Bathroom Ideas: Shower Curtain or Shower Doors?

Is glass or a curtain the perfect partner for your shower-bath combo? Here are 5 good reasons for each bathroom solution

By Lara Sargent / Courtesy of Houzz.com

If you don’t have the space (or budget) for a separate shower enclosure and bath, you’ve probably decided on a combined shower-bath. But should you go with a shower curtain or glass shower doors to enclose it? Some of us might gravitate toward the softer look of a colorful piece of waterproof fabric that can be changed at will, while others might love the no-nonsense efficiency of a sheer pane of glass. To help point you in the right direction, here are five benefits each of shower curtains and glass doors.

Shower Curtains

1. Soften the surfaces. Great swaths of fabric (waterproofed or backed with a water-resistant liner) can temper the overall aesthetic of a bathroom that’s in danger of becoming too harsh or sterile. This classic, serene design, with a harmonious blend of marble, tiles and dove-gray paint, is softer and less clinical thanks to the beautiful floor-length shower curtain that runs the length of the bath.

Make sure your curtain — or at least the outer fabric section — can be washed at home, so any hint of mildew or staining can be nipped in the bud.

2. Add personality. Simply put, shower curtains can instantly inject a blast of color, print and personality with the minimum of fuss, expense and effort. And even better, when you’re tired of the look, the curtain can be replaced with one in an altogether different style.

Be bold with color in the bathroom and remember, you don’t have to stick with top-to-bottom white for a fresh feel. I love the brave accents of acid yellow in this bathroom, which glow against the dotted shower curtain in a neutral, earthy hue.

3. Rev up a roll-top. Roll-top baths with a shower fitted above can be notoriously difficult to pull off — particularly when it comes to dealing with water spills and splashes. Glass panels are generally a no-no where curves and awkwardly shaped tubs are concerned, unless you go for something custom, so your best bet is to install a robust ceiling-mounted rail and finish with a heavy-duty, waterproof shower curtain that can be swept all the way around the inside the tub.

I love the muted, earthy palette of tobacco, biscuit and putty here, which gives this traditional bathroom a classy, timeless look all its own.

4. Prettify it. If I had my way, I’d make over every room with as much flounce and fuss as possible — and that includes the bathroom. So my No. 1 reason for choosing a shower curtain is simple: to prettify your daily ablutions with a frilly little number to rival something in the cutest boudoir. 

Finish the look off with some floral-print wallpaper and a pair of cute lamps, and you might just want to stay put all day.

5. Make it modern. Hands up if you think shower curtains are a thumbs-down for the modern bathroom. A quick glance at this pared-down, two-tone look might change your mind, as the simple transparent curtain on chains is as contemporary as it gets.

It’s a chic, barely there curtain that’s almost as invisible as any glass screen, but with just a hint of shimmer to add another layer of texture to the graphic brown and white look.

Shower Screens

1. Go for a full enclosure. There’s no fear of water escaping from this recessed bath, as the sliding doors fully enclose the tub in a neat, no-nonsense fashion. 

Sliding panels of glass are also a good option where space is at a premium, as they don’t need to hinge or pivot outward, eating into valuable floor inches and making fixtures and fittings awkward to use.

2. Utilize tricky spaces. A bath can be slotted rather neatly into an unused alcove or nook in a converted attic, but how to cope with the sloping ceilings if you fancy a shower, too? 

Your best bet is to opt for a custom shower screen (lots of companies now offer them), which can accommodate tricky recesses and angles as well as nonstandard heights. You might well pay extra for this made-to-measure item, but for a neat, splashproof solution, it’s worth its weight in gold.

3. Expand the space. A fixed panel of frameless glass looks the part in any style of bathroom, not least in an all-white, compact scheme, where fuss-free lines and classic materials win out. This is the best option if your bathroom is very compact and a curtain or fussier glass fittings would break up the space and visually shrink your room.

4. Keep it simple. If you have a lot going on in terms of decor in the rest of the bathroom — think colored tiles, paneled furniture and fancy sink fixtures — then perhaps a plain sheet of no-frills glass is the best solution.

Look for glass that has been finished with a special coating so dirt and limescale won’t accumulate and make it hard to keep clean. It might bump up the overall price of the screen, but it will save you lots of elbow grease.

5. Fold it away. There aren’t lots of access options when it comes to shower curtains: draw to one side to step into the bath and pull right across, from end to end, when the water flow gets going. With shower screens, however, there’s an array of possible configurations, including hinged, sliding and multipaneled designs that concertina neatly out of the way. 

This bathroom has a larger-than-standard glass screen made of two hinged sections. This makes getting in and out a cinch, and the screen folds out of the way when not in use.

Tell us: Do you prefer a shower curtain or shower door? Share your thoughts in the Comments.