There's nothing like some me-time in a luxurious spa after a long day. With just a little effort, you can transform your own bathroom into an oasis in which to relax and rejuvenate. • Some simple changes and inexpensive accessories can do the trick, designers say. Michelle Keith, Associated Press
Begin with a clean slate
"Rooms feel calmer without clutter. So before doing anything else, clear off surfaces, walls and floors," said New York City designer Eve Robinson. "And while you're at it, toss out anything past its prime or that you really don't want or need."
Robinson favors light color palettes — seafoam green and white, for instance — and uses very few accessories, perhaps "simple black-and-white photographs of ocean waves for a sense of relaxation and comfort."
She adores the classic spa feel of terry cloth, and suggests "crisp white towels and bath mats to brighten and freshen a bathroom." Robinson also likes upholstering stools on wheels with terry to provide seating or space to pile extra towels.
Scents and sounds
The right music can make a difference, according to Los Angeles designer Molly Luetkemeyer.
"Get the smallest iPod dock possible," she said. "Make a playlist of music that helps you unwind, or download some ambient nature sounds — ocean waves, a bubbling brook, mountain breezes. Turn it on when you enter the room and almost immediately you'll feel more serene."
One of Luetkemeyer's favorite parts about visiting spas is "being enveloped by delicious aromas," not only essential oils and bubble bath, but "candles that make you go 'ahh.' "
"Try short, chubby ones along the bathtub rim, several candlesticks grouped together or a candelabrum — and be sure to dim the lights before stepping into the tub," she said.
To really enjoy the aromas, she has a good tip: "Push the spent end of the wick into the warm wax to extinguish the candle. If you blow it out, the beautiful aroma will be covered by a smoky odor."
Bring the outdoors in
Alex Jordan, co-president of the Chicago design firm Gregga Jordan Smieszny, likes to create an island mood with accessories that exude a "tropical feel." Among them are teak flooring ("Buy tiles online, much less expensive,") and, "if the room is well-ventilated, a large, hanging paper light fixture," he said.
Don't limit yourself to the bath sections of stores, Jordan said: "Broaden your vision. Investigate stores' living room departments and boutiques carrying foreign products."
Think about glass cylinders filled with seashells and river rocks, wood receptacles for makeup and hair brushes, baskets for rolled towels, cleaning equipment and the kids' toys.
One final suggestion Jordan shared is "parachute cloth for the shower curtain or to surround the tub. It's reminiscent of a spa's massage area and looks like it would gently rustle in an ocean breeze."