Can you remember a time before Badnische? While even bathrooms in luxury homes used to suffer the humiliation of a shower caddy, the answer has all along been to make a small recess in your bathroom wall to house your shampoo and conditioner. Sometimes the best solutions are the simplest.
However, after seeing niches in almost every new bathroom, expect the design of these niches to become more experimental and interesting. And, of course, it is interior designers who pioneer these modern bathroom ideas and place them at the center of their designs.
Take a look at these real bathrooms where the designers innovated with a bathroom alcove design to make it a defining feature of the room.
What are the latest trends in bathroom niches?
To say that a bathroom alcove is just a place to store your bathroom essentials is an oversimplification.
“A recessed wall niche can change the function and aesthetics of your shower,” says Tess Lovell of ABI Interiors. “These corners act as their own distinctive focal points, adding dimension to a unified wall and providing a characterful home for your bathroom essentials.”
This is undoubtedly the reason why alcoves are such a popular interior design trend. So why not experiment with some of the bold bathroom alcove ideas?
1. Add lighting to your niche
This bathroom was designed by Matt Jamieson and Emma Sweeny, the Australian designers and developers behind Project X (opens in new tab)meets the Trifecta style with the bathroom design of this property affectionately dubbed Ruin X.
The microcement finish, a feature throughout the property, not only creates a beautiful, textured look in the bathroom, but a bathroom alcove runs the full length of the wall in this tactile shower space. The icing on the cake? Covert LED bathroom lighting beautifully illuminates the space, emphasizing this architectural feature while making it a dreamy spot for a late-night shower.
2. Embrace the arc trend
Bows are ubiquitous these days, so it’s no surprise that this motif also shows up in the bathroom. They bring a much-needed softness to the bathroom, which is often characterized by the straight lines of tiled walls, and add an organic feel to a potentially clinical space.
Of course, introducing fluid lines when working with tile requires a certain level of craftsmanship, and this bathroom owned by Beth McKenzie of Sunshine Beach Reno (opens in new tab) is as impressive as impressive.
However, tiled walls do not need to be finished with arches. This bathroom trend can be a great feature for bathroom walls outside of the shower, as a decorative element to style your space, or simply as extra storage as and where you need it.
3. Or try this modern pill form
Another shape we’re falling for right now is the oblong shape, better known as the pill shape. In this marble bathroom design by Lux Interiors, a large recess has been created with three shelves for the shower screen, reflecting the curved shapes used throughout the space.
“Round elements are found throughout the design,” says Pen Melis, senior designer at Lux Interiors (opens in new tab). “A unique curved wall creates a partition between the shower and toilet, while the shape of the niche has been recreated in the form of a mirror above the sink.”
4. Experiment with this hexagonal niche idea
After Jo Edwards of Edwards Rensen Architects specified these decorative hexagonal tiles for this colorful bathroom (opens in new tab) decided to emphasize their shape with matching niches. “Because the beautiful tiles are hexagonal and we thought it would be pretty wonderful to have hexagonal niches in a wall of hexagonal tiles,” explains Jo, “but they were really difficult to make.”
“We couldn’t line the alcoves with the wall tiles because they don’t have glaze on the ends,” adds Jo, “so they would need tile trimmings, which would be very difficult to clean around a hexagonal shape.”
After a bit of experimentation, the site manager created these bespoke niches out of colored acrylic resin and luckily they were the perfect size for shampoo and shower soap bottles.
5. Use a natural stone as a niche accent
Natural stone is a brilliant choice for an elegant bathroom, but where the budget may not be enough to clad your walls in luxurious stone slabs, an alcove offers a perfect spot to create a focal point of beautiful marble.
In this bathroom designed by Colony design studio in collaboration with architects Worrell Yeung (opens in new tab)a raised off-white tile was used along with a niche of beautiful Blue de Savoie marble, which is also used for the shower bench and floor.
The niche has also been perfectly matched to the bathroom tiles, ensuring a satisfyingly sleek design with no half-tiles around the niche.
6. Customize your tiles to suit your niche
There are two schools of thought when it comes to choosing a finish for your bathroom alcove. The first of these is to use the same tile as your shower screen. While this doesn’t make your niche the focal point of your feature, it still adds a sense of depth to your space and avoids having tiled walls feel too monolithic.
Also, not all bathroom tile ideas call for a niche to be a feature. Take this bathroom designed by Orla Read, for example. The creative stripe design has been extended to the double shower stalls to ensure this bold use of pattern is allowed to star of the show alongside beautiful Drummonds fixtures (opens in new tab).
7. Or create a contrast
If your bathroom could use an extra wow factor, a contrast niche is the way to go.
“Inserting a contrasting tile in storage alcoves adds a decorative element and another layer of interest to the space, almost turning the area into wall art,” says Laura Popek, a bathroom designer for Ripples (opens in new tab).
In addition, the contrast does not have to be strong. A soft pink tile contrasts with a white marble tile in this marble bathroom design. Also consider different shapes and contrasting solid colors and patterned tiles as options.
8. Turn a niche into a design feature
Bathroom niches can also provide a canvas for a more creative approach to tile. Take this walk in shower design from Caz Myers Design (opens in new tab), for example. By mixing a plain tile with matching patterned tiles, the interior designer has created a mural effect in both the shower alcove and on the floor around the sink.
While this idea may have been played out a little too chaotically throughout the room, the recess offers a way to fence off that focal point.
What is the best position for a bathroom alcove?
The most common place you’ll find an alcove in your bathroom is in the shower, giving you a useful place to keep shampoo and other toiletries close at hand. The exact positioning of this depends on both aesthetics and function. In order to be able to reach your bathroom essentials easily, you want to position the floor of a niche at about shoulder height.
Of course, if you’re small or very tall, this might feel out of proportion to the room, so it might suit your space better to work on average.
Another great spot for a bathroom alcove is over the bath, especially if you have a freestanding bath, since you don’t have a surface area to store your toiletries when you soak in them like you would with a built-in bath. A niche for a bathtub must be easy to reach while lying down. If possible, set up your tub and test it before deciding on the location of your niche.