Shower Design And Residential Architecture

June 16, 2021 0 Comments

Welcome to Residential Architecture : Shower Design-a new post in a long-dormant series that I am already contrition putting together. While I think a post like this will ultimately be extremely helpful to some people, I know that even more people will undoubtedly hammer on me for not doing something a particular way. (I’m already starting off cranky, aren’t I?). Let’s just get this bit out of the way:

This is not intended to be the end-all/be-all with regards to how showers can be designed. This is really a post that is focusing on some questions that you should consider as you work your way through your own possibilities.
If I say something is a certain dimension, it is not an absolute – I am stating my preference. We all can admit that there are options.

The intent of this post is to simply point out the things that might be worth thinking about since showers, while not incredibly complicated, have a lot of moving parts and tend to be items that all “regular-sized” bathrooms revolve around. Eventually I decided to start with exhibitions because I prepared some of these sketches as I was working with co-workers on some of the new residential projects in the office and I need to bring more designers up to speed and I have a tendency to avoid answering questions choosing to explain the thought process so they will always be equipped to solve these types of problems for moving themes.

So now that I’ve tried to insult myself and know that people are always going to come after me in the comments, let’s start this shower party.

Residential Architecture : Shower Design-Begin at the Beginning

The first sketch I put together was to simply introduce the basics-things like:

  • shower head
  • control
  • place of emptying
  • storage
  • location
  • how “visible” is the shower going to be?
  • bench or no bench?

If I take each one of those ammo points from above, there are some decisions to be made, and while I agree that they aren’t particularly difficult, they do have an impact on the final product. I could make each one of these topics a stand-alone conversation but I’m not going to do that to you.

Showerheads-Things like type, locations, height above the floor, fixed or adjustable, is there multiple heads, is there a rain showerhead … it goes on for a while.

Controls – Where are they located-Can you reach them without having to walk into the shower? are there more than one? Did you know that you might have one to control temperature, and then another to control where the water comes out, possibly more than one if you want the water to come out of more than one source at the same time??

Drain location-there really isn’t a ton to talk about here other than I don’t like standing on top of shower drains and they are almost always generally placed right where people want to stand. There are options and things you can do to make this situation better, but you have to actually think about it ahead of time.

Storage-most of the time these are simply called niches but I flip-flop between the two names. How many of them are there? Where are they located on the wall? Are they exposed to direct water-spray?

The staff were very friendly and helpful. The size of the door is another matter (22″ is the smallest and 36 ” is generally the largest – but if you need wheelchair access, you might consider removing the door altogether. And then there is the matter of curb versus curbless … )

Bench or no bench? – this is also a simple matter but the consideration centers almost exclusively around providing a place for people to elevate and place their foot when shaving their legs. It could be a niche instead of a bench but you still want to protect the leg from the direction of the water.

Size Considerations

Are there typical sizes for showers? Sure, but most people who have left them out have a few little tweaks that they like to consider. For example, I like my” small” bathrooms to be no narrower than 5′-4″ wide … and I chose this dimension so I could use a standard 60 ” tub and still have 2 “on either side so that I can create an” inside corner ” to transition my tile rather than using a metal edge trim piece (which I generally do not care for).

You also have to consider if your toilet is next to your shower or if you are going to have your sink countertop run up and against the shower(I am referring to the classic shower/toilet / sink arrangement that are all on a single wet wall (wet wall just means that’s where all the plumbing is located-could be a small cost consideration–.

I like to have a shower wide enough that you can towel off while remaining in the shower. I am 6 ‘ -1 “but have a 6′ -8 “arm span and if I can towel off in a 4’ -0 ” wide shower, so can you. If you have a requirement to spin around like Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music, that will definitely require more space.

The staff were very friendly and helpful. Personally, when you have the bathroom trinity (shower/toilet/sink) all on the same wall, you would want to have the toilet next to the shower wall. It might help you decide whether or not you will have a full glass wall or a half-height partition separating the toilet from the shower but you would definitely NOT have a full-height glass wall next to the cabinet that contains the sink. Maybe it’s easier to look at a typical arrangement?

The layout on the left is my go-to because I like that I have options on whether or not a use a half wall or a full-height glass wall (mostly referring to possible storage and valve locations but we’ll get to that in a moment). I also like that the obvious door placement into the bathroom has your view from the adjacent space looking at the sink, not to mention that the door in the open position can lay against the wall without any possible conflicts.


If you pull the cabinet off the glass, just a little though, not enough to put the toilet there, you might have solved the entombed total issues but now you have created a space dedicated to the placement of a small plastic waste bin that will ultimately but full of the sort of things nobody really ever wants to see.

So big, but slightly less.

The staff were very friendly and helpful.

Let’s move on and talk about that wall that could either be full height glass or half-height … why would you do that? The staff were very friendly and helpful.

There are definitely a few things that will help you consider how you might lay out your own shower, but if nothing else, you can see that there are more moving parts to a shower than meet the eye at first pass. There are another dozen or two things that I could go into (towel placement?!?) but this post is already over 2,000 words long and I’m honestly tired of talking about showers.

While this post was intended to be the first in a series of sort of posts, I’ve actually already covered a few items years ago in a series I titled “Residential Architecture”. I didn’t make it very far having written only three posts:

  • Residential Architecture – Materials
  • Toilet through the front door
  • Residential Architecture – Shutters
  • Residential Architecture – Wood Veneer
  • Kitchen Pantry Design

and while you might not think these are the most interesting of topics, you would be incorrect. I can promise you that this content is devastatingly attractive AND educational – a combination that most architectural blogs could only dream of achieving.

I don’t have an editorial calendar on the topics I choose to discuss, I just take the topics that I am currently working on with the staff in my office and take that content to turn into one of these blog posts. This means that I am open to suggestions on possible topics you would like to explore. I will confess that these sort of posts require considerable effort and time to assemble and therefore I don’t put them together very often. When discussing topics like shower design with junior designers in my office, there’s a back and forth conversation that takes place, and the sketches I create as a result of that conversation don’t make sense since they’re iterative in their nature.

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