Creating a Spa Bathroom: Tubs, Showers, Sinks and Vanities

Learn Bathroom Ideas and Designs, and Create a Perfect Place to Relax

Woman relaxing in the tub

Building a new home or remodeling an existing one should be a fun and exciting process. Unfortunately, it's usually not! It's a lot of hard work - after all, you have to pay attention to every detail, communicate with your architect, general contractor and various subcontractors, and generally spend a lot of time to be sure that your home is exactly the way that you want it. So if you're going to all of this trouble, you deserve a space of your own where you can sit back, relax and shut out the rest of the world. Creating a spa bathroom can fulfill all of these wishes!

Follow along as I show you how to create a spa bathroom, whether you are remodeling a bathroom or designing a new one and searching for ideas.  

  1. Amenities. The first area of consideration is to determine what amenities will make your spa bathroom as relaxing as possible.
    • Designs include the infamous tubs, but when creating your perfect spa bathroom, it is time to look beyond the ordinary. An absolute must for most people putting in a spa-themed bathroom is a whirlpool tub, or soaking tub. Considering that these type of bathtubs are about five to ten times more expensive than a traditional tub, this may seem like an extravagance. However, if you can come home after a stressful day at work, spend a half-hour in your whirlpool, and feel all the stresses of the day melt away, you'll decide in a heartbeat that they're worth every penny! Some issues to consider when choosing a whirlpool tub for your spa bathroom include how many jets you want, what space the tub needs to fit into, and whether you want your tub to be heated. If you have room, it's nice to put the whirlpool in a small, recessed alcove or on a raised platform to separate it from the rest of the bathroom.
    • Bathroom remodeling is an excellent time to veer away from the traditional showers that share a tub. Walk-in showers are very popular in spa bathrooms. These are typically made of ceramic tile, although other popular materials include natural stone, glass blocks, marble or glass tiles. They can have a rainfall showerhead that is mounted into the ceiling over the center of the shower. They may also include multiple body jets spaced along each side wall.
    • Another feature that is nearly mandatory in a spa bathroom is a double vanity. After all, you can't properly relax if you're fighting with your spouse for sink space! Sinks and vanities come in hundreds of styles and colors. A standard double vanity is sixty inches long, but if you're willing to spend a little extra for custom work, you can have any length (and shape) that you want. After having separate bathroom vanities, you'll never want to share one again!
    • If you have to share your retreat, you may want a toilet that is separated by a half-wall, or even its own tiny room. This will avoid the problem of someone barging into your spa to use the restroom for practical purposes!
    • Of course, heated towel bars are also aspa bathroom nice luxury to have in a spa bathroom. After all, who wants to get out of a nice, warm tub and wrap up in a cold towel?
  2. Heating considerations. There are a lot of ways to make sure that your spa bathroom stays warm and toasty all year round. Here's a rundown of the most popular:
    • In-floor heat is an energy-efficient and practical option, especially if your spa bathroom has ceramic tile flooring. With this type of heat, also called hydronic or radiant heat, long, interconnecting tubes are laid on your subfloor, then connected to a water heater or boiler. When hot water runs through the tubes, it warms the floor. This is a much more efficient way to heat a room, or a whole house, than a forced-air furnace because it starts at the coldest point in a room, which is the floor, and heats up. It also radiates the heat in all directions, rather than pushing it across the room, as with forced air. Although radiant heat works with any type of flooring, it's particularly good with ceramic tile, because the tile absorbs and holds heat very well.
    • Heating your spa bathroom with a fireplace may seem a bit wasteful since you'll probably need to use a furnace or radiant heat for your primary heat source, but it can be very relaxing to sit and watch the fire while you soak in the tub. There are a lot of fireplaces from which to choose, including gas, electric and wood options.
  3. Lighting. More than likely, you'll need several types of lighting in your spa bathroom. You'll want bright, natural light in the vanity area. This can be achieved with the use of skylights, or with incandescent lights mounted at each side of the vanity, rather than overhead. In the whirlpool area, you'll want a more indirect type of light - perhaps can lights installed in the ceiling with dimmer switches, or up-lights mounted on top of cabinets. You may also need an overhead light source in the shower to give further lighting. Include as many windows as possible in your new bathroom. Natural light promotes a positive mood, even during the dark and dreary days of winter.
  4. Decor. The final step in creating your perfect spa bathroom is to choose colors, cabinets and faucets that aid in your quest for relaxation. For many people, muted color combinations such as cream, pale blues and greens and light-colored woods create the most relaxing atmosphere. However, feel free to use whatever colors you find to be most soothing. Be sure to include plenty of cabinet space and shelving for your spa bathroom so that you don't have to wander from room to room in search of towels, washcloths and other essentials. You'll also want to choose plumbing fixtures that are practical as well as beautiful. Brushed stainless steel and nickel fixtures blend in with almost any type of decorating, and are subdued enough to avoid drawing attention, but there are literally thousands of other options, so choose the ones that you like best! Finally, choose your bathroom accessories wisely as they will add the finishing touch.

Building a spa bathroom is a major undertaking. This is not a job for the do-it-yourselfer. You may need upgrades to your electrical system, heating system and plumbing to handle the increase in water volume that this project necessitates. If you are remodeling, it can take as long to finish your spa bathroom as it sometimes takes to build a house! So, be patient and remember that when it's completed, the end result will be worth the wait!


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Often, our dreams surpass our wallets so we have to choose....frustrating but....if I have to, more space would be really nice in a spa bathroom.

By Mary Norton