Tips For Making A Walk-In Shower Work In A Small Bathroom

Having a bathtub increases the resale value of your home, but when you're working with a small footprint, you may not have room for both a tub and a shower. A standard tub usually requires at least 13 square feet of space, while a walk-in shower can be as small as 9 square feet. Of course, more luxurious walk-in showers can be much bigger. But in general, a walk-in shower takes up much less space than a bathtub, and it tends to look more modern and sleek. However, having a walk-in shower can present some unique challenges in small bathrooms, especially those used by multiple household members.

Whether a walk-in shower is a necessity for your small space or a purely aesthetic choice, it's important to make sure that your shower design is optimal for your small bathroom. Some features can enhance and open up the space, while others can make it feel more dark and cluttered. Here's what you need to be aware of to make a walk-in shower work for your small bathroom. 

Designing a shower to fit your small bathroom

If you're constructing a new walk-in shower, it's important to take advantage of every square inch. Don't just install an empty box; add a shower bench if at all possible. "An in-built shower bench offers a handy, easy-to-reach space to store shower products away from the floor and is also useful if you're looking to future-proof your bathroom as it gives you a place to perch," bathroom designer Richard Fox explains to Living Etc. If a sitting bench won't fit, you can still install a shallow shelf at bench height — it only needs to be a few inches wide to store shampoo bottles and provide a leg rest for shaving. A recessed wall niche can also be a smart way to add extra storage. 

Opt for clear glass shower doors in a small bathroom. While it can require more cleaning and lacks privacy, it will make the whole bathroom feel bigger and brighter. Frosted glass, on the other hand, tends to shorten the room and block light. When selecting doors, think about the size of the space and the area where they'll have to open and close. If needed, overlapping sliding glass doors or a simple panel to block the water may be best. You'll also want to install an overhead light source to avoid a dark and cave-like shower and select a detachable shower head. This is perfect for washing pets and bathing kids when you don't have a tub, and is nice for adults to enjoy a thorough clean despite the small space.

Optimizing function in a small shower

Bathtub shower units usually come with plenty of built-in storage, but storing items in a walk-in shower can present some challenges. Even if you have a niche or bench, adding a shower caddy or suction cup shelf can improve functionality, especially if multiple household members share your shower. When picking out shower caddies and storage, think about the finishes in your shower and the overall aesthetic of your bathroom. For example, if your shower has a matte black showerhead and borders around the glass, a shiny chrome caddy will stick out like a sore thumb. Instead, look for shelves and caddies that complement the existing finishes. If you're short on wall space, toss a few S-hooks over the edge of the glass to hang towels within reach. 

If you can't add a bench, place a small stool in your shower. You may miss a bathtub at times, but a stool will give you a place to relax in the shower for a few minutes if you'd like. Opting for a bright white and neutral color palette can invite more light into the bathroom and make it feel more clean and spacious. If you use the same color tile within the shower as well as on the floor, you'll create a more seamless, open vibe.