For seemingly forever, showers were pretty utilitarian. After all, how much time did you really spend there? You got in, got out and went about your day. Not much was expected from this very personal cleaning space.

A lot has changed in the past decade or so. Showers are no longer just a place to scrub down – they’re increasingly an oasis of tranquility, relaxation and comfort.  Homeowners have increasingly opted for comfort and luxury. These desires have manifested themselves in a plethora of shower stall design features.

For example, gone is the tiny, cramped, almost coffin-like shower stall where one could barely turn around. New homes are being built with showers large enough to take a nap. The shower has gone from a necessity to an experience.

Significant trends have emerged in the design of interior elements of shower stalls. Benches are an increasingly popular feature, again illustrating the push for more comfort. Wall niches and corner shelving are built so that bathers can leave frequently-used items in the shower space.

In existing homes with limited area – where a shower cannot be physically enlarged – options exist to create the illusion of greater space. One method is replacing walls in the showers with corner glass units, which can add a tremendous amount of natural light. Frameless doors with full glass panels offer a sleek, clean look. The goal is to create a brighter, more open feel to the shower space.

Water delivery has undergone a wholesale transformation. Rain showerheads deliver a drenching quantity of water at a gentle velocity, increasing the relaxation factor that many seek in a shower experience.

For those who like the water more directed – and from multiple angles – body sprays are the answer. Body sprays can create a true “spa experience,” as usually four adjustable heads are mounted in the shower walls. The sprays are often at different heights to target specific body areas, and can be rotated for people of different sizes. Sometimes the sprays are in movable panels mounted on the walls, offering even greater flexibility.

In a sense, perhaps this evolution of the shower isn’t so surprising after all. Most people have to spend time in a car each day, and vehicle features have grown to make the experience more pleasant. Why should showers – another necessity for most people – be different?

Besides, a shower almost guarantees that you’ll emerge refreshed, clean and smelling good. The same certainly can’t be said for a car – especially when stuck in traffic on a hot, sticky day. Where would you rather be?