Shower curtain ideas – the on-trend looks that will make you ditch your glass screen

The shower curtain has been reinvented and can now be a stylish addition to your bathroom, as these clever ideas show

Red bath with red and white striped shower curtain
(Image credit: Future)

Shower curtain ideas fell out of favor years ago after being dismissed as a cheap and unfashionable aspect of bathroom design. But that was then. Today’s shower curtains have been reinvented – they are now at the cutting edge of design and are perfect for softening the space and adding personality to a bathroom, thanks to an exciting array of colors and styles.

‘After hovering below the radar, ignored and unloved, shower curtains are stepping back into the limelight,’ agrees interiors stylist Jane Lee, founder of Jane Lee Interiors. ‘The new generation is sexier and more luxurious than the uninspiring ones of the past and giving its more expensive and labor-intensive cousin, the glass shower screen, a run for its money.’

The advantages of a shower curtain are pretty clear, it is an affordable way to liven up your bathroom and a quick and easy update if you are renting your home. A splash of print and pattern can have a transformative effect and it is easy to keep clean too. Unlike a glass shower screen, you don’t have to worry about constant scrubbing  - all you need to do is put it in the washing machine. And you don’t have to stop at just one shower curtain – its budget-friendly appeal means you can have several.

‘Like bed linen, you could even keep a selection to rotate to ring the changes,’ adds Jane. ‘This is one place to splash out, let your hair down and have some fun.’

Here are some stylish ways to incorporate shower curtains into your bathroom ideas.

Clever shower curtain ideas you'll want to steal

1. Keep to a simple all-white scheme

White shower curtain in white bathroom

(Image credit: Paul Massey)

While a shower curtain is an easy way to add color to a white bathroom – it helps to uplift the usually white fittings – another option is to lean into that neutral look by choosing a white curtain. An all-white scheme is a powerful design tool, it offers a natural lightness and instant feeling of serenity that is very welcome, particularly after a busy day at work.

‘A long, floaty curtain creates a relaxing spa-hotel-bathroom vibe,’  says interior stylist Jane Lee of Jane Lee Interiors. ‘Make sure it skims the floor, otherwise, it will be ineffective and look not-quite-right, like trousers that are that little bit too short!. Another way to add interest to plain fabrics is with textures like waffle or slub, or a pretty tassel trim in a coordinating color.’

2.  Add a patterned curtain to pull together a color scheme

Patterned shower curtain over bath

(Image credit: Divine Savages)

If you have several colors seemingly wrestling each other for attention in your bathroom, a shower curtain that incorporates all or most of those bathroom colors will make the space look cohesive. This shower curtain by Divine Savages marries the black and white shades from the floor and bath with the pink from the chair to create a polished bathroom scheme. 

‘We want to turn every room into a living masterpiece,’ says Jamie Watkins,co-founder of Divine Savages. 'Our playful shower curtains are great for injecting bold pattern and brave color to an otherwise practical space. Zsa Zsa, our glorious print of dancing ostrich showgirls, adds instant decadence to this traditional cast iron bath whilst beautifully complementing the colors of the room scheme, resulting in a luxuriously unexpected design moment.’

3. Choose a bright ombre or dip-dye effect

Frilly ombre shower curtain in shades of orange and pink over bath

(Image credit: Anthropologie)

An ombre effect is not just for on-trend hair – it can be a hot look for a shower curtain too, and a great idea for a colorful bathroom. The gradual color transition from tangerine to aubergine is a clever way to introduce a combination of shades in a way that has impact but is gentle on the eye. 

The ruffles add an extra layer of drama and brings in some decorative softness which keeps the space from looking utilitarian. 

‘A statement shower curtain is a simple, transformative and cost-effective way of playing with color and pattern,’ explains interiors stylist Jane Lee. And it also brings in a sense of joy that is lost in more sleek bathroom design.

‘Those flamenco-like ruffles would definitely cheer up grey Monday mornings,’ she adds. 

4. Choose a shower curtain with a dramatic drape

Patterned shower curtain that pools to the floor over a bath

(Image credit: Paul Massey)

Hard as it may be, consider a shower curtain in the same terms as a wedding dress – a strong drape can provide the perfect finishing touch and add a touch of opulence. A pooled shower curtain used to be frowned upon because the excess material made it more difficult to keep clean, but with more innovative fabric these days, most shower curtains are now easy to wash in a washing machine.

And of course, you do not need to stick to a white one, for full-scale drama try a darker print to enhance a neutral setting, and be the stand-out element in the bathroom. And it works equally well for small bathrooms.

‘Think of your shower curtain as a work of art, the focal point of your bathroom, adding affordable luxury, flair, and an instant upgrade,’ says Jamie Watkins,co-founder of Divine Savages. ‘It offers a less permanent solution and is the perfect investment for homeowners and renters alike.’

5. Add a luxurious frill for a sense of playfulness 

Pink shower curtain with bottom frill over freestanding bath and chequerboard floor

(Image credit: Annie Sloan)

For a long time, bathroom design focused around being sleek and minimalist, but in recent years interior design trends have shifted towards personality and some fun. A frilly edge to a plain shower curtain, like this one in this scheme by color and paint expert Annie Sloan, not only introduces interest but softens the entire look.

‘Minimalism is useful in bathrooms in terms of keeping the space fresh, clean, and tidy,’ says Annie. ‘As we’re focusing on self-care, mindfulness, and being more kind to ourselves, incorporating some luxury and fun in this domestic epicenter is well overdue. Adding a luxurious frill, a sumptuous swag of beautiful fabric will bring joy and color and make the space feel more indulgent, secluded, and spiritually restorative – without needing to get the builders in!’

6. Play into a striking monochrome look 

Black and white patterned shower curtain in monochrome bathroom

(Image credit: John Lewis)

A black and white bathroom design is a look that will never get old. It is a surprisingly restful palette so ideal for a bathroom where you want to relax and unwind. A common misconception is that you can’t create much interest with such a simple design but this is exactly where the right shower curtain comes into play. Stick to the monochromatic scheme but bring in a lively design to bring the whole scheme to life.

‘Compliment the curtain by picking out key colors within the design and choosing accessories in the same shade or pattern, such as towels, soap dispensers, and toothbrush holders; this will bring your whole bathroom aesthetic together in a fun and coherent fashion.’ says Mark Fullilove from Sanctuary Bathrooms.

7. Introduce vertical stripes to bring height to the room

Red and white stripey shower curtain over red bath

(Image credit: Future)

A shower curtain does not have to be purely decorative. It can be used as a clever device to enhance or distract from certain other elements in the bathroom. This flamboyant red and white striped shower curtain certainly has a theatrical effect but the vertical lines also do the additional work of tricking the eye into making it think the ceilings are higher. Keeping to two key shades has a harmonious effect, the powder blue wall is the perfect backdrop for the vibrance of the red. 

‘A shower curtain can be a fun way to add a pop of color to your bathroom,’ says Mark Fullilove. ‘Inject your personality into your bathroom design by selecting a shower curtain that reflects you. Keep it classy with a simple style and subtle patterns - like monochromic dashes or vertical lines.

'Alternatively, show your artsy side with a word graphic or nautical illustration.  Or go big and bold with bright colors and geometric shapes to really make a statement in your bathroom and draw attention to your shower area… perfect for shower-singers!’

8. Add a vintage twist to modern design

Vintage style shower curtain over round shower

(Image credit: Future)

Use your shower curtain to create a vintage-inspired bathroom that adds character and gives it a stylish, yet lived-in feel, a great shower room design idea. A circular shower curtain is ideal for establishing an authentic period look but using it in a wet room gives it a modern interpretation. Keep the curtain fabric an off-white for timeless appeal. 

‘Think of this large expanse as a canvas to show off your design style rather than something purely functional.’ says interiors stylist Jane Lee.

What type of shower curtain is best?

The best type of shower curtain is from a natural material like cotton and linen. it’s better for it not to be used on its own so a curtain liner is advisable. A cotton shower curtain would require washing at least once a month to prevent mildew.

Is a fabric or plastic shower curtain better?

A fabric shower curtain is generally considered to be better than a plastic one. A fabric version looks more expensive and comes in an array of designs and colors. Lighter fabrics like cotton and linen can be washed in a washing machine but if you choose a heavier fabric like a velvet or brocade, it is important that it is dry cleaned at least once a month.

Busola Evans

As the Deputy Editor of Livingetc, Busola Evans works across both print and digital and specialises in kitchens, bathrooms and projects. She is an expert at explaining how to improve, extend and convert your home. Prior to her current role, she was Associate Editor on both Livingetc and Homes & Gardens. A journalist for more than 20 years, she has written for a number of newspapers and magazines including The Guardian, The Sunday Times Magazine and Grazia,  and was an interiors columnist for the London Evening Standard's ES Magazine.