Elevate the Zen in *Any* Bathroom Using 5 Simple Spa Bathroom Ideas

Photo: Getty Images/Artjafara
A club-foot bathtub. A stream of natural lighting. A cupboard filled with freshly rolled towels. The aroma of essential oils lifting through steam. This sure sounds nice, but it's definitely not how my bathroom looks or feels. My bathroom, rather, is a completely utilitarian fluorescent box that I use for the express purpose of expelling bodily fluids, seeing out my minimalist-yet-consistent skin-care routine, and scrubbing myself in fine-not-great showers that leave me feeling kind of clean afterward. But, I recently learned, there are so many simple spa bathroom ideas that would make my bathroom feel more like the one in my blissed-out daydreams.

No matter if your bathroom situation is bare-bones basic (like mine) or skews more dreamy and luxe, we can probably all agree that it would be so swell to have a space that feels more like a spa than an area that's, well, purely for business. So what can be done? According to interior and product designer Caitlin Wilson, anyone and everyone can make a few space-transforming tweaks using spa bathroom ideas. "A few or all of these switches can make such a difference, and since the bathroom is the first and last place I end the day, it’s such an important place for me to feel relaxed and rejuvenated." Below, get Wilson's spa bathroom ideas.

Give your bathroom a Zen makeover with 5 simple spa bathroom ideas.

1. Dial things down a notch with light dimmers

It can be a deflating bummer when you catch yourself under the unforgiving beams of fluorescent or searing bright-white light if all you're trying to do is start (or end) your day on a good note. In fact, when you're trying to relax and embrace your Zen, that's the last thing you need. Wilson's solution? Instead of just flipping between the zero or one-hundred options of "on" and "off," instead commit to the empowered life by installing a simple tool.

"My bathroom is truly my favorite room in my home because of the spa-like feel that I’ve created with some really easy and quick upgrades," Wilson says. "I installed dimmers in my shower, overhead, and even closet so it feels relaxing in the evening—and much easier on the eyes in the early morning."

If your bathroom uses fluorescent lights, it's still possible to dim the tubes to a sensual setting, but it often requires a special dimming ballast, which might necessitate some professional-installation assistance. For other lighting situations, many affordable dimmers are available, as are waterproof dimming lights that you can pop in the shower. Whichever route you choose, slipping in and out of the mood lighting instead of dealing with mega unflattering contrast sounds pretty nice.

2. Go old-school, and set your wick on fire

Related to the notion that playing with lighting is an easy way to change your emotional atmosphere, candles can offer scent and light variation. And, they include one big-time benefit: In practice, using candles requires a lot less elbow grease and wiring than using dimmers does.

"I always have my favorite candle on hand, and I mix up the scent from season to season—I love Linnea’s Lights and Illume Candles," Wilson says.

Nothing screams (or smells) of elegance like a particularly luxe candle, but you don't have to invest a ton of money to set some mood lighting with an aromatic twist. Plenty of great candles are budget friendly, and whichever wick you pick, this tip is one of the easiest spa bathroom ideas to implement because it dismisses other, um, bathroom odors. And, that alone is a great way to up a space's calming and comforting factor.

3. Make sure your toes are treated to the best

There's not a lot of floorspace in my bathroom, but the floorspace I do have is, plain and simple, gross. Here, the spa bathroom idea to implement involves keeping your space as clean as possible, but also safeguarding your feet from the unpleasant wake-up call of freezing-cold tile. Make sure to have an extra fluffy bath mat for when you get out of the shower.

And for some extra oomph? It would be nice to have something cozy under your feet when you're starting your early-morning ritual, too. "Laying a plush rug by the sink for a soft place to perch while you get ready or end your day makes everything feel more luxurious," Wilson says. "My Luna in Dawn rug is neutral yet rich, and adds a sophisticated element."

4. Fluff and personalize your towel selection

You're already making sure that your feet are nice and dry, so now it's time to give your skin the royal treatment. That means investing in some fluffy towels. "I always recommend my clients splurge on great towels—I love Sferra and Restoration Hardware Turkish towels," says Wilson. "Adding a monogram to towels also makes every day feel extra special."

Slapping an "MGG" on my towels sure does sound luxe, but after I did some cursory investigations, I learned the personalization doesn't need to be costly. Sellers like Etsy, Bed Bath & Beyond, and, uh, beyond allow you to customize towels inexpensively.

Monogram or not, just make sure to wash your towels frequently—at least every two days. Because enveloping yourself in bacteria after a satisfying shower doesn't really scream "spa," you know?

5. Dedicate a few minutes (and a few jars) to the pursuit of organization

You know what's not going to make your bathroom feel like a spa? Having open toothpaste tubes, bottles of rosewater spray, and stray period products askew around your sink. I get it if you can't fit in a proper cabinet—but that doesn't give you carte blanche to lay products around wherever your please. According to Wilson, investing in even a few containers can be a great way to organize your space in an aesthetically pleasing way. "I even love to display essentials, like cotton balls and Q-tips in beautiful canisters⁠—Kohler makes some great bath accessories," she says.

One last small spa bathroom idea from yours truly: I use simple apothecary jars to store items on top of our toilet basin. And, not to brag, but I've never seen a better-arranged display of tampons and pads.

Ultimately, turning your bathroom into a mini spa isn't about investing a fortune in a rose quartz tub or taking a Cleopatra-approved milk bath. Rather, it's about adjusting small things to improve your comfort level—the lighting that'll soothe you, and the towels that'll hug you, and everything in between.

Want a simple (and free!) facial treatment? All you'll need is 10 seconds and your bathroom sink. And this is the one need-to-know space in the bathroom where germs are hiding out

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