From Spotlight: Create a Bathroom Oasis — That’s Efficient Too!

10 Ways to Make Your Bathroom Feel Like a Spa

Get tips for adding value to your home and making your bathroom a luxury escape.

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Image: Jon Lovette/Getty

Ahhh, the spa. For some of us, it’s been too long since we've gone to a real spa. We miss the luxury of a hot tub soak and the power of sauna and steam rooms to align our body and spirit. So, we’re doing the next best thing. We're remodeling our bathrooms with spa-inspired features to get that relaxing vibe at home. Enter the spa bathroom. The trend has even inspired a new word blend: spathroom. 

Homeowners are searching out creative ways to enjoy their homes more. “We’re looking for ways to relax at home versus going out. So, bringing that luxury home in the form of a spa bathroom is a logical next,” says Dr. Anna Ruth Gatlin, an assistant professor of interior design at Auburn University.

But a spa bathroom can carry a hefty price tag. A bathroom remodel costs an average $35,000, according to the National Association of REALTORS® "Remodeling Impact Survey." A budget-friendly remodel can be done for as little as $2,500, depending on the scope of the project and where you live, according to “Forbes Advisor.”

Spa Bathroom Ideas

Improvements that can add value to your home include upgrading your shower, adding storage through shelving, and refreshing your color scheme, according to Property Price Advice. A bathroom that still needs upgrades will make the whole home much less appealing to buyers, says realtor.com®. The website recommends enhancing marketability through simple upgrades like installing new bathroom hardware and adding shelving.

If you make smart choices, you can also get soul-soothing relaxation from spa features like a new steam shower. And that can’t be measured in dollars and cents.

#1 Install a Spa Showerhead.

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Image: Matthias Nitsch/EyeEm/Getty

Replace your plain showerhead with a more luxurious model to turn your daily shower into a restorative experience. We’re not talking about changing out the whole fixture just the head, so you can do it yourself. You can get a rain showerhead that sprays water directly from above, or heads with adjustable massaging spray patterns.

Japanese meets Scandinavian in 'Japandi,' a trend that makes a bathroom look like it stepped out of Ten Thousand Waves Spa in Santa Fe.

#2 Upgrade Vanities.

Updating your vanity can make a big change in a bathroom without costing a lot of money. You can transform a dated vanity with new paint, new hardware, and a new countertop. So you don't have to rip out and replacing the entire unit. To get a spa look, consider painting a wooden vanity matte black, adding shiny brass pulls, and replacing the vanity's countertop with a slab of white marble.

#3 Add Some Japandi.

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Image: Anatoliy_gleb/Getty

Japanese meets Scandinavian in “Japandi,” a bathroom trend that combines Zen with hygge for a bathroom that looks like it stepped out of Ten Thousand Waves Spa in Santa Fe. Japandi uses a neutral color palette accented with brass or black fixtures and a lot of wood to push a connection to nature. You don't have to remodel your entire bathroom in Japandi style. Instead, paint the walls a cool white tone and replace your vanity mirrors with simple round ones. Swap out faucets, cabinet pulls, and towel racks with new black metal ones, and add open wooden shelves. Bathroom paint is an affordable alternative to tile, a fast way to change the look of the room. 

#4 Go for Gold.

Gold and brass have made a comeback, replacing silver and nickel trim as the finish of choice in bathrooms. Now is a good time to upgrade your faucets, towel racks, showerhead, shower trim, and mirror frames with a yellow-tinged metal. “After nearly two decades of loving the cold industrial feel of steel, we’re craving warmer-toned metals in bathrooms,” Gatlin says. It’s a cold world out there. We could all use the warm glow of a gold showerhead or towel rack to warm our souls and lift our spirits.

#5 Install a Towel Warmer.

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Image: Julia Pavaliuk/Getty

Nothing says “Ahhh, I feel like I’m at a spa” like stepping out of the shower and wrapping yourself in a warm towel. You can get that feeling at home by installing a towel warming rack in your bathroom. They range in style from plug-in models that need no electrical work, to upscale models that an electrician will need to wire into the bathroom. Those higher-end models will add lasting value to your home and do a better job of warming those towels and making you feel pampered.

#6 Opt for Natural Wood.

Pull up the tile, linoleum, or (shudder) carpet on your bathroom flooring. Then put down wood floors in a water-resistant material like teak, cedar, or hinoki cypress. This brings nature and warmth into your bathroom. Don’t want wood in a wet place like a bathroom? Think about porcelain tile that's made to look like wood. You'll get the warmth of wood grain with the durability of tile. 

#7 Put in Open Shelving.

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Image: Carlos Ciudad Photography/Getty

A few rows of open shelving made of wood can make your bathroom more spa-like by adding a wood finish. They also provide a place to stash your shampoo bottles, towels, and other grooming supplies that can clutter a bathroom. Open wood shelves will make your bathroom more functional, fast. And more storage almost always adds to a home’s value.

#8 Add a Bidet Attachment to Your Toilet.

Once exclusively a European or Asian thing, Americans discovered bidets during the COVID pandemic when fears of a toilet paper shortage spurred bidet sales. Bidets fit in with the spa bathroom aesthetic because spas are about cleanliness and purity. You can go for a full, standalone bidet. Or you can get the same effect by buying a bidet attachment that fits onto your existing toilet. The best choice for adding value to your house is a bidet toilet seat that fits permanently onto your existing toilet and features a dryer function. 

#9 Go Big With a Spa Shower.

This is a big-ticket item. Spa bathroom showers are usually double the size of a normal shower and tiled from head to toe -- no shower curtain, just glass doors or walls. The idea is to create a rainforest waterfall feel. They usually have a wellness showerhead the size of a dinner plate that offers a range of spray patterns along with chromotherapy. 

#10 Build a Wet Room.

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Image: Mint Images/Getty

We’re in total room remodel territory now. Wet rooms turn the entire bathroom into a waterproof space. This dispenses with a walk-in shower and creates a bathroom with a shower that’s open to the bathroom and separated only by a half-wall of glass or tile. There’s a freestanding soaking tub in a wet room, too. A wet room looks like the bathroom at an actual spa, with bathroom tile on walls, floors, and sometimes even ceilings. It’s a super high-end bathroom that will add luxury with a capital L to your home.

More From This Spotlight: Create a Bathroom Oasis — That’s Efficient Too!