How to Turn Your Bathroom Into a Japanese Spa

Mauri Weakley in her Ditmas Park shop, Collyer's Mansion (Photo: Melisse Gelula for Well+Good)

The tiny New York apartment bathroom is a humbling place. But Mauri Weakley, founder of Collyer's Mansion in Brooklyn, says it can be a beautiful respite—even one that entices you to linger and soak like you're at Japanese onsen—with a few simple additions.

After working closely with Steven Alan for years as his visual-merchandizer-in-chief, Weakley opened her own store focused on home goods in the up-and-coming Brooklyn neighborhood of Ditmas Park.

And though it's small (Collyer's had been a garage, then the storefront of a fortune teller) and named for the famous hoarders, it's like walking into a design magazine article—where you can actually afford things. ("It's for people looking for their first nice sofa, not a $12,000 Knoll," she says.)

While there's a lot for the kitchen and living room, she's devoted a large section to the bath. Shelves go all the way up the wall lined with towels, charcoal soaps, candles, and other sweet Japanese-made amenities for the bath.

What is it about the Japanese aesthetic and products that really works for the NYC bathroom? “The style is minimal—we have smaller spaces, and less is plenty. And the quality is there—and they don’t take up a lot of space. You don’t have to have a fancy, amazing tub. Everything is deliberate and light, and because it’s so refined, and looks cleaner in city apartments."

We talked to Weakley about cramped and dingy New York apartment bathrooms, and how to elevate that room you shower in (as fast as you can?) to a place you'll actually enjoy with six easy pieces.

collyersmansion_bath1. Hinoki Wood Bath Mat ($32–$40) Essentially what they use in Japanese spas, hinoki (Japanese cypress) has natural antibacterial properties and a clean woodsy scent. They look sophisticated and minimal and are super easy to clean! I just throw mine in the tub and wipe it down. It really helps when you have a fiance who likes to brush his teeth in his boots! I also detest stepping out on a wet mat if I'm second in line for the shower that morning.

2. Hinoki Wood Tub Bar ($30–$32.50) The essential bathroom accessory for the bath lover.  It rests across the tub and is the perfect place to rest your book, tea, or in my case wine.

3. Light and Ladder Ceramic Planters ($50) I have an asparagus fern on a stool in my bathroom. It's nice to have a little green. If you don't have a green thumb, I love airplants in a bathroom. They love the moisture in there and really flourish. Light and Ladder has beautiful handmade (here in Brooklyn) ceramic planters and they look gorgeous in those.

4. Morihata Charcoal Scrub Towel ($18.50) The scrub towel is long, so you can clean your back. It's a waffle weave, so it air-dries super fast thrown over the top of the shower, and lasts for months. For my face, I use the Morihata Charcoal Facial Soap ($29), which I love. It lasts forever, and doesn't feel too abrasive yet leaves your skin feeling cleansed and stripped from the NYC grime.

5. Morihata Bath Towels ($24–$64) Okay, they're gorgeous, quick dry cotton towels. You can go with a neutral or pop of color. They're perfect for a bathroom that's not well ventiliated—you know, the kind where your towel is still wet the next day. And they're energy efficient when you wash them, and so much faster in the dryer.

6. Kimonos. From either Shrimpton Couture or Etsy—they're my favorite resources for vintage kimonos. Just hanging one up on a hook is so pretty. —Melisse Gelula

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