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I am debating whether or not to create a niche in the shower wall in my renovated bathroom. I have a reliable contractor, so installation is not an issue. I like the idea of having a niche to house shampoo, soap, etc., but am a bit concerned that it will make the shower look too busy and take away from the sleek look. What do you suggest?

Busy is all that stuff on the floor just waiting to spill and create a slick surface that is not going to end in a good way. You can always get matching containers, but all that bending down is just wrong, as is the housing of your bottle collection in a shower caddy. I am a firm believer in niches. Long, narrow, sleek ones or large, square frames divided into compartments can add much punch and elegance. You can even light the niches with recessed water-sealed lighting.

The main concern is the placement of the niche – you'll want to avoid the shower spray so that your beautiful, purpose-made niche doesn't become a swimming pool that eventually leaks through the ceiling below. An installation tip for your reliable contractor: Make sure there is a slight slope in the niche sill to avoid sitting water. Always keep the water moving toward the drain!

Architect and interior designer Dee Dee Taylor Eustace is the president of Taylor Hannah Architect Inc. in Toronto. Have a design question? E-mail