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See Ya Later Niche...

Rethinking the Shower Niche (& Why I’m Loving the “New” Ledge, Instead)

Emily Henderson Modern English Cottage Tudor Master Bathroom Reveal31
Photo: Tessa Neustadt for EHD | From: Emily’s Classic Modern Bathroom Reveal

I didn’t put a niche in our previous master bathroom and while I didn’t regret it (because we had a shelf at one end of the tub) I knew that functionally, most people would wish there were waist-high access to their hair potions, instead of turning around, bending down and grabbing their shampoo. While I did put them in our current master and don’t mind them there, in general, I don’t love niches, mostly because they break up fields of beautiful tile with labels and gross scum (literally, soap scum). This isn’t something where if I go to a friend’s house or stay at an Airbnb and see a shower niche, I’m like “ugh, get some taste.” They can absolutely be FINE and often are even beautiful.

But designing what has felt like dozens of bathrooms between Portland and mountain house (honestly, I think I’ve designed a bathroom for every Duggar offspring this year), I’ve had a lot of opportunities to contemplate the niche and what other things can be done instead. The possibility of designing a good version of the thing I didn’t love was an attractive challenge. What could we do to create storage but not have a box break up a field of beautiful tile or if it is going to break up the tile, can we do it in the most modern way possible?

First, let’s revisit the niche. This grid of four that follows shows a handful of niches that feel rather dated. I want to preface this by saying that if your bathroom looks like this, there’s no need to hide out in your closet forever, never admitting to the world that you have a “dated” bathroom niche (how dare you), but I do feel like I have to establish what a “traditional” niche is before launching into how I’m seeing people rethink the whole inset box.

Shower Niche With Contrasting Tile
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When you do a Google search for “shower niche,” 92% of the results come back with contrasting tile, and I think this is the ticket to feeling a bit “dated.” As a loose rule, I’d say to stay away from alternative tiles or “accent” tiles. Yes, this can totally be done well, but like a wet pair of jeans, it’s just harder to pull off.

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In some of the ones above, it basically sucks in your eyes/attention. Call it the excessive cleavage of the bathroom. It’s hard to look away, for better or for worse.

Here are some great niches that I think are simple and pretty and well done, mine included.

Photo: Tessa Neustadt for EHD | From: Emily’s Classic Modern Bathroom Reveal

These are the niches in my master bath. Yes, they were styled simply and pretty for this shoot because we’re not heathens, but they’re functional and don’t really pop out at you.

Luxury Bathroom With Double Showerhead
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This appears to be a hotel (or a very fancy home) where each showerhead gets its own designated niche. These are pretty big for a niche, but something I wanted to point out is that sometimes, niches are made so small and you can’t even store your taller or larger-sized products. You can FORGET going from shopping bag to shower niche if you’re all about that Costco bulk-sized life. Yes, you can decant things into bottles that fit in a smaller nook (which would be better, if you like to keep things pretty and ready for the lifestyle mafia to come by at any moment), but it’s just an extra step. SO, if you’re remodeling and dead set on a niche, remember to allow yourself at least 12 inches in height to maneuver your bath goods.

Marble and Brass Shower
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The lower niche is also a subtle option, but if you’re not into bending down or sudsing up while seated, this might not be the best path to go down.

Walkin Bathtub
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Technically, this image has a niche, yes, which is why it’s here, but mostly I just wanted to show you a WALK-IN TUB SHOWER THAT LOOKED LIKE THIS.

Bathroom Tile Ideas
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The way the tile pattern falls in these niches is a little trippy, so even if you aren’t going with a contrasting accent tile, be careful with how your tiles will fall within the shapes you are creating. The nice thing here though is that there are different levels of niches—one for when you’re in the bath, and two for when you’re showering.

Somewhere between the traditional niche and what I’m about to talk about (spoiler alert: it’s a ledge) is the linear niche, like this:

Freestanding Tub Wet Room
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So, it’s just what it sounds like…a niche, but longer (i.e. linear). To keep the look nice and clean, make sure that the inset lines up with your tile line so nothing is cut off strangely or awkwardly.

Walkin Shower Concrete Vanity
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This is a large linear niche. I mean, some people don’t even have that length in their bathrooms, let alone enough room for the ledge and a walk-in shower BUT, the installation of the tile is spot on here. If it weren’t for the black edging, from afar, the depth might not be very perceptible, which = a barely noticeable break in the tile field and less visual clutter.

Black Frame Glass Shower Door
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Hot tip: if you have the space while renovating a bathroom, putting the handle trim in the entrance to your shower (instead of on the further wall where the showerhead is) IS SO SMART. DO IT. Long gone will be the days of subjecting your limbs to either scalding or freezing waters before your shower gets to temp. But back to linear, updated niche talk…the wall-to-wall look is even closer to the ledge idea, but again, make sure you have enough room to store the bottles you know realistically you will be using.

Marble Shower Surround
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Marble Shower Surround
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It’s a particularly sexy look in a marble bath surround, plus it’s far easier to wipe clean scum because there is no grout or tile texture to get stuck in (because let’s face it, NO space looks good messy/grungey, but a modern minimal room looks ESPECIALLY bad because there’s nothing to distract from the filth; you cannot create a dirt diversion in a room with fewer elements than you have fingers on one hand).

Now to the new ideas—what is the “new niche”? America must know! Well, I’m here to tell you today that I DO NOT KNOW because likely, the niche will never go away, BUT the ledge is a serious contender in my design playbook, and something we’ve been seeing a lot in magazines and in high-end hotels.

In fact, that’s where I first started contemplating this. I was in Portland staying at a hotel while working on the project up there and mid-shower, I was like… “why aren’t we doing a ledge like this more?” It looked so sleek, so modern (and by modern, I mean more “fresh” and less “contemporary”), didn’t break up any lines and, frankly, just looked cool. So I ask…

Is the ledge the new niche?

Rose Gold Bathroom Faucet
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At first glance, I thought this was a ledge, but studying it again…it might be a nook? A ledge-niche? The change in materials makes it look a bit like a pony wall (which we considered doing in the mountain house upstairs guest bath), but it still just feels simpler and fresher.

Emily Henderson Bathrooms Shower Niche 17
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Oh, this is a different perspective on that bathroom and I have to imagine there was a reason they needed that vertical break in the ledge (likely to attach the shower door/glass wall), but I do like how it continues around the vanity area.

Freestanding Tub Modern Bathroom
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It’s not common to get a ton of surface area for storage around a free-standing tub, mostly because they’re not exactly a shower stall and more of a luxury design moment, which says “don’t you dare besmirch me with your bottle of Garnier Fructise Sleek & Shine.” While a ledge doesn’t automatically rebrand your drugstore shampoo (no shame), it does provide a place to put whatever bottles you need (pretty or not) in a way that’s less obvious (like a nook or niche would be) since it’s a continuous line across your wall.

Bathroom Trends
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Yes, you’ve seen this bathroom from Decus Interiors time and again here on this blog, but it just keeps proving its worth in terms of style. It’s basically all the bathroom trends we’ve been talking about for the past few months (stacked tile, bubble sconces, wall-mount faucets, vanity mirrors) in one bangin’ package.

Bathroom Trends
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Here’s another angle of that bathroom that shows how the ledge stretches from the shower to the sink area, which is a really nice touch. This plays out especially well if you’re installing a killer material (like this stone they have here) and just makes everything look so seamless. If you’re working with a space limitation and it works best for you to have your vanity on the same wall as your shower, something like this would seriously elevate the style of your smaller space.

Concrete Plaster Shower
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Keeping the ledge lower like in this bathroom serves two purposes: it’s at a height that would work well for easily doing real-life things like shaving legs and having your products in easy reach when you’re bent over. Have you ever been shaving your legs and need to reach for more shaving cream/soap/conditioner (yes, I know some people who use conditioner to shave their legs and swear by it) but it’s so high and far away that it feels like a nightmare game of Twister? Something like this is a solution that also happens to look really sleek.

Stacked Bathroom Tile
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Another little tip: if your ledge is on the same wall as your showerhead, make sure the showerhead extends out far enough past the shelf (which is typically four to six inches) to make sure you don’t end up with a soggy, soppy wet shelf always and forever.

Okay, SO…what do you guys think? EHD really loves the simplicity and clean lines of a ledge vs. a niche, but are you team niche 4eva or totally on board? As always, chime in in the comments below with all your thoughts, concerns, advice…all the goodness that lives in your brilliant brains.

 

  1. The niche doesn’t bother me – it feels more contained and intentional than the ledge, although both are cool.

    But why did the Portland master not get either??

    1. We intentionally didn’t put one here because there is MASSIVE bench and we didn’t want to disrupt the beautiful tile. The only wall that was an option had studs/framing behind it that would have made the placement of it totally weird – long as skinny and to the right, shoved up against the glass. huge bench + tray 🙂

  2. I have a shower/tub combo in a 60 sq. ft. bathroom. I was considering putting a linear niche on the left side, where it would be hidden from view unless you were actually taking a shower. We are doing a full renovation, so I have a blank slate to work with. Where would a ledge go if we wanted to do that instead?

  3. I’m totally down with ledges- they look crisp and clean. And, Emily, I absolutely love the way you write. So engaging, fun, and funny. I want to talk like you write!

  4. I definitely agree that the contrasting tile will make a niche look dated quickly, but if the tile is continuous and there is no break, it works great and is super practical..doesn’t take up any extra floor space like a ledge does in a super small bathroom.

    1. ‘Xazctly.

    2. Yep. Floor space is pretty a pretty big deal-breaker here!

  5. I laughed so hard reading your (hilarious) writing, that I failed to form an opinion. Lol. But. I think… Niche4eva.

    1. Ha! Can’t decide if that’s good or not, but…glad you got a chuckle.

      1. It’s good! Very good! 🙂

  6. I think placement is key, ideally the niche is not visible from outside the shower (more to hide the products than the niche itself). I love mine – 3 separate niches on the same wall as the shower door, his/hers/shared. The lowest one is a perfect shaving foot rest. Perfect!

    1. Yes agree! I think the issue is when they are FRONT AND CENTER, like a showpiece, but really all you see are bottles of Pantene.

  7. We’re a week away from starting our ensuite renovation and we’re putting in a full wall length ledge in the shower… mainly out of necessity but luckily I do love the look of it. We can’t cut a nook into the walls so have to build out a ledge. The only problem is that its a teeny bathroom (4m2) and by putting in the ledge we’re losing a small amount of floor space. Hopefully it will be worth it!!

    1. Where floorspace is tight, would it be possible to install a long shelf (in a single piece of marble or teak or whatever material works with the wall) to take the place of a ledge?

      1. YES. that’s a great idea.

      2. I’d think twice about the shelf option! If floor space is tight for a ledge then a shelf mounted higher up is still encroaching on your limited space, just in a different area. I’d worry about bumping into said shelf or supplies every time you raise your arms for a hair washing!

  8. Team niche. I think in a bathroom with limited space (read as: for my life), the niche makes more sense, provided the niche is tall enough and deep enough for a big ol’ bottle of Tresemme.

    1. This is totally a valid point. A ledge does take up at least 4-6 inches of floor space, and when you’re already cramped, that can be a bummer. I don’t HATE the niche, just wanted to present new, fresh takes on the go-to accent-tile mini niche we’ve been seeing for years.

  9. I walked into our gut reno a couple of months ago to tell the tile guy I wanted the niche to have the same tile as the rest of the shower wall only to have him proudly show me that they’d finished and look how good it looks – and the niche had already been done with the floor tile. It still bugs, but it isn’t too crazy a contrast (it’s all marble) and I’ll cover most of it up with bottles soon (will probably go through the trouble of decanting shampoo and conditioners into pretty pump containers just to distract me even more). If you don’t have a staff to take some of the load, no matter how much you love design and know it’s your only shot at something close to your dream home, it just gets too exhausting to fight every single battle. And I’m too broke now for more change orders.

    1. I couldn’t agree more with this comment. I’m not a designer BY ANY MEANS, but I know what I want and I like to think outside the box.
      We just moved into our custom home, and we literally had to give up on some of the design details. The fight was just to much to handle towards the end. We fought hard for a lot of things…but no way would we have gotten our builder or trades to get on board with something like the “ledge”. They just wouldn’t have known how to handle that. Which is why if I ever build again, I would what until I have an EXTRA 100k to have my architect and designer fight for me.

    2. Speaking of pretty pump containers – Pantene has a new line (Micellar or something) using the perfect sized pump bottles I’d race buy alone. Already decanted my own shampoo into them after funneling it into kid’s shampoo : )
      They’re great looking – heavy, VERY slightly frosted-ish plastic that looks like glass (see through). Lovely! Perfect size, not too big. Have one for shampoo, one for conditioner. Makes shower less visually cluttered.

  10. Ledge ALL the way. So sleek and practical too. Niches with contrasting tile (like you see in all those flip-programs) are in my opinion sooo ugly, never have liked those. A ledge is super practical to fit/make your bathtub fit exactly in the space (we’re in the middle of our bathroom renovation and are making a full ledge along the long side of the tub. so chic). LOVE your posts, always.

    1. sounds like a dream! Good luck with your renovation.

  11. I struggle with ever wanting a bathroom niche.
    Doesn’t the water puddle? Or not drain off well?
    I worry it would be a pain to keep clean or from the grout getting gross.
    I love the look and the ease of the space. But just can’t do it

    1. Depending on where it’s placed, yes the water could puddle, and if there is tile and grout (instead of say, a slab), yes the grout can get gross (part of my issue with the niche, too), but as long as you regularly clean/maintain, it should be just fine. Than again, slab stone in a shower surround and niche would also solve alot of these issues…OR A LEDGE!

  12. I definitely like this ledge option for beautiful showers. The niche with contrasting tile has long been a peeve of mine – like, why do you want to draw attention to that? and I recently tried to talk a friend out of one but he isn’t a designer and he just loved his contrasting tile. Bleah. Long niches look nicer to me than rectangle ones but I am fine with either kind when designed unobtrusively. Man, you found some beautiful bathrooms for this post!

  13. Team niche! Think of them as the lovely little dish or basket you put on the expanse of dresser to hold your unsightly junk (i.e. drug store shampoo – ha!). My kids’ bathroom has a ledge along the bathtub and while it’s very convenient, I’m constantly shoving things from one end to the other to keep it “organized” and I would much prefer a niche (or two) that corrals everything.

  14. I am HERE FOR the ledge! Niches have always bothered me because if you have more than one or two people sharing that shower, you tend to quickly run out of storage and bottles end up on the ground. But a ledge? Beautiful and functional.

    1. Ditto, ditto, ditto!

  15. I love the ledge. Feels modern, but classic.

    1. Yeah, it’s def one of those things that doesn’t scream MODERN. It just feels more practical frankly, but also fresh and cool.

  16. Of all of the purchases that I’ve ever made to add to my kitchen’s efficiency and fun, this is the one thing I could not do without. I ordered it after making a decision to cook with fresh ingredients in order to make my meals healthier. It took me awhile to gather data from online forums and various cookbooks and “how to” resources before I actually opened the box and began my discovery journey. It’s been a delicious one, indeed, not to mention how much time I am saving in the process. The quality of manufacturing is evident and customer service will make you happy, IF you need to call them….I’ve heard. I have not had one single need to call them but forums indicate that they are very accommodating and quick to respond to any issue you might happen upon.

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    1. I don’t know why I’m laughing to this comment so hard ☝️🤪🤷‍♀️

      But on the subject, I’m all in for ledges 🤗 They look so effortless and practical, while niches usually end up looking forced and out of the place. Had one in my prevous rental apartment, and they were really hard to keep clean.

  17. The problem I have with niches in the bath are twofold: one, and most importantly, it encourages purchase of expensive, small-bottled products if one wishes to keep the area looking beautiful and this is not sustainable for our environment, and two, the vast majority of people can’t/won’t keep that up. Thus you have a niche riddled with a cacophony of colorful plastic jugs screaming with fonts and pictures and it’s just. so. ugly. I use the Simple Human wall mount with three containers. One contains body wash, one shampoo, one conditioner. This allows uniformity and the ability to buy wholesale size containers which I decant and then store in a closet or to buy in bulk (best option for the environment). I store shaving supplies in the bathroom closet and put them away after each use.

    1. What people who put their products in pretty bottles aren’t doing anything fundamentally different or more expensive that what you are doing with your Simple Human wall mount dispenser – buying a new container and decanting into it. It doesn’t require continually buying expensive products any more than your solution does. I like the Simple Human dispenser better than others I’ve seen, but I’m still not sure it it feels too commercial for me (and not in a hotel way).

  18. Ledge all the way. Its just a cleaner look. And I like clean bathrooms : )

  19. I’m totally on board with the ledge. It’s so simple and clean. I’m trying to find a way of incorporating the shower to vanity ledge in my own bathroom, but its one downfall is taking up valuable space. Pulling the vanity into the room an extra 6″ or making a shower 6″ smaller seems like too much space to give up. This concept is more of a luxury option for bathrooms with space to give.

    1. You can try adding the ledge either at the back of the shower or the wall with the showerhead so it doesn’t eat into the square footage of your room (just the shower space), but because a shower is typically longer than it is wide, it won’t feel like that much of an intrusion.

    2. Does it have to be a full 6″? I would think even a 2-3″ ledge would provide a significant amount of space to set shampoo bottles and vanity items on, and wouldn’t intrude on the space so much. Just an idea, in case that helps you out!

  20. I actually really like the pictures of “dated” contrasting tile niches! I even swooned over that black and white one lol I like the ledge too, so I say go for whichever makes you happiest!

    1. Lol. I loved the black and white one too!
      Love the ledge or the wall long niche.

  21. My husband and I are in the process of renovating an entire mid century house before we move in and I have long disliked shower niches, especially with contrasting tile. In our master bath however, the shower is open with a glass panel on one side and the whole showe is visible from the second you walk in the room. We need a niche to not have our open concept bathroom cluttered with things on the floor and I specifically asked for a ledge but our wall is load bearing and we were advised to not cut the studs to build a linear box. So in our case, structural integrity wins over aesthetics and I’m bummed about it.

  22. Love the ledge but I can’t help think it was originally rooted in necessity. If you look at a lot of the images, it might be a way to hide plumbing. A necessity if you are remodeling a historic home/building and trying to squeeze modern features into fixed spaces or working with barriers to hiding plumbing in walls. It’s the sign of a design working to elevate function as well as create new utility.

  23. I lurve a good ledge, but they usually take up a few inches of floor space so you have to take that into consideration.

    I’m team long niche with same tile – here is one I designed for my last house that is kinda perfect:
    https://www.pinterest.com/pin/4362930866032806/

  24. I’m team anything. I’m not passionate one way or the other. As long as the materials are pretty, I like ’em! We just installed 2 in a new master, and I had wanted to use large-scale arabesque tile somewhere in our renovation (been in love ever since EHD spanish inspired kitchen from eons ago!), but I just never found a good use for it in other locations (nor could I find large scale tiles within our price range)…enter the niche! My last opportunity to use some kind of tile…so I decided on arabesque in there just because I could. It brings me joy, and looks pretty. All that to say — nothing — there was no point to that.

    I do love all of the examples shown of the ledge though!

  25. Well I’m making a comment even though mine never seem to show up. :((
    So many bathrooms are small and the niche can be built between the studs. Comments about to tile it are right on. I love the ledge but it has to be built out so takes up floor space. I suggested in Emily’s ledge in Mountain house to put it under the shower head because her shower was long. Great post!

  26. I don’t feel strongly either way, I think they both look nice. The problem with a ledge, I would think, is that I would be compelled to add more too it because there’s so much space, which just increases clutter. The niche keeps things contained nicely. The sweet spot is to have a wall hidden from view to tuck the niche into so it’s not right in your face when you look at the shower. I do also have to comment (which seems a bit silly but I’m passionate about it and you brought it up) that I’m one of those rare folks who uses conditioner for shaving, and it is a game changer! One less bottle and it serves the same exact purpose! Win-win!

    1. Interesting…I also have some friends who do this (well, one) and I tried it once and yeah….it worked out well. Plus, I ALWAYS have more conditioner than I tend to have shampoo, so maybe I should just make this a habit to use up all that spare conditioner I usually end up hoarding until I decide to ditch.

  27. I’m leaning more team niche. But with a couple caveats. First I think it is important that you make the bottom of your niche a smooth solid surface (ie marble or quartz) rather than tile. I used white subway and did not heed this advise and therefore it is much harder to clean. Also I’m not a big fan of putting a different (often a mosaic) tile on the back wall of the niche. Like you I don’t like the pretty tile to be broken up with somewhat jarring (to me) intrusions. The reason I like the niche is I think it corrals all that stuff in one spot and sets limits on the amount of product you can accumulate. We have a niche and also a ledge in our shower. I call it ledge creep when the bottles spill out of the niche and onto the ledge. The ledge is a knee wall with glass on top. The ledge is visible from the hallway whereas the niche is not. So it looks a lot messier to have all those bottles on the ledge instead of tucked away into the niche.

    I think what it comes down to is you want something that flows effortlessly with the design, can be wiped out easily, sets limits on clutter, corrals stuff into the less visible place, and is functional and convenient. In my bathrooms this solution has been the niche.

  28. You wrote this at the EXACT MOMENT I was making this exact decision. I was meeting with contractor this morning and said “no niche! Bench!” So now I am on the hunt for a nice slab of granite to use as a ledge/bench. Cant’ do a full Bench as it will mess with the drainage tray for the shower floor…water drain at back of shower. The soap crud and buildup in my daughters niche is gross. And, I just can’t fit all my tall bottles in the niche. SO, Bench it is!

    1. My ears must have been ringing a few days back when we decided to go live with this post today. Glad to help!

  29. I love the ledge look, and the idea of more built-in storage space, but I would love to hear about how the ledge concept is actually built in? When doing our niche space, our contractor said it was only possible to do in the “cavity” space in between the 2x4s in the wall. How would a ledge realistically be inset into the wall? I can see in some of the pictures in the post that it is really sort of a build out of the wall vs. a true inset ledge…but while I love the look, I just don’t understand how it’s possible! Please help me! 🙂

    1. A ledge is not inset, it is built out.

  30. We just updated our bathroom. Here’s what we did and what I would totally do again:
    * One long niche on the shower head wall, chest height. Plenty of space for larger bottles. I am 100 percent on board with Team Niche.
    * Controls on the opposite wall where you walk into the shower. Emily is 100 percent right on this one: put those controls where the door is, not under the shower head!!
    * A separate corner “bench” for shaving legs. This has already added joy to my life.

    We did put contrasting tile on the back of the niche, but it’s the same tile from the floor of the shower, which is beautiful marble hexagons. We couldn’t bear to waste it.

  31. Team Niche for space reasons. Our niche has contrasting tile (gasp!) but it’s a nice twist on the shower trim tile (Spanish bungalow, with Malibu-style tile trim), so it works for us.

    1. Sounds gorgeous — my dream house!

  32. Putting the handle trim in the entrance to your shower (instead of on the further wall where the showerhead)?? Why doesn’t EVERY builder, designer, homeowner do this???

    1. RIGHT?!?

  33. We are transplants to (freezing cold!) Buffalo, NY… We redid our bathroom this summer and our contractor warned us against niches because of Buffalo’s winter temps. Because there’s often no room for insulation behind the niche, he’s seen people’s niche’s get icy and has had tiles pop out from the cold. We were stunned (and now paranoid of winters here).

    1. Ha! I am in Canada (read effing COLD) and our contractor said the same thing. Niches can only go on inside walls. Who wants frozen shampoo?

    2. I believe it. My windshield wiper fluid froze to a solid block in that city once. Pro-tip for southerners driving north in winter… add anti-freeze to your wiper fluid or live to regret it;)

    3. Just don’t put one on an exterior wall, and you won’t lose insulation. It’s not good to have an uninsulated spot in southern climes either, because it means losing energy when you’re using the air conditioning and, worse, it can change where the dew point occurs in your wall – meaning condensation inside your house.

  34. YEP, LOVE THE LEDGE!!

  35. LEEEDDGGEE. Literally my favorite part of my new house. I don’t think the space is really an issue because above the ledge it is open so it actually seems more spacious than an equivalent niche would be. Narrower by the feet, wider by the arms (where IMO it matters).

  36. I adore the ledge if it must be visible, but prefer a niche if can be hidden from view from the rest of the bathroom. Plastic and labels ruin bathroom zen. I remove all the labels from my shower products (which looks lovely but confuses my boyfriend.)

  37. I LOVE the niche in your bathroom … it’s a nice, quiet, clean spot for the eye to rest. It feels so fresh to me. Is it simply one large white tile? What material? Where did you get it? We are renovating our bathroom and I really want to replicate that look!

  38. I’m totally team niche but I do like the idea of positioning the niche where it’s not visible from outside the shower. I like how a niche contains the products whereas on a shelf they could be spread out all across it in a messy way.

  39. That WALK IN TUB with accordion doors! What? How? Love it.

  40. AH! Dry stacked tile in a bathroom is a nightmare! It looks great, but think of all the gross stuff that gets between the cracks that you can never get out! I’m surprised someone found a tile installer to do it!

  41. Hmm… I’m of the opinion that niche or ledge can look modern and fresh, depending so much on the space you have to work with. I don’t think the niche with contrasting tile looks dated. I think it’s the tile choices in some of those photos that look dated.

  42. The HGTV show Flip or Flop always does accent tile in their niches. I always disagree with their choices. Why would anyone want to draw attention to their shampoo/conditioner bottles? I also think the stripe of accent tile going around the perimeter of the shower is a bad idea.

  43. Can I be on both teams? I think a niche might work nicer in a more traditional bathroom whereas a ledge looks fab in more modern/ minimal settings. I think they’re both great options and it’s great to have options!

  44. Contractor perspective weighing in here – the linear niches will cost you a lot more because they can’t fit them in between framing studs, so have to frame a special box for it. Not that big of a deal but worth a note for the more budget-minded readers.

    My favorite line in this whole piece was: “like wet jeans, harder to pull off” ha ha ha!

    1. Great point, thank you Julie!

      Also I’m 200% team conditioner is awesome for shaving legs. And against contrasting tile in niches. FWIW I have a ledge in my 1930’s bath and it’s convenient for leg shaving and stuff—but there’s so so much stuff on that ledge (shared with a 5yo). I’d love to do a big hidden ledge in my imaginary someday master suite remodel… sigh.

    2. Thanks for the tip, Julie!

      (Actually, keep them coming… Would be interested in other thought processes of contractors with the various style/renovation recommendations. Found it super interesting in the comments above about the folks who got tired of fighting for things. Would love to know which things are hard to fight for!)

  45. I only ever seem to work on small bathrooms and clients only ever seem to want niches. Agree wholeheartedly with the tiling comments in the post re contrasting tile and tiling layout. And I’m cool with a nice niche if it can fit into the space and be inset without losing space in the room. However, it’s happened multiple times that people want to build out the whole wall just to incorporate a small storage niche and it blows my mind. When I re-do my own small bathroom some day, when my husband capitulates, if there’s no way to fit a niche (or a ledge) without losing square footage, then I’m just going to install….. A SHELF!

    1. Bravo! A SHELF! Would be lovely in 1cm thick marble with marble struts for support.

  46. I like the ledge more but niche is fine too

  47. Agreed! I have never accented the shower niche in my projects – and I’m not sure I understand the impulse. Why draw attention to your shampoo bottles? I too am loving the ledge!

  48. We remodeled our master bath a couple of years ago, and definitely wanted a niche, but wanted it to not be visible from outside the shower. I also use the large bottles of shampoo so need it to be big enough. What we ended up with is a niche that is 13 inches tall by 28 inches wide with a granite slab as the base, tilted ever so slightly so that the water mostly runs off. It is gorgeous and works perfectly for us!!

  49. Ledge!

  50. I actually measured my gigantic Redken shampoo bottle with the pump in it to give my tile guy a measurement.

    1. That’s real life, though! I see the design team doing that kind of stuff all the time and makes total sense!

  51. I AGREE. NEVER ACCENT TILE. TIGHT RULE NOT LOOSE! 🙂 THis was great, @corinnemadiasrealestate Northville ,Michigan

  52. The ledge has all the same soap scum issues as a niche. But my real issue is it reminds me of that awkward ledge in many half basements.

  53. The horizontal niches would require more structural work, as the vertical niches are designed to fit between studs. I’d have no use for such a big niche, as the ones illustrated here.

    I don’t want a simple ledge. I’d be knocking products off it all the day long. With a smaller townhouse bathroom, I’m not able to get all the elbow room that would require.

    Doesn’t really look any more “modern” to me. Looks more like something was forgotten?

  54. This post begs for another post – best looking bath products for your shower. (?)

    I know that sounds like it’s an instagram-vanity request (how do I get that styled look at home!?), but especially for guest bathrooms, there’s a functional benefit of welcoming and calm vibes that would really benefit from your insight. Especially if you could do it a little color focused (neutrals, white/clear, blue?) We all know you need a loofah for the niche/ledge, but would love the other products that are both functional and calming.

    The same thing applies for hand soaps for powder rooms and the kitchen… Think about it! 🙂

    1. Lush makes great looking products that are also effective, animal and eco- friendly and smell divine!
      My guests always rave about them and their simplicity are soothing to the eye.

  55. I prefer the longer sleeker looking niche or the ledge but it’s definitely not for a tight space.

    We’ll be adding a shower into our master-half bath (5’11×8′ room) and There’s no way I’d be able to sacrifice 4-6″ in length or width to make the ledge style work even if I do really like it.

  56. Gah! The ledge is like the wiser, sexier older sister to the niche. Yet, what would you do if also wanting to include a bench into the shower design? Does ledge trump bench? Or in that case, bench and a long, linear niche?

  57. Great insights!!! Love the ledge. How do you feel about getting rid of a builder grade garden tub and doing a huge shower? Think it’s bad for resale. We almost NEVER take a bath.

  58. I don’t love niches so lots of thought went into my new shower storage solution. Went with a narrow shaving bench and a solid surface shelf.
    Love it.

  59. Hi Emily. I think the vertical break in the ledge, in the first bathroom you show with the ledge, is for the plumbing up to the shower head. Although the ledge has been made into a very useful design feature, it may be that the entire reason it is there at all is that it saved the plumbing being chiseled into what is perhaps a brick/concrete wall.
    The niches with the decorative tile really are visually jarring but it is also so important that your niche size fits well with your tile choice, and that you have a great tiler. Even some of these interior design photos in your article show some really wonky tile work, not just in the niches but also in corners of the room.
    Great topic and article, it is a topic that is not discussed as much as perhaps it should be.
    Cheers

  60. I just did a ledge in a second full bath. I love it much more than a niche. Feels more spa-like.
    My house is not at all modern. The ledge is in carrara and the entire bathroom tile is celadon penny tile floor to ceiling. Ledges just seem like thee next evolution. Not that the niche is bad but it’s amazing how something can all of a sudden seem dated.

  61. Soooo sick of the contrasting niche, ugh. Why give it all that attention when it stores shampoo and conditioner. Have never understood that. Same tile niche is great in small areas and ledge when you have the space!

  62. This has given me life. As I started at my newly demo’ed guest bath for 2 hours today I just couldn’t help but hate the idea of niche placement on the wider part of the wall (in between the studs because, you know, that’s where people always put them.) A ledge is what this baby needs. Thank you Emily, for opening my eyes to this. I can’t wait to drop this bomb on my contractor.

    1. :), Kelcy!

  63. Love the ledge. Very common in Europe and easy to clean.

  64. Emily, I stayed at the Hewing Hotel in Minneapolis this past weekend and they had a ledge in the shower! The whole time I was thinking about how the ledge was so smart and how much more useful and aesthetically pleasing I personally found it to be. Love the inspiration you’ve included and can’t wait to see what you do in the mountain house.

  65. This ledge/niche decision is so interesting! ! I just put a niche in my shower, but moved it to the least visible wall at the last minute which I am super happy I did. The ledge reminds me of some builders ways to fix a cut in foundation wall when it runs through the bathroom. It’s funny because i think as designers we tend to fur out the wall to avoid that look. (Speaking as a structural engineer who works on custom homes not an interior designer)

    I’ll have to let my architects know that it’s in style now!

  66. That walk in shower/tub with the built in stairs going straight to the outdoors is the stuff of my DREAMS. So amazing. Thanks for sharing the shot.

  67. I have never been a fan of niches, but didn’t know there was another option! Super digging the ledge life. If I ever get to update our bathrooms it will be on the wish list!

  68. Ledge all the way! Our current house has one and I feel like I’ve been cheated all my life. I love it. It’s easy to clean. You aren’t limited to just a specific size anything. Plus you can rest your phone on there, crank up Pandora and take a really good shower. Just sayin’!

  69. Ledge all the way I have been doing it for years now because I think it makes so much more sense!

  70. We have a ledge in our shower and it’s perfect. It fits all bottle sizes and it’s nice to have things right there when your eyes are closed mid shampoo. Also, thanks for the Duggar- based humor. Love it. Happy ledging!

  71. I like a niche better because it limits the number of items sitting out around the tub. I noticed that all your pics of the long shelves were virtually empty! Imagine what they would REALLY look like in real life!

  72. Love the ledges! Especially the wall to wall, and wrap around the free standing tub. Emily, your blogs are so much fun to read! You’re so inspiring to me as a designer & home stager. I really don’t follow anyone else!

  73. I think what would bug me is most of these niches and ledges are too low. Extra height means less water getting into various bottles and making them mucky. (Also makes it a bit easier to hide possible scum buildup between cleaning days!)

  74. I never liked the look of niches in a shower, sure they are functional, but they just seem over done. The wall ledge though! Beautiful, fresh, and modern.

  75. I guess I always assumed niches are fitting between studs, so is there extra reinforcement needed with a ledge? Or is it protruding into the space and eating up square footage? I guess it just depends on the design and situation, but I would definitely prefer a niche over nothing.

  76. The ledge has such a sleek modern feel. I love the look of the tall ledges, but I would use a lower one in my own home. I am picturing elbowing the tall ledge while shampooing. The lower ledge provides more space around the torso and stays clear of moving arms.

  77. I really like the ledge if you have the space to make it happen. However, niches don’t bother me. I am constantly annoyed by showers with no bench or a place to rest your foot when shaving.

  78. Yes!! This is what I have been looking for…as we prepare to renovate our boys bathroom, we need a functional spot for pretty toy storage, definitely going with the ledge! Thank you! 🤗

  79. I like both. I did just finish one bath remodel that breaks all your niche taboos, and yet, I love it so much I go to the bathroom way more than one person should on any given day. It’s a linear ledge that’s positioned to work for both the tub and the shower. And it not only has contrasting tile, it’s the only time the tile shows up in the bathroom at all. (Whuuut?!) But it is the perfect complement to the very bold, emerald green starburst tile that I put behind the vanity. The rest of the tile is 4″ square white, so it’s not too hectic. And we have a curtain, not glass, so you really only enjoy it when you’re in the shower or if one of my slovenly children leaves the shower curtain open. Happily, when I shower I’m now reminded of time spent in Morocco. And that is never a bad thing.
    Here’s a instagram post showing the different tile.
    https://www.instagram.com/p/Bk4NbhMHTHd/?taken-by=beauty_tramp

  80. Emily glad you put this to words and now I’m even more torn, lol. I love the *idea* behind your ledge advocacy. But without clear limits, “stuff” takes on a life of its own in our home. For this reason, we’re definitely niche candidates. But you are spot on about the tragedy of contrasting niches which spoil the integral experience of honest beautiful tile. TBH, the only niche I like in the whole post is yours b/c it’s tonal and well, it just works. (I note the grout on your horizontal ledge; how bad is the soap scum?) Anyway, I didn’t think I wanted white grout but your post taught me I don’t like carrying graphic grout into a niche, no matter how skillfully executed. Thanks to your post, my decision has evolved to either light grout & tonal niche OR dark grout & a ledge. #SIGH. #Firstworldproblems #fundtoponder Love you. <3

  81. THANK YOU. I have always had a deep hatred for niches. Every time they did their “signature” contrasting tile shower niche on Flip or Flop and acted like it was a design revelation, I wanted to barf. This is SO refreshing!!!

  82. Emily, you design bathrooms for the Duggar’s?

  83. While I agree that the initial niche photos do show a dated look, I must confess that the most dated thing to me was the top right photo’s many wall mounted shower plates. Oh my gosh, I feel like I can name not only the year, but maybe even the month that that shower set up was decided on.
    Here’s what I like most about a ledge: it’s practical. Niches are harder to clean because they are more enclosed. They also force you to keep products together. For a multi-person household this means having multiple niches (which can look busy and multiplies the cleaning of awkward spaces), switching toiletries out every time someone showers, trying to cram eveyone’s stuff into a too-little space, or one person just not getting space for their stuff (yes, I have see this and it was not a happy lasting relationship). The ledges I have encountered, even the shorter ones, allow multiple people to keep their products in the shower but in separate clumps and allow me to get my arm above the surface I’m cleaning so that I can use my elbow grease effectively. There is substance to the style choice of the ledge.

  84. Love love the ledge. Looks so modern and fun.

  85. I love the ledge idea and want one in my bathroom if I had the space (small condo bathrooms 😕)
    My vote is so the ledge or the long niche is another good look too.

  86. I say go ledge! I’ve been looking at those and love how you can put any size or amount you want there. I would do that!

  87. I love all of these! They look very clean and fresh and make me smile.

  88. I’m a kitchen and bath designer and use both…so much in remodeling depends on what you’re working with structurally!! So YES to whatever you can do 😂

  89. I love how you simplify and beautify everything! I am hoping you post a blog on bathroom storage. I love all of the pretty oval and round mirrors but then think….where’s the medicine cabinet? There’s so much opportunity in between joists throughout the bathroom but I hate when people stick on a home depot cabinet front. I know this can be pretty and functional. Would love to see your take! Thanks for your wonderful energy and beautiful style!

  90. We’re building a house right now, and I did a full length ledge at chest height under the shower heads. I’m also doing wall-mount faucets in all the bathrooms, so reading this article and seeing how cool you think these things are, made me feel SUPER cool. 😎

  91. I like the ledge, but calling a niche “traditional” and so outdated overall as if it’s been a thing forever feels very out of touch with the reality of most American households to me. I and most people I know are still dealing with bathrooms where the only place to put products is either the edge of the tub or balanced on a towel rod grouted into the tile pattern, or maybe a molded plastic or fiberglass ledge that’s less than a foot wide. I appreciate the tips on the ledge and how to do a niche well, but that just rubbed me the wrong way a bit.

  92. I’m so into the ledge! I didn’t know that I wasn’t a fan of the niche until you brought it up…and I totally agree! I didn’t think there were other options (silly me)! I really prefer the longer ledge, rather than the ledge niche….so timeless and simple. I also really hate when showers don’t have a ledge/bench when I need to shave my legs- it’s so awkward when you can’t rest your foot on something!
    Anyways, I love this idea! We are in the process of beginning to design a house with an architect…you should write a blog post titled “Things to Think About Before Designing a House” for me 🙂

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