Remember your last spa day? The scent of eucalyptus, the soft bathrobe, a glass of champagne and that weird flute music that every masseuse inexplicably owns. Has it been awhile since you sat in a whirlpool tub or a steam room? Maybe it’s the steep price, your crazy work schedule or just the fact that spas are considered luxuries and not necessities that’s kept you away.
With a little imagination and a few fixes, your new favorite spa could actually be a place you visit every day. Yes, we’re talking about your bathroom. And don’t worry, you don’t have to tear it apart with a sledgehammer and then get a degree in interior design so that you can put it back together. All you need are the devices you’ve already mastered: your phone and your computer. With a few techie touches, you’ll find that tranquility in your own bathroom is really just an app away. Follow these ten tips, and start the journey.
1. Create a Waiting Room
It’s the place where you prepare to relax. If you can — and should — judge a book by its cover, then you can judge a spa by its waiting room. This is accomplished easily if your bathroom features a separate vanity room and shower/toilet room. If not, find an underutilized wall or space inside your bathroom or right outside the entryway door. All you need is an upholstered bench or a few nice chairs and a small table with space for magazines and a plant (we recommend an orchid or some bamboo). Feel free to add in your own favorite spa touches like floating votive candles and lilies. Decorate the space with uniquely curated art by utilizing the social media site that makes everyone think that they’re an artist: Instagram. Get the Photos to Art app and print out gallery quality prints straight from your Instagram or Facebook. There’s even a visualizer tool that allows you to see how they’ll look on your wall.
2. A Clean Counter is a Clean Mind
All of the amenities in the world don’t matter if the space around your sink is a hot mess. Keep all of that extra stuff out of sight and only let your guests (and yourself) see the pretty stuff like vintage perfume bottles and your novelty soap collection. Learn to roll towels like a spa does and put them on display rather than crumpled on the floor. Don’t have enough cabinets and drawers for all of those cleaning supplies and other unsightly essentials? You don’t need to lose valuable home storage space to old sweaters, Christmas decorations and all of those yearbooks and photo albums you can’t throw out but can’t display. Check out StorageFront and find your extra stuff a home away from home. Decluttering is very zen.
3. Lower the Lights
Nothing kills a mood like glaring fluorescent lighting. If you want to feel like you’re at a spa, you’re going to have to light the room like it’s more nurturing than institutional. Ditch the switches and install dimmers, that way you can keep things bright when you’re doing your makeup and soft when you’re lounging in the tub. Of course there’s always the obvious option of candles. We suggest the safer, flameless kind that can be turned on and off by remote control, because nothing kills a spa vibe like a smoldering shower curtain. You can also opt for lights that can be dimmed via your phone. LightwaveRF has some reasonably priced options that are easily installed and can even be set on a timer.
4. Warm it Up
It’s the dead of winter and there’s nothing better than a hot shower — and nothing worse than getting out of it. No spa would ever force you to exit the sauna and step into a freezing room, so don’t force yourself to do it. A heated bath mat will make putting your feet on the floor soothing instead of shocking. Options like RugBuddy slide underneath an already existing rug and offer slip resistance. Another spa essential is a towel warmer. You can go with the traditional boxlike version or get a heated towel rack if you’re pressed for space. If you really want to feel warm and comforted, and your bar for extravagance is set pretty high, consider adding a wall-mounted electric fireplace to the room. Crackling sound effects and s’mores are optional.
5. Shut Out the World
You’re never going to feel like you’re at a spa if you can hear the garbage truck outside. To truly transport yourself, draw the shades and block out the noise. Soundproofing isn’t just something reserved for music studios. You can turn down the hustle and bustle outside of your home by upgrading to triple pane windows, using acoustical caulk around gaps, and installing mass loaded vinyl like AudioSeal Sound Barrier inside your walls. If you’re renting and can’t justify doing renovations to your space, you can invest in a soundproof door bottom, or even just some extra shelving (you’d be surprised how much sound can be masked by something the size of a bookshelf). Top it off with a relaxing Pandora station or Spotify playlist and steam proof speakers.
6. Have a Spa in a Glass
Everyone had that friend in college who swore by the refreshing taste of an ice-cold shower beer. You’re an adult now, so ditch the lukewarm PBR and learn how to bring spa water into your shower and bath routine. All you need is chilled water and a portable infuser, like Brookstone’s Flavour It. You’ll simply add ingredients like cucumbers, mint and citrus, put it in the fridge for a few hours and enjoy. Great combinations for spa water include lemon and basil, cucumber and strawberry and lime and mint. Just choose a fruit you like and pair it with something unexpected like rosemary, pomegranate seeds or even mild peppers and voila! Instant luxury.
7. Tap Into the Power of Scent
You don’t have to take an aromatherapy course to learn what smells good to you. Throw away the air fresheners that make your bathroom smell like chemicals and go organic. Just remember a few basics: Lavender is calming, cinnamon is energizing and eucalyptus just smells like a spa. You can bless your bathroom with the heavenly scents of essential oils by putting a few drops of your chosen blend into a small spray bottle (think airport carry-on sized) and spritzing the room. You can also get scent diffusers and plug-in room aromas, which are especially effective in small spaces. Baffled by the art of aromatherapy? Download the Aromahead app and learn how to make essential oil shower gels, bath scrubs and more.
8. Learn the Art of Color Therapy
When choosing paint and wallpaper, it’s tempting to go bold, but if you’re on a quest for inner peace, we suggest leaving bright yellows and reds to your living room or home office. Choose a soothing palette with colors like ivory, beige, soft green and purples and blues that gravitate towards gray. Consider painting your ceiling in a color that comforts you as that’s what you’ll be gazing up at when you’re taking a bath. For inspiration, look no further than the world around you. Get the Benjamin Moore Color Capture app and take a picture of literally anything that bears a color you’d like in your home. The app sorts through a database of 3,300 paint colors to find your perfect match.
9. Rip Off Your Favorite Spa
If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, right? No, we’re not suggesting you run into Canyon Ranch and start stealing lotion. We’re simply advocating that you remember what this whole project is about. Picture your favorite spa, think of what makes it special, and incorporate that into your bathroom. Two Bunch Palms in Desert Hot Springs, California is known for a treatment that features underwater music and shiatsu massage. You can cop a knock-off of the luxury experience by getting a Bathtub to Spa Converter from Hammacher Schlemmer. It attaches to the edge of your tub and turns it into a massaging whirlpool. Add in a waterproof sound system and you’re all set. If you’re digging on Aspen’s St. Regis Remede Spa, copy their iconic Confluence Waterfall Pool by mounting a small indoor fountain in your bathroom. The sound will melt away your stress. Keep in mind that many spas sell their products on their websites, but if you’re not sure that the $50 lotion is worth the investment, consider signing up for spa curated subscription box like Yuzenbox which will allow you to try sample sizes of luxury products every month.
10. Bring Nature Inside
Yes, underwater sound systems are awesome, but nothing is more soothing than the power of nature. If the only wildlife around you is a concrete jungle, you can still harness the power of the forest with a few natural touches. Opt for wood and stone finishes over tile and laminate whenever possible. Draw inspiration from a natural setting that speaks to you. Dreaming of the Swiss Alps? Feature black and white prints of the towering mountains. Yearning for a star-studded night in the Arizona desert? Hang sage or fashion it into a wreath if that’s too bohemian for you. If you want to literally bring the forest into your bathroom, try your hand at an awesome DIY bath mat which utilizes moss that lives off of the moisture from your shower. For those with backyards, private rooftops or just exhibitionist tendencies, you can really get in touch with nature by installing an outdoor shower. All you need is a small fenced in area or a few folding room dividers. A water source and a faucet are nice, but we suggest a simple old school solar heated reservoir that hooks onto a tree or pole. And hey, if all else fails, download some wilderness sounds on your phone, close your eyes and pretend you’re in the mountains.