Shower Niche Design Tips and Inspiration
What are you hoping to accomplish with your bathroom remodel? Great design doesn’t just make a space more attractive, it makes it more functional, and if you have a shower caddy sitting on your shower floor or hanging from the showerhead like you’re still in college, it’s time to step up your shower design with a tiled niche.
Deciding what your shower niche will look like, what’s even possible in your space, can be a complicated task. If you’re working with a contractor, discuss with them your vision and budget to decide what works. Today we’ll tackle some basics to get you started.
Remodeling your entire bathroom? Start here with our complete guide to bathroom tile.
What’s a Shower Niche?
A shower niche is a recessed shelf built into your tub surround or shower wall and is designed to hold shampoo bottles, soap, and other bath necessities. A niche can be either custom-built or purchased prefabricated and finished with tile during installation.
Custom Tile Shower Niche
A custom niche offers designers near-total freedom to design the perfect niche for their bathtub or shower. Custom niches require custom framing to achieve the desired dimensions and waterproofing membranes must be applied to prevent water from leaking into the wall. When building a custom niche, it’s important to consider your environment and the function of the stud walls you wish to frame near or modify. It’s advised to work with a contractor if you wish to build a custom shower niche.
Prefab Tile Shower Niche
A prefab shower niche speeds up installation by using a preformed waterproof mold made from either foam, plastic, or steel. The prefab niche is fitted into the wall cavity between two existing studs and sits flush against the untiled shower wall. Tile is applied directly to the waterproof niche insert. Prefab niches are available from brands like Schluter and Tile Redi and can be purchased at most home supply stores. A prefab niche is generally more cost-effective compared to custom shower niche installations.
Shower Niche Placement
Great design improves your life, so a niche needs to work as well as it looks. Where you locate your niche depends on how you use your space.
If you’re running a custom niche the full width of your shower, you only have to decide on height. How tall are you and those in your household? Where would you and they be most comfortable reaching for your daily essentials?
This shower has a niche for any height, vertically stacked for everyone to access.
Centered, offset, corner, edge? Where you place your niche on the wall dramatically affects its appearance. Remember, studs, as well as pipes and other hardware, can interfere with where you locate your niche.
This niche extends all the way to the edge with an open end to add even more definition to the shower’s design.
Are you installing a niche in a custom shower or a tub surround where you’ll sometimes be showering standing up and sometimes bathing reclined? It’s a good idea to consider where you’ll be able to reach items in either situation.
Shower Niche Size and Shape
Are you looking for a discrete pocket for a razor and a bar of soap or a spacious focal point for curated sundries? The size and shape of your niche is another balance of function, appearance, and practical limitations.
Choosing a prefab shower niche will limit your choices to what’s available from the manufacturer, but there are several options on the market. A custom niche and flexible budget will greatly expand your choices.
The depth of your niche will ultimately depend on the depth of your wall cavity or how much you decide to frame out a parallel wall to accommodate a deeper niche.
This shallow niche would likely fit in any home.
A vertical niche matches the profile of narrow stall showers and offers space for taller items.
A horizontal shower niche offers room for a wide shower shelf and adds an attractive dimension to the shower wall.
Use multiple shapes to create separate shelves with individual purposes and personalities.
An arched shower niche adds an elegant design detail to your bathroom and some preformed niche manufacturers do offer arched inserts. Nevertheless, cutting the tile and trim for the arch will require a skilled hand.
Shower Niche Tile
Choosing the tile you want for your shower niche usually starts with choosing the tile you want for your entire shower, maybe your entire bathroom. But not always. Decide if you want your niche to blend in or stand out.
This glass herringbone niche uses the same tile and pattern to flawlessly match the lines of the shower wall.
Echo the floor tile, the bathroom backsplash, or choose something totally unique to draw attention to the niche.
This niche contrasts the bright white shower walls with the deep blue diamond mosaic tile featured on the floor.
Ceramic Tile Shower Niches
Glass Tile Shower Niche
Glass tile is clean, sleek, and perfect for the shower. This niche with a marble shower shelf adds an incredible dimension to the wide shower wall.
Brick Tile Shower Niche
A brick tile shower niche stands up to years of use with an earthy, organic look.
Mosaic Tile Shower Niche
Mosaic tile gives a shower niche an intricate backdrop with endless artistic possibilities.
Handpainted Shower Niche
A handpainted tile niche lets you feature the one-of-a-kind artistry of handpainted tile without committing to the cost of tiling your entire shower in handpainted.
A colorful handpainted niche makes for a natural focal point and an exciting contrast to a white shower wall.
Shower Niche Trim
Blending the recessed shelf to the shower or tub surround tile requires trim, and there are lots of options for any tile you’ve chosen. From rough to smooth, there’s a trim to capture the look you’re going for.
Trimming more than your niche? Check out our comprehensive guide to bathroom trim.
Bullnose Shower Niche Trim
Bullnose trim has a rounded and glazed long or short edge (or both for corner pieces) that offers a smooth transition around the perimeter of the shower niche.
Radius Bullnose Niche Trim
A radius bullnose tile has a rounded edge like a standard bullnose that hooks and extends to form a 90-degree curve for a seamless bend from the wall to the niche interior.
How to Trim a Shower Niche Without Bullnose
Glazed Edge Trim
The simplest form of trim is our glazed edge tile, available in both ceramic and brick, which offer a raw minimalist look without compromising the consistency of color.
Quarter Round Niche Trim
Schluter Shower Niche Trim
Schluter trim is strips of trim—usually metal like aluminum, steel, and brass but also available in PVC—that conceal the raw edge of tile giving it a clean, finished look.
Now you're ready to get designing! Remember to consider your space and budget before starting your project and work with a contractor if you have any doubts about your DIY skills. With a little creativity and Fireclay Tile, you'll have a functional niche that fits perfectly in your new shower.