Like all real estate, shelf space can be hard to come by. Especially in the shower. If you’ve ever tried to store slippery shampoo bottles on the edge of a wet bathtub, you know the value of a good shower niche. (Have you ever caught a bottle of shower gel with the top of your foot? Ouch.)
Interested in a niche for your shower? It’s not hard and can be done in half a day for around $150 in labor.
Shower niche options
Just like everything in remodeling, you have choices. We took a look at two of the best methods for installing shower niches.
Option 1: Marble or stone corner shelves
Our local bathroom savant Paul just added two triangular shelves to a shower in 2 hours. He used a marble scrap, cut it to triangles with a 12″ edge, cut the tiles, and installed the shelves. Voila. No more hanging metal wire racks like we used in college.
Option 2: Subway tile with Carrara marble
Paul needs 1.5 hours to install a subway tile niche, 45 minutes of which are used to cut the hole. He uses Carrara marble to make the bottom of the niche. “It’s just so easy to work with,” he says, “and scraps are almost free.”
Warning: If there’s a fancy mosaic or Schluter system in place, the labor may require around four additional hours.
Placement and sizing
Your contractor will help you decide the best placement and size for your shower niche. Paul has a few recommendations to keep in mind while you’re planning.
Sides and back only: Only add a niche on the side or the back of a shower. Paul will not add them where there are pipes going to the shower valve and shower head.
A niche that’s 14″ high fits the biggest shampoo bottle you can find in Costco.
In planning the width of the niche, stay inside the stud bay, which is usually 14″ wide. Add rock and waterproofing on the sides and back. This is usually about 3/4″ thick. Add the marble on the sides and back too. That’s another 5/8″ or so. Following these recommendations, you’ll end up with about a niche that’s around 10″–12″ wide.
For a new shower, a 28″ wide niche looks good. While some people request a 4′ wide niche that spans much of the shower’s back or side wall, Paul isn’t a fan; he doesn’t like the way a niche that size looks.
Good-bye, falling soaps. Hello, beautiful niche.
So there you have it —your shower clutter can be straightened out for around 2 hours and $150 in labor. Niche away, and enjoy a fresh look plus better storage in your shower.