How to Make Your Bathroom Feel Like a Retreat — 5 Simple Edits For a Spa-Like Sanctuary

Simple updates that will turn your bathroom into a spa-like retreat, perfect for those self-care moments

A neutral bathroom with freestanding tub
(Image credit: Mike Van Tassell. Design: Lindye Galloway Studio + Shop)

Bathrooms are so much more than functional spaces for our daily routines, they are rooms that offer a crucial moment of escape. It's the room in the home where you can unwind at the close of the day with a relaxing, candlelit bath, or indulge in that self-care routine that makes you feel pampered and polished.

But if you're dealing with a blank white box that lacks character, how do you elevate your bathroom to feel like more of a retreat? We've spoken to the modern bathroom experts for a few simple edits that will elevate the space. Here's their top tips.

1. Embrace mixed materials

A bathroom with layered natural materials

(Image credit: Mike Van Tassell. Design: Lindye Galloway Studio + Shop)

For a curated look that drives a spa-like aesthetic, embrace mixed materials to create a scheme that feels elegant and high-end. Beautiful natural materials like marble, limestone or travertine, combined with calming natural tones bring warmth and depth to a room.

'Integrating mixed materials and textures into your bathroom is key,' says designer Stéphanie Coutas. 'For example, textured stones and marbles, combined with textures that are matte, shiny, soft, or embroidered.' Glass from mirrors and chandeliers especially accentuates the flow of space and even creates an illusion of a larger room. 'Glass brings that serene atmosphere one wishes to create in their definition of a retreat,' says Stéphanie.

'Glass mosaics in aqua tones can also allow for that fresh spa feeling,' adds Ina Rinderknecht. 'I like to enhance these materials using bronze accents for the handles and fixtures,' she adds.

If a marble bathroom flooring or a stone basin isn't in your budget, go smaller and consider decorative items in your favorite materials - like a granite tray on your vanity or a marble top end table to sit next to your freestanding bath. It's all in the details.

2. Declutter the space

A decluttered bathroom with minimalist decor

(Image credit: Tom Ferguson Photography. Design: Luke Moloney Architecture)

If you want your bathroom to feel like a retreat from the rest of the home, it needs to feel like a destination. Spa bathrooms always have large bathroom mirrors with well-organized vanities and dressing tables.

You want this space to feel like a respite, somewhere where you don't have to worry about mess. 'Decluttering is key,' says Cori Pfaff of Ashby Collective. 'Keep daily toiletries, make-up, and other items organized or put away.'

Quick fixes to encourage an organized bathroom include drawer organizers that can divide drawers under your sink into handy categories. Over-the-toilet shelving is another good option for making the most of dead wall space that would overwise get overlooked.

In those small bathrooms, door hanging racks can give you extra space to store those bathroom bottles and a useful shower caddy is always an essential. Get this space organized and the room will instantly soothe.

3. Go for a neutral color palette

A bathroom with neutral color scheme and freestanding tub

(Image credit: Mike Van Tassell. Design: Lindye Galloway Studio + Shop)

Consider your bathroom color palette, urges Stéphanie. 'I tend to favor neutral color palettes in my bathroom designs to translate the beauty of nature and create that ‘retreat’ feel,' she says.

If you want to create a zen-like space, off-whites are a great tone to pick, instead of a bright and sterile white that typically has a blue tinge. Go earthier with neutrals and tans, like Benjamin Moore's Revere Pewter or Templeton Pink from Farrow & Ball.

You might also want to think about the finish of your paint too. A plaster or limewash finish creates a calming mottled effect on the walls and is a better choice than a high gloss paint that distorts the lighting in the bathroom. Textured walls help to absorb the light, creating a soothing space reminiscent of your favorite spa.

4. Enhance the space through texture

A bathroom with added texture

(Image credit: Nicole Franzen. Design: Corinne Mathern)

Don't forget texture in the bathroom for that luxe feeling. Add sheer draperies to soften, luxurious towels, and large wool area rugs instead of standard bathmats. 'An essential for spa bathrooms is high-quality linen, towels, and bathrobes which always add a sense of comfort,' says Stéphanie.

'Bath linens are number one for making a bathroom feel like a retreat,' agrees Kevin Sawyers at Sawyer Design. 'Products and potions are great but nothing beats your best bath towel engulfing you after a shower.' Don't forget to hang your towels and robes well to keep them fluffy and clean. A simple over-the-door hanger makes a great place for towel storage.

Pick bath linens in a special color as well, adds Kevin. 'I adore Abyss & Habidecor Super Pile products in Lapin. It’s happy and is a flattering choice for every type of complexion.'

5. Create a calming space with lighting

A neutral bathroom

(Image credit: Chango & Co)

Bathroom lighting is very important in creating the desired ambiance for your retreat, so opt for a layered scheme that you have full control of. 'Being able to enhance lighting in the morning or dim it in the evening is crucial for relaxation,' says Stéphanie.

A dimmer is a great way to make sure your lighting is soft, helping you to enhance your mood and escape the outside world. 'Lighting is one of the most important features in creating a retreat in your home bath,' says Cori. 'We like to put all bathroom lights on dimmer switches, this way you can control the lighting, turning them down when a soft ambient glow is needed.'

Finally, elevate the lighting scheme with your favorite candles. If you haven't the budget to redo your lighting scheme or add a pair of wall lights, invest in five candles and turn the big light off with your candles lit for bathtime. Aromatherapy and a sunset glow will turn your bathtime ritual into an immersive and relaxing one.

3 Buys to Turn Your Bathroom Into a Retreat

Oonagh Turner
Livingetc content editor and design expert

Oonagh is a content editor at and an expert at spotting the interior trends that are making waves in the design world. Writing a mix of everything and everything from home tours to news, long-form features to design idea pieces on the website, as well as frequently featured in the monthly print magazine, she's the go-to for design advice in the home. Previously, she worked on a London property title, producing long-read interiors features, style pages and conducting interviews with a range of famous faces from the UK interiors scene, from Kit Kemp to Robert Kime. In doing so, she has developed a keen interest in London's historical architecture and the city's distinct tastemakers paving the way in the world of interiors.