Create Your Own Spa Bathroom

By Sharon Johnson

Why is it we always hear about "kitchens and baths" and never "baths and kitchens?" The bathroom has long played second fiddle to the larger, more glamorous and exciting kitchen. Well, that ends here. Today's bathroom can have just as many bells and whistles as the big-shot room down the hall. Best of all, it doesn't take a huge amount of space to create the retreat of your dreams.

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Komal Sheth

"More and more I'm seeing that customers want their bathroom to serve as a retreat. They want to escape, to feel like they're someplace else," says Mark Karas, president of the National Kitchen & Bath Association and owner of Adams Kitchens in Stoneham, Massachusetts. As an expert kitchen and bath designer for 35 years, he has a long perspective on how bathrooms have changed. What was once thought of as a purely functional space has now morphed into something far more luxurious.

We asked Mark, along with designers Komal Sheth, ASID, founder of Spaces Designed in Austin, and Anna Marks, ASID, senior designer and owner of Interior Atelier in Chicago, to offer their recommendations for luxuries large and small that will help any bathroom go from "blah" to spa:

  • Change the paint color. This is an inexpensive way to quickly update the look and feel of the space.
  • Add warmth and texture by using natural materials such as stone, porcelain, and wood for flooring and furniture.
  • Bring in live plants and fresh flowers. They enhance emotional balance by connecting us to nature.
  • Use oversized tiles to give the impression of space (and, as an added bonus, fewer grout lines!) Komal likes Porcelanosa's 17" x 26" tiles.
  • Switch out your sink faucet for one more in keeping with the new look you're going for. Best of all, many of the new faucets come with built-in water saving features.
  • Bring on the "bling" in the bathtub with such features as aromatherapy and chromatherapy. The soothing scents and mood-enhancing lighting will induce deep relaxation.
  • Change your showerhead to a more soothing "rain" showerhead.
  • Conceal the electric outlets.
  • Incorporate anti-fog mirrors and magnifying mirrors.
  • Add dimmers to the mirror and overhead lights.
  • Add soothing scent with perfume atomizers or potpourri oils.
  • Upgrade your shower with flooring made of river rocks—it's instant therapy for your feet.
  • Raise vessel sinks slightly above the counter for a distinct look.
  • Add warmth with radiant-heat floors and heated towel bars.
  • Retrofit your shower with a steam shower unit.
  • Tuck a small CD player in an inconspicuous spot and rotate a collection of calming CDs.
  • Splurge on new plush rugs and fluffy towels. This relatively small investment adds an instant touch of freshness and luxury.
For more ideas, check out Spa Bathrooms We Love.
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