The perfect shower niche for your bathroom: an insight

Luxury Master Bath, Dahl House Design LLC Dahl House Design LLC Classic style bathroom
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There is no denying the fact that a shower niche is an extremely practical and advantageous addition to any bathroom. Offering requisite storage in a tidy, stable and reliable form, a shower niche spares the floor & the corners of the bathtub from the chaos created by all the shampoo bottles, body wash, soaps, aromatic candles and so on. Bathroom designers and architects also vouch for the versatile usefulness of a shower niche, as opposed to having an unsightly shower caddy hanging from the shower head.

Depending upon the interior design style and the space available, a shower niche can be conveniently incorporated into the shower space. The sizing, shelving, placement and materials to be used also contribute to function and style of the niche. When it comes to designing, there is no ’standard” to be followed; the shelves and spacing have to be practical to suit your individual needs. This article offers some valuable insights on shower niche, that can go a long way in helping you design one for your bathroom. Take a look…

Materials used for shelving.

A built-in shower niche can be in stone or tile. If the items to be stored are not many, is a single shelf alcove can work. But if the number of shelves needed is more, the next question that arises is regarding the material to be used for the shelf.  Based on where the shower niche is placed, glass and stone are the 2 most widely used options.

Starphire glass is a popular choice for shelving but it scratches easier than regular glass. It is, therefore, important to be extra careful when cleaning and working with this glass. Moreover, tempered glass is a much safer option in case of an accident. If the niche has glass shelves, it looks appealing but considering that a shower niche shelf gets soap & water spray every day, a stone shelf is a better option that will look clean comparatively longer. When working with stone slabs for niches, the stone pieces must be double polished, i.e., both the top and bottom should be polished, so as to enhance its endurance.

If shower niches hold water after every shower, it will significantly affect their looks as well as functionality in the long run. So it is very important to ensure that the bottom of the niche & the shelves are slightly tipped toward the shower so the water gets drained out.

Size & the number of shelves in a niche.

Once decided on the material, the next key decision is about the size & number of shelves in the niche or shower cubby. Unless it is unusually huge or otherwise customized, a typical shower cubby built into an existing wall is 12 inches wide & 24 inches high; it fits between studs that are generally 16 inches apart. If it bears a glass shelf at 12 inches, this offers shelf space of 2 feet. The usual depth of a shower niche is 3.5 inches.

Larger shower cubbies can conveniently be put in newly built walls where the width of studs can be easily adjusted & it can be ensured that any plumbing/ electrical pipes are not in the way. Wider niches, though difficult in pre-existing walls, are still possible; but every time a stud is cut, some cosmetic damage to the wall it supports is likely. So a bit of patching & painting of the walls of adjoining rooms may be required.

In general, 3 shelves look better in a niche than two, duly measured so as to accommodate the shampoo bottles, lotions and other accessories properly. A shower shampoo niche can be vertically or horizontally elongated and accordingly, the number of shelves can be arrived upon.

Also, it is not necessary to insert a single niche divided into shelves; one may have more than one niche in the shower. So, rather than one shower cubby divided into compartments, it is quite possible to incorporate 2-3 separate niches. Of course, the practicality of the design depends upon the user. The key is to select the niche size in harmony with the size of the shower space.

Where to place the shower niche?


Quogue Weekend House, Quogue, NY


Placing a shower niche is something that has significant consequences. If possible in the design stage, it should not be placed against outside walls because the niche space will then hog up valuable insulation especially in cold weather climates. But if there is no alternative other than an outside wall, it is advisable to add polyurethane insulation to prevent the bathroom wall tiles from frosting up on cold winter days.

Experts suggest that while placing the shower niche, the tile pattern line up and the location of niche be well thought-out. It is a good idea is to have the niche tastefully away from one's direct line of view when looking at the shower. A corner/ window-side location is advisable for the placement.

The apt height of the niche is equally important, both from the floor as well as for the alcove to house the tall bottles/ containers, so that one doesn’t have to use a stool to reach it and kids can safely access it. Having kids at home mandates a number of safety precautions everywhere and the shower is no different. In order to keep the shelving in shower secure, installing the glass/ stone slab in the niche BEFORE setting the tile around it is a much better idea as compared to siliconing the glass shelf into the finished tiled niche.

If the bathroom has both a bathtub and a shower, then the niche needs to be even more practical in design. The design should be such that the niche can be easily reached & used both from the shower as well as the bathtub. In this scenario, a horizontal design (as shown) works best for shower niche idea. 

If there is only a bathtub, the wall area above it is a good idea for niche placement.

A clever idea is to insert additional niches in front of the sink—this adds to the available storage, allowing you to store away accessories not needed in the shower area, hence freeing up space for bath essentials.

Aesthetic aspect.

Shower niches look natural in any kind of shower, as they’re so versatile & so basic. If planning it in the design stage, one can make it as big as desired & have it wrap around the room, connecting adjacent walls & injecting vibrancy with its tiles.

Using decorative tiles for shower niche and matching them with other embellishment details, the visual appeal of the bathroom can be enhanced manifolds. But when using tile for niche design, there are some pointers to consider:

(1) Dimension: When specifying a niche, be mindful of the tile dimensions. Tile symmetry around a niche is key; tile line ending right on the niche imparts a really clean look. Very small tile on 1 or both sides of a niche is best avoided; instead, framing the niche is a good solution.

(2) Special tiling: The shower niche may need bullnose tiling, especially with ceramic tiles that don’t have color throughout their clay body. This might be an issue with porcelain, but not so with stone.

(3) Material: It is important to specify all sides & the back of the niche. If niche is in mosaic sitting in larger field tiles, it is a good idea for the sides, back, top and bottom all to be mosaic. If it is a glass tile, it conceals the cut edge behind the field tile which is more easily workable.

(4) Waterproofing: This ensures proper drainage into the shower area. It's also particularly important with mosaic tiles. Even a small leak from a niche can cause substantial damage over time.

(5) Color: Bold color combinations, a single bright accent color (as shown), and even mix & match for textures & finishes in a variety of stylish ways are also good options to try out. Accent lighting can also make the niche stand out; however, the design & finishes should be kept simple to balance the look.

The cost factor.

Coming onto the shower niche cost, it may vary depending upon many factors like the location, material used as well as the time of installation of niche. If it is during the design stage, it might cost much less as post construction installation will need extra precaution on the part of the contractor so as to prevent any damage to the existing wall. Many professionals charge more for the latter. Framing the niche, though, incurs comparatively much less expenditure. Generally the cost of niche installation is around US$350-500 for professional service. For DIY aficionados, the only cost to be incurred is that of materials (for a 20 x 16 niche) & the toolkit, that comes to be around US$100.

Incorporating cubbies & niches in a small sized bathroom could be challenging. Here are some creative storage solutions for small bathrooms to serve as inspiration. Contemporary housing has evolved to offer smart spaces with added convenience that defies size of the space. Some other modern storage ideas for bathrooms can be found in this article.

If you have any further queries or doubts regarding shower niche installation, feel free to avail homify free consultation services.

Do you now have a clearer idea about the shower niche design for your next bathroom makeover?

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