Make Every Day A Spa Day

Follow these expert tips to transform your home bathroom into a relaxing oasis.
Inspire your redesign with the best of your favorite spas. Photo: Bob & Dawn Davis

By Dr. Stacie Stephenson

Don’t you just love stepping into your beautiful bathroom for a shower and pampering in the morning, or luxuriating in your bathtub at the end of a long day? 

I personally cherish my alone time in the bathroom, so keeping that space as beautiful, peaceful, soothing, organized and clean as possible is a priority. You might not realize how rejuvenating a spa-at-home can be until you try it. If your bathroom doesn’t feel like a calming oasis, you can do something about that. Whether you want to make just a few basic changes or completely remodel your bathroom, here are some tips I’ve found that can turn any bathroom into a spa experience.

Get Inspired

Think back to spas you’ve visited. What do you remember that you loved? Browse online photos of luxury spas to get inspired. Although each spa has its unique character (and so should your bathroom), there are some signature spa elements that you will probably see often, such as:

Natural colors, like white, pale green, pale blue and earth tones

Natural materials, such as ceramic tile, marble, bamboo and wood

Clean lines and clear surfaces with a minimalist aesthetic

Greenery, like humidity-loving plants and small trees (which can certainly be good-quality replicas, if you don’t have a green thumb)

Soothing lighting, not so dim that you can’t read by it or so bright that it’s jarring—natural light and bulbs that mimic natural light work best

Open shelves—think wood or bamboo with

Stacks of rolled white towels and luxe personal care products in attractive bottles and jars

Luxurious linens

Plenty of mirrors

Small, soft rugs or bamboo mats for wet feet

Think about your own space and make your wish list.


Before you start buying decor or tearing out fixtures, make your bathroom as minimalist as possible. This means getting organized. It’s easy to clutter the bathroom with personal care products, makeup and hair tools, especially the ones you use often. 

Begin by removing everything from the bathroom. Empty the medicine cabinet, linen closet, all cabinets, drawers and shelves. Take out rugs or bath mats, the magazine basket, the bathroom scale, everything under and on top of the sink. Take pictures off the walls. 

Next, go through each item. If it’s expired, toss it. If you don’t really like it and that’s why you haven’t used it, throw it out or give it away. If it’s broken discard it (or fix it, if you want to keep it). If you love it but it’s dirty, clean it. 

Divide everything you want to keep into two piles: things you don’t use often (such as the first-aid kit, the curling iron for special occasions, the products you bought in bulk, specialty linens, etc.), and things you use at least three times a week (blow-dryer, your regular makeup, your everyday linens). 

Do a Deep Clean

Next, it’s time to roll up your sleeves, put on rubber gloves and start cleaning (or find someone to do this part, if it’s really not your thing). Open the bathroom windows. Scrub the counters, sinks, tub or shower, and floors, all the way into the corners. Get the base of the toilet, all crevices of the faucets, and wipe down the walls, light fixtures and shelves. Get cobwebs out of the corners and use an anti-mildew treatment on any discolored areas on the ceiling. Spas are squeaky clean, and your bathroom should be, too.

Consider Painting

Once everything is sparkling, think about the condition of the walls. They might be fine as they are, but nothing transforms a bathroom like a coat of paint. Consider freshening up the color with soothing pale shades, on all walls or just one accent wall. Common spa colors are pale, fresh greens and soothing blues. You might also consider adding dark wood or light bamboo paneling to one wall (make sure it is suited for use in a bathroom), or covering a wall in tile. A fresh white feels clean and new. 

Upgrade Fixtures

Changing light fixtures can completely reset the look of your bathroom. You could swap out the mirror with a larger one or multiple mirrors, to make the room seem more spacious. Replace the hardware on cabinets and drawers, even the light switch plates. Metallic or cut-glass fixtures and hardware reflect light and look luxurious. 

Put All Items Where They Belong

Return to the bathroom everything you have decided to keep. This might mean reassessing storage. Could you fill your bathroom closet with wire or wicker baskets for better organization? Put items you use less often at the back or sides; keep frequently used items front and center. Could you add or improve under-sink storage for daily serums, lotions, brushes and makeup? Could you add a bamboo shelf for towels and products, or a small cabinet by the toilet for toilet paper? A bamboo tray across the bathtub for holding a washcloth, bathing brush, fancy soap, a book, perhaps a candle or a glass of wine, is an inexpensive and luxurious touch. 

Add Aromas

One thing you have probably noticed about spas is the fragrance. Consider adding an essential oil diffuser to the bathroom. You could also put some fresh eucalyptus in a vase, or hang it on the wall. Every time the bathroom fills with steam, eucalyptus releases its scent. Stash a pretty tray beside the bathtub with an assortment of your favorite essential oils to add to your bathwater. 

Put your signature on your home spa. Large or multiple mirrors make it more spacious. Photo: Cara Garbarino

Beautify and Personalize

Finally, put on the finishing touches that will make your bathroom feel both spa-like and you-like. Think natural and/or modern. Maybe you like botanical art on the walls, or nothing on your newly painted walls, for a more minimalist look. Could you add some plants, like ferns or an orchid? For any items you want to keep on display (like your toothbrush, a water glass, tissues), look for attractive containers or organizers in bamboo, white ceramic or metal. Can you upgrade the rug by the tub or shower? Change your window blinds to curtains or curtains to shades? 

Consider upgrading your towels. They don’t have to be white, but big, soft, fluffy towels will feel luxe every time you dry off. A stack of black washcloths are great for removing makeup.

Most importantly, personalize your bathroom even if, in the end, it makes your bathroom feel less like a spa and more like a place made just for you. What do you love? Folk art, all-gold fixtures, Zen-inspired, ocean-themed, organic everything? Put your signature on your home spa, and you’ll love going in there every single day. 

I hope my ideas have inspired you to make some changes, big or small. A bathroom that is clean, decluttered, smells like a spa and makes relaxing easier is all you need to change the whole experience from so-so to sublime.