Designers often say their clients were looking for a “spa-like feel” when renovating their bathrooms. Spa-like luxury inspires a feeling of calm and relaxation. This can mean a space is light and airy, composed of materials that feel luxe and pleasing to the eye. Savvy designers know that balancing the layout, eliminating distracting elements and clutter, and maximizing a feeling of spaciousness are all key to achieving a spa-like sensibility. Here are three dramatic bathroom makeovers where designers made a bathroom feel like a serene getaway.
1. Bay Views and a Statement Tiled Wall
Bathroom at a Glance
Who lives here: A North Carolina couple who use this home as their second residence
Location: Sausalito, California
Size: About 180 square feet (17 square meters)
Designer: Jennifer Wundrow Interior Design
Before: Interior designer Jennifer Wundrow was tasked with showcasing spectacular views of San Francisco Bay while transforming this dated Sausalito bathroom into a spa-like retreat. While the room already had fantastic large windows, she had some tricks up her sleeve to make sure the views could be enjoyed from all over the remodeled space.
After: The homeowners’ idea of spa-like was streamlined contemporary style. This meant making the room feel light and visually pleasing. A statement freestanding tub in a graphite color anchors the spot in front of the window. An industrial-style chandelier hangs overhead. A wood stool and white oak-like tile floors add organic touches.
But the most spa-like statement in the space is the floor-to-ceiling tile on the wall that extends seamlessly from the shower stall to the area behind the tub. It is a custom pattern composed of picket tiles by Fireclay. The composition resembles abstract petals or leaves moving with the wind. “I laid the tile out in a pattern that gives off a subtle ombre effect without being too distracting,” Wundrow says. Using a clear glass shower enclosure left the wall visible and opened up views from the shower out to the bay.
The balance of elements throughout the room follows Wundrow’s philosophy of not distracting, putting the focus on the water views and finding calm. The seamless continuation of the floor tile into the shower and the clear glass shower enclosure prevent the room from looking broken up into separate chunks of space.
Before: This photo was taken from the bedroom toward the bathroom during demolition. The bedroom is a few steps below the bathroom. The existing vanity had a wood built-in above it with overhead lights and mirrors on both sides. It is marked by the horizontal wood pieces in this photo.
After: The homeowners wanted to borrow views from the bedroom. Wundrow accomplished this by keeping the area over the vanity as open as possible. She found a clever solution for incorporating the necessary mirror here by mounting it on a sliding barn door track. “I was initially going to add two small sliding mirrors, but the owners wanted to preserve as much of the bay views out the bedroom windows as possible, so I only added one mirror,” she says.
Leaving openings between the bedroom and bathroom is an idea currently trending in luxury hotels with dreamy spas. Rest assured, there is a separate water closet for the toilet that can be fully closed off from the rest of the bathroom space. This type of open arrangement works best for couples who go to bed and wake up at around the same time. It’s not for everyone, but this couple knew it would work for them.
2. Moroccan Bath Inspiration and an Easy Open Flow
Bathroom at a Glance
Who lives here: Ken and Nikki Gill and their school-age twins
Size: 240 square feet (22 square meters)
Designer: Tara Lenney Design
Before: A large jetted tub hogged a lot of space in this Dallas bathroom. To top it off, the jet features no longer worked. The vanity shown in the photo is one of two; the other one was located along an adjacent wall. A ceiling fan, soffit and glass block window dated the room, while tile and beige paint made it feel dingy.
The couple who live here were ready to tear this room apart. “The function and layout was driving them crazy,” says interior designer Tara Lenney. “They had lots of space where they didn’t want it and not enough in other areas.”
After: Lenney started from scratch, removing everything down to the studs. Her clients were so over that bathtub that they decided to replace it with a roomy shower stall and skip a tub altogether. The designer also reconfigured two adjacent closet spaces to fix the warren-like layout of the bathroom.
The open shower’s natural light, bench and tile all give it a spa-like feel. The floor is composed of polished marble tiles laser-cut into a diamond pattern. “This floor is a happy medium between modern and classic,” Lenney says. Combined with the Zellige-like tile on the walls, the tile selections in the bathroom nod to iconic Moroccan bathhouses, otherwise known as hammams.
The before-and-after floor plans show how Lenney reconfigured dual closets into one large closet. This gave her clients a bathroom layout that felt more airy and spa-like.
By reconfiguring the closet space, Lenny made room for a 12½-foot-long custom rift-cut white oak vanity. Its long lines, minimalist style and more-than-ample countertop space really brought the spa-like feel home. One can imagine seeing the glass jars and glamorous trays full of complimentary cotton swabs, toothbrushes, hair products, lotions and mini-deodorants typically laid out on a commercial spa’s counter.
The wood on the vanity adds warmth to the space. The long lines of the bottom shelf, thick countertop and ledge accentuate its extra-long dimensions. Mirrors that air kiss the ceiling and double globe sconces add to the spa-like feel.
Another spa-like touch is a place to throw used towels and other laundry. Two pull-out hampers in a storage tower make it easy to keep the room looking tidy.
3. Balancing in Some Bling
Bathroom at a Glance
Who uses it: A retired couple
Location: Richardson, Texas
Size: 150 square feet (14 square meters)
Designers: Dona Rosene (interior design) and Michael Lyons (architecture)
Before: This Richardson, Texas, bathroom was stuck in the 1980s. The large tub surround and shower stall bumped up against each other, creating a cluttered layout that was anything but spa-like. So they hired interior designer Dona Rosene to design the bathroom of their dreams. “My client really wanted this bathroom to be special and a little glamorous,” she says.
After: Rosene replaced the whirlpool tub with a sculptural freestanding bathtub. Creating some breathing room between the tub and the shower stall made the room feel more spacious and spa-like.
A jumping-off point for the design was Sea Pearl quartzite that one of the homeowners fell in love with while shopping with Rosene. The designer covered the back wall of the bathroom in the natural stone and repeated its use on the vanity wall and countertop. This material inspired the rest of the selections for the space.
She found a beautiful glass mosaic tile that coordinated well with the colors in the quartzite. The reflective qualities of the tile and the crystal chandelier add some bling to the space. Glass flower sculptures play off the mosaic tile and mitigate the existing window. Without the sculptures, the window would have looked odd, unbalanced and distracting.
Before: The framed glass shower was dated and made the bathroom layout feel chopped up.
After: The designer created a walk-in shower with an enclosure of frameless glass and tile on one side. This kept the view of the stunning quartzite wall open. The shower entry is curbless — the shower floor slopes down to a linear drain beneath the shower heads. And the homeowners don’t have to get wet when turning on the shower — the controls are built into the half column on the right.
Houzz readers are frequently concerned about draftiness in open showers. In this case, the homeowners have a heated floor that they keep at 74 degrees year-round and a bathroom exhaust fan with a built-in heater. In colder climates, well-insulated walls and floors are also key to keeping drafts out of an open shower.