Experts reveal the three must-haves to achieve the coveted spa bathroom look

The three elements of bathroom design you cannot ignore if you want to transform the room into a spa-like retreat

Bathroom blinds by Thomas Sanderson
(Image credit: Thomas Sanderson)

The spa bathroom look is easily the most coveted bathroom style of the moment. Bathrooms have always been fiercely private spaces, but their potential to become soothing sanctuaries has become only more important during the pandemic. 

The truth is that not all modern bathroom ideas will necessarily lead you in the direction of relaxing spa bathrooms. Transforming this often tricky room into a luxurious retreat requires fine attention to detail. 

We've asked experts in bathroom design to identify three key areas you simply can't ignore when working towards a spa bathroom look.

1. Match the color to the size and intent of the bathroom

A moern bathroom in a monochrome scheme

(Image credit: Paul Raeside/Future)

Bathroom paint choices are always essential to the atmosphere the room will have. Recently, we're seeing deeper, darker paint colors dominate bathrooms, but David Harris, Design Director at Andrew Martin, recommends cautiously weighing the precise dimensions and uses of your bathroom before taking the plunge into the dark and dramatic. 

This is especially true of larger bathrooms. 'They are often busy spaces and used by the whole family so creating a sense of exotic calm isn’t always possible,' he explains. 

'Go for light, fresh colors. Whites, creams, and clean soft greys work really well with smart bathroom fittings and marble surfaces. Warmer setting plaster colors are also great along with soft sky blues and greens.'

If in doubt, always lean towards a warm tone, he says, because 'These colors also work really well in winter months as they don’t make a space feel cold. Mixed with lots of brass and crystal fittings, these colors will keep your bathroom look super elegant and timeless.'

And if you have a small bathroom only used by a couple of people? 'Opt for something dark and rich to take you away from the rush of daily life. Dark forest greens and deep blues that create a perception of depth and are great for small spaces making them feel like a real getaway.'

2. Go for timeless not trendy

A classic bathroom in a light grey

(Image credit: James Merrell/Future)

Take a look around a luxurious spa, and you likely won't see design elements that make too much of an on-trend statement. Instead, luxurious materials and finishes speak for themselves. 

Isabel Fernandez, Director at Quorn Stone, says that 'when discussing the overall aim of a master bathroom with a client, we often find that contradictory to following a trend the main aim is to create a calming space (free of children and pets!) that will become the perfect place to unwind each evening.'

Isabel recommends high-quality, neutral-colored porcelain tiles throughout, and if you do want to make more of a statement, 'pops of color can be added through accessories, tap finishes, and painted vanity units.' 

Keep the calming quality of a spa in mind when researching your bathroom tile ideas – and ignore any trends that seem too stimulating or clash with your own preferences. 

3. Invest in dimmer switches

Hampton pendant, Davey Lighting

Hampton pendant, Davey Lighting

(Image credit: Davey Lighting)

Finally, you absolutely cannot ignore the atmospheric effects of carefully chosen lighting. As Charlie Bowles, Director at Davey Lighting, stresses, bathrooms are 'often the only room in the house with no natural light', so 'your lighting scheme must be carefully considered to make the most of the space, as well as your enjoyment of it.' 

His top tip is that 'Ideally, all your lights should be controlled separately and on dimmers, so you can switch on and off and up and down as you please.  There’s nothing less cocooning than the glare of overly bright lights bouncing off white tiles and shiny surfaces!  A central pendant hung over the bath will create a beautifully intimate, relaxing feel but needs to be carefully chosen, and carefully placed, to make sure it meets the legal safety requirements.'

So, bright spotlights be gone – let's get creative with bathroom lighting that is stylish and relaxing. 

These three tips will guide you towards master bathroom ideas that are good for body and soul, so that this vital room can become a true refuge from the pressures of daily life. 

Anna Cottrell
Anna Cottrell

Anna is Consumer Editor across Future home titles; she has a background in academic research and is the author of London Writing of the 1930s; she has written about literature, architecture, and photography, and has a special interest in high-end interior design.