Shower rooms

Removing walls and doors means more space in the bathroom
Mary Jo Bowling and Jil Peters
Call it the case of the disappearing shower stall. First, the shower and the tub separated. Next, frameless glass shower stalls became the rage. Now, many homeowners are eliminating shower doors and walls altogether.

The term "open" shower says it all. This design makes a space appear larger because it has no doors or walls (or simply glass walls) to demarcate the shower. "It's a feeling of openness and luxury," architect Michael Harris explains. "You are bathing inside, but there's an outdoor quality to the experience."

Making a floor into a shower pan is not without challenges: The floor must be sloped for drainage, and everything within the shower's reach must be able to withstand moisture. Here are two open showers that put these principles into practice.

Wet room

When Michael Harris designed this master bathroom, he situated the tub and shower together in one "wet room." The tub and shower are placed to the side, separated from the rest of the bathroom by a small threshold ― a two-inch lip in the floor ― and a small glass panel for water containment. Two sinks over a vanity occupy the other side of the space. "Doing it this way gives the room a better layout," he says. "We put a window up high to protect the owners' privacy and to give an outdoor connection." The floor tile, which runs through the shower and the rest of the room, is slate, reinforcing the outdoor feeling.

DESIGN: Michael Harris-Architecture, San Francisco ( www.mbh-arch.com or 415/ 243-8272)