Luxury Shower Trends

Michelle Radcliff
luxury shower in bathroom
Luxury showers for a spa experience

The trending look in modern residential bathrooms can be summed up in a three letter word - spa. Oversized soaking tubs so popular in the late 20th century are losing favor. Homeowners are opting instead for large, luxury walk-in showers where they can go to relax and escape.

Start With a Tub-to-Shower Conversion

A 2013 survey by the American Institute of Architects on home design trends revealed 60% of homeowners preferred a shower stall without a tub. A straightforward partial bathroom conversion can be done when the bathtub is in an alcove. Once the tub is removed, a space measuring 30 to 34 inches deep and 5 feet wide leaves adequate room for a shower.

Whether you're doing a partial bathroom conversion, a full remodel or want to add some luxury perks to your existing shower, the following ideas will have you looking at your daily cleaning ritual in a whole new way.

Glass Showers

glass shower

Walk-in glass showers and frameless glass showers are a big trend in bathroom renovations, according to home design blogs and local press articles on the latest design trends. Glass fits well with the simple, clean lines and minimalist, spa-like look that is popular in bathrooms today. It also elongates sightlines, giving the illusion of a larger space without segmenting the room the way a shower curtain or a wall partition does.

Installation Tip: Don't risk a botched set up when it comes to glass shower enclosures. Pivoting glass doors and custom glass enclosures require the expertise of professional installation.

Steam Showers

Steam shower

One luxury that entices people to a spa is the steam room.

Now you can have this indulgence in your own home by converting your walk-in shower stall to a steam shower. This takes some specialized equipment and very precise installation of the glass shower enclosure to keep the water vapor contained inside.

The ceiling, also covered in the same stone or ceramic tile as the floor and walls must be sloped slightly to prevent condensed steam from dripping down.

Modular Units

In addition to a modified or built-in steam shower, a self-contained modular steam shower can be brought in to a large bathroom but still requires professional installation of electrical and plumbing components.

modular unit

Inside you'll find everything needed for a steam shower, including the steam generator, rain shower head and mood enhancing extras such as colored lights, audio systems and aromatherapy. This shower has a pod-like appearance that may work well in an ultra-modern setting but might otherwise look awkward in a traditional style bathroom.

As more people value their good health, wanting to look and feel their best at any age, health benefits such as improved circulation, body cleansing and better breathing make a steam shower a true luxury improvement for any home. A note of caution though to those with high blood pressure, heart conditions and pregnant women, steam rooms pose a health risk and you should consult a physician first.

Installation Tips: This Old House recommends finding a local dealer of steam generating equipment such as Mr. Steam, Steamist or Thermosal. A technician will come to your house and find the best location for the generator, within 25 feet of the shower stall. Other professionals needed to complete the installation include a tiling contractor and a shower door installer. The dealer will commission a plumber and electrician to connect all the pipes and digital controls.

Wet Room Design

Wet room design

No more doors or curtains to get in the way, a wet room shower design helps showcase tile work with a seamless entry into the shower. With no curb to step over, the open design promotes a spa-like feel that makes the shower universally accessible to anyone with mobility issues - an attractive feature for homeowners who plan to spend their golden years under the same roof. These spacious showers leave plenty of room for a partner to join in on the experience.

To ensure an open-concept, doorless walk-in shower stays cozy, interior designer, Sylvie Meehan, encourages clients to install over the shower heaters on the ceiling. Heated floors are also an option.

Installation Tip: According to HouseLogic, a curb-free shower is trickier to install than a curbed shower because the drainage slope of the floor has to be built below the level of the surrounding floor surface. This means either raising the surrounding floor or lowering the floor under the shower pan.

Monsoon Showers

monsoon shower head

Generous sized round or square overhead shower fixtures called rainfall showers incite the feeling of standing in a teeming, tropical rain. These self-pressurized heads keep a consistent flow of water streaming over your body. Some are even equipped with LED lights for mood enhancing ambience while you soak under the gentle rain. These showerheads are typically combined with handheld nozzles and body sprays or a vertical spa system.

Installation Tip: Avoid extra plumbing costs by installing an Aqua Scape showerhead by WaterPik - it has an adjustable arm that connects to the existing water pipe.

Vertical Spas

vertical spa

A vertical spa is the ultimate luxury shower system and is typically comprised of a wall showerhead, body jets and handheld shower head. Although the wall showerhead works as a rainfall shower, an additional overhead rainfall showerhead is often added or maybe substituted for the wall fixture. It's also not uncommon to find two vertical spa systems installed in a single walk-in shower for the best coed shower experience.

Thermostatic Valves

Vertical spas are equipped with thermostatic valves that allow you to set the water at a precise temperature, which will be maintained throughout your shower. Moen's Iodigital System also lets you set the desired water pressure and helps maintain it when other appliances and devices are in use such as the dishwasher, washing machine or toilet. Use a remote control to turn on the shower from your bedroom and have the water at the perfect temperature by the time you're stepping into the shower.

Installation Tip: A built-in vertical spa is beyond the scope of a typical DIY project. It requires advanced plumbing skills to connect all the pipes inside the walls and to install the proper valves. You can find a DIY version by Vertispa that connects to the existing showerhead pipe with a row of vertical body sprayers that mount to the shower wall.

Built-in Seating

Built-in benches are a must have feature in steam showers, providing a place to sit or lay for true total relaxation. Like curbless showers, shower benches allow adults to safely shower in their homes as they age and face mobility challenges. Built from luxurious materials like stone tiles, marble, and teak wood, they add style and enhanced function to modern showers beyond basic white utilitarian plastic seating. Three types of permanent seating include:

built-in shower seating
  • Built-in bench - This type of seat is framed in to the shower wall and floor and can run the length of one wall, be limited to a few feet or a corner or wrap around a corner, with some offering extra storage.
  • Floating bench - Securely attached to the walls, a floating bench is open underneath (or may contain support brackets) and is made from waterproof wood or a stone slab.
  • Folding bench - A space-saving option for smaller showers is a wall-mounted folding bench; stainless steel hardware and a teak wood seat make a stylish addition.

If you can't remodel the shower or drill into the wall to accommodate a built-in or mounted bench or seat, a portable teak shower bench can provide similar benefits.

Installation Tip: The top of any built-in or floating bench must be sloped ¼ inch per foot so water will run off the front instead of pooling on top.

Mood Lighting and Audio Effects

Commonly used in spa-style bathtubs, chromatherapy mood lights can also be installed overhead in the shower and are especially popular in steam showers. Based on color psychology, these vapor proof lights produce mood altering effects that can help you feel relaxed, rejuvenated, energized, uplifted, focused or provide a general sense of well-being.

Whether you like to recharge in the morning with your favorite podcast or playlist, Kohler has you covered with easy audio solutions such as the Moxie Rainhead + Wireless Speaker showerhead. The removable speaker comes in four different colors for personalized style and sound.

For high-performance sound, opt for a set of SoundTile speakers, available in eight different metallic finishes that complement the natural materials and neutral hues found in luxury, spa-like showers. These small, square speakers install flush to the surface of a tiled shower wall or ceiling. Get the complete package of sound and mood lighting in a steamy spa shower with Kohler's DTV+ shower system.

Installation Tip: Built-in overhead mood lighting and speakers usually require professional installation and should ideally be installed during the construction or remodeling of a luxury shower. However, you can find DIY options such as the Moxie showerhead or a wall mount LED rainfall showerhead combined with Splash Tunes waterproof speakers.

Contemporary Zen Designs

With modern showers taking up as much as half the space in a bathroom, frameless glass shower walls and curbless, walk-in designs keep an open, spacious feeling to the room. Go for a Zen vibe with stone or wood-like tiles or keep it clean and contemporary with white or gray subway tiles - either way your shower will have timeless appeal.

Luxury Shower Trends