Shower bath ideas: 10 brilliant space-saving solutions

Love a relaxing soak and an invigorating shower? Enjoy both and enhance your space with the latest ideas and inspiration

Brits are renowned for loving a soak in a hot bath, however most of us enjoy the invigorating effects of a shower too. The bathroom is often the smallest room in the home, so it's not always possible to have a separate bath and shower. Thankfully, there are plenty of shower bath ideas that allow you to combine the two options and still make your space feel like a sanctuary.

Part of the appeal with walk-in shower ideas, is the element of luxe it brings. Yet it's entirely possible to add a sense of luxe to the daily lather with these space-saving shower bath ideas.

Shower bath ideas

Whether your preference is for a freestanding tub or a fitted bath, you can incorporate attractive shower ideas too. Consider stylish shower heads, eye-catching tiles, designer screens or elegant curtains. These are the details that will turn a bathroom from basic to beautiful.

1. Make it the centrepiece

bathroom with white and grey wall bathtub and wash basin

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Colin Poole)

Having a shower bath doesn't mean you're limited to standard fitted models. If you have your heart set on a freestanding tub, this can still form the centrepiece of your bathroom ideas, and incorporate a shower. There are some gorgeous traditional-style shower rails, which can be suspended to allow you to hang curtains around the entire tub to prevent water splashes.

'We all aspire to the sumptuous free-standing bath in the middle of a large room,' says Phil Etherden, managing director, The Albion Bath Co. 'However, consider that most bathrooms, even in large houses, are no more than 12 square metres!'

Plan carefully and you can still create a stunning result. There is a great range of versatile, over-bath shower systems available meaning one can achieve a luxurious spa-like feel which is still practical for family life too.'

2. Include a luxurious ledge for storage

bathroom with white and brick tile wall bathtub and wash basin

(Image credit: Future PLC)

One way to give your shower bath spa-style luxe is by cladding it with textured stone tiles. This is especially effective if it's the type you see in high-end hotels such as split face slate or quartzite stone. When it comes to shower storage ideas, this type of surface deserves more than a wire basket stuck to the wall with suction pads. Take things up a notch with a luxurious ledge for displaying shampoo and soap.

This is easier than it sounds, as bathrooms often require a false stud wall to hide the plumbing behind. This then presents an ideal opportunity to include a recess for storage and even atmospheric lighting (adequately IP rated of course).

3. Choose a P-shaped bath

bathroom with cream tile wall bathtub mirror and wooden flooring

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Lizzie Orme)

Instead of a regular rectangular bath, a P-shaped version is a modern option that enables a more generous shower area, without encroaching too much on the available floor space.

'A shower over a bath provides an excellent solution for bathrooms where space is at a premium and having a separate shower isn’t an option,' says Jay O’Neill, Director, Bathroom Mountain. 'They work particularly well for families where younger children often prefer to take a bath. P and L shaped shower baths provide much more room for showering than a conventional straight bath.

'Some have screens that are fixed to the top of the bath and this creates a permanent seal to prevent water leakage, whereas those that pivot open have a flexible plastic seal on the bottom that does the same job.'

4. Install a sliding rail

bathroom with cream tile wall and bathtub

(Image credit: Future)

When you're considering shower ideas, the height of the shower head is important, whether you'll be standing in the bath or on a shower tray. This is particularly pertinent if it's a shower that the whole family will need to use. As glamorous as fixed overhead showers are, this may not be the best choice if it's where the kids bathe too.

'When it comes to selecting the best shower to use over a bath, it’s important to first consider how the space will be used,' says Jeevan Seth, CEO of JTP. 'Homeowners with pets may prefer a hand shower which can be easily adjusted as required.

'Those with young children may choose an adjustable rail, so they can easily slide the shower head up and down to suit individual body heights. For family homes or those with multiple occupants, we always recommend a slider rail so the shower is accessible to all.'

5. Tuck a freestanding bath into a corner

bathroom with white brick tile wall bathtub and commode

(Image credit: Future PLC/ David Giles)

In a tight spot, instead of boxing in a fitted bath with a side panel, choosing a freestanding tub and situating it in a corner can give the illusion of more space.  This style tends to suit a shower curtain ideas rather than a screen, which gives a roomier feel too.

'With a smaller bathroom, the trick is to maximise the visible area of the floor, so use a free-standing bath on feet or a plinth,' says Phil Etherden, managing director, The Albion Bath Co. 'If possible, position your bath so it’s the first piece seen when you open the door. Bath tubs are now considered decorative as well as functional, so use the bath as a feature piece.'

6. Go for digital controls

bathroom with tiles wall and bathtub

(Image credit: Future PLC/ David Giles)

The height of luxury is not having to wait for the water to warm up before stepping in to the shower. Opting for digital controls allows you to set the water temperature so it's just right.   It also enables you to set a maximum temperature. This is great if kids will be using the shower, as it means they're unlikely to scald themselves on hot water. It also means you don't waste a drop.

There's also a timer and a clock on most models which alerts you when it's time to jump out. This is great for saving water and energy. Current suggestions are for a four-minute shower to keep your bills down.

7. Add impact with monochrome

bathroom with white brick tile wall black window bathtub and designed fooring

(Image credit: Bathroom Mountain)

A great way to add impact to a shower bath scheme is with a dramatic black and white monochrome palette. It's also an easy palette to get right. Once you've chosen the best location for your shower bath and selected your sanitaryware, you can then choose your wall and floor tiles, and paint shades.

'Using different sized or styles of tiles can add interest to an interior; it allows for the creation of a pattern without being too busy,' says Colin Lincoln-Evans, Buyer at Tile Mountain. 'Colour and finish is a consideration; paler colours will help in bathroom where there is little or no natural light, and gloss finishes help reflect light.'

8. Choose the right shower screen

bathroom with grey and green tile wall and wash basin and bathtub

(Image credit: Future PLC/ David Giles)

If you like sleek shapes and clean lines, an L-shaped shower bath will give a contemporary look. For a softer style, P-shaped shower baths are curved at the wider shower end. Whichever you opt for, make sure you choose the right screen.

'Glass shower screens work really well in a shower bath and are available in different shapes to match bath styles,' says Jay O’Neill, director, Bathroom Mountain. 'For example an L shaped bath requires a screen with a small return on it so as to prevent splashes. The P shaped baths have curved screens.'

9. Mix tile styles

bathroom with grey and designed tile wall and bathtub

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Lizzie Orme)

There are plenty of gorgeous shower tile ideas to choose. If you can't decide on one style, mixing different tiles can be a highly effective solution. Laying tiny mirrored mosaics across an entire wall adds glamour and provides an interesting focal point.

Teaming these small shimmering tiles with large-scale plain matt tiles creates balance and prevents them overwhelming a small space. A clear glass screen and simple polished chrome fittings are all you need to complement their eye-catching iridescence.

'When putting together tile designs, there are three main things to consider: colour, texture and size,' says Louise Swannell, head of creative design at Walls and Floors. 'Think about the bathroom as a whole and choose a shower tile that complements the entire space. If you have a neutral scheme, you could continue this into the shower. Or opt for a bolder tile to make a feature of the space.'

10. Introduce an overhead shower

bathroom with white wall bathtub white window and yellow floor

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Rachael Smith)

Add a touch of luxury to a family bathroom by including an overhead shower, as well as a handheld shower on a sliding rail. This makes it easier to switch the room from 'kids space' to a more grown-up zone when you or your guests want to use the shower.

'For those looking to add a touch of luxury, a fixed overhead shower will add comfort and create the spa-like feel desired by many,' says Jeevan Seth, CEO of JTP.

What is a shower bath?

 Shower baths combine the luxury of a bath with the functionality of a shower. This makes them a great space-saving solution for smaller bathrooms. Of course, you can install a shower over most types of bath. However new shower bath models are specifically shaped to be slightly wider at the shower end. They are generally P-shaped or L-shaped, so you have more room to manoeuvre without having a separate shower and bath.

Is a shower over the bath a good idea?

Yes, particularly in small bathrooms where it's not possible to have a separate walk-in shower and bath, as it offers flexibility and saves space. 'Bar valves and bath shower mixers are popular choices for over-the-bath, as they are practical and easy to use,' says Kate Lovell, Head of Marketing, Aqualisa. 'Bath shower mixers can be deck-mounted (to replace existing taps), while providing the added benefit of a shower. They can also include an adjustable rail kit for full shower functionality, be wall mounted or have a handset that can be placed in a docking station.'

If you know how to install a shower head, it's a task a good DIYer could take on themselves. If the pipework has already been installed by a qualified plumber it's relatively easy to upgrade an old shower head.

What's the best shower for over a bath?

'Choosing the best type of shower for over a bath can depend on available space,' says Jay O’Neill, Director, Bathroom Mountain. 'A ceiling mounted shower can provide a larger shower head but will require additional installation work. A wall mounted shower can be easier to install especially when choosing an exposed shower system.'

'For a little luxury and convenience we recommend a three-way shower. This comprises an overhead fixed shower head, a hand held shower for convenience and a bath filler, removing the need for mounting separate taps on the side of the bath.'


Jacky Parker is a freelance interiors & lifestyle journalist, specialising in modern interiors, design and eco living. She has written for Future’s interior magazines and websites including Livingetc, Homes & Gardens, Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home for over fifteen years, both as a freelance contributor and inhouse, with stints as Acting Digital Editor, Livingetc and Acting Style Content Editor, Country Homes & Interiors. Her work also features in national and international publications including Sunday Times Style, Telegraph Stella, The Guardian, Grand Designs, House Beautiful and more. With years of experience in the industry Jacky is privy to the insider view and the go-to places for interior inspiration and design-savvy décor.