You might walk past it without a second glance, but the shower curtain is one of those functional pieces that doubles as an integral design element in one of the busiest rooms of the house.
Fabrics include vinyl, polyester and cotton, and there's a vast array of colors and patterns. Add choices of plastic liners, and hooks or rings for hanging, and you have quite the decorating decision.
For an idea of just how varied styles can be, pay a visit to CafePress. The online retailer, which just moved its headquarters to Louisville from California, launched a new line of customizeable shower curtains this month. It now claims to have "the world's largest catalog" of shower curtains, with more than 75,000 designs. Images include animals, florals, famous paintings and vintage prints.
If you still can't find what you want, shoppers may create their own designs by downloading one of their favorite images or adding type.
Prices for any shower curtain run about $50.
Outside the CafePress galaxy of shower curtains, the design labels that have lent their styles to the bathroom staple include Kate Spade, whose fresh, preppy patterns available at Beth, Bath & Beyond include a flock of retro-hip sandpipers; an earthy wood-grain print; and soothing horizontal stripes of green, blue and white.
Choose a bright, bold pattern for a children's room, such as the Funny Fish design from Pottery Barn Kids that features a multicolored school of fish floating across a white background, accented with a vibrant green border.
Grown-ups, too, can bring the beach inside with an original work by Mary Muniz Kipping. The Georgia artist offers shower curtains featuring her painterly mermaids, dolphins and palm trees at Maremade.etsy.com.
There's nothing wrong with an all-white bathroom, which can look vintage, modern or cottagelike, depending on the accents. For added interest, choose a curtain with a spa-inspired waffle weave, or vintage-type ruffles or eyelet details. Stick with white towels and accessories for a fresh, clean look, or introduce a touch of color with stacks of plush towels in cool shades of blue and green.