What is a shower niche and why do you need one?

We all need a niche. That one topic we are all experts on – mine is Taylor Swift and how to make the best lemon meringue pie. Oh, sorry, that’s the wrong type of niche. We’re actually talking about shower niches today.

A recessed shower shelf takes a bit of forward planning – as there is only one way to retrofit one with a lot of mess and installers – but it’s so worth it. A shower niche is a simple little hole in the wall for everything you need while washing.

Its design uses the available wall space, meaning you don’t have to store your toiletries on the floor anymore. Also, as it is recessed into the wall, nothing is jutting out of the side, so the shower space has a beautiful, clean look.

A shower niche can be used in large wetrooms, but is often a space-saving solution for the typical small British bathroom. “One of the biggest issues faced when dealing with compact bathroom spaces is creating a cohesive look,” says Sarah Evans, head of product marketing at Hansgrohe UK.

“Products are naturally positioned closer together, so any differences in style or finish are highlighted. However, there are options available that can create a cohesive, luxury look across a bathroom or wetroom and maximise even the most limited spaces. One simple trick is to incorporate smart storage solutions, such as shower niches,” she explains.

How are these niches created? By carving out a part of a wall and installing a small box – you can either tile around it or leave it as a feature. The best way to know the ideal size is to line up all your shower essentials and measure the width. If you have a big family or one too many shampoos, like me, opt for something bigger.

Here are several types of niches to show you just what’s possible with this shower must-have…

grey walk-in shower with shower niches
XtraStoris wall niche, available in multiple sizes, from £290, Hansgrohe.

Tiled shower recesses

The first and most common way to achieve a stylish shower niche is to tile it just like the walls. This creates a beautiful, seamless look. One of the main benefits of choosing the same tiles is that your products will be hidden away and won’t stand out.

If you want to hide the recess even more, consider the side of the shower you want or need it to be. Do you want to position it on the wall that faces everyone walking into the bathroom? Or do you want to hide it around a corner to make it more discreet?

Also, consider where your shower head is placed, as this will be one of the main factors which will influence the positioning of your niche.

Large white tiled shower with niche.
Hoxton shower set, £219, Britton.
Shower niche with salmon tiles
Bathroom design in a Surrey cottage by Aflux Designs.
Ripples Bathrooms shower design with niche
Matt black thermostatic shower with matching hand shower and slider bar, £1618.24, and Marble-effect wall and floor tiles, £84 per sq m, available from Ripples.
Dark blue tiled shower wetroom with niche
Keswick exposed shower system, £1150, Roper Rhodes.
White shower area with gold brassware
Classica wetroom panel brushed brass, price on application, Matki.

Shower bath niches

Another great idea is to include a recessed shelf for your shower bath set-up. When creating this design, consider how high or low you want to place the niche. You don’t want to slip when reaching up, or equally bending down, to get your products. Again, carefully think about the height and width of your shelf, too. You need it to fit all your bottles and maybe even a glass of wine while soaking in the tub!

Bath and shower combo with black shower niche.
Roll top bath and shower niche, bath from £584.99, Bathroom Mountain.
Pink shower bath with wall recess.
Gelato Porcelain Cotton Candy tiles, £12.50 per sheet, Ca’ Pietra.
Large, painted bath with wall storage
Ebb shower bath in Dead Salmon, £1595, Waters Baths of Ashbourne.

Shower niche lighting

If you are looking to add the wow factor, include lighting. A simple spotlight inside the niche can elevate your design. Picture how expensive cosmetics are displayed in department stores – you may also want to invest in glass bottles to decant the products. 

Your installer and designer will know which lights to use to ensure they suit the shower area. We have a great feature on the different IP ratings if you want to know what lights are suitable in different bathroom zones.

Another way to upgrade your shower niche is to use contrasting tile colours and laying patterns. You can create a focal feature just by using a different material – think metro tiles and marble-inspired slabs. Remember to have fun when designing your niche and to always add a pop of personality.

Marble and tile bathroom design
Niche design by Stone and Ceramic Warehouse.
Shower design with natural-looking walls and floors
Westlands project by Pyro and Echo.

Need more bathroom shelf inspiration? Here are our top six ideas

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