1. Use Glass
The best shower designs feature glass prominently. Not only does glass convey a premium design sensibility, as a material, it lets light filter cleanly through the bathroom to make the space feel bigger. Glass also works well to showcase one of the most beautiful features of a premium shower, the tiling.
“I prefer full glass panels and doors to enclose showers, as opposed to partial walls or curtains,” says Beth Kooby, owner of Beth Kooby Design. “Usually the biggest expanse of gorgeous tile is in the shower, so I want to be able to see that!”
Also, glass enclosed showers, especially frameless systems, show off a shower’s tilework even when a visitor isn’t actually using the shower. For frameless glass shower enclosures, consider sliding door hardware. A sliding door shower system will also cut down on dead-space due to door travel—of special importance in bathrooms.
“In most bathrooms, space is such a commodity,” Kooby says. “The great thing about a sliding shower door is the space saving capability!”
2. Think about light
Light is a huge factor in successful shower design. Well-lit bathrooms in general, and showers in particular, need to convey a specific mood—it’s one of the few rooms in the house where people are expected to lock themselves in, and should therefore be designed as a sanctuary. Light goes a long way to impart this feeling, and king of any bathroom lighting scheme is natural light.
“Natural light is always better in a bathroom in general, but the more light the better!” Kooby said. “Depending on the size of the shower, I put in at least two overhead can lights. In the main space of a bathroom, I always use cans and vanity sconces. I put everything on separate switches for more control. Also, consider skylights. It's a great way to not only bring more light into the bathroom, but also bring in nature—blue sky during the day and stars at night; it’s especially good if there happens to be a large tree above the skylight so you can see that too!”
Mirrors can also do a lot to help disperse light throughout the bathroom and into a shower, according to Houzz. It’s also a good idea to use a variety of lights in your bathroom including task, accent, decorative, and sparkle lighting to achieve the desired ambiance and spotlight certain bathroom features—like the shower.
3. Splurge on high end materials
The bathroom in general, and the shower in particular, are two of the most used spaces in a home or hotel room. And not only are they well-used but, because of their function, are subjected to wet, humid environments, particularly hard on materials.
“This is a sanctuary and even if you're an ‘in and out’ kinda shower person, you still deserve beauty and high quality,” Kooby says. “Most people spend a lot of time in the bathroom and whether you're building new construction or renovating, you're going to be spending a lot of money and should definitely get what you pay for! Higher quality choices will typically last longer and outperform bargain items.”
This is where spending the extra money on materials like stainless steel, glass, and impervious rated shower tile really pay dividends. Not only do higher end materials show less wear over the years, they are also much easier to clean and maintain.
4. Think through tiling
Shower tiling can’t be an afterthought. One of the key benefits of a frameless glass shower system is the opportunity to continue tile themes into a shower space, or do something different to make the shower pop, or help the entire space feel bigger.
“On the main floor, I typically set the tile in a direction that expands the room visually, making it look larger,” Kooby says.
And, while a shower caddy is tried and true, consider designing shower niches into the wall for a more premium feel. These should have the same tile as the rest of the shower space to unify the design. Kooby recommends full wall horizontal niches for the extra drama and cleanness they provide.
5. Plan layout well
A well-designed shower can go far in conveying a premium feel. If the space doesn’t work well, it won’t feel like a sanctuary, even with high end features. “Probably the number one issue with frameless shower enclosures is the fact that they are not watertight,” says Chris Phillips of Showcase Shower Doors “The shower stall itself needs to be engineered to cause water to drain back in.”
Also, be sure to make your shower have at least a 3-by-3 foot standing area. Most people, according to HGTV, stand between 24 to 30 inches from the wall when showering. Making the space big enough to comfortably stand in the shower flow without backing up into a wall is key for a premium experience.
Consider where the shower control will be located.
“I hate standing under cold water waiting for it to heat up because the controls are directly under the shower head!” Kooby says. “I try to keep the controls at arm’s length from outside the shower.”
An easy way to achieve this is using a sliding door shower system with bypassing doors. This configuration allows you to easily reach in and turn a shower on to warm it up without stepping all the way into the shower and risk getting wet.
Consider laying out your bathroom so that the shower, and not the toilet, is the first thing in a person’s line of sight. Many times, bathroom doors are left open as default. Having a beautiful shower showcased over the toilet adds to the premium feel of the space.
“I generally try to place the toilet as far away from the shower as possible, either in a water closet or on the other side of the room, maybe with a knee wall or with the vanity in between,” Kooby says. “Pretty sure most people don't want to see their significant other reading the op-ed section of the paper while they're trying to find serenity now in the shower!”
Finally, though it may seem like a small detail, think about where you hang the towel bar or hook.
“I usually try to keep at least a standard wall width (5-1/2" - 6") on either side of the shower so I can hang a knob for at least one towel so you're just sticking your arm out to grab the towel,” Kooby says.