We all need a place to retreat to and recharge our batteries, and these spa bathroom ideas are here to help you create exactly that. Whether you’re after tips for adding a little element of indulgence into the every day, or you dream about having a complete spa experience at home, there’s inspiration for every project.
Experts and designers reveal their industry tricks and bathroom ideas – from must-have materials to uncompromisable features and luxurious finishes – all to help you design a space with a calming feel that will not only look beautiful but boost your well-being too.
1. Go for a double vanity unit
Striking the perfect harmony between breathtaking natural materials and contemporary design details, this gorgeous bathroom epitomizes spa-like luxury. Designed by French interior design studio Humbert & Poyet (opens in new tab), it’s a masterclass in combining different textural materials. ‘The cabinet is notched wood in French Blue, with Calacatta Sponda marble basins and polished brass taps,’ say Co-Founders Christophe Poyet and Emil Humbert. ‘The onyx wall is a statement choice, yet this natural stone maintains a sense of serenity in the bathroom.’
But it’s not just the stunning use of materials that evoke grandeur – the inclusion of a double vanity unit is a signature feature of the most luxurious bathrooms. ‘Our vision of luxury goes beyond the use of materials,’ say Christophe and Emil. It’s all about making the room work perfectly, and fulfilling every requirement of the space. A double vanity instantly creates a feeling of luxury, not just aesthetically but functionally too. ‘Having two bathroom sinks and a larger vanity unit in itself is simply more practical!’ they say. It gives the room a spacious feel, and of course offers room for more bathroom storage ideas too.
2. Consider lighting to create a spa-like bathroom
With relaxation the name of the game, low and gentle lighting is a feature of every spa - so be sure to factor this into your bathroom design. ‘Lighting will always have a dramatic impact on the feeling within a space,’ says Hayley Robson, Creative Director and Co-Founder of Day True (opens in new tab). ‘In the case of this project, we were able to create simple vertical shafts of natural light to create a pleasing visual repetition as well as provide a soft glow into the room.’
As well as considering the interplay of natural light and architecture in your bathroom, apply the same logic to artificial bathroom lighting sources too. Avoid anything bright at eye level, instead opt for ambient downlights beneath mirrors and cabinets.
Another key feature of this modern bathroom project that helps to create a serene feel is a perfectly positioned built-in seating area. ‘We always try to build a seat into showering areas,’ says Hayley. ‘This simple solution can transform the experience and functionality of a shower – being able to sit and relax with cascading water is a simple, but transformative pleasure.’
3. Max out on storage
There is nothing relaxing about an untidy room, and a bathroom can be particularly susceptible to a hoarding of half-used products and grooming gadgets – all of which multiplies significantly if you have a family! ‘Built-in storage is vital in order to reduce clutter,’ says Peter Mikic, Founder of interior design studio Peter Mikic (opens in new tab). ‘There are so many bits and pieces you need, but only having the essentials on show will help the space feel relaxing.
Cupboards that line the width of your wall will offer a huge amount of storage space, and can be concealed to some extent behind mirrors. Beneath the basin too is a great place to incorporate drawers, offering instant access to everyday products. Just be sure to design the storage in keeping with the surrounding room, prioritizing sleek and subtle finishes. ‘Clean lines and muted tones will contribute to the serenity of a space,’ advises Peter.
4. Include marble in your scheme
A material favored by many for creating a sophisticated and elegant look, marble bathroom ideas will really help the space to feel serene and spa-like. ‘Marble evokes the enveloping luxury of high-end hotels, where bathroom floors, walls, and even entire baths and showers, are clad in this time-honored material’, says Rob Whitaker, Co-founder and Creative Director of Claybrook. ‘Likewise, spas too often utilize this quintessentially chic material to create a sense of calm and well-being.’
There are so many ways to include marble in your scheme, beginning with marble accessories such as a toothbrush holder or soap dispenser, to marble bathroom tile ideas, right up to sanitaryware made from marble. Tiling is often a cost-effective way to achieve maximum impact, and there is a wide range of shapes and sizes of tile to choose from.
‘Using different shapes of marble in the same room creates a powerful visual impression,’ says Rob. ‘A pleasing balance is generally afforded by using larger tiles on the floor, with smaller tiles and more intricate laying patterns on the walls. It is also more practical in terms of cleaning to have less grout joins on the floor.’
5. Try a darker scheme for a cocooning feel
For something a little different, why not take a trip to the dark side with your bathroom color ideas? ‘Whilst most will tend to opt for lighter neutral tones, utilizing darker marble or terrazzo in a bathroom will create a rich, dramatic, and atmospheric scheme full of depth,’ says Founder of TR Studio (opens in new tab) Tom Rutt. These deep tones have the effect of enclosing and enveloping you, creating a sanctuary that feels worlds away from the other rooms in your home.
Tom advises on how to prevent the scheme from falling flat; ‘The key to designing a darker bathroom is using the right lighting,’ he says. ‘Avoid creating dingy corners, and instead aim to gently illuminate each area to ensure it feels both cocooning and luxurious.’
Materials and texture will also form a key part of a dark bathroom, adding intrigue and interest. ‘Marble, Zellige tiles and waterproof plaster are finishes we like to use in bathrooms because they have a contemporary feel, without overwhelming the space with color or pattern,’ says Tom. ‘We also love reeded glass, and brass too for its wonderful warmth and luxe finish.’
6. Avoid stark white
Marie Soliman, Founder and Creative Director of Bergman Design House (opens in new tab), knows a thing or two about creating relaxing bathrooms, having designed spaces for the most luxurious hotels, spas and high end residences around the world. ‘We’ve seen a huge bathroom trend developing where people want a home bathroom that feels like an oasis of calm; a space that allows the stresses and strains of the day to drain away,’ says Marie.
If you do opt for a lighter colour scheme, Marie advises that it’s still best to tone down the brightness. ‘Avoid using white,’ she says. ‘It can be harsh and feel too clinical for a relaxing bathroom. Instead, it’s better to use shaded whites and warm ivories.’
And if you love the look of natural stone and marble, but don’t have the budget for a head to toe look, its beauty will still shine through in smaller doses. ‘To save on costs, consider using a smaller quantity of natural stone and treat it more like a statement feature,’ says Marie. ‘You could include it as a surface on the vanity, or across just one section of the wall as a focal point, or even just across one item such as an organically shaped basin.’
7. Use natural stone where you can
Aesthetically, replica stone and marble has improved considerably in recent years and you may be hard pressed to tell the difference. However, for the inherent practical qualities, real natural stone is hard to beat for bathroom floor tiles or wall tiles. ‘100% natural stone is extremely easy to maintain as it is highly resistant to damage from water, scratches, UV rays and stains,’ says Hege Lundhs, Marketing Director at Lundhs Real Stone (opens in new tab). ‘It’s the ideal surface choice for bathrooms, as it’s able to withstand the wear and tear of everyday use without fear of damage, marking or fading.’
Not only is it an incredibly practical choice, but natural stone also inspires an increased sense of well being – perfect if you’re trying to create a spa-like feeling. ‘It’s connection to nature adds a calming touch to any interior, and helps you to embrace relaxation and serenity,’ says Hege. ‘The smooth texture and unique detailing helps to create a softer, more lived-in feel for an oasis of tranquility away from everyday stresses.’
How do you make a bathroom look like a spa?
For a spa-like bathroom, the overall look should be soft, gentle and connected to nature. Think about including as many natural elements as you can – from marble tiles, to natural stone surfaces - and go for the best quality you can afford.
During the day, the focus should be on natural light, so think about how you can maximise this in your architecture. Of an evening, lighting should be warm and low so as to not feel too abrasive or stark.
What should you include in a spa bathroom?
Storage is a really key element of creating a spa bathroom, as clutter is not conducive to relaxing! Consider built in cabinets for a really seamless look - ultimately you’re trying to give your eye an interrupted view so that you can really unwind.
A walk in shower is one thing that can instantly create that spa-like feel. ‘Focus on the tranquil element of water by incorporating a luxurious rain shower,’ says Marie Soliman, Founder and Creative Director of Bergman Design House. ‘Complement this indulgence with some elegant tapware, scented candles, fluffy towels and treat yourself to an upgrade of your toiletries!’
How do you make a bathroom a sanctuary?
For a really relaxing space, you want your bathroom to feel quite distinct from the rest of your home. It should be a place of retreat, somewhere to - quite literally - close the door on the rest of the world.
Color is a great way to do this, and if the rest of your home is very light and bright, a dark and moody scheme will give a cocooning effect. Alternatively, materials too will have a huge impact on the space, and deciding to invest a little more in this space will make it feel really special.
Interiors stylist and journalist Amy Neason was the Deputy Style and Interiors editor at House Beautiful for years. She is now a freelance props and set stylist, creating work for a range of national publications and brands such as Imogen Heath. She has previously worked at Established & Sons, and her skills include styling still life and interiors shots for editorial features and sourcing unique products to create inspirational imagery.
She is particularly respected for interpreting seasonal trends into feature ideas and style stories.
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