Storage Solutions in the Shower
Something every client must consider when installing a shower are storage options – and when you’re spending money on a nice remodel, you definitely want to have some nice storage options beyond what you might’ve seen at a HomeGoods store (no offense to HomeGoods – who doesn’t love to spend waaay too much time browsing their offerings?)
Let’s be honest, many of us have a basic tub/shower alcove with minimal storage – some of us use the tub edges, and some of us have gotten a shower caddy which hangs off your showerhead and never quite stays still when you take something off it. Luckily, when redesigning your shower you’ll find there’s a lot of different options that you can do for storage! The most common options are corner shelves and niches. Let’s break it down:
The first storage solution is the traditional corner shelf, which is usually made of ceramic/porcelain, marble, travertine, or quartz and comes in a few different colors. We have to be careful though, because these stocked colors may not really match or complement your shower tile. An advantage to the corner shelf is you can match it to your countertop or shower bench top, using the same material. Recently some new products have come on the market, including the Schluter corner shelf, made of stainless steel, which is an option with many beautiful designs and colors that can be used for both new and retrofit applications. A wire basket by Gatco or Kohler is another option that offers a good amount of storage. These come in most finishes so you can match your shower fixtures’ finish.
Placement of your corner shelf or shelves depends on the individual homeowner’s needs. Our Lead Designer, Derek Baxter, notes that the most common placement is to position the corner shelves at the inside corner by the showerhead, but this can cause standing water to collect and creates the potential for mold. You could solve this by placing the corner shelf at the other end of the shower, but if you have a wider shower, you might have to exit the warm safety of the water to reach it! The height of the shelves can be adjusted to best suit the height of the homeowner.
The second storage solution is a shower niche. This is a completely customizable option that can be designed according to the homeowner’s needs. We tend to use the Schluter prefabricated niche, which is waterproof and tile-ready. These are 12 inches wide and vary from 6 to 28 inches tall. What size should you go with? There are a few things to consider – who is using the shower and what are you storing? Derek notes that many homeowners find it beneficial to have separate niches for individual users. If two people are using the shower, he recommends at least 12 – 24 inches of storage width, to allow plenty of space for the various bottles, razors, soap, etc.
There are definitely some design issues to consider when using any size niche and several ways the niche can be incorporated aesthetically. Functionally, the height of each user needs to be taken into account. If one user is 5 feet tall, while another is 6 feet or more, we could consider multiple niches at different heights, or one large niche located where they both could reach it easily. Some homeowners decide to use an accent row of tile in their shower, which can also be featured in the niche itself. However, Derek is not a fan of running accent tile into the back of the niche due to the rough cuts you’ll see on the edges of the niche. Generally speaking, he will recommend that the row of accent tile sit at about 60 inches, and the niche be placed to sit below it at about 36 to 42 inches off the floor. Of course, because the niche is so customizable, it can be placed at any height to best suit the homeowners. Derek recommends placing any niche in an unobtrusive location so the niche with its bottles and such isn’t the first thing one sees. On average a 12 inch wide niche will hold 3-4 bottles .
When choosing between a shelf or a niche, we always take into consideration the homeowner’s budget. As a whole, corner shelves are going to be the less expensive option. Of course, the cost of the shelf varies, but for example, a large Kohler wire basket costs about $40 online. The installation is going to be less labor intensive as well, on the order of half an hour. A prefabricated, tile-ready 12 x 12 niche costs about $50, plus the cost of tile (which, if you use the same wall tile, doesn’t add much expense). It then takes at least a couple of hours to install a niche, since it includes framing, waterproofing, and tiling, and takes even longer if it’s a custom size, which of course would be more expensive to install.
Ultimately, it comes down to what the homeowner needs and wants in terms of storage and design. Both options are totally feasible. Make sure to discuss both options with your designer to see which works best for you. Hopefully this has given you some insight on your shower storage options!
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