Create a serene feeling at home with these smart strategies for your own calming oasis
written by Kelly Barthelemy, Daniel Gregory, and Peter O. Whiteley
1 of 13Photo by Thomas J. Story
Your own spa bath
Your bathroom is the most private room in your house—the place to begin and end each day, a personal refuge from a demanding schedule. Thankfully, turning it into a center for relaxation and rejuvenation is within your grasp, no matter the style or size of your home. These three bathrooms provide key elements of a tranquil look—from the use of organic materials to a cool color palette.
Shown: Shedding the stresses of the day is a breeze in Alison Danz’s nature-infused Seattle bathroom. Large sliding doors open an entire wall to a private courtyard, bathing the room in fresh air and natural light.
2 of 13Photo by Thomas J. Story
Try earth-inspired tones
Minimal plumbing fixtures and simple sconces mounted directly onto an unframed mirror keep the focus on natural materials and a pampering atmosphere. The mirror above the sink provides a view of the courtyard and gives the room the illusion of being open on both sides.
In contrast to the variety of textures in this bathroom, the palette is limited to a few neutrals—creamy whites and warm browns and beiges—which give the space a unified feel and an easy flow.
3 of 13Photo by Thomas J. Story
Open a door to nature
Large sliding doors open an entire wall to a private courtyard, bathing the room in fresh air and natural light.
Sandstone tiles form the tub platform and continue into the courtyard; a step made of organically shaped black locust wood eases the transition from indoors to out.
4 of 13Photo by Thomas J. Story
Opt for simple storage
Streamlined vessels for bathing products help maintain the calm simplicity of the room.
5 of 13Illustration by Nik Schulz
Bathroom floor plan
Design: Bernie Baker Architects, Bainbridge Island, WA (206/842-6278).
6 of 13Photo by Thomas J. Story
Use color to calm
A small space can be just as restorative as a large one—and color is the main ingredient for setting a peaceful mood.
In Brian and Amy Fleisher’s bungalow bathroom in Seattle, the mix of materials is limited to two colors: cool blue (which is calming and evokes natural elements) and warm cream (which suggests coziness and comfort).
The effect is the visual equivalent of a long, cool drink of water.
7 of 13Photo by Thomas J. Story
Let in the light
The blue tint of the frosted-glass shower surround stays in step with the wall color, while the translucency of the glass allows light into the shower and adds to the open feel. The half-wall creates the perfect shelf for pampering products.
Reflective and high-gloss materials—like the off-white subway tiles on the vanity backsplash and shower wall—further amplify natural light.
8 of 13Photo by Thomas J. Story
Making room for storage keeps clutter at bay. Opposite the shower in this bathroom, a low row of open shelving (carved from unused space in the adjacent, low-pitched attic) makes a handy spot to store bath linens.
Soft gray and white towels and neutral-toned bath accessories meld with the overall palette of the room.
9 of 13Illustration by Nik Schulz
Soothing hues and clean lines result in a room that seems larger than its roughly 6- by 9-foot area.
Kurt Silver installed a skylight to bring natural light into his cramped top-floor San Francisco bathroom. The entry wall now soars 12 feet, with sunshine pouring in throughout the day.
Alabaster-colored marble countertops lend brightness atop a floating vanity with glass-front cabinets of warm walnut. A limestone-fronted soaking tub on the low-ceiling side of the room is a cozy spot for relaxation.
11 of 13Photo by J.D. Peterson
Create the illusion of space
The simple glass shower almost disappears into a corner where two kinds of tile meet.
Three of the walls are lined from floor to ceiling in 2- by 2-inch watery blue glass tiles; the entry wall, which gets direct sun, is covered in tumbled black mosaic tile to reduce glare and soften the light in the rest of the room.
12 of 13Photo by J.D. Peterson
Install unobtrusive shelving
Shelving carved into the wall over the tub keeps bathing supplies tucked away, but within easy reach.