Home Improvement

Shower Stalls: Tips for Design & Installation

Hello Friends,

The shower stall was finished today, just in time for the ORC Week 5 update. And this post shares tips, and even a few tricks, for designing and installing a stylish shower that will suit your taste, your space and your pocketbook.

Shower Stalls: Tips for Design & Installation

The number one problem we faced with the design for the new bathroom was the shower. We started with a 32-inch square factory-made stall that was long past its prime. To the left of the shower is a built-in cabinet (17″ wide by 23″ deep by 72″ high) and to the right of the shower is about 12-15″ of empty space. The gold wall is a closet. Oh, and the shower head (plumbing) is on the wall adjacent to the TV room. This means as you look inside the shower, you look straight into the shower head.

BEFORE: Basement Cabinet and Shower | #shower #showerstall #orc #oneroomchallenge #bhgorc #betterhomesandgardens | www.thechelseaproject.com

I got a total of four estimates from remodeling pros in my area and was shocked at how three of them wanted to redesign the shower. They weren’t at all sensible or cost-efficient. For example, one estimate included a $2600 custom shower door! And I won’t go into the rest of the estimates, but I bet you can guess. #horrified #butnotmyfirstrodeo

Fourth Time is Charm

Thankfully, I had the patience to wait for the fourth estimate, because I gotta tell ya, it was worth the wait. The contractor walked in and said:

  • Do you mind if we change the opening to the closet just a little?

  • If we move the door to the right just a little and make the closet opening a little smaller, we can add the currently wasted space to the shower.

  • And given the estimated finished size of the shower if this is done, you’d be able to use a standard-size door.

And so, we got busy with the fixing and the moving. Well…..the contractors did. LOL… I basically just stood on the side lines with a big ole’ Southern-sized grin. 

First, they had to fix this….. a drain that had been clogged with GROUT!!! Don’t get me started or this post will go on an all out-of-control rant. Let’s just say the previous basement remodelers or contractors were bad. Grrrrrrrr.

BEFORE: Grout-filled shower drain pipe | #shower #showerstall #orc #oneroomchallenge #bhgorc #betterhomesandgardens | www.thechelseaproject.com

And then tear out that….starting with the old shower stall.

BEFORE: Shower drain clogged two feet down | #shower #showerstall #orc #oneroomchallenge #bhgorc #betterhomesandgardens | www.thechelseaproject.com

But eventually, we got to this.

Isn’t it heavenly?

The tile on the left comes right to the edge of the closet door opening — which is now 24 inches wide instead of the original 28 inches.

In progress: Basement bath makeover | #orc #oneroomchallenge #bhgorc #betterhomesandgardens | www.thechelseaproject.com

And the plumbing was wrapped around the wall towards the cabinet and reappeared from the wall adjacent to the cabinet.

AFTER: Subway tile and a 12 inch rain shower head with hand-held sprayer | #shower #showerstall #orc #oneroomchallenge #bhgorc #betterhomesandgardens | www.thechelseaproject.com

Tips and Suggestions

Basic Design – Shower Shape and Plumbing

  • Design the shape of the shower to include the shower door. Even stationary doors need consideration. Build the shower space in your mind and WALK through using the space inside the shower. Enter and exit the imaginary door. If you need a strong visual, tape the space on the floor.

  • Then, based on the initial design, determine how the plumbing and the drain needs to orient within the space. Ask yourself what kind of plumbing design is the most logical and cost-efficient? For my shower, moving the plumbing to the left was much more sensible based on both the existing wall set-up AND the location of the drain. If I had insisted on moving the plumbing to the right, the plumbing AND the drain would have had to be moved. And both of the moves would have been much harder for the plumber. Cha Ching. Not a smart move.

  • This meant that my idea of placing the plumbing to the right (on the wall adjacent to the closet) and using a stationary door was taken off the table. Ultimately, the plumbing went left and a frameless sliding door was installed, but for the thousands of dollars that I saved, I can’t turn around for the difference. 

Shower Hardware

  • If a heavy rain shower head is installed, MAKE SURE that the plumber reinforces the pipes and joints. Otherwise, there may be leaks. My plumber was on top of this from the very beginning, but suggest to put this as a line item in the contract. Make it a clear warranty issue because if there is a leak, they may have to tear out the tile to repair.

  • Next, the mixer. This is where the water is turned on/off and hot/cold. Two points:

  • One, buy a top-notch mixer. Consult with a plumber as to their favorite for installation and long-term function.

  • And two, if your unit has a hand-held sprayer, MAKE SURE the diverter (the toggle that switches from shower head to sprayer) is located on the mixer. Otherwise, it could be in an awkward location, usually too high.

AFTER: The sound of rain in the new basement shower | #shower #showerstall #orc #oneroomchallenge #bhgorc #betterhomesandgardens | www.thechelseaproject.com


The drain was left in the same location and the shower head is now directly over it. To maximize swift water collection, a linear drain was added. This drain collects water across its 24-inch span and dumps it into the central pipe. I’ve had the shower on full blast and there is zero puddling of water. There is also the slightest slope to the floor towards the drain, but it isn’t much given that the subfloor is concrete. 

AFTER: A linear drain looks sleek and empties water quickly | #shower #showerstall #orc #oneroomchallenge #bhgorc #betterhomesandgardens | www.thechelseaproject.com


The tile was chosen for style, price, and durability. I’ll share more on this in the reveal next week. But two points for today:

  • Make sure to use the kind of grout that can be mixed with a sealer. This makes the sealer part of the grout instead of just a layer sitting on top of the tile and grout as a barrier.

  • Collect the leftover tile and grout, at least some of it, and store it away. This way, if the tile has to be ripped out for a leak or something, you have the original grout and tile to put back into place.

Shower Door

The standard-sized shower door (NOT custom) was just installed this morning. The guys literally finished a couple of hours ago.

  • First, notice the curb of the shower. It was made as small as possible to free up precious inches of floor space.

  • Then notice that the right shower door panel is stationary and the left panel slides to the right.

  • This is a frameless door, but is rock solid thanks to the L-bracket system holding the right door. 

  • To simulate the look of a stationary door, the sliding door can stand open to the right.

  • But since there is basically no visual interference from the glass, it doesn’t matter to leave the door closed. 

  • And lastly, notice that the shower opening was designed to accommodate a standard-sized, frameless door. When creating the design, remember to account for the space the tile will use. This opening is about 45 and 1/2 inches wide, so a door that fits a 44-48 inch opening is perfect. 

  • Take away message: To save money, create a door opening with some elbow room for using a standard-sized door.

AFTER: Frameless shower doors prevent visual breaks in this small bathroom | #shower #showerstall #orc #oneroomchallenge #bhgorc #betterhomesandgardens | www.thechelseaproject.com


Total aside: Notice that the cabinet was saved and refinished in a matte black. When the storage from the cabinet is combined with the closet that has 16-inch deep shelves on both left and right sides, there is a boatload of storage in this itty bitty bath. 

AFTER: A large storage cabinet was saved and refinished in matte black | #shower #showerstall #orc #oneroomchallenge #bhgorc #betterhomesandgardens | www.thechelseaproject.com

In closing, just remember that shower design in the most cost-effective manner means working through all of the pieces that the shower will need. And take into consideration how the movement of one piece will impact all of the others. This is a little time-consuming, but should produce the best product at the best price.

If you’d like to circle back to this post later or share it with others, please PIN the image below.

Simple tips for designing a shower that suits your style, your space and your pocketbook | #shower #showerstall #orc #oneroomchallenge #bhgorc #betterhomesandgardens | www.thechelseaproject.com

To visit Fall 2018 ORC posts:

Week 1 – The Modern Traditional Bathroom Plan, please click here

Week 2 – How to Stain and Protect a Wood Vanity, please click here

Week 3 – Barn Doors: Tips, Tricks and Options, please click here

Week 4 – Easy Artwork or Gallery Walls Using Free Photos, please click here

Week 5 – You are here

Week 6 – The Big Reveal

To visit Previous Challenges : 

Click here for the Dining Room Reveal

Click here for the Great Room Reveal

Click here for the Living Room Reveal

And don’t forget to stop by and say hello to our gracious hosts, Calling It Home , One Room Challenge and Better Homes and Gardens. You can also visit over 200 bloggers by clicking Designer Challenge and/or clicking Blogger Challenge. #oneroomchallenge #ORC #betterhomesandgardens #bhgorc #homelovenetwork #shower #showerstall

Thanks so much for stopping by!





  • Reply Susanne October 31, 2018 at 7:46 am

    Wowzers!!! All the heart eyes over here for that shower and the rain shower head…super jealous of your fabulous bathroom!!!! I need to re grout my bathroom floor from the spring ORC. Sealer mixed into the grout…genius, I will be looking for that!! Can’t wait to see the full reveal next week!!

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 31, 2018 at 8:54 pm

      Hey Susanne! Thanks girl.

  • Reply Marie October 31, 2018 at 10:57 am

    Did you say sealer mixed into the grout? I’ll be looking for that when we redo our main bathroom this winter. How I wish we had known about the linear drain when we redid our basement bathroom – that is awesome! Love the tiles too. Excited to see the reveal next week 🙂

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 31, 2018 at 8:55 pm

      Thanks Marie! I’m counting the moments to Week 6. LOL… always so happy to have a big project in the history books.

  • Reply Diana October 31, 2018 at 10:02 pm

    Looks awesome! I love you mix of white subway tile and black hexagon tile.

    • Reply theChelseaProject October 31, 2018 at 10:13 pm

      Thanks so much, Diana!!

  • Reply Kelli Philpot October 31, 2018 at 11:10 pm

    I love it! We’re redoing our shower with almost the same finishes. That white subway/black hex is so good!

    • Reply theChelseaProject November 1, 2018 at 8:29 am

      Hi Kelli and thanks. You just can’t beat black and white in the bathroom. 🙂

  • Reply Ellen | Ask Away Blog November 1, 2018 at 9:11 am

    You’ve been busy!! Nice work.

    • Reply theChelseaProject November 1, 2018 at 7:49 pm

      Hi Ellen and thanks so much!!

  • Reply Tee at Beauteeful Living November 1, 2018 at 9:14 am

    My goodness Susie, this bathroom remodel looks amazing! I can’t wait to see next week’s reveal. Loving all of these thoughtful tips! I love all of your choices so far! Xoxo

    • Reply theChelseaProject November 1, 2018 at 7:50 pm

      Thanks so much, Tee!! We have almost made it!!! Hang in there…see you next week!

  • Reply Christine November 1, 2018 at 11:16 am

    I LOVE this classic black and white! It’s coming along beautifully! Can’t wait to see it all put together next week.

    • Reply theChelseaProject November 1, 2018 at 7:52 pm

      Thanks a million, Christine!! I’m thrilled to hear you like the color combo!!! Can’t wait to show you the whole room. #nextweek

  • Reply Libbie November 1, 2018 at 6:34 pm


    This has been so much WORK! Good for you guys. It’s beautiful, I can’t wait to see the reveal.

    • Reply theChelseaProject November 1, 2018 at 7:54 pm

      Oh Libbie! It truly has and we are soooo ready to be done with this room. Thanks so much for the sweet comment!!!

  • Reply Jen @ JENRON DESIGNS November 2, 2018 at 9:12 am

    Susie this looks amazing!!! I love the tile choices, the floor pattern and the niche you added all are just beautiful! This space is really looking great I know you have to be thrilled with it too! The reveal is going to be so awesome !!!!

    • Reply theChelseaProject November 2, 2018 at 3:29 pm

      Hey Jen and thanks a million. You are so sweet. You give me confidence for next week. XOXO

  • Reply Ola Broom November 2, 2018 at 10:21 am

    First of all, how on earth does one get THAT MUCH GROUT stuck in a pipe?! Shame on those previous owners. Second, that shower floor! Yeeeee! Nice, nice and very nice!

    • Reply theChelseaProject November 2, 2018 at 6:00 pm

      Hi Ola and thanks girl! And I agree. How does one get THAT much grout in the drain?

  • Reply cristina November 2, 2018 at 10:12 pm

    Susie, you got the best contractor. How cool is that! And your design is gorgeous! Love the shower fixtures, the tile choices… Oh, I can’t wait for the reveal!

    • Reply theChelseaProject November 3, 2018 at 2:34 pm

      Thanks sweet friend!! I do love my contractor to Reese’s pieces. LOL… See you next week….. for the BIG reveal. **teehee**

  • Reply Linda November 6, 2018 at 11:29 am

    Wow looks like a ton of work Susie, but man was it worth it. The bathroom looks beautiful already, can’t wait to see the reveal.

    • Reply theChelseaProject November 6, 2018 at 11:35 am

      Thanks so much, Linda. You give me confidence and I truly appreciate it.

  • Reply Lindi November 7, 2018 at 6:27 pm

    So pretty! Love your tile choices – almost exactly the same as our old bathroom! Can’t wait to see the finished space!

    • Reply theChelseaProject November 7, 2018 at 10:48 pm

      Thanks Lindi!!

    Thanks so much for your comment!

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