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Written by Grant Woods

Tips to Create a Spa-Like Bathroom

Light turquoise open wet room bathroom design
Light turquoise open wet room bathroom design
Wet Room: The open design of a wet room is sure to bring a feeling of spa-like luxury to a bathroom. | Photo by Analicia Herrmann | Alexandra Killion Interiors

The goal of creating a spa-like bathroom is to feel enticed into a serene atmosphere, to be pampered and to leave renewed. The difference between an ordinary bathroom and a spa-like space hinges on both design and detail. For some, the anticipation of stepping into a freshly remodeled steam shower might transform the experience from average to extraordinary. For others, a bamboo bath mat and a lush houseplant might be enough to boost the charm.  

While bathrooms are a necessity for modern living, all are not created equal. Here are a few ideas for turning an ordinary bathroom into a revitalizing space. 

Creating Ambiance

It’s no secret that people flock to Central Oregon seeking the beauty of the outdoors. Connecting the outdoors with the indoors is one way to create a spa-like atmosphere, according to architectural and interior designer Kirsti Wolfe of Kirsti Wolfe Designs in Bend. Wolfe has thirty years of experience in transforming ordinary bathrooms into zen sanctuaries. She makes a point in her design work to examine and accommodate for all the senses. Iridescent glass shower tiles might offer visual and tactile satisfaction, while a Japanese soaking tub provides the feel of a hot spring. “A simple fountain or water feature can add that sound quality of nature,” Wolfe said.

When going for the spa-like feel, it’s essential to sweep out things that make a space feel busy in order to inspire peace. For starters, minimize objects in sight. Shoot for clean lines and large tile slabs to avoid a grid of grungy grout lines.

Black White Spa-like Bathroom
Home Builder: M House Development | Photo by Margaret Rajic Photography

Wet Rooms

Wet rooms are a relatively new bathroom design trend that may be intensive to create, but worth every ounce of effort. A wet room creates an all-inclusive, waterproof area for a shower and/or bathtub. These areas are visually appealing, allow for easy accessibility and can add value to a home. To make a wet room both beautiful and functional, don’t skimp on the waterproofing. Include a comfortable bench in the shower, and consider heated floor tiles outside the wet room to avoid a chilly slap back to reality when exiting the wet area.

In both wet rooms and areas of traditional bathrooms, there is a growing desire for large format tiles, Julber said. “It used to be exciting to have a twelve-by-twenty-four-inch-tile, but now there are twenty-four by thirty-six or twenty-four by forty-eight inch tiles—the less grout lines you have, the less grout lines you have dirt in,” she said. 

Inviting Lighting

Light is one of the key factors in turning a room referred to in the past as a “water closet” into a spa-like oasis. Optimize natural light by any means necessary. If installing skylights or expanding the current window dimensions are possibilities—do it. Improving both natural and vanity lighting in bathrooms is something Patricia Julber, owner and design director of Bend’s Complements Home Interiors, implores her clients to do. Tantalizing touches such as a small chandelier, visible from the bathtub, have also become a popular addition.

Julber also noted chromotherapy as an emerging technology for showers—utilizing colored lighting, adjustable via smart device, to affect mood, physical tension and even mental health. At the very least, it’s nice to have an option for dimmable lighting and adjustable color. The last thing anyone wants are added wrinkles from squinting into harsh lighting.

Inviting Spa Bathroom Lighting above tub
Lighting: Opt for bulbs labeled “soft” and “warm” and neutral fixtures. | Photo by Kayla McKenzie

Getting Steamy

Space permitting, a sauna might offer the greatest return on investment in terms of health and wellness, and it certainly evokes the feeling of being at the spa. In addition to being a luxurious addition to a home, according to a study shared by Harvard, sauna use might actually prolong your life, too. The study showed that regular sauna use by middle-aged men in Finland reduced the rates of death by 24 to 40 percent, depending on how many times a week the sauna was used over an average time period of twenty years. What better excuse can there be to bring a sauna into your high desert home?

Aside from the traditional wet or dry sauna, infrared saunas are becoming more popular for their ease of installation and acclaimed health benefits. For those who are not ready to pull the trigger on a sauna, a steam shower is a great compromise. “People love a steam shower when they’re coming down off the mountain. They’re cold and chilled to the bone—it’s wonderful,” Julber said.

Little Spa Details

With accessories, use the wisdom of iconic architect Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe, who said “Less is more.” Moving products into reusable, label-free containers makes for less visual input and more serenity, while voice or touch-activated faucets add functional luxury without demanding additional space.

Last but not least, regardless of budget—including a bidet is another great bathroom accessory. After the toilet paper shortages of the past couple years, this accessory can offer peace of mind well into the future. Overall, creating a spa-like bathroom is something that will pay off on a daily basis. No reservations necessary, no time-limit, and no compromise in comfort or happiness.

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