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Designing the Perfect Walk-In Shower with Tile

Walk-in showers have become popular with universal design, which is a method of constructing living spaces that is safer, easier, and more convenient for everyone. While universal design emphasizes practicality and safety, you can still make your walk-in shower attractive. With the right mix of tile, your shower can be the center of attention in your bathroom, and it will be a conversation piece that has visitors taking notes for their own bathroom remodeling projects.

For starters, make sure your shower is at least 3 x 3 feet—although larger versions are certainly trendy and helpful for those in wheelchairs. You can go with clear or frosted glass to let in natural light, or go with tinted glass for more privacy. If you opt for tinted glass, your walk-in shower will feel a bit smaller and more closed in. Clear and frosted glass have a more seamless feel.

Think about the mood you want to convey. Do you want a playful space that's light and cheery? Something that's more edgy? Or something that's somewhere in between? Here are four walk-in shower ideas that are timeless but will still make a statement:

1. Go Bold and Contemporary

Who says walk-in showers have to look like they belong in a 1970s-era all-white locker room? You can now create a walk-in shower that's worthy of a luxury hotel spa. When choosing materials, consider going with the Sublime line in a dramatic shade, such as Ebony, Sea or Sienna. Select deep tones to create an upscale, sophisticated shower design. Balance the dark tile with lighter cabinetry, tiles, walls, floors, backsplashes, and furnishings.

Use matching grout for a seamless look, or add texture and contrast with gray or stark white grout. Be sure to test different grout and tile combinations under realistic lighting to make sure the duo pops. Keep in mind that once you choose your grout, it's hard to fix later. Lastly, think about using your dark tile as a wainscoting throughout the rest of the bathroom to visually expand this frequently used space. The wainscoting will also make your walls appear lower, and it will make the space feel more intimate.

2. Add Wood-Look Tile

If you're into nature and love the idea of a shower that looks like it belongs in a spa out in the country, try designing a walk-in shower that features wood-look tiles. For example, consider going with wood-look tiles from the Season Wood and Yorkwood Manor collections. These tiles can repel moisture, and stylish large planks provide distinctive design options for a natural weathered look without the upkeep.

Install wood-look tile vertically in your shower to create the illusion of higher walls, or install it horizontally to shorten walls visually and make your bathroom appear more cozy. Continue this theme along the floors and walls, and then add matching cabinetry for a more expansive feeling. If your shower is part of a master bathroom suite, consider using the same tile in the master bedroom for continuity.

For a striking walk-in shower, try adding wood-look tiles on one wall, and then have recessed ceiling lights pointed at the wall. Keep the other walls neutral with a complementary tile and use a white grout on the vanity backsplash. Keep the floors, toilet, and vanity countertop white, too. And when choosing mirrors and sconces, keep it simple so the shower wall can make a more powerful statement. Cabinetry doors can feature the same shade as the wood-look tile, and stainless steel plumbing and fixtures can add some extra texture. If you want a look that's less rustic, consider using the Saddle Brook glazed porcelain, which comes in narrow planks.

3. Create a Magical Mosaic Accent Wall

You can create an eye-catching accent wall anywhere in your shower. Glass tile comes in many colors, patterns, and designs, so you'll be able to find the perfect style and pattern for your space. The right glass tile can transform your shower into an architectural element that expresses your true personality.

Since mosaics now extend beyond traditional shapes and colors, think about using them to create a magical walk-in shower wall. Oval-, triangle-, hexagon-, or marquise-shaped tile be used for dramatic effect. Don't forget to consider pencil-shaped mosaic tile and those that have a metallic finishes. Get creative and try using one color in your shower, and then go with the same hue in combination with a contrasting color for a two-tone floor or vanity backsplash.

You can also mix and match the layout of the tiles you select. For example, use ultramodern vertical mosaic tiles such as Clio in Hera or Nox, and then place an interlocking mosaic, such as Color Wave in Downtown Oasis, horizontally for a contemporary accent. Highlight unique tile shapes with a complementary grout, or match the grout and tile for a muted, elegant look.

4. Incorporate the Luxury of Marble

To give your walk-in shower a true luxurious look, consider using marble, which is a timeless stone that has been used for centuries. The veining, which is also known as movement, makes each marble tile unique. Veining can vary from subtle and predictable, to bold and abstract. Be sure to select a sealed tile that can withstand high humidity and foot traffic.

Before choosing a marble tile, be sure to read the manufacturer's recommended application because not all marble is suitable for bathroom use. After you select an appropriate marble, make sure it's sealed prior to grouting. This process will protect the marble against any damage from water or dirt. Then choose a stone-cutting technique that brings out the best of the marble. Vein-cut or cross-cut are two different options to consider. Marble tile is also available in subway, mosaic, and square tile shapes, and unique linear and wave mosaic patterns.

For a more varied look, you could mix and match light marble subway tile with a darker marble mosaic. And for a more serene look, consider the subdued beauty of white or cream marble. Finally, complement your shower walls—whether they are light or dark—with coordinating polished marble on your countertops, floors, and backsplash. Infuse your personality into your design because it's difficult to go wrong with the classic look of marble.

Whether you opt for bold colors, wood tones, dramatic shapes, or natural stone tile for your walk-in shower, you can design a space that stands out. Use these tips to inspire your creativity, and you'll design a shower space that you can love for years to come.

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