Walk-in shower ideas are trending hard, and for very good reason. Midway between a fully enclosed shower and a completely open wet room, walk-in showers offer the best of both worlds. You get to enjoy the spaciousness and level-entry access of a wet room but without having to tank the entire room.
Walk-in showers are similar to regular shower enclosures but without a door. However, unlike a wet room, they do have some form of screen or partition wall that protects the rest of the room from shower spray.
One of the simplest ways to install a walk-in shower idea is to buy a specialist walk-in enclosure, complete with low-level tray and screens on one or more sides, depending on whether it is to be installed in a corner, alcove or centrally on a wall. The entrance will always be open, but you won’t need to worry about tanking or draining gradients to ensure the water flows away properly and the rest of your bathroom stays dry.
Walk-in Shower Ideas
The great news is that walk-in shower ideas can work brilliantly no matter what size your bathroom. When considering small bathroom ideas, a walk-in shower with access at one end can prove an effective space-saving solution. Tucked in the corner or an alcove, you can achieve maximum showering area, without suffering soggy toilet roll.
In bigger bathrooms, consider a centrally-positioned walk-through shower, which has access either end for a really luxurious, boutique hotel look. Read on for shower room ideas featuring walk-in showers, as well as plenty of advice from bathroom design experts.
1. Invest in a designer screen
Walk-in showers are pretty unobtrusive compared to full enclosures but that needn’t equal boring. Crittall-style screens, which mimic the metal framing of Crittall glazing are now widely available, and more affordable. ‘Matt black is so on-trend in bathrooms just now. We love incorporating Crittall-style screens into our designs to achieve that striking, urban-chic look,’ enthuses bathroom designer Rosie Proto, from Pier1 Bathrooms (opens in new tab).
‘The Merlyn screens we use have the black coating fully integrated into the underlying aluminium substrate, so it cannot chip or peel, making it really durable. It’s the perfect screen for a minimalist yet impactful walk-in shower.’
2. Build in storage
Storing shampoo and soap within arm’s reach is key to showering comfort, not to mention a clutter-free bathroom! If you’re building out stud walls to accommodate a new walk-in shower, adding in smart shower storage ideas like niches makes the best use of the empty void behind the tiles. It also looks far slicker than protruding shelves, and you won’t bash your elbows on them while lathering up!
There are two important points to remember when building in storage. First, don’t position your storage niches directly under the shower head, otherwise your toiletries will be forever sat in a pool of water.
Secondly, make sure you tile the shelf on a very slight gradient to encourage any water to drain away. For extra spa appeal, include waterproof downlights inside the niches and enjoy atmospheric lighting by night.
3. Turn it on without getting soaked
Walk-in showers generally have the shower head located furthest away from the entrance to keep the rest of the bathroom dry. This can make it harder to lean in and turn the controls on, than in a corner enclosure or over-bath shower for example. Luckily the solution is simple, as Huntsmore’s director Eamonn Agha explains. ‘When designing a walk-in shower, we would ideally have the shower mixer controls at the entrance so that you can turn on the shower and adjust the heating to get the perfect temperature before entering,’ he explains. ‘It also means you can turn the shower on whilst fully dressed and not get cold or wet if trying to reach for the controls under the showerhead.’
4. Install a skylight
Adding windows in the roof can transform a dark or dingy walk-in shower room. Particularly in the mornings when a blast of Vitamin D will help kick-start your day.
While perfect for loft conversions, skylights can also be used to brighten up any bathroom with no void between ceiling and roof, such as extensions with flat roofs and mansard rooms. In this cosy walk-in shower room, interior designer Laura Stephens has used glossy tiles to help reflect light from the above around the space.
Do invest in self-cleaning glass, especially if your skylight is hard to access from outside. Go as big as you can manage and position the skylight directly inside the showering area for maximum invigoration.
5. Step it up
Not every room is suited to a level-entry walk-in shower installation, especially if there isn’t sufficient plumbing space in the floor joists. This is a common scenario in period country homes and loft conversions but don’t despair; raising the shower tray has a number of advantages. Firstly, all those pipes can be easily stashed and the correct drainage gradients achieved with minimal disruption.
Secondly, a raised level will make it far easier to keep the rest of the bathroom floor dry, helping to prevent slip hazards in the process. We love the raised-level walk-in shower in this attic bathroom idea. Extending the width of the floor area inside the shower with colourful tiles increases the sense of space inside.
6. Swap out the bath
If you’re really not a bath person but would love a more spacious shower, go ahead and make the switch. Choose a walk-in shower enclosure, which is sized to match the dimensions of a standard bath – 170cm long – to make it an easy straight swap. These generous enclosures are aimed at homeowners looking to ditch the bath without having to replace the floor or tank the whole room.
The screen and tray are usually sold together, and the design includes a drying area at the entrance to help protect your bathroom floors. Just make sure you pop a towel hook nearby. Putting a bath back in again will be just as easy so you don’t need to worry about devaluing your home if you’re planning to move on.
7. Tank the floors
For a wet-room look without the soggy toilet roll, tank the room and install a single glass screen. This walk-in shower idea allows easy, level access, making it a great choice for inclusive use. For minimal visual interruption, choose a frameless screen – sometimes called wet room panels. A wall-mounted support arm is sufficient for small screens like this one. But larger panels should be fixed at floor level for extra rigidity.
‘High-impact floor tiles will help distract attention away from the screen, so you’ll barely notice it’s there,’ adds Barrie Cutchie, Design Director at BC Designs (opens in new tab). ‘Continuing the same floor tiles throughout will also make your walk-in shower feel bigger and less busy.’
8. Protect your modesty
Not only is reeded glass fashion-forward but its softly defused surface will bring an element of modesty to your walk-in showering environment. Perfect for providing privacy in shared en-suite bathroom designs, a simple reeded glass panel is all you need for uninhibited showering.
Install the glass with the reeded texture on the exterior to achieve a smooth easy-to-clean surface inside the shower. The external rail on this smart screen is ideal for keeping your towel close to hand.
9. Work a walk-in in your loft
A walk-in shower is often the best solution in a loft bathroom where awkward ceiling angles can make it hard to install a fully enclosed shower. ‘Bespoke shower enclosures can be seriously expensive, but a simple screen and walk-in access means you can often buy a panel off-the-shelf,’ says Merry Albright, creative director at Border Oak.
‘Find the tallest wall and dedicate this to the shower head, as you’ll need the height to shower underneath.’ Positioning a skylight at the point where you enter the shower can achieve a little more head height to step inside. But it doesn’t matter if you have to bend a little to enjoy decent head space while you’re showering.
10. Choose sleek, seamless walls
The space inside your walk-in shower clearly needs to be waterproof but tiling from floor-to-ceiling can feel cold, plus grout cleaning is never fun! Microcement, a.k.a. polished plaster, is an on-trend alternative to tiles – providing a sleek, seamless backdrop to any walk-in shower.
‘Microcement is essentially a waterproof plaster that is built up in layers to create an easy-clean, non-porous surface,’ says interior designer Fiona Duke.
‘Pigments can be added to create whatever colour you like, and it has a subtly textured surface that adds a tactile dimension. In a smaller walk-in shower the lack of grout lines keeps the vertical surfaces simpler and enhances the sense of space.’
Is a walk-in shower a good idea?
‘Walk-in Showers not only look good, but are also the ultimate in inclusively designed bathrooms,’ says David Osborne, CEO of Roman Showers (opens in new tab).
Whilst looking stylish, modern and on-trend, users of all ages and abilities find them easy to use and access – the lack of handles or mechanisms (and often steps or thresholds) makes them particularly appealing to those with arthritis, yet equally chic for younger generations.’
How big does a walk-in shower need to be to not have a door?
It depends on whether the room is fully tanked, and you’re just using the screen to keep the loo seat dry, or whether you really need to contain your shower inside the tray. In a fully tanked wet room situation, you can get away with a slightly smaller showering footprint.
‘For walk-in showers where you want to keep the rest of the bathroom dry, we always advise you allow around 50cm for the entranceway width. And from 50cm-60cm for the showering area' says David Osborne, CEO of Roman Showers. 'Therefore, for a really effective and comfortable walk-in shower, you should aim for an overall length of about 100cm-120cm’. Average walk-in shower widths range from 70cm-100cm.
‘If space is a little tight or you’re worried about keeping water contained, look out for wetroom panels and walk-in enclosures with small pivoting deflector panels that fold out to restrict spray when showering and then fold neatly back when you need to exit,’ adds David
Linda Clayton is a professionally trained journalist, and has specialised in product design, interiors and fitness for more than two decades. Linda has written for a wide range of publications, from the Daily Telegraph and Guardian to Homes & Gardens and Livingetc. She has been freelancing for Ideal Home Magazine since 2008, covering design trends, home makeovers, product reviews and much more.
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