In most bathrooms, showering is a sort of secondary function to bathing. It's a little unusual, because I'm willing to bet most of us take more showers than baths. But there you have it — take a bathtub, add a curtain so the water doesn't get all over the place, and now it's a decently serviceable shower. Those of you lucky enough to have a larger bathroom may have a shower with one of those cool modern glass enclosures. Those are pretty slick. But if you're remodeling, and you have the space and the inclination, maybe it's time to set your shower free. Maybe it's time to consider an open shower.
Although curbless designs (like in photos 3, 4, 5, and 8) have the added benefit of being handicapped accessible, the chief advantage of an open shower, for most people, is they look really damn cool. It elevates the shower from an annoying necessity into a celebrated design element in the bathroom. On the practical side: a design like this requires careful planning. If you don't leave enough buffer space, your shower will look pretty, but the rest of your bathroom may wind up soaked.
Just how much extra space do you need to leave if you want to install an open (or doorless) shower? Our friends at Houzz recommend at least six feet on either side of the showerhead, which sounds like a lot, but keep in mind this is a recommendation for a completely open shower. You can cut down on the amount of space required by adding a half or full-height wall around the splash zone (as in many of the examples above).
It's even possible to make this work in an average-sized bathroom. The photo on the left, from the Garden Web Forum, shows a bathroom where a homeowner replaced a standard-sized bathtub with an open shower. And the almost-full height wall keeps the sink area of the bathroom from getting sprayed.
When choosing a showerhead, you'll want to pick a model that shoots water straight down instead of out, like a rain style showerhead. Make sure to surround the open shower with surfaces that can stand up to water (this means no drywall). If you choose to go for a design without a curb, you'll also want to ensure that any part of the floor within the splash zone slopes gently to a drain.
Another thing worth considering: roomy, sexy open showers can get chilly quickly, since there are plenty of opportunities for that nice steamy warmth to escape. The bathroom in image 8 forges a clever solution: a curtain on an overhead track around a completely open shower, so the person showering can opt for washing in the open or not, depending on the mood. It's the best of both worlds.
(Images: Top row: 1. New England Home, 2. Au Coin du Monde, 3. AD Russia, 4. Linda Bergroth via La Maison D'Anna G, 5. Planete Deco. Middle Row: 6. Annie & Leo's Cozy Cosmopolitan Loft, 7. Design Boom, 8. Tribe Studio via The Style Files, 9. Yatzer, 10. Stine Langvad via Design Chaser. Bottom Row: 11. Bosworth Hoedemaker via Houzz, 12. Photo by Jean-Marc Wullschlege, via French by Design, 13. Vogue, 14. Lonny, 15. Elle Decor)