Prior to the pandemic, I traveled quite a bit for work and for fun – traveling up to 10 times in any given year, staying at mostly high-end properties around the country and the world. And in all of my travels, I’ve seen my fair share of hotel bathrooms. Although most of the hotel bathrooms were very nice, there have been a few that have stood out, including the Four Seasons Maui, the Excelsior in Rome, the Langham in Chicago and London, and several Fairmont properties in the US and Canada. What made these hotel bathrooms standout from the rest was their spaciousness, attention to detail, and spa-like design.
So, it’s no surprise that when my husband and I decided to remodel our master bathroom, a luxury, spa-like bathroom seemed like a dream, especially compared with the dated, malfunctioning bathroom we currently had. Naturally, I had several ideas of the environment I was trying to create…think visions of rainfalls, quiet forests and impromptu spa days dancing around in my head. Luckily, my husband was onboard with my ideas (generally speaking) so we went to work on the details.
But first, a little background on our bathroom. Our bathroom is separated into two sections (similar to many hotel bathrooms) – with a spa tub and double sinks on one side of the master bedroom and a separate room for a standalone shower and toilet area. Yes, the ick factor crept into my mind when we bought the house – why would anyone want to use the toilet and not be able to wash their hands in the same room? But, after many years of living in the same house, you get used to walking back and forth.
The bathroom remodel focused on the shower/toilet room which had not been updated (except for paint) in 20 years. And those two decades definitely took their toll. The shower had been leaking for nearly 3 years, which left rust and hard water stains all over the tile and grout, making it a nightmare to clean (it never looked clean!) not to mention the constant drip of the shower head that would keep me up at night. For all of these reasons and more, we decided to make the leap to update the bathroom with the help of a general contractor and his team of professionals.
So how does one create a luxury, spa-like retreat in their own home?
7 Ways to Create a Luxurious Spa Bathroom
1. Add Natural Elements – Bringing in natural elements like woodgrain, textured tile can help give your shower or bathroom that sauna-like feel. After weeks of tile shopping and many tile samples later, we chose a light cream/gray woodgrain tile with subtle texture to the touch, which made it look like the distinct bark of birch and aspen trees. To complement the woodsy tile, we opted for a gray/alabaster tumbled carrara marble for the niche and floors, which created a smooth but weathered look, and a sensory experience for your feet.
2. Make it Easy to Clean – When you are dealing with a highly damp area like a shower room, tile is much easier to keep clean than painted walls. Therefore, we opted to tile about 85% of the room, including the shower ceiling. Likewise, in our old bathroom, we stored shampoo/soap bottles using over the shower head metal racks, which never seemed to fit properly and created more work when cleaning as the rack began to rust. To avoid this, we had our contractor build a large, built-in niche in the wall, decorating it with matching marble tile, making it much more spa-like and easier to clean.
3. Give Yourself Extra Space – Prior to the remodel, our shower had been unnecessarily enclosed, with a 1.5-2 foot drywall casing surrounding the threshold entrance and ceiling. During the remodel, we knocked out the extra drywall which opened up nearly 4 feet across the shower entrance/threshold and added 2 feet to the shower ceiling, increasing the effect of our rainfall shower. Although we didn’t actually add square footage to the room, the shower itself and the entire room seemed more spacious and not as cramped.
4. Choose Modern Hardware – Not only was our old hardware mismatched (a mix of gold and silver tones) but the styles were also outdated and rusting. Enter matching, brushed nickel hardware (mostly Moen products), including a grab/towel bar, shower handle, towel rack, and more – all of which made our newly tiled shower room sparkle. In addition, we upgraded to a fancier Kohler toilet with more flushing “horsepower” and a Kohler shower head with an arched arm, to create a true waterfall feel with three spray settings.
5. Set the Mood with Lighting – When it comes to lighting….if you are choosing between a dimmer or not, the right answer is always choose the dimmer – you will not regret it. Adding a dimmable, embedded light in the shower ceiling now allows us to control the brightness of the room – fully lit when we really need to wake up (or clean the shower) and slightly dim when we want a more cozy, hygge feel. Our freshly made, clear, frameless glass doors (with antifog elements built in), also let more light in the shower compared with the framed, frosted door we had prior.
6. Splurge for Luxury Linens – Nothing says luxury like super soft, plush towels and rugs! We searched for months, if not years to find the best luxury towel brand to use in our bathrooms but always seemed to come up short – even with brands like Pottery Barn. After reading a few consumer websites, we learned that Frontgate offers luxury, resort-style towels in many, many colors. Frontgate did not disappoint – in fact, after nearly 3 months of using the towels and rugs, I can honestly say they are the best towels and rugs I’ve ever purchased for our house (and I’m not receiving any incentive for my opinion!), and they were slightly less expensive than Pottery Barn and other towels we used in the past.
7. Surround Yourself with Sounds, Scents and Succulents – As a final touch, we purchased Bath and Body Works shower sprays scented with essential oils: orange citrus (Sunrise Yoga) for energy-boosting morning showers and eucalyptus (Hot Springs) for those showers where you just need to unwind. Both can be sprayed into the shower mist to create the feeling of being in a true spa. Adding a faux or shower-friendly succulent (or any plant) is also a way to bring the outdoors inside, further creating the woodsy, natural feel. And finally, a luxurious spa bathroom wouldn’t be complete without the calming sounds of a classical, spa, or jazz playlist. Invest in a quality bluetooth shower speaker or simply place a standard bluetooth speaker outside the shower (as I do) and voila!
As you can see from the photos, we went from studs to spa style in just about 3 months – and it was well worth the wait and extra effort. My only thought was, why did we wait so long?
Have an idea for creating a spa-like bathroom? Share it below!