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  • Writer's pictureMarni Jameson

Have a Hard Day? Spa-tify Your Bath

The dog broke my toe. My car got hit parked. The roof is leaking. The kids need money. And I am travel worn. In two weeks, I have been in eight airports, three time zones, and seen 4 a.m. on more clocks than I care to count.

After a run like that, I am pining for a long, weekend at a dreamy spa somewhere, the kind where you wear a cushy robe, lie back with cucumber slices over your eyes, drink cold lemon water and work through the withdrawal symptoms of not looking at your phone, which is banned. But the dream and the spa and the withdrawals will have to wait, as I have a roof to replace, a car to fix, and a toe to mend.

“Why don’t you take a hot bath?” my husband kindly suggested, sensing that I was more frazzled than a preschool teacher on Halloween.

“Honey,” I said, “if I slip into a hot bath right now, I might just slide down the drain and pull the stopper in over me.”

He knew better than to respond. But he got me thinking …. If I can’t go to a dreamy spa somewhere, why couldn’t I create my own? I can close the bathroom door, draw a steamy bath, light a scented candle, and drink iced lemon water right here.

What’s stopping me? Maybe because my bathroom doesn’t feel like a spa. One of the smallest yet most personal rooms in the house, bathrooms often fall short of their full potential because many of us (my hand is up) treat them like a pitstop. We zoom in and zoom out.

But what if this transitional place -- where we look ourselves in the mirror, bare our souls (among other body parts), and perform routine tasks of daily hygiene (please don’t stop) -- were more like a sanctuary than a locker room?

I gave my bathroom a fresh look, and asked what great spas have that many bathrooms don’t but could, and came up with the following 15 ways to spa-tify our bathrooms, starting from the walls and working into the final details:

  1. Declutter. Clutter and calm cannot coexist. Clear surfaces help create a tranquil feel. Everything on your bathroom counters should be both beautiful and useful. Aim for serene.

  2. Organize. Edit your bathroom drawers and cabinets. Toss any products you don’t use. Once you’ve pared down, get drawer organizers. Maximize tall storage under the sink with stackable wire baskets that pull out. Leave room for a small waste bin, which you want out of sight.

  3. Clean. You cannot feel clean in a room that’s dirty. Your bathroom should look, smell and feel like the most hygienic room in the house. If you have to wear hazmat gear to go into your own shower, grab a bottle of cleanser and a sponge next time. Make every surface – from mirrors and soap dishes to faucets and toilet bowls – gleam.

  4. Cool it on color. Visual noise can overwhelm a space. To create a Zen vibe, keep patterns to a minimum, and color palettes light.

  5. Add light control. Because sometimes you want good light to apply your make up by, and other times soft light to help you decompress, install dimmers. This will give you instant mood control at the touch of a button.

  6. Switch your showerhead. Swapping your ordinary showerhead for an oversized rain showerhead will upgrade your shower to spa level fast.

  7. Bring in some bling. If you have the room, a chandelier with a few drops of crystal hanging over the tub, or in the center of the bathroom, can quickly kick up the class factor.

  8. Get a new grip. The master bath is one room where you can depart from the hardware in the rest of the house. Change out your faucets, knobs and pulls for ones that add a touch of luxe.

  9. Hang a chic curtain. Shower doors or doorless, step-in showers look cleanest, but if your bathroom shower needs a curtain, keep it simple and pristine.

  10. Splurge on towels and washcloths. Don’t get sucked in by soft towels. Sizing, which washes off, makes towels soft and also non-absorbent. You want thirsty towels. Look for 100 percent long-staple terry cotton, in a generous size, and a light color. You can’t go wrong with white. Add a sumptuous bathmat, and a plush terry robe. Because you really don’t want to use yesterday’s washcloth, buy a dozen, and keep them nearby in a neat stack or pretty basket.

  11. Hang ‘em right. Hang or neatly stack clean-to-be-seen towels where they’re visible. To keep the bathroom looking tidy, hang damp used towels on hooks behind the door, or toss them in the dryer.

  12. Corral bath supplies. Bath products have a way of sprawling. Gather shower products into a handsome caddy, and place bath essentials on a chic tray by the tub. Stocked them with fine triple-milled soap, luxury bath salts, and natural bath sponges.

  13. Appeal to your “scentses.” Spas are filled with soothing scents, usually fragrances like eucalyptus, lavender and citrus. Find a scent you love and stick with it in lotions, candles and soaps to avoid mixing scents.

  14. Add something green. A live plant or several can literally add life to a bathroom.

  15. Cut the commercials. If you’re going to put everyday items on display, neutralize labeled products. Cover tissue boxes. Put liquid soaps and lotions in attractive pump dispensers, and fill elegant jars with cotton balls and Q-tips. If it isn’t pretty, don’t set it out.

When you find that rare moment to enjoy your home spa, get a pitcher of iced lemon water, light a scented candle, and leave everything that doesn’t promote relaxation -- your cell phone, work papers, children – outside the closed door. Then bliss out.

CAPTION #1: Get that spa feeling. To add a Zen feel to your bathroom, minimize or eliminate patterns and keep your color palette light. You can’t go wrong with white towels.

CAPTION #2: If it isn’t pretty, hide it -- If you’re going to put everyday items on your counter, neutralize product labels. Cover tissue boxes. Put liquid soaps and lotions in attractive pump dispensers, and fill elegant jars with cotton balls and Q-tips.

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