7 Different Ways To Customize Your Bathtub Surround

For many homeowners, the bathroom is not just a utility space but a sanctuary for relaxation and rejuvenation. Central to this sanctuary is the bathtub, where one can unwind in a warm bath after a long day. But often, the area surrounding the bathtub—also known as the bathtub surround—is left as a blank wall of plain plastic or tile, existing just to protect the walls from moisture rather than an opportunity to add aesthetic appeal.

But with a bit of creativity and some design tweaks, the bathtub surround can transform your bathing experience, making it both luxurious and uniquely yours. Explore seven different ways to customize your bathtub surround that inspire homeowners looking to update their bathrooms.

Tile Tales

Tiles are a versatile and popular choice for bathtub surrounds because of their durability and variety. While subway tiles offer a classic and clean look, porcelain tiles that mimic the appearance of natural stone can add an element of nature to your bathroom without the upkeep required by real stone.

Don’t shy away from playing with colors and patterns; mosaics can add pops of color, and geometric patterns can introduce modern sophistication to your space. You can include a listello, a decorative strip of tile in a different pattern than the tile surrounding it. A listello can include tiles arranged in geometric patterns or contrasting colors.

Elegant Stone Finishes

For those who wish to make bold statements, incorporating marble or quartz in your bathtub surround can transform a space into a haven of luxury. Marble, with its veins running through each slab, gives an unparalleled, elegant look, while quartz offers a more uniform appearance with the advantage of being less porous and, therefore, more durable. These materials not only elevate the aesthetic appeal of the bathroom but also add to the home's value.

Textural Intrigue

Adding wainscotting, beadboard, shiplap, or tub skirts to your bathtub surround introduces texture and depth to the bathroom's design. Whether you aim for a farmhouse chic look with beadboard or a cottage-style charm with wainscoting, these additions can bring warmth and character to a space that often leans toward cold and sterile. Plus, they provide a fantastic way to hide plumbing fixtures or disguise wear and tear.

If your structure can handle it and you prefer a more industrial, modern, or minimalist look, you can add texture to your bathroom with a concrete tub surround. If you’re more of a traditionalist, you can turn your bathroom into a cozy retreat with dark wood paneling.

Another way to add interest to your bathtub surround is with artwork. An artist can create a custom mural, even a trompe l’oeil rendering of a realistic-looking faux window and exterior view of trees and gardens painted directly on your bathroom tile.

If you’re lucky enough to have a soaking tub in front of a real window, choose blinds or window treatments that provide privacy but still admit natural light. Create ledges where you can safely place candles or vases of flowers to turn your tub into a soothing getaway.

Showering Versus Bathing

When customizing your bathtub surround, consider the functionality of your bathroom. For bath and shower combinations, materials and designs should cater to both durability to stand up against water and aesthetics to complement your soaking tub's relaxing nature. Glass tiles can offer an exquisite backdrop for showers, reflecting light and making the space feel larger, while still serving as a beautiful surround for stand-alone baths.

Function Meets Beauty

Custom shelving and niches are not just practical additions for storing bath essentials—they can also serve as design elements. By incorporating them into your bathtub surround, you ensure your bathing area remains clutter-free while adding points of interest. Opt for materials that contrast with your primary surround or match it for a seamless look.

Setting the Mood With Lighting

Never underestimate the power of lighting in transforming the ambiance of your bathroom. Installing waterproof LED strips along the edges of your bathtub surround can create a spa-like atmosphere that’s perfect for relaxation. Similarly, recessed lighting can highlight textured walls or illuminate niches, adding drama and mood to your bath sanctuary.

Homeowners who want to add inset ledges, complex tile patterns, or new custom lighting to their bathrooms should choose professional home contractors. Reece Builders is a remodeling contractor in Winston-Salem with ample experience and hundreds of satisfied clients who love their new, custom bathrooms.

Think Ahead

While focusing on design and aesthetics, don’t forget to consider the durability and maintenance needs of the materials you choose. For instance, natural stones, while beautiful, require regular sealing to prevent water damage.

Porcelain tiles, on the other hand, offer the look of natural stone but require less maintenance. Similarly, when incorporating wood elements like beadboard or shiplap, ensure they are appropriately treated to withstand humidity.

Also, consider your future needs if you decide to age in place in your current home. Redoing your tub surround is an opportunity to add safety and convenience to your bathroom with things like grab bars or tub and shower replacements that cater to the changing needs of older homeowners. You can choose a walk-in tub or shower, include a bench for safety and comfort while bathing or showering, and update flooring with non-slip surfaces.

And while you’re at it, consider adding some upgrades that make your bathroom feel more like a spa. Rainfall showerheads, steam features, water jets, or integrated media like in-wall TV screens or sound systems can turn an ordinary bathroom into a luxury retreat. With features like these, you’ll start to prefer a staycation over a vacation!

There are as many ways to customize your bathtub surround as there are individual homeowners updating their bathrooms. Whether you lean toward the timeless elegance of stone, the warmth of textured wood, or the practical beauty of tiled niches and clever lighting, there’s no limit to the creativity you can employ. The key is to balance aesthetics, functionality, and maintenance, transforming your bathtub surround into a design statement that makes your bathroom a personalized retreat within your home.

7 Different Ways To Customize Your Bathtub Surround