Ahh, the bathroom. Many folks don't focus on the bathroom as a spot for home design. For most people, it's a "functional" room. But the truth is, your bathroom is possibly the most crucial spot for wellness in your house. It's where you relax, it may be the spot you spend time alone, and the bathroom is the hub of self-care.
If you're wondering how to make your bathroom look like a spa or WHY you should design a bathroom that feels nurturing, it's because you’re worth it.
When you come home from a long day, a spa-like bathroom will welcome and enfold you in warmth and luxury. A bathroom is a place of hygiene, of course, but it’s also a place where you can relax and reflect. Self-care is more important than ever, so if you’re ready to enjoy a spa-day every day, keep reading.
A Beautiful Bathroom Starts with Great Design
How do you make your bathroom look like a spa? Consider why spas feel so nurturing and opulent. They’re clean and inviting. A beautiful day spa has a calming atmosphere that welcomes you and ensures that you’re there for an experience. Spas feel indulgent because it’s a place we can focus solely on pampering ourselves.
Your home’s bathroom can feel exactly the same way. Luxurious design touches make a huge difference—explore the many finishes, textures, and materials you can use within your bathroom design. If you’re building or renovating your home, don’t skimp on the bathroom or settle for fixtures that don’t feel special.
Most bathroom fixtures—faucets, piping, sinks, tubs, and even toilets now feel more like works of art than utilitarian plumbing. Bathroom design has come a long way over the last several years, and people are really starting to think of bathrooms as places of wellness and self-care.
When choosing bathroom materials, I'm partial to marble because of its timeless quality. It feels and looks luxurious, can be easily maintained with a bit of effort, and holds up well in a bathroom. Touches like a beautiful ceramic tile, an artfully designed sink, or a restored, antique clawfoot tub can significantly impact the space. Arched doorways, beautiful light fixtures, and other little touches and design elements like bespoke wallpaper will make your bathroom feel uniquely your own.
Consider Each User’s Space
Now, your bathroom may feel distinctively yours, but if more than one person is sharing the primary bath, it's also essential that each person has his or her own space. I'm firmly convinced that separate vanities are the key to a happy relationship!
When I get ready in the mornings, I like to spread out my tools and (if there’s time) focus on the experience. I need a makeup area with plenty of natural light, and I want a place to dry my hair (I lose enough to make a wig several times over). Rather than crowding in each other’s space on a shared countertop or dual vanities, separate vanities feel more like custom furniture and give each user more real estate and privacy.
If you have a powder room or several bathrooms, each person might be satisfied with their very own room. You may also consider a bathroom with a large soaking tub instead of only a shower. If you have a separate, dedicated "shower" bathroom, the bathtub space can feel very spa-like and relaxing. One room becomes the efficient cleaning room, and the other becomes a spot for respite and renewal.
Photography: Jennifer Lavelle
Bring in Natural Light When Possible
Natural light is so essential to our health. It helps us feel connected to the outside world. Sunlight gives us energy and meets our bodies' natural rhythms. Whenever possible, include natural light in your bathroom—it will help you create that luxurious feeling of bathing in nature.
When possible, maximize the windows in your bathroom. If privacy is a concern, choose window treatments or shades covering the lower portion of the window while still creating an open, bright atmosphere. If a large window isn't realistic for your bathroom space, you may also consider a skylight, which can offer privacy while still letting in light from above. A room divider screen is another solution for bathrooms that need some coverage.
Of course, in some cases, natural lighting isn’t possible at all, so layer your lighting elements to make the space both useful and multifunctional. A well-lit mirror is perfect for a vanity (consider sidelights to get a flattering light and eliminate shadows). Ambient lighting is also appropriate for most bathroom tasks, and soft accent lighting can help evoke that spa-like feel.
Focus on Organic Elements
Don’t underestimate the healing power of nature. Greenery makes everything better, and natural elements are a huge part of home wellness. Plants bring in life, improve air quality, and invoke a restful natural state.
Of course, the natural world isn't limited to plants alone, either. Soft neutral, earth-tones and organic materials like wood, clay, and stone will help your bathroom feel grounded and complete. There's something so warm and inviting about a bathroom that feels like it's bringing the outdoors in. Look for natural sea sponges, sisal body brushes, and other tools made by Mother Nature. Add a wooden bathtub tray made from water-resistant teak.
If you want your bathroom to feel spa-like, add little luxuries like unique artisanal soaps, natural beauty treatments, or your favorite lightly scented candles. Use eco-friendly materials like low-VOC paint and organic cleaning products. Your skin will likely be spending a lot of time in the bathroom, so keep the items that go in and on your body as simple, natural, and nontoxic as possible.
Photography: Jennifer Lavelle
Invest in Luxury Linens
I adore high-quality sheets. I think they truly set a bedroom apart. I have the same philosophy when it comes to bathroom linens. Invest in the highest quality towels (like these gorgeous Turkish towels), woven rugs, and soft washcloths.
I find vintage textiles, like rugs, can really add history to a room and add an unexpected layered element in the bathroom, plus it’s an eco-friendly way to give new life to an antique piece. If you’re going for a spa-like vibe, gorgeous floor coverings and textiles are an absolute must. You may even want to include a soft pouf ottoman or pillow-topped bench at your mirror to provide a comfortable and elegant spot to sit and beautify.
The other advantage of investing in quality linens is that they will dry your body more efficiently, and they're softer for your skin. An absorbent hair wrap can keep your hair healthier than a standard bath towel, and delicate hand towels are easier on your nails and cuticles.
Photography: Jennifer Lavelle
Create a Multisensory Experience
Calm should be the first word that comes to mind when you enter your bathroom. If you want to create a bathroom that looks like a spa, consider how you want to use the space and what feelings you want the space to evoke.
In bathroom design, there's a trend toward creating a multisensory experience. Rainlike showerheads trickle down. Lighting mimics nature. Beautiful bathroom fixtures are designed for a touchless experience to promote hygiene and cleanliness; music and soothing scents fill the air.
Even if you’re not ready for a full bathroom makeover (or you’re not in the process of building a brand-new bathroom at the moment), you can evoke a new feeling and create an experience using sound, scent, light, and touch. A heated towel warmer, an infrared bathroom heater, or a new showerhead can make a huge difference and directly affect your wellbeing.
Consider Smart Technology
I recently attended the Dimensions of Wellbeing design conference from bathroom giant Kohler. They shared their new lines and discussed the idea of a transformative home bathroom experience and also shared some exciting advances available in digital bathroom control and technology.
One of the fascinating ideas was the "Stillness Bath Collection," where they discussed escaping to an immersive experience that incorporated lighting, water temperature, fog, and sound. With pre-programmed journeys, they help people tap into mindfulness, nature, and a home spa experience. The collection is set to become available in late 2021, and I'm excited to see where the concept goes.
Other bathroom manufacturers and home technology companies are working on similar concepts—creating different atmospheres and experiences in each space of your home. With smart technology, you can adjust lights, operate bathroom features with a single touch or motion, and fully create a spa-like environment in your home.
Create a Space that Feels Spa-Like to You
If you want to create a home spa, consider what feels spa-like to you. For example, I adore darker wood cabinetry against marble with white linens. There’s something about the contrast of beautiful built-in cabinets that feels luxurious. I also love the idea of separate vanities, a modern statement light fixture, lots of drawers, and of course, a huge soaking tub surrounded by windows. I like a bathroom with curves and gorgeous lines, lots of light, and of course greenery.
But that's my ideal bathroom. Yours may be different. Some people enjoy patterns and may want to include a playful, bright tile arrangement. Others love an accent wall with to-die-for wallpaper in a huge, eye-catching display. What defines a place of respite and renewal for you?
Because bathrooms are often small, changing them up isn’t such a monumental task. They’re also a great place to have fun with your design. You can add whimsy to the bathroom, make it glamorous, or really create an escape. Create a room that feels special to you and speaks to your self-care needs.
In the end, creating a home spa in your bathroom is about carving out more time for mindful self-care. A truly healthy lifestyle is achieved through intentional choices and practices. As we spend time caring for our bodies, we’ll find ourselves moving towards a greater sense of peace and wellness.
What does the perfect spa-like bathroom mean to you? Tell me in the comments below.