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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Bathroom Spas on a Budget

Bathroom Spas on a Budget

Want to spend an hour at a tropical beach or a leisurely evening in a fragrant garden–without leaving the house? Bathroom spas are an ideal way to shed stress and wipe away the dirt and debris on your insides (breathe deeply!) as well as that city bus exhaust on your outsides!

While an expensive renovation may not be in the cards, who says a beautiful, restful space can be achieved only with a huge expenditure of dollars and cents? In fact a haute-spa experience can be attained with a few simple luxuries.

With details key components in any redesign, elements like color palette, fabrics, art and objects, aromas, open and airy spaces, and lighting can transform an ordinary bathroom into a coveted oasis–one you can’t wait to come home to!

To start with, do your bathroom walls scream at you? While neon yellow or lime green may have been great for your first apartment, a muted color palette will do wonders for the body and soul. By the same token, even if your wall colors are already neutral, a dingy white or “institutional” beige bathroom is not what the doctor ordered. While soft colors create a restful spa environment, old, fading, yellowed or dirty paint does not. Refreshing your walls with soothing hues like pale lavender, sea foam green, soft clay, etc. will take you out of a conventional space and right into nature.

Next, space permitting, removing the shower door of a dedicated shower will create a more airy feeling, redolent of the best spas. If you have a tighter bath/shower combination, consider a clear shower curtain with painted sea or garden scene, or maybe something lofty like birds, sky, and clouds. For the bathtub, draping a sheer curtain gathered at the ceiling for a cascading effect can create the illusion of a waterfall. And if you have a window, hanging a piece of stained glass–maybe with a sea, garden, or pastoral theme–can heighten the experience, especially when the sun shines through it. Using cascading sheers or a light fabric in general for a window treatment will carry the waterfall effect even further.

When creating the optimal bathroom spa, ambience is key so hanging prints, paintings, and/or photographs of the beach, shells, flowers, clouds, sun, and sky, or anything that “takes you away” is an integral part of your bathroom spa design. Baskets (some designers opt for white wicker, which is summery and spa-like, depending on your décor, but any natural material will do) are great for holding and organizing fragrant soaps, bath salts, and little bottles of shampoo, lotion, essential oils, rolled face cloths tied with raffia, etc. Items such as vibrant green plants (be sure to choose ones that will thrive in a humid space), sea shells and dried starfish, beach glass, drift wood, and/or dried flowers will create an attractive, personal spa milieu.

With aromatherapy part of the relaxation process, D.C.- based designer Susan Stine of Redteam Strategies uses a simple trick.

“I pour a favorite scent–maybe lavender which is relaxing–on a bunch of cotton balls, setting them in a pretty glass bowl or wide-mouthed open jar,” she said, noting she refreshes them every few days. “It’s an easy way to ensure the bathroom spa always smells wonderful without using harsh chemical sprays that last only a few minutes, or plug-ins that waste electricity.”

Warm towel bars are another simple luxury idea Stine advocates in her designs, spa bathroom or otherwise. “The best thing in the world is to envelope yourself in a warm towel after a relaxing bath,” she said, and with a little research a towel warmer doesn’t have to be expensive.”

Where lighting is concerned, if you have the budget to install sconces or track lighting, maybe on dimmers for ambient lighting (always call a licensed electrician), these enable you to create a warm, focused space. Interestingly, strategically-placed lamps can also get you there, though be careful to place them far away from the edges of a bathtub or sink. And designers say candles (try scented ones) are an easy path to soft lighting and a real must-have in your spa space. Placed in sculpted candle holders or tinted glass votives, they become decorative features that can be changed as your mood does.

Finally, don’t skimp on thick towels, plush slippers, and a luxurious terrycloth robe. After a soothing soak, elements like these can continue to pamper you, stripping away the day and easing you into the best night’s sleep ever!

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