There is a lot to be said about a good niche in your shower. They eliminate shower caddies that have layers of soap scum on the bottom, or messy stacks of bottles that are quite an eye sore. Niches serve both form and function — but the ability to create a true one of a kind design element is what sets the most current types of niches apart from your “standard” niche. Beyond that, we’re beginning to think that the ledge could be the new niche — or at least making it’s way into more forward thinking bath designs.

The first step in creating a perfect shower niche is to carefully plan it out — so first things first – lets set forth the key things you need to consider when planning out your niche:

1. Wall Placement – what wall is best for the niche?  

There are a few key things to consider when picking which wall should be used for the niche.  The biggest factor to think about before you get excited about a specific placement and layout is to confirm your plan does not interact with any plumbing or electrical. Additionally, if you’re in a cold weather climate, the outside wall is not an option for niche placement. Also based on where your shower head is placed, you’ll want to set your niche away from the stream of the water. Speaking of water, don’t forget you must waterproof your niche just like you’d waterproof the walls in your shower. Your contractor/installer can guide you on which waterproofing system they like to use and why.

2. Niche Placement – Where should I position my niche on the wall? 

Most standard niches are typically between 4-5 feet off the ground — think between chest and eye level. However, we are seeing a departure from standard and as we will detail below, putting niches lower is becoming a popular trend and a cool design element to your shower space. Think about how you want to use the niche space – is it a storage area only, or would you want to rest your foot on it for shaving?

3. Niche Tile Selection – The big debate…

We are seeing alot of trash talking on design blogs and Instagram/Pinterest about using a special “feature” tile within the niche so that it pops / stands out. Some designers say using a contrasting tile from the field tile is a sure sign of a dated niche/shower design and push for using one tile for both the shower walls and the niche. Others feel like using a secondary tile for the feature draws your eye to the shampoo/bottle mess within the niche and should be avoided so that the mess “disappears” (like it would disappear because the tile matches?). We are here to say that if you love a combination of your field tile + a different tile in the niche, go for it. There is no right or wrong, and as long as your niche is executed correctly, finished well, and looks great – there is no such thing as a “dated” niche. There are however, trends in niche design that are new over the last year or so, and we are going to highlight a few of those below. Maybe you’ll choose to go with a newer design idea instead of a more traditional “standard” niche – but either way have fun and pick something you love! Here we go:

The “Hard to Find” Niche: Often found in that half wall (sometimes called a “pony wall”) that feels so random, this is the perfect place for hiding all your shower products like shampoo, soap, razors etc. that no one but you needs to see.

The Double Niche:  We are seeing several versions of the double niche. You can have “personal” niches (i.e. “His” and “Hers”) where you get your own space for your own things. We design a lot of double niches where there’s one standard size niche where your taller bottles go, and then directly below that is a lower/shorter niche for things like razors, soap, etc. If you put your niche really low, it can also be used as a foot rest for shaving….bonus!

Wall-mounted shelves: This is a great option when you are doing a stone (marble, limestone etc) shower. It’s so simple yet elegant – just match the same material as your shower walls and do 1-3 narrow shelves of the same material (or if you are doing a stone material threshold and/or bench, match your shelves to that). It is such a pretty look and ties in so well with marble showers.

The Long & Linear Niche: Often spanning the full wall, or at least a large portion of it, these niches are long but short if that makes sense. They typically run horizontally, often about 3 – 4 feet off the ground, and are much shorter in their height than a standard niche. They still hold your taller bottles, and there is plenty of room for everything despite being more compact in their height. We do love the design element of a good linear niche – they are pleasing to the eye and feel updated and fresh. Set vertically, you get an entirely different vibe.

The Ledge: The new comer to the group, the ledge is making a serious move into bathroom shower design. It still provides a place to put whatever bottles you need in a way that’s less obvious since it’s a continuous line across your wall. The Ledge is basically a shelf sitting at about 3.5-4 feet off the ground running across the entire wall that it is on – versus a niche which is a cut-in, recessed hole in the wall. Our favorite part of a ledge is there are no limitations on height for storing all your shower product essentials. For us, a ledge feels more spacious while at the same time gives the entire bathroom a more streamlined, well designed look and feel.

If you are building a custom home or remodeling your current home in Wilmette, IL, Delafield, WI or Lake Geneva, WI, you should visit our showroom in the area.  Our showrooms are filled with marble, ceramic, porcelain, terracotta and cement tiles for uses on floors, walls, backsplashes, fireplace surrounds and more. We also offer custom tile and interior design services.  Our clients rely on us for interior design help when they build their custom home or are working on a remodel. Call any of our showrooms today for an appointment.