Shower surrounds are often plain and are only made of the materials chosen for them such as tile, or acrylic. However, there is a range of ways to make a shower surround something unique. Today, I will explain 13 beautiful ideas for shower surrounds.
As a general rule, the areas you can customize in the shower surrounds are the:
- walls of the shower
- shower wall trim
- design of the shower niche
Various extra features can be added such as:
- a bench
- lighting such as LED strip lights
Below, find detailed info about 13 different ideas to incorporate into a shower surround. Many of these are very simple and easy to create. Without further ado, here they are in no particular order.
#1: Humidity-Tolerant Plants Hung on the Walls
Plants in a shower surround can look amazing, especially if combined with a waterfall shower head like this one on Amazon, to create a natural rainforest-type look and feel.
Only some species of plants are tolerant of humidity, so it’s important to choose varieties that will survive the humidity of a shower.
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Custom plant pots that are at an angle can be built into the wall with a hole at the bottom to drip out excess water onto the shower floor.
Around three plants evenly spaced on one of the walls is enough to create a wow factor that is truly unique.
HOT TIP: Add as few or as many plants as you feel will look the best in your space!
#2: An Archway Entrance as One of the Walls
Instead of a regular shower door, a natural stone archway can be made at the entrance to a shower, or make one complete wall of the shower. The doors of the shower can be underneath the archway.
This creates an incredibly unique-looking shower, with a cozy feeling like entering into a separate private room!
Make the archway with natural stone that matches the shower tiles. Alternatively, use a unique type of stone or tiles, or one that matches the colors and textures of the other parts of a bathroom.
#3: A Built-in Full-Length Bench
A seat serves a few purposes in a shower. While a shower is typically perfectly fine without one, it works great for:
- exfoliating feet
- shaving legs
- relaxing for a few minutes
- washing while sitting down
Provided the shower is large enough, a bench can be installed that seamlessly blends in with the rest of the shower by tiling over the bench using the same tiles used for the rest of the shower. Larger tiles or natural stones also make the bench blend in and look amazing.
NOTE: A bench is more suited to luxury showers that are much larger than a regular shower, due to the fact that will take up a reasonable amount of floor space.
#4: A Corner Niche
A shower niche is typically centered on the wall. But, another interesting and good-looking place to put the niche is in the corner of the shower, closest to the shower head.
This gives the appearance of the wall of the shower going into the other wall. It can be narrow and tall with a few shelves, or be short but wide enough to keep everything you need.
#5: Custom Lighting
As you may be aware, LED strip lights are a long row of lights that work particularly well to emphasize certain areas of a room and sometimes have a casing put over the top to make the individual lights a solid uninterrupted light.
There are LED lights like these sold on Amazon that are rated as water-resistant. They can be used in:
- outdoor areas
They can not be submerged underwater, so shouldn’t be placed on the bottom or along the perimeter of the base of a shower.
They create a great aesthetic anywhere else in a shower surround. Exactly, how to lay them out is a matter of personal choice.
LED light strips can have a color that matches the bathroom, or create custom colors. They can be installed both horizontally or vertically in one or more rows.
HOT TIP: The back side of LED lights doesn’t look nice, so don’t put them on the glass door of a shower surround, limit them only to the walls of the shower that aren’t see-through.
#6: Picture Frame Over a Shower Surround Window
Some shower surrounds have a window to let out steam and provide airflow and natural light. A cool idea is to install a picture frame over the window, giving the illusion that the window is a painting.
Any movement outside of the window, such as trees, creates a very cool visual effect as if looking at a moving painting.
This look is easily created by making a custom picture frame or having one made. Most importantly, waterproof the frame material, since bathrooms are very humid after shower use. Natural wood can grow mold, as well as expand and contract.
To waterproof it, use urethane also called polyurethane, sold on Amazon. This is a type of liquid plastic that paints on and dries hard.
#7: Stone Slabs or Tiles for the Walls
Natural stone is very heavy and difficult to install, and the exact color and type of stone desired can be difficult to source. Creating a faux stone look with paint with the exact colors you want is a great option.
The other good news is that it can easily be removed and replaced with something different since acrylic shower walls are so cheap.
Or, simply go over it with a few coats of paint, and start again. This video shows some basic faux stone patterns that can be achieved with paint:
It’s also possible to find ways to mimic any type of stone such as granite, or marble. It is important to use paints that adhere to plastic. This one on Amazon comes in many colors.
To know which ones to use it’s best to talk to the sales rep at a paint store, or read the label of online products to see which ones specifically will adhere to plastic.
#8: Tile Trim to Match
Tiled shower walls look great, and expert tilers will be aware that the edge of the tile is where the magic happens. Instead of an end tile, tile trim is used.
There are various types of trim that can be used to match the decor in the bathroom. From simple metal trim to more elaborate edges such as chair trim, and bull nose trim.
Refer to this article I wrote about how to choose the right shower tile trim for a full explanation of:
- different types of trim
- what they look like
- when to use each type
#9: A Custom Shower Niche Interior
Shower niches are most commonly installed on shower walls that are tile or stone, and less common on acrylic shower surrounds.
NOTE: A shower niche is an area of the shower wall that is cut out about 3 inches (7.5 cm) or more, where soap, shampoo, and other shower items can be placed.
A shower niche can be made of the exact same material that the shower surround has. For example, if the shower surround has a certain type of tile, the shower niche can have the same tile.
Another good option to add interest and contrast to a shower surround is to use a different material or color in the shower niche. The options for shower niches that are used:
- different tile or stone pattern
- different tile size or orientation
- different color tile
- a unique frame of tiles
- LED lights around the edges
Ultimately, what you decide to do is a matter of personal taste, but there are many different options. If you have a color scheme in your bathroom, you could use colors for the niche that match.
For example, let’s say your color scheme is white, gray, and black. If the shower walls are white, you could make the entire niche, or just the shelf, gray.
Or, if all the tiles are square, use rectangular tiles or smaller tiles in the niche. Finally, to really create a wow factor, install LED lights.
To get an idea of how it would look, and how to install LED lights in a shower niche, watch this video:
There are also many videos online that run through a large number of different shower niches. For example, there are some that show 200 different shower niche ideas one after the other.
You can look through these and choose something you really like!
#10: Custom Acrylic Shower Walls
In a similar vein to creating a pattern on acrylic, premade custom acrylic shower walls are also an option. These are designed to mimic various types of materials such as tile or natural stone.
Custom acrylic shower walls can be a particular color, and they are easier to clean than real stone or tile which is a huge advantage.
#11: A Shelf
It is more comfortable and convenient to use a shelf, rather than keeping items on the shower floor, like:
- face wash
A twist on having a niche for these items is a wall shelf. Instead of only taking up a small part of the wall it extends along the entire length of one of the walls.
The shelf can even go from its height all the way to the ceiling. But, in general, this should only be done if you have more than enough space to work with.
#12: A Curved Shower Wall to Match a Spa or Bathtub
One of the walls of the shower can be curved rather than straight. This can go particularly well if you have a bathtub or jacuzzi in the bathroom. The curved wall of the shower can match the curve made by the bathtub or the jacuzzi that is next to the shower.
The corner walls of a shower can still be flat and straight like regular walls. But, the side opposite the straight walls can be curved. It can also be a wave pattern rather than making one end of the shower narrower or wider.
Another good idea is to have a bench at the wide end to offset the extra space in the shower created by the curve of the shower wall.
#13: A Partial 4th Wall
Walk-in showers don’t have a door and instead have an open gap that you can walk through on the far end of the shower.
The wall that has the gap typically has a see-through wall, and it’s possible for this wall to be a partial wall. Instead of going the full height of the shower, only goes up halfway.
Another option is for half of the shower to be a solid wall made of tiles, and the rest to be a see-through material or have nothing there at all.
Unless the shower is particularly large, having no top half of the wall will create a lot of splashes which will need to be wiped up after the shower. This style should only be should be used if the bottom of the shower is very wide.
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