Nicer Niches

Abbas Youssefi
Abbas Youssefi
3th July 2020

How many times have you seen the design impact of a beautifully tiled shower reduced by a grubby plastic storage unit stuck on by suction cups? Or a curve-fronted chrome storage unit screwed to the shower wall through the tiles... and starting to rust? Or a bottle of shampoo precariously balanced on the shower head bracket, on top of the gluey remains of an old bar of soap?

No wonder we all love the ensuite bathrooms in posh hotels, with their fully tiled niches that ensure that our essential toiletries are always within easy reach.

Make sure the essentials are always close by!

At Porcelain Superstore we think that shower niches are a key feature in today’s tiled bathrooms as they offer a discrete, stable, and reliable storage solution for soaps and shampoo bottles. Say goodbye to using the floor, or the corner of the tub, for this purpose. Shower niches take care of this problem and also enhance your bathroom design, creating a beautiful focal point in the shower area or along the bath’s edge.

Full length niches offer an elegance storage solution to a free-standing bath

Of course, niches don’t have to be all about making a statement. You can achieve an elegant and minimalist aesthetic by using the same tile throughout to create a seamless transition from the recessed shower niche to the wall, as shown below.

Niches are also great for playing with pattern, introducing texture, and adding colour. One great idea is to line the inside of the niche with mosaic tiles. These can be luminescent glass, luxurious metal, or sensuous stone. All these options will provide a winning contrast to plain glazed tiles. You can even introduce a geometric shape, such as a hexagon, in the niche for added impact.

People tend to think of niches as small, practical, storage spaces But they don’t have to be. You can make the niche as big as you wish … or even use the whole width of a wall. Think of the niche as an integral part of your bathroom design; an attractive feature for both small and large showers. There’s no excuse not to incorporate this element into your next bathroom makeover, adding a sense of depth that will make your shower or bathroom look bigger.

Niches - part storage, part integral bathroom design

You can emphasise the sense of depth and drama by installing a slim light at the top or the bottom of the niche. This will create a really atmospheric lighting effect: a focal point that adds value and commands attention.

Add a light to your niche for a little extra atmosphere

Geometry can play an important role in the success of a new bathroom interior. One way to emphasise this is to place matching shower niches on opposite walls of the shower to provide a sense of balance and harmony.

Of course, you need the right products to achieve the perfect niche. You (or your tiler) can fabricate bespoke designs using specialist tile backerboards. But a pain-free way to achieve a perfect result is to use one of the many pre-fabricated options on the market, from well-known brands like Marmox or Schluter Systems.

To achieve integrated storage and shelving in your bathroom that is hygienic, convenient, and elegant, run your eye over the Schlüter-KERDI-BOARD-N and Schlüter-SHELF. The pre-fabricated and sealed waterproof Schlüter-KERDI-BOARD-N is ideally suited to quickly and reliably build niches and shelving.

The finished article - Schulter Kerdi-board pre-fabricated niches

Schluter Systems understands that tiles are the perfect wall covering for bathrooms, wetrooms and showers; and that wall niches offer integrated and elegant storage space that is also easy to clean. However, creating such niches can be a complex process, even for the most skilled installers, as the material must be cut to size and individually sealed at the many edges and corners.

Schlüter-KERDI-BOARD-N relegates this complexity to the past. These pre-fabricated niche elements for tiling, offer perfect waterproofing thanks to their Schlüter-KERDI coating, which can be easily integrated into the wall surface.

Kerdi-boards are easy to install

To create niches with two levels, you can select between two different niche formats with an adjustable shelf suitable for tiling. Perhaps you would prefer a feature shelf to complement the tile, profiles, grate or all of them? No problem, in this case Schlüter-SHELF-N is the right choice. This shelf, made of brushed stainless steel or texture-coated aluminium, is integrated into the niche elements during the tile installation.

The Schluter Shelf N features an integrated shelf

Convenient and eye-catching: Schlüter-SHELF visually matches the drainage solutions in STYLE designs. Designer shelves create visually appealing storage space without niches. This frequently requires drilling through tiles or joints or the shelf design relies on poorly fitting adhesive or suction cup attachments. In contrast, Schlüter-SHELF products are installed without drilling, yet offer a secure bond.

Schlüter-SHELF-W is integrated into the wall during tile installation, with tiles completely covering the anchoring legs of the shelf. This makes the shelf unobtrusive, more than sturdy enough to withstand large loads.

Corner shelves are ideally suited for creating discrete storage in even small showers and wetrooms. Schlüter-SHELF-E is a corner shelf that is suitable for retrofitting in the joints of tiled walls. As an alternative, Schlüter-SHELF-E can be installed during tile installation.

As we have already seen, a shower niche is an elegant way to provide extra space for small shower items. The Marmox Shower Niche provides a low-cost, easily installed and completely waterproof option. These shower niches comprise an extruded polystyrene core coated on either side with a thin but robust layer of fibreglass reinforced polymer concrete.

Marmox Shower Niches are fixed to the wall usually on a frame, so that the front lip of the niche is flush with the Marmox Multiboard on the wall. The joints between the shower niche and the Multiboard are sealed together with Marmox Waterproof Tape.

Completely waterproof and supplied ready to tile, these units are lightweight and easy to work with. All Marmox niches are made with 12.5mm thick board and fit wall cavities 100mm or deeper. Marmox standard niche dimensions are 400 by 200mm, 400 by 300mm, 400 by 400mm, and 400 by 500mm.

Schlüter-KERDI-BOARD-N are prefabricated installation components made of KERDI-BOARD for creating niches and shelves for wall areas of all kinds. Niches can be integrated into the Schlüter-KERDI waterproofing system as a bonded waterproofing assembly. The niche is installed between two studs in a stud wall structure. An additional substructure must be set up to support the niche flange in case of larger stud intervals. If the niche is installed in high-moisture areas, tiles on the shelf surfaces must be installed with a slope to prevent water from pooling in the final assembly. The available sizes are 305 by 152 by 89mm, 305 by 305 by 89mm, 305 by 508 by 89mm, and 305 by 711 by 89mm.

Schlüter-SHELF-N is simply fitted into niches made of Schlüter-KERDI-BOARD-N during tile installation. The shelf creates a centre storage area in your niches and visually matches the TRENDLINE profiles and the drainage solutions KERDI-LINE-STYLE and KERDI-DRAIN-STYLE. This product measures 87 by 300mm. Two attractive shelf perforation options are offered: curve and floral. This item is available in brushes stainless steel, aluminium textured ivory, aluminium textured beige-grey, and aluminium textured dark anthracite.

Victoria Plumb is another key supplier that satisfies the homeowners desire to create their very own home spa, in the form of a modern wet room. With recessed storage units that can be simply slotted into place and tiled, and waterproof matting and tape, Victoria Plumb’s wetroom accessories really help tilers of the DIY Expert to achieve a truly professional finish.

Typical is the Orchard ready-to-tile recessed storage unit measuring 350 by 350mm, shown below. 100% waterproof and offering easy installation, it is manufactured from exploded polystyrene, and strengthened with a reinforced cement coating. The unit can be simply glued or screwed into position between your stud work.

If this unit is too modest, Orchard can deliver an even more impressive way to create additional storage within a stud partition wall, with an elongated 1,600 by 350mm recessed storage unit; ideal alongside the bath. Featuring a ready-to-tile surface which will blend effortlessly into the rest of your bathroom design, this high quality recessed unit from Orchard Bathrooms is suitable for use with a stud partition wall.

Niches aren't just for showers and wetrooms!

So before you plan your next bathroom makeover, pay some serious attention to the potential of niche storage. This can not only provide the stylish and seamless look, but offer new ways to explore the design impact ceramic tiles can bring to any bathroom, shower or wetroom.

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