As interior designers, the JBi team is constantly looking for ways to push our own boundaries and bring fresh ideas to the table with our clients. I was recently asked by a client what I thought of doing a stair railing out of glass. It wasn't that I hadn't seen it done before or was opposed to the idea, I just didn't think she would like it. This simple conversation reminded me on the importance of looking out for ways to use standard materials in new and different ways from what we expect. Glass is one of those materials we use in a multitude of ways on a regular basis - shower enclosures, windows and doors, glass tile. But what does it look like when we use this material in an application beyond the unexpected? Well, that's what this post is all about. I went searching for examples of glass used in expected and unexpected ways. The comparison shows how we can take the use of this material and elevate it beyond the norm.

Shower Enclosures. We all know the frameless shower enclosure. Beautifully radiant 3/8" glass with polished edges paired with simply elegant hardware creates a stunning shower stall. But what if we took the use of glass to the edge and created the entire bathroom inside a glass room? This use allows us to "carve" out a bathroom of a room without making the room feel smaller. The glass keeps the room visually open and allows for transference of light throughout the space.


Photograph by Elad Gonen and Zeev Beech

Doors, windows and walls, oh my! This will sound silly, but we all know about the use of glass in doors and windows. Yes, the first picture below pushes the boundary slightly by using a set of windows as an entire wall. But, glass is rarely used as internal walls in a building (see previous bathroom example too). In an open space, glass walls can be used as room dividers to maintain the openness, but also provide a little extra privacy and feeling of division between specific use areas.

Design by thirdstone, inc

Design by Morlen Sinoway Atelier

Stair railings and steps. The house on which we're working (mentioned above) will be a contemporary home with glass used in some interesting and different ways. It feels like a natural extension then to use glass as the stair railings. We're going to combine the glass with metal posts and handrail. The next natural extension would be to take the glass from the railings and use it as the actual steps. The open glass steps keeps what would otherwise be an imposing architectural feature light and airy.

Design by Manchester Architects Inc

Design by AR Design Studio Ltd

Glass backsplash. Besides shower enclosures, glass tile is probably the other most common use of glass. Mosaics or larger format tiles are used in bathrooms and as kitchen splashes to create a range of different looks - contemporary to traditional. The beauty of glass in this form is its flexibility. Recently though I've started seeing glass backsplashes take on a slightly different form as back-painted sheet glass. This look is super contemporary and easy to clean, an appealing benefit on both fronts.

Design by Exquisite Kitchen Design

Design by Navo Design Studio

What is your favorite way to use glass in your home? We'd love to hear from you.

About JASON BALL interiors. We are a team of interior designers based in Portland, Oregon serving residential and commercial clients throughout Oregon and Washington, and beyond. To see examples of our design work, visit the Portfolio page. For an evaluation of your upcoming projects, contact Jason Ball at (503) 267-2352 or via e-mail at We look forward to being your interior design team.