and lifestyle.

That said, the finish and style of your fixtures can make or break your design. Sleek fixtures can maintain the simplicity of modern and contemporary designs. Ornate fixtures will complement details in traditional, rustic or farmhouse-style showers. Stainless steel, chrome and even brushed nickel are considered contemporary styles, though any can work in traditional and rustic spaces. Oil-rubbed bronze typically works best in traditional spaces.

RemodelWest, original photo on Houzz

7. How You Plan to Store Your Soaps and Shampoos

Do you prefer a built-in niche or wall-mounted shampoo corners? Built-in niches fit more seamlessly within your shower design and can offer more storage space. But they’re also more costly and require additional planning, such as knowing which wall you’re going to place them on. On the other hand, shampoo corners can save you several hundred dollars and don’t take up much space.

If you don’t want your soaps and shampoos to show, consider hiding a niche inside one of your shower walls.