Think Outside the Box: Rethinking the Square Shower Niche

The shower niche. It’s not going away, but we want to know – where is it going next? Time and time again, a square shower niche is recessed between two wall studs, above the water controls and below the shower head, but let’s stretch conventional thinking.

At Architectural Ceramics, we love the look of stretching a square niche into an elongated, linear one. We also have a crush on a new bathroom design trend may, however, have you on edge: the shower ledge.

Square Niches: Updating a Classic

There’s a time and place for a square shower niche. Not everyone has the luxury of extra space for a walk-in shower, let alone a separate tub and shower. So when design dictates a square niche, at least it can be well-thought out and well-placed.

Image Credit: Tessa Neustadt for Emily Henderson Design

Big in personality but small in size, this bathroom design opts for recessed shower niches. The look is simple and clean, because of a few well-considered and thought out factors.

The field tile is 2″x6″ which is slightly skinnier than a traditional 3″x6″ subway tile. This allows for the niches to fit perfectly and avoids the need for them to be surrounded by awkward cut tile pieces. The handmade, white-body ceramic tile uses a miter cut at the edges around the niche, so it can wrap seamlessly from the surface of the wall to the inside of the niche itself.

Also, it’s tempting to use a contrasting or accent tile in the back of the niches. But here, the design is quiet and calm, which lets the nearby wallpaper and deep blue wainscoting do the talking.

Let’s talk about how you can get a similar look using AC tile. For a specialty, handmade tile like the one used above, it’s best to come in to one of AC’s five DC-metro area showroom locations. There, you can talk with an associate and explore your options with one of our many specialty vendors.

In contrast to one another, these two shower spaces illustrate how design choices can make a square niche stand out or fade away.

The master bath pictured on the left, treats the oversized his and hers niches like framed pieces of artwork; while the shower space shown on the left, hides the niche in the half wall near the bench where items are easily accessible.

For a similar grey concrete look, try AC’s Diesel Solid Concrete Collection. The large-format porcelain tile, in four colorways, looks like concrete. To get the look of the marble shower, consider using our Bianco Angelica Collection, which includes a 6″x12″ honed field tile like the one pictured above.

Linear Niches: Stretch Your Style

When space allows and you’re able to stretch out a bit, a linear niche is a popular option. Rectangle is the new square.

The handmade ceramic wall tile and linear niche, shown left, create an amorphous wet space. Because the niche is placed slightly lower on the wall and stretches from above the tub to below the shower head, it provides storage for both areas.

The marble walk-in shower, pictured right, has the right idea by placing the shower controls at the entrance of the shower. This eliminates the age-old problem of freezing cold or scalding hot wet limbs when turning on the water. Because of the linear niche, soap and shampoo can be close at hand while showering.

To get the look of the linear niche with ceramic white tile, try looking to AC’s K Street Collection, which includes a 4″x16″ glossy white field tile. For the soft grey stone look of the other shower, try our Swiss Alps Collection, featuring a similar soft grey marble.

Shower Ledges: A New Edge & Trend

Modern and practical, a shower ledge offers a new way to store your most-used bath items, and also give flexibility to display other items too.

Image Credit via Emily Henderson Design

This deceptively simple master bath design, pictured above and below, has a wonderful duality about it: continuous storage in and out of the shower space, warm and cool tones, as well as large and small-scale tile.

In the shower, the small-scale hexagon marble mosaic tile wraps from the vertical accent wall onto the wall above the shower ledge. The hex mosaic and the ledge flow effortlessly from the shower to above the floating vanity where it creates needed storage space.

Following the large-format 24″x24″ grey tile across the room, another ledge allows for storage and function behind the free-standing tub. The water controls are hidden in the wall, while the ledge provides a spot for plugging in a smart phone and in this case, adding a plant too.

To add tile like this to your own space, use AC’s Diesel Solid Concrete Collection for the large-format grey tile, and our Bianco Cararra Collection for the small-scale hexagon marble mosaic.

Another design that uses a ledge as continuous storage inside and outside of the shower area, is this eclectic bath that may be short on space but certainly not style.

We can’t get enough of how the design maximizes contrast with its mix of elements. The small-scale handmade field tile versus the large marble slab. The white vanity and toilet fixtures versus the matte black mirror and shower frame. We could keep going…

Incorporate the marble slab look into your next tile project, with AC’s Slim Slab or Elevated Collections. Both boast thin porcelain-body slabs, as large as 162″x324″, that look like marble. To go for a similar handmade tile look like the high-range, dark tiles above, talk with one of our AC sales associates about options from our specialty vendors.

Going from one design style to another, shower ledges aren’t only reserved for minimalist or modern spaces. Below, two traditionally designed bathrooms incorporate shower ledges into their walk-in shower areas.

Comparing both examples, it’s easy to see that using marble lends itself to a traditional aesthetic. Other elements, like the use of subway tile and chair rail moldings, mosaic shower floor tile, and shower benches are also characteristic of traditionally designed spaces.

To get the look of either shower space pictured above, look to one of AC’s many stone collections. To browse our range of products online, visit our website using the Stone Product filter. To see the stone’s natural veining and color range in person, visit one of our showrooms, where an associate will be happy to show you samples.


Square, linear or ledge — Creating shower storage doesn’t have to default to a 12″x12″ box. Which style do you find fits your aesthetic best?

At Architectural Ceramics, we’ve found our niche in the DC-metro area, and are known for our breadth of tile product as well as our caring and capable staff. Come visit one of our tile store showrooms today to talk about your shower, and how you too can think outside the box.

To rethink your shower niche, or to place a tile order, please contact sales@architecturalceramics.com. Want weekly updates about Architectural Ceramics and our product lines? Join our newsletter here.

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