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Does the Rise of Curtain

Jun 04, 2024

Here’s what you need to know about the trend toward curtain-less showers.

Like all interior design trends, bathroom design trends are constantly fluctuating, but one that is currently making waves is the trend of curtain-less showers. We’re talking walk-in showers, doorless showers, and glass shower enclosures—anything that negates the need for a hanging shower curtain. These curtain-less showers are everywhere right now, with interior designers and homeowners alike favoring this sleek and elegant trend above traditional shower curtains. So what’s behind this surge in curtain-less showers? Is the shower curtain becoming obsolete in interior design?

Here’s everything you need to know about the curtain-less shower trend, plus expert-tips on how to make the most of your shower curtain if you have no other option.

Adam Albright

When it comes to designing and decorating a home, “bathrooms have become less of a utilitarian space, and more of a focal point,” says Christine Kohut of Christine Kohut Interiors. Homeowners are spending more time and money making their bathrooms look nice, and choosing to go with a curtain-less shower is one of the most popular ways to elevate the space. Ditching the shower curtain in favor of glass or a walk-in design helps to open up a room and make it feel bigger and brighter. It also creates a spa-like atmosphere that exudes luxury and encourages feelings of relaxation, something we could all use more of.

Besides the aesthetic benefits, opting for a walk-in or doorless shower design can also help to keep mold and mildew at bay in the bathroom. Anyone who has used a shower curtain before knows that they build up mold and mildew over time and need to be properly cleaned on a regular basis. While glass or tile enclosures inevitably still need to be cleaned, particularly to prevent water stains and soap scum buildup, they are less likely to develop mold and mildew, making them the preferential choice for some homeowners.

There’s no denying that walk-in and doorless showers are all the rage right now. That being said, most interior design experts concede that shower curtains still have a place in the home.

First and foremost, shower curtains are undoubtedly the more affordable and cost-effective option, says Kohut. Most homes are outfitted with a standard tub and shower combination that requires a curtain, so unless you are able to spring for a bathroom renovation or you are designing a new-construction home, it can be difficult for some homeowners to afford a trendy walk-in shower. Even still, a custom walk-in shower can make or break the budget on a remodel, Kohut says.

“That was the case on a project I did,” she says. “I opted to have a custom shower curtain made for a client’s rarely used guest bathroom. It was a window-less room, so adding a beautiful fabric added some softness that a window treatment might have done.”

Besides the cost, there are other reasons homeowners may choose to stick with a shower curtain. For example, homeowners with kids or pets need full access to the bathtub to bathe them, and glass doors can get in the way while a shower curtain can be easily pushed aside, Kohut says. A shower curtain also helps to hide things like shampoo and conditioner bottles or kid’s bath toys when the tub is not in use. Plus, “simple, inexpensive tile or even a fiberglass shower surround is less noticeable with a decorative curtain,” Kohut adds.

Lastly, while some homeowners may find walk-in showers and other curtain-less designs easier to keep clean, interior designer Kristyn Harvey of Kristyn Harvey Interiors says that may not be the case for all households.

“If you are someone that doesn’t want to squeegee your shower enclosure every day, then I would say you should go with shower curtains,” Harvey says. “I also love shower curtains for kids' bathrooms, as they are easy to maintain, and if they get moldy it’s easy to throw them in the washing machine and hang them back up.”

Whether you are currently renting or just don’t have the ability to fund a costly bathroom renovation, a standard tub and shower curtain combination may be all that you have to work with. Here’s are some expert-approved tips on how you can make the most of a shower curtain in your bathroom.

If you use fabric shower curtains than a plastic shower curtain liner is a must to help keep mold and mildew at bay. The curtain liner goes on the inside of the shower, while the fabric curtain sits on the outside for decorative purposes. Shower curtain liners are inexpensive to purchase and can easily be replaced every few months when they start to accumulate mildew.

An easy way to make your shower curtain feel more luxurious is to choose an oversized curtain, says Jenn Blackburn, CEO and creative director of Cobblestone and Olive Interiors. Rather than a standard shower curtain that ends just below the top of the bathtub, aim for a floor to ceiling look, which will help make the room look larger.

“This will give you a luxury feel and the illusion of a bigger space that everyone is craving,” Blackburn says. If you can’t find a long shower curtain, opt for a regular curtain paired with a shower curtain liner. Alternatively, if you are handy with a sewing machine, you can add the extra length on to an existing shower curtain in a trendy color or pattern for a custom solution.

Don’t let the shower curtain be an afterthought in your bathroom design! Instead, choose a curtain that sparks joy for you and elevates your space, whether that means a fun floral print or a minimalist linen blend.

“Shower curtains can be an easy, inexpensive way to alter the look of a bathroom, especially in a rental, and allow for much less investment than changing tile or adding wallpaper or paint,” says interior designer Diana Lombard of Diana Lombard Interiors. Like any textile in the home, shower curtains are an opportunity to express your personality and infuse some serious style into a room, so don’t feel like you are stuck with a plain white curtain if that’s not what you really like (but if it is, all the power to you!).

Werner Straube

So what’s the final consensus? While the shower curtain may be mostly obsolete in the interior design world, it’s safe to say it’s still a staple in most homes. Unless you are planning a renovation or have recently bought a newly built home, you will likely be stuck with your shower curtain for at least a little while longer.