July 18, 2024

There’s something magical—if not life-changing—about going to the spa. From the moment you walk through the door, you’re hit with an aroma you can’t put your finger on and transported to a calm, soothing oasis. Everything, from the steam showers and warm towels and robes to the calming music, soothes your senses.

Though a daily massage is likely out of the question, if you’re already upgrading your bathroom, some add-ons might be worth the splurge to recreate this luxurious experience at home. From heated floors and specialized toilet seats to ambient lighting and more, here are 12 bathroom renovation ideas that will turn your space into a spa, according to interior designers—they’re always worth the splurge, they say.

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Radiant Floor Heating

Bathrooms often feel chilly thanks to tile floors, windows, and less installation than other spaces in your home. And on a cold winter day, stepping out of your warm shower or bath onto a icy floor is jarring. Stop playing bathmat hopscotch and invest in radiant floor heating, says Mindy O’Connor, the founder and principal of Melina Kelson O’Connor Architecture & Interiors. If your house or apartment heating system is already hydronic, then it’s an absolute no brainer since you can just have your radiators removed as part of the renovation, she explains.

“Even if your home uses forced air for heating, I always love to install a secondary heat source of electric radiant in the bathroom. There is nothing as comfortable or luxurious as a heated floor. It is energy efficient and well worth the splurge,” Kelson says. “You can even run it into the shower for an extra level of comfort and luxury!”

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Oversized Steam Shower and Rain Shower Head

While most homeowners consider upgraded tiling or a new storage design with their shower space, steam showers should also be on your list of add-ons, says Damaris U. Avila, the founder of Damaris Avila Design. After all, stepping into a steam room is one of the easiest ways to mimic the elevated experience of a full-service spa. “You can pair this with a built-in bench and create a truly therapeutic space where you can detox at the end of your day,” says Avila. “It allows you to enjoy your new space with steam therapy followed by a relaxing shower within the same area.”

While you’re at it, consider changing your current shower head to a rain shower with a handheld facet, so you can create a full-body shower experience with water coming in two directions. “For those who appreciate strong water pressure, it allows you to bring the water closer to your body, creating a more refreshing experience,” Avila says. “This feature is equally conducive to a quick morning shower or one before bedtime with the handheld option.”

Luxury Bidet

If you’ve traveled to Japan for any period of time, you probably rave about the food and—yep—the toilets. What’s considered fairly common bathroom design in the South Pacific is rare in the United States. And a luxury, heated bidet may be expensive, but once you sit on it, you’ll never go back. An upgraded toilet is a game-changer with many perks, affirms interior designer and DIY expert Cara Newhart. In addition to offering heated water, music for privacy, and a cozy seat, bidets are also more eco-friendly, she raves.

If you don’t want to spend thousands, your toilet may allow for a bidet to be added on top; just check with your contractor.

Electric Outlets Inside Cabinets and Drawers

Tangled hair dryer, straightener, and electric toothbrush cords can look messy and chaotic on your vanity. And since you want your bathroom to feel relaxing, O’Connor recommends investing in electric outlets built inside medicine cabinets or custom vanity drawers. “These are splurges, to be sure, but it’s so convenient to have toothbrushes or razors charging in the medicine cabinets and to have your hair dryer plugged in the vanity drawer,” she explains. “Counter space is always precious, and clearing away the clutter of these corded essentials makes for a more soothing and spa-like space.”

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High-Quality Tile

If you’re going through the process of renovating your bathroom and you’re deciding between good-enough and high-end tile, opt for quality if you can afford it, recommends Sarah Rosenhaus, the owner and principal of Sarah Rosenhaus Interior Design. “You want to have that initial moment of joy and excitement every time you walk into the bathroom, and a high-quality tile instantly elevates a bathroom into a spa,” she says. “The last thing you want to do is cheap out on the tile and then regret it every time you walk in the room, which is one of the most used rooms in your home. It’s the first space you go into every day and usually the last, as well.”

An Indoor-Meets-Outdoor Living Experience

If your home or apartment allows you to extend your bathroom from the inside out, it’s a worthwhile investment, says interior designer and lifestyle expert Chantelle Malarkey. Consider adding a door from your bathroom directly to an outdoor patio. This space could include a hot tub, an outdoor shower or bath, or an area to sit with morning coffee or an evening glass of wine. During the warm months, you can leave the door open to breathe fresh air and hear the soothing sounds of summer outside.

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Shower Niche

For a huge step up from the standard builder corner shelves, opt for a built-in shower niche made of stone, O’Connor suggests. “Built-in shower niches keep your soap and hair products stored beautifully and do not eat away space from the shower area,” she says. “The niche is a design opportunity that allows you to showcase whatever tile material you’ve chosen with special detail, contrasting element, or change in pattern or scale. Stone-tiled showers with perfect niche layout details can also evoke a sense of calm and minimalist luxury with a practical application.”

Next-Level Lighting

The next time you’re at the spa for a massage, look around and pay attention to the lighting. Soothing, right? Having control over your bathroom lights’ warmth and dimness is a little luxury that makes a significant difference, according to Newhart. These days, it’s best to opt for smart lighting choices. “Including adjustable smart lighting in a bathroom space makes the space versatile for getting ready with bright lights that can be dimmed for a soothing, spa-like self-care routine,” she says. “I love wired-in smart lighting products that you can schedule around your routine and have a moveable pedestal remote—letting you adjust lighting for a sink or vanity within arm’s reach.”

As you map out your bathroom’s lighting scheme, include mood and task lighting alongside standard ambient light; consider a wall art light, plant spotlight, or feature light above the tub or in the shower, too, notes Newhart.

Window Treatments That Enhance Natural Light

You may not think about it when you’re washing the day away or singing your favorite song in the shower, but if your bathroom has windows, you’re exposing yourself to the sun’s potentially harmful UV rays. For a meaningful and multi-purpose upgrade, consider window treatments that enhance natural light, while controlling glare and harmful UV rays, says Kelly Simpson, a design consultant at Budget Blinds.

“While beneficial, connecting to the outdoors can sometimes create a challenge from glare, solar heat gain, and energy loss,” Simpson says. “The simple solution is adding a shade to the window. Shades, such as roller shades, can help with glare, and solar shades can help reduce heat gain. To help optimize natural lighting, consider motorized shades or motorized blinds, which, aside from letting in outdoor light, offer effortless convenience for enhancing your view to the outside.”

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Comfortable Soaking Tub

A spa-inspired bathroom isn’t complete without an excellent soaking tub. However, before you choose your dream bath, sit in it first, says Nadia Watts, the founder of Nadia Watts Interior Design. “I love a good soak in the tub to relax and recharge myself after a long day,” she says. “Once the bathtub is approved, I make sure the placement of the tub is prominent in the plan of the bathroom with ample space around the tub. We are in a trend of seeing beautiful freestanding bathtubs with room for a small table and chair alongside. This creates a focal point in the room, welcoming you to your spa-like experience in your own home.”

Private Toilet Area

If you can make it work within your square footage, adding a door between the main bathroom area and the toilet can help your space feel upgraded. And if you’re sharing this bathroom with your partner, it also adds much-needed privacy, says Courtney Smith, the principal of Courtney B. Smith Design. “Having the ability to close a door means that partners can share an overall space, but still have privacy,” she says. “They also mean that the bathroom’s focal point can be pivoted to a beautiful tub or vanity and away from the throne.”

And while you might not think much of this water closet, Smith does her best to convince clients to use wallpaper in these little spaces; they’re tucked away from the steam of the shower area, which means the wallpaper is a practical option. “And adding a bit of pattern or color in a tiny room is a wonderful surprise,” she says.

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Ample Storage

Ample storage might not seem like a spa-like quality, but it is, says Lina Galvão, the principal Designer at Curated Nest Interiors. “The best spas are always impeccably clean and tidy, with uncluttered spaces. Having great storage means there’s a place for everything, eliminating the anxiety caused by clutter,” she says. “Get creative with your vanity storage option and consider adding a linen closet (built-in or standalone furniture) to store an endless supply of fluffy towels. This may mean splurging on something custom, but in our opinion, the sense of wellness you receive from everything being in its place is priceless.”

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