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November 06, 2023

Don’t Forget the Basics: The Shower Niche

The house I grew up in had a tub shower combo in my bathroom. Inset in the tile wall was one soap dish. I guess the builders of my house wanted me to wash my hair with soap…

Of course, my family used shampoo, which we crammed into the corner of the tub.  Forget buying the economy size shampoo bottle – that will never fit in that small corner.

I was reminded of this recently when we stayed in an older hotel in New Orleans. To be fair, this hotel did one better. There was a soap dish down low for bathers and a soap dish up high for those who choose to shower instead of bathing. The irony of this hotel is they no longer supplied soap for the shower, but rather three small bottles with print so small you can’t read them in the shower without your glasses.

I think it should go without saying that a single soap dish isn’t going to cut it. At a minimum, we need space for soap, shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. On top of that, men and women tend have their own body wash – they may also want different shampoo. Maybe he has kind that gradually washes out the gray while she has the one that doesn’t wash away the color of her recently colored hair. And then there’s the guys who like to shave in the shower. They need shaving cream.

Bottom line – it takes a lot of “stuff” to make us beautiful and fresh smelling!

The shampoo niche

Fortunately, the plumbing industry understands this and has started including shampoo niches in their prefab tubs and showers. While some of the prefab shower enclosures of the past have been uninspiring (to put it mildly), the industry has stepped up their game. You can find a tub enclosures that looks like tile, has a shampoo shelf running the entire length of the tub, and you can also add accent tile to the recess for a more custom look.


And speaking of a custom look, if you’re installing tile only to your shower or tub walls, you can get a prefabricated leak-proof shampoo niche ready for tile or accent tiles. Accenting the shampoo niche with contrasting tile lets the buyer know you know how just how important a great shower is at starting their day right.

The shower seat

Of course, every shower must have a seat – right? However, most shower seats aren’t for sitting. Many are there to enable woman to shave their legs and all bathers to wash their feet and ankles. I have seen a few in hotels that are simply a small area just large enough for a foot.

If you have the room, consider a shower seat that runs the entire width of the shower.

Better yet – how about the entire length of the shower. Now we’re talking! This shower seat is multi-functional. Great for shaving your legs, large enough if you have to sit down, and can hold body wash, shampoo, conditioner, shaving crème, razors – and even soap!

Walk Before You Run

Of course, many of these shower examples are fabulous for a variety of reasons – whether it’s the frameless enclosure, threshold entry, linear drains, etc. But before we get to the fancy fixings, we need to ensure that the basics are covered so that we aren’t asking home buyers to compromise their showering routine!

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This post was written by Housing Design Matters