Spa-Inspired Master Bathroom

Get tips for transforming your bath into a peaceful retreat
Elegant White Marble Bathroom With Glass Shower

Elegant White Marble Bathroom With Glass Shower

Design by Mark Williams



Design by Mark Williams

When it comes to remodeling your bathroom, the process of narrowing down the options is daunting. You can’t afford to do it all—no matter how much luxury you build into the space, there’s always “just one more thing” you could add. That’s why taking the time to seriously review how you use the space and setting goals for your remodel will keep you on track as you make important decisions about floor plan, fixtures, tile and more.

While you’re brainstorming ideas for your new bathroom, cut out pictures from magazines and learn about various bathroom design layouts to gain inspiration. “When my clients bring pictures and have thought about their dream bathrooms, it gives me direct insight as to what they are looking for and helps me understand what they are envisioning for the project,” says Lori Carroll, president, Lori Carroll & Associates, Tucson, Ariz.

The bathroom sanctuary is more than just a toilet, sink, shower and/or tub. The master bathroom, especially, is where you can get away from it all and unwind at the end of the day. It’s a place to soak away your worries, perhaps by candlelight or with soft music playing in the background. When you step out of the tub, your feet touch a naturally warm surface, and you can easily access bath linens. You step up to a vanity with a sink that pours water without splashing, and cabinets contain your appliances already plugged in (how convenient!). You’re not in a hurry—but if you were, you’d hop into the shower (water temperature pre-programmed) and go.

The master bathroom design is equally about function and setting a relaxing mood. Chances are, this room is shared and space allowances must be made for two. “We are seeing master bathrooms and dressing rooms being designed at the same time,” says Cameron Snyder, president, Roomscapes Luxury Design Center, Boston, Mass., and past-president of the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA). He notes that the dressing room often serves as the entryway to the master bath.

Spa-Inspired Master Bathrooms

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Romantic and Relaxing Master Bath

This master bathroom is detailed with beige limestone, white fixtures and chrome accents, creating a spa-like feel for everyday use. The candleholder behind the tub, made from reclaimed lumber from an old barn, adds a romantic, relaxing feel. Design by Gregory Augustine

Photo By: Designer, Gregory Augustine

Open Feel

This spa-like bathroom, designed by Andreas Charalambous, features a glass walk-in shower and a spacious two-person bathtub. The muted color palette with the dark-stained floating cabinet and double vanity make this space relaxing, while the uninterrupted mirror on one wall makes the space feel open.

Photo By: Designer, Andreas Charalambous

Panoramic Views

Inspired by the panoramic ocean view, this bathroom incorporates a saltwater fish tank as the focal point of the space. The fish tank is built into a partitioned wall and can be enjoyed while showering or getting ready in the vanity area. The shower is designed to provide a spa experience by using nine body sprays, a steam shower and rain-like showerheads on the ceiling. Design by Bruce Rosenblum

Photo By: Designer, Bruce Rosenblum

Feng Shui Bathroom

This spa-inspired bathroom, designed by Bruce Rosenblum, uses feng shui principles to create fluidity and positive energy flow while incorporating natural elements such as tumbled beach glass tile for the shower walls.

Photo By: Designer, Bruce Rosenblum

Relaxing Retreat

The beautiful tub is the focus of this relaxing space, especially with the water spout from the ceiling. The wall of candles sets the perfect atmosphere for relaxation at any time of the day or night. Image courtesy of Eldorado Stone

Photo By: Eldorado

Zen Garden

The tub with in-line heater sits in a river-rock-filled, drained fiberglass pan. A wood-textured porcelain tile floor follows the gentle curve of the tub and rock path. Design by Holly Rickert. Photo by Peter Rymwid

Photo By: Peter Rymwid

Soothing Bathroom Colors

This wave tub is perfect for a homeowner who loves baths. The tub contours to the body and makes bathing a truly spa-like experience. The soothing sage-tiled tub and walls, in combination with the touch of foliage and candles, enhance the relaxing atmosphere of this space. Design by Lori Dennis

Photo By: Designer, Lori Dennis

Heavenly Hideaway Hotel Spa

A posh Paris hotel spa was the inspiration for this master bathroom. The cabinets are a replication of 18th-century French country cabinetry. A stunning wall of candle niches offers perfect pockets of glowing light. Photo by Ric Marder. Design by Ken Kelly in New York

Photo By: Designer, Ken Kelly

Small-Space Bathroom

Although it's a small space, this bathroom still achieves the spa-like atmosphere. Natural stone and dark woods contribute to the Zen-like feel in this sleek bathroom, and a frameless shower door gives the illusion of more space. Design by Jennifer Charleston

Photo By: Designer, Jennifer Charleston

Soothing and Simple Design

This oversized solid-stone tub was built in France and had to be lowered into the bathroom via crane through the skylight. But it was worth the effort. The tub and candles, with the muted walls and relaxing overall feel of the room, seem to beckon you to take a relaxing soak and unwind from the day. Design by SPI Design

Photo By: Sponsor, SPI Design

Beautiful Views, Natural Feel

With natural stone walls, unobstructed views through floor-to-ceiling windows, a steam shower for two and a tub carved from limestone, this master bathroom is the perfect spa-like experience. Design by Lori Dennis

Photo By: Designer, Lori Dennis

Soothing Spa

Glass tiles, dark-stained wood and engineered stone counters give this bathroom a soothing spa-like feeling in a contemporary design by Gail Drury.

Photo By: Designer, Gail Drury

Chic Simplicity

Cool grey-brown tones and geometric lines paired with dark bamboo accents and hand-crafted glass tile are the foundation for a chic contemporary bath. Photo courtesy of Bernard André Photography

Cool Blue and Gray

The design concept for this spa-like master bathroom was cool, peaceful serenity. Instead of tile for the floors and soaking tub surround, the homeowner added cool gray concrete.

Peaceful Serene Soaking Tub

A Japenese ofuro soaking tub is nestled at one end of the linear bathroom overlooking the Seattle skyline for ultimate relaxation. Design by Matthew Coates

Photo By: Lara Swimmer

Questions to ask

Here are some questions and considerations to ponder as you dream up your future master bath:

  • How many adults will use the space at one time?
  • What activities aside from usual bathroom fare take place in this room?
  • Do you want to incorporate a dressing room?
  • Do you prefer to take a bath or shower?
  • Would you rather have more counter space or two vanity sinks?
  • Do you have enough space or do you want the bathroom to be larger?
  • What features are currently in the bathroom that you would like to remove?
  • What features would you like to add to your new master bath?
  • Are there enough electrical outlets to suit your needs?
  • Which areas need better lighting?
  • What type of storage do you want/need?
  • What color scheme do you prefer?

Choosing Features

Spacious Showers. Today’s showers can include body sprays, rain shower heads, hand showers, multiple shower heads, therapeutic lights, seats, and infinity drains. A step-in shower without a curb (Roman style shower) is safe for people of all ages. Some are choosing to bundle the shower and tub in a “room,” by placing the freestanding tub in the center of the shower zone, explains Brian Johnson, principal, Collaborative Design Architects, Billings, Mt. The room’s dimensions can be 6 x 8 or 6 x 9 feet. “The tub floats in that shower space and it looks very sculptural,” Johnson says of the completely tiled area within the master bath.

Deep soaker tubs. Tubs are optional in the master bath. But if a good soak is how you like to unwind, you can add bubbly with today’s effervescent tubs and those featuring heated air jets that emit warmth and bubbles. These are replacing water-jet Jacuzzi tubs. Also, tubs are less likely to be positioned in a corner where they take up valuable square footage. Tubs are smaller but still made for two. “You might want to consider a separate water heater for the tub if you use it often,” suggests Ken Perrin, president, Artistic Renovations, Cleveland, Ohio.

Bathroom Specialty Features

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Chromatherapy Tub

Transform your bathroom into a state-of-the-art, spa-like retreat by installing a soothing chromatherapy tub. These tubs are infused with colored lights to create an ultra-relaxing bathing experience. Image courtesy of Kohler

Steam Shower

Create a luxurious spa-like retreat by including a steam shower in your bathroom. Design by Nancy Mikulich

From: Nancy Leffler Mikulich

Photo By: Peter Rymwid

Heated Floors

Installing radiant-heat mats underneath your bathroom flooring allows you to avoid stepping on cold tile after taking a hot shower or bath. Image courtesy of Suntouch Flooring


Commonly found in European bathrooms, bidets offer a refreshing cleansing alternative by use of a water nozzle that sprays warm, aerated water. Image courtesy of Kohler

Bathroom Fireplace

Adding a fireplace to your bathroom is a great way to create a warm, relaxing space.

Separate toilet rooms. Hiding the loo behind closed doors within the master bath gives everyone more privacy, especially when the space will be used by more than one person at a time. Ventilation and lighting are key in this closed off space, and it’s nice to a dedicated vanity with storage if possible.

Vanity privacy. Dual sink vanities gain privacy when a shelving unit is posited between the sinks.

Sink style. Undermounted sinks offer a sleek look and make countertop cleanup a cinch.

Heated floors. Nothing says luxury like stepping on to a warm, tile floor. Radiant heat can be placed below tiles for a reasonable price—Perrin estimates about $600 or less in a small 5x9 bathroom. Johnson notes that radiant heat mats that don’t use a lot of energy are an option for specific areas in the bathroom.

Other considerations. A natural color scheme will create a timeless, peaceful environment, from fixtures to tile. Recycled glass tiles are “here to stay,” according to Perrin, and placed sporadically throughout the bathroom, they provide interest without making the space busy.

Other features to consider:

  • Cabinets that look like furniture pieces with footed legs and antique detail
  • Steam showers
  • Tile that scales the entire wall, borrowed from European design
  • An upholstered chair or loveseat
  • Magazine rack
  • Television or stereo system built into cabinetry (or behind the mirror in the case of the TV)
  • Heated towel racks—or, as an alternative, a warming drawer that would be installed in a kitchen can efficiently do the job of warming linens in the bathroom
  • Expanded windows and skylights to let in natural light
  • The use of Japanese-style screening in walls separating the toilet and rest of bathroom so the space feels open yet private.

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