Who knew plumbing could look this good?

By Lauren Phillips
Updated January 09, 2019
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Zelma Brezinska/EyeEm/Getty Images

Exposed pipe showers are coming, and there’s a good chance you’ll be wanting this 2019 interior design trend in your bathroom before you know it. Sure, this bathroom design trend is a little unexpected, but the final look is absolutely gorgeous.

Most exposed pipe shower systems consist of a shower knob, visible pipe to the showerhead, and the showerhead. Sometimes, a handheld showerhead or other attachment is also included. The whole system mounts on the wall of the shower, putting the internal workings of the shower on full display for a subtly rugged, industrial look. In most bathrooms, the showerhead and accompanying water controls are purely utilitarian, with minimal flair or style; they are barely visible and usually blend into the background. Exposed pipe showers make them (and the plumbing between them) a visible design choice.

Exposed pipe shower systems are a way to bring a little personality into bathrooms, which are notoriously difficult to spice up, outside of buying a nice shower curtain. A little exposed plumbing is an opportunity to highlight some flashy (or decidedly matte) finishes, and everything from chrome to copper to pewter works. More luxe materials soften the industrial harshness of exposed pipes, while more rugged ones (like copper) emphasize it.

Exposed shower systems are available from a number of retailers (think Amazon, Wayfair, and Home Depot) and specialty fixture stores. Prices start around $200, while systems with more elaborate attachments and features or high-end finishes can cost thousands.

Design pros have already called out exposed pipe shower systems as a big design trend in 2019, and like any trend, there are ways to customize this one. In custom installations, pipes can be exposed throughout the bathroom, emphasizing the industrial look all exposed showers have. The look can extend to sinks and standalone bathtubs, too.

Matte black fixtures with a streamlined shape look contemporary, while chrome ones look more traditional. For a retro twist, try a copper finish; gold looks incredibly luxe. Need proof? Scroll on for exposed pipe shower ideas, plus a few sinks and tubs with exposed plumbing.

All that glitters…

A strip of mosaic tile gives this exposed shower system an extra pop.

Contemporary cleanliness

The clean lines and matte material of this showerhead make industrial chic feel doable.

As far as the eye can see, brass

This charming bathroom updates a traditional layout with lots of exposed brass plumbing and a colorful mosaic tile floor.

Paired pipes

Exposed plumbing and matching pipes repurposed as a curtain rod work together to help this shower feel cohesive.

Antique-inspired hardware

The large, almost ornate details on this exposed pipe shower system pop against a black tile shower.

Chrome only

A standard chrome finish blends seamlessly into this tiled shower.

Retro all over

An unexpected hardware finish pairs perfectly with an unexpected tile pattern.

Minimalist magic

A stretch of exposed copper plumbing helps this toned-down bathroom pop.

Bath time

A polished copper finish elevates the industrial feel of this elaborate exposed faucet fixture.