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Spa-like serenity

The holiday hubbub has finally died down, and now it's time for some well-deserved rest. A trip to the spa sounds like just the thing – but why not create that same relaxing atmosphere in your own house? Transform your bathroom into an oasis and enjoy the spa experience without ever leaving home.

First, clear out the clutter, says Bobbie Cox of Custom Dragonfly Designs in Charlotte. "It always surprises my clients how big their space actually is once we have a ‘home’ for everything and things are put in place – not just lying everywhere," she says. Put small, loose items in cabinets. If you don’t have the space in cabinets, place them in baskets or boxes that are decorative.

Always fold towels and hang them to dress up the space. Use artwork that is inspiring or soothing, Cox recommends, and try not to use a lot of greenery in the space. The lint and moisture make plants look tired very quickly.

Use subtle paint colors in the palette, Cox advises, as "bold reds are not typically soothing in nature, therefore those colors should be used in other spaces in the home." Cox also likes to keep the master bedroom and bath the same color, creating a ‘suite’ effect even if the space is smaller. Clear glass shower doors can open the space and allow light to bounce around a space that does not have a window or skylight to the exterior.

Leslie Williams, of Leslie Williams Interior Design in Charlotte, says a spa-like oasis was the inspiration for the client's bathroom you see here. "I worked with contractor Harris Enterprises to actually gut the old bathroom and part of the old bedroom space to give the client a larger spa shower, walk-in closet and double vanity," Williams says.

"We added a large rainfall shower head, heated towel holder, faucets installed on and coming out of the large mirror, vessel basins that sit on top of the counter with a textured pattern, limestone countertops and mosaic tile in the shower. Custom dark wood vanities give the room a modern and sophisticated feel. "

For Cox's redesign, the main goal for the entire house was simplifying the living style and making things more convenient to reach, find and clean. This extended to the bathroom with the decision to have drawers installed in the custom vanity, and also choosing finishes that were easy to clean and durable. “By installing the two above-counter vessel sinks, you gain more space within the cabinet itself," Cox says, "therefore allowing more space for the drawers to be fully functional."

To make this smaller bathroom seem uncluttered, she placed the trash can within a drawer, opening up more floor space. She also installed a cabinet over the toilet to add more storage. This was particularly important in the client's home because there wasn't a linen closet available.

As a designer, full functionality is most important, Cox says. She added a simple backsplash to match the existing tile that surrounded the bathtub. To add interest, she had the installer place crackled glass tile on the diagonal at intervals in the backsplash, making sure they would be seen just above the vessel bowls. The plate glass mirror was dressed up with a custom frame that matched all of the new cabinets creating, a suite appearance.

Lighting is very important too, she says. Installing a frosted glass, ceiling-mounted fixture for general lighting softens the space. She recommends setting this light on a dimmer switch to help set a relaxed mood. "Placing lights, even the fixture in the shower or over the bathtub, on dimmer switches makes a huge difference in any space – but especially the bathroom, Cox says.

"Women want to have great lighting to put makeup on in the morning and soft light when getting ready for bed or during a bath. Male clients like having a medium light on at all times, never a truly harsh light even when shaving. Having fixtures on dimmers really helps keep the everyday life moving smoothly without any unnecessary arguments over the lights and the time of day."

For do-it-yourselfers, Cox says painting is a great place to start. "For bathrooms you should always use a wipeable paint in a semi-gloss finish. Replace outdated light fixtures, hardware and faucets – most weekend warriors can do these on their own," she says. Fresh towels may seem simple, but they make a huge difference to bathrooms, Cox advises.

Williams also recommends starting your transformation with paint. Use a soothing color palette, and "add in woven wood mats or shower mats or go with fluffy flokati rugs, vessels to hold bath salts, etc.,” she says. “Use natural materials and eco-friendly, woven wood shades for windows.”

Now sit back, relax and bask in the newly created serenity.