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How to make a large shower without making your bathroom bigger

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling, Glass Block

One level lipless larger shower in a remodeling project

Larger shower uses a one level wet room installation and natural light to “live” even bigger!

 

Let’s face facts – most existing master bathrooms do not fit the needs or desired aesthetic qualities for relaxation and comfort desired by their owners. In many ranch and cape cod style homes built in the 1960’s and 1970’s the combined tub/shower unit in these small 5’ x 7’ bathrooms are difficult and dangerous to get into (and the ugly curtains or framed sliding glass doors don’t add to the ambience either!). Even many of the larger bathrooms built in the “McMansions” of the 1990’s and 2000’s allocated space incorrectly with a monster sized soaking/Jacuzzi tub (which is seldom used) along with a small phone booth sized stand up shower (which is cramped – but used every day).

According to a recent study by the inspirational housing site Houzz.com 66% of owners want larger showers. While this is a nice concept how can you turn this dream into reality for your home? The article below provides 3 steps to make a larger shower without increasing the size of the bathroom.

Step 1 – Designing your bathroom and shower to “live larger”  

Since it isn’t practical for most owners to increase the overall size of their bathroom (due to costs and the need to take space from adjoining rooms) the question becomes how can you create space for a larger, more relaxing and functional shower? Consider these strategies:

  • Eliminate soaking/jetted tubs – These dusty, unused tubs are the #1 place owners can and do borrow space for larger showers. The other reason these large corner tubs are removed is they can be hazardous to step into and out of.

 

A jetted tub was taken out of this Columbus Ohio project for a roll in shower

A jetted tub was taken out of this Columbus Ohio project for a roll in shower

  • Convert a standard 60” wide tub into a shower – Since very few people bathe today making a 60” wide shower where the tub used to be can create a more open feeling and will be safer to enter into vs. climbing over the tub to take a shower.

 

owed and curved 60" wide acrylic shower base after a tub to shower conversion

Bowed and curved 60″ wide acrylic shower base after a tub to shower conversion

  • Make a one level wet room – Getting rid of a separate shower enclosure with a curb and making a lipless shower area can create a sleek look, improve safety for any family member with mobility challenges and it’s a more efficient use of space.

 

One level wet room showers can be done even in small bathrooms

One level wet room showers can be done even in small bathrooms

  • Improve lighting – Adding a skylight, light tube or glass block window can make the bathroom feel larger – which can be especially helpful for bathrooms without windows.

Skylights used to improve lighting in a bathroom and shower space

  • Reallocating space from closets or countertops – In some cases eliminating a closet and getting more efficient with storage and/or reducing the size of a vanity top can help an owner find the space for a larger shower.

 Step 2 – Choosing your enclosure…or no enclosure at all  

 While there is no one right way to enclose or create your larger shower 4 popular options to evaluate are:

  •  Glass wall panels – The advantage of glass wall enclosures is they can be cut to size and designed to go all the way to the ceiling for a steam shower while also providing a clear open feeling while showering. Their primary drawback – cleaning.

 

Glass wall panels in a large shower  with an interesting bench seat

Glass wall panels in a large shower with an interesting bench seat

  • Glass blocks – Glass block shower walls are easy to clean, cost-effective to curve for a small tub to shower conversion project and provide a high degree of privacy when using an obscure pattern. Their drawback – some don’t like having grout joints between the blocks.

 

Curved glass block shower wall and base for a tub conversion space

Curved glass block shower wall and base for a tub conversion space

  • Stud walls covered in tile, stone or grout free shower panels – Making stud walls can be easy to do and will create a consistent look for all of the interior shower wall surrounds. The drawback of stud walls is they reduce natural light.
  •  No enclosure Euro design – Since space is at a premium in Europe many showers are at the same level as the rest of the bathroom to provide a more efficient use of space– creating what is called a one level wet room. The drawback of this system is the entire room needs to be waterproofed.

 

European shower design for a one level wet room

European shower design for a one level wet room

Step 3 – Working the inside of your shower

 

While steps 1 and 2 are critical it’s step 3 where the real fun begins – determining what materials and products to use inside your larger shower to create a functional and spa-like experience. Top choices to consider include:

  • Let it rain …and spray – OK showers are really still about the water – but new exciting showers today are about more than just the stationary shower head inserted into a plumbing wall. They are now also about “rain” (as in rain shower heads) and “spray” (as in body sprays). It’s these new water delivery products which can turn an ordinary shower into an extraordinary one.

 

Rain shower heads in a large barrier free shower in Michigan

Rain shower heads provide a relaxing spa-like experience

  • Seating – It’s hard to relax in your shower without a place to sit down! For a more modest sized shower (for example a 60” x 34” space) consider using either a corner or fold down seat. For a larger 2 person shower a long bench seat can be a great place to relax after a long day.

 

Corner seats provide a nice seating option for a modest sized shower

Corner seats provide a nice seating option for a modest sized shower

  • Strategic storage – Keep your shower uncluttered and safe with niches recessed into the wall for soap and shampoo storage. Think through where your storage is located so all members of your family – from grandchildren to grandparents – can reach them (note: for a universal or accessible design niches are generally lowered so a shorter person or someone in a wheelchair has access to them).
Shampoo and soap niches placed lower for easy access for someone in wheelchair

Shampoo and soap niches placed lower for easy access for someone in wheelchair

  • Natural design materials – Natural looking materials are hot in shower designs today – from hexagonal shapes and wood-look tiles to even a new line of grout free shower wall panels with natural patterns– the options are more exciting than ever.

 

New line of Kohler grout free shower natural design shower panels with unique storage solutions

New line of Kohler grout free shower natural design shower panels with unique storage solutions

What questions or input do you have about larger showers? Please comment or call one of the numbers below for additional insights or a free estimate.

 

 

If you’re looking for more information or an estimate on remodeling a shower or nationwide material supply for the various grout free wall panels and shower bases mentioned above call Innovate Building Solutions (877-668-5888) for nationwide supply or The Bath Doctor in Cleveland (216-531-6085), Columbus (614-252-7294) for regional supply or installation.

 

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Mike Foti

President of Innovate Building Solutions a nationwide supplier and regional (Cleveland and Columbus) remodeling contractors. Some of our product lines include glass counters, floors, backsplashes, glass blocks and grout free shower and tub wall panels

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