Turn Your Bath Into a Home Spa Retreat

And here are 15 clever tips to help you do it.

1. A Clean Bathroom

This goes without saying. But it bears repeating: A clean bathroom is a happy bathroom. Tidy up the clutter, wipe the counter, pick up stray laundry. Set the scene so that you feel as if you walked into a hotel bathroom and not your overflow laundry room.

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2. Good Music

But not your usual favorites. Put on something new to you, something instrumental. Could be folk, piano, or flute set to the tune of a babbling brook, it doesn’t matter – so long as it is soothing and gentle on the senses. Electronic beats tend to be too intense for a spa-like bath, but if that’s what you like, go for it. Take a speaker if you can, and leave your phone behind.

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3. Color

Try color blocking, where your décor is a consistent scheme – all the same color. Right now, mine is a cyan/turquoise. If your walls are white, you can change out color accents. If your art has orange flowers, go crazy with orange towels, bathmats and textures, for a citrus theme bath experience. Swap it out for a deep purple in the fall, whites or blues in the winter and so on. For colored walls you can go with a much deeper color for accents. If your walls are pale blue, try cobalt blue towels and rugs and glass accents, or lime green for something fun. For pale green, try varying shades of green from lime to forest, even deep brown, and you’ll feel like you just stepped into a nature spa retreat deep in the woods.

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4. Candles

But not just any candles – get beeswax candles just for the bath. Not only are they the safest to burn, they release negative ions and actually help clean the air. The moist air from the bath with the smell of warm honey from a beeswax candle is pure heaven.

5. Sticks and Stones

Natural elements can truly transform a regular bathroom into a high-end spa. Black massage stones, geodes and crystals and gemstones, drift wood and weathered branches, pinecones, even small bundles of birch logs can all be used for bath décor. Fresh herbs are wonderfully fragrant, but dried herbs are chic and romantic. We installed a cedar backsplash in our bathroom, and I still catch that rich aroma as I walk through. Wood soap dishes, products without labels, clays and exfoliants all add that earthy element. Houseplants and succulents are a natural choice for the bathroom. Those that require little water survive quite well thanks to the daily moisture from the shower.

6. Mineral Sea Salts

Sea salts are perfect for bath, they contain trace minerals that your body soaks up. Specialty salts like Dead Sea and Pink Himalayan, for example, contain even higher concentrations of trace minerals, they soften the skin and make for a truly luxurious bath. You can add clay if your drain can handle the sediment, it works like a face mask for the whole body.

7. Epsom Salts

Found in any drugstore, Epsom salts, or magnesium sulfate, are great for relieving muscle cramping, tremors and knots. They can also help with headaches, heart health and restless legs, especially at night. Use a cup or two for best results and to truly get that spa-relaxation sensation. For even more, take a magnesium supplement gel tablet a few times a week.

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8. Essential Oils

Opt for something extra luxurious. Lavender is fairly inexpensive, and is wonderful when blended with geranium, ylang ylang, jasmine, rose or neroli, all very concentrated and often pricey oils. Just a drop of each of these goes a very long way. Combine one with a few drops of lavender or rosemary to heighten the aroma and soothe dry skin, too. Certain oils including chamomile, ylang ylang, vetiver and rose have powerful anti-anxiety effects.

9. Bath Oils

These are typically skin care oils such as olive, almond or grapeseed, infused with herbs or blended with essential oils. Sometime you’ll see them as bath melts or bath beads. My favorite is of course lavender. Infuse olive oil with lavender flowers in a warm place for a few days and strain off, using the oil for hair, skin and bath.

10. Good Soap

Goat milk soap has a pH balance close to that of human skin, so when you’re done, it’s not too dry, not too oily. Castile soap has a higher pH and can be overdrying. Goat milk soap not only doesn’t dry skin out, the milk itself lathers well, is highly moisturizing and can soothe irritation from harsher soaps. Get a good exfoliating bar of soap and spend some time in the bath massaging it into your skin.

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11. Salt Scrub

Salt scrubs are exfoliating rubs for hands, feet and body, but too rough for the face. Usually made of fine ground sea salts and a bit of oil, they leave skin softer and smoother than any other body treatment by sloughing off dead skin and rinsing it down the drain. You can pay hundreds for a full spa package that includes a salt scrub – or you can make your own at home. Add some essential oils that are safe for the skin and it’s even more delightful. My favorite blends are Basil + Lime and Rose Geranium + Pink Grapefruit.

12. Face Mask

I use a simple mask of clay, essential oil and water. I love using face masks in the tub because you can scrub your neck and arms with all that clay when you’re done. Rinsing is easier, too. Face masks are easy to find and even easier to make if you order the right clays. My all time favorite is Moroccan Rhassoul clay, it’s a saponiferous clay that actually suds as you use it. Bentonite clay is another good standby, wonderfully detoxifying and inexpensive, too.

13. Nice, Clean Clothes

Choose some good, comfortable cotton or hemp fabrics. Your favorite leggings and a long sweater, or sundress and sandals. The last thing you want to do fresh out of a spa-like experience is throw on the same sweatshirt you wore yesterday. Pick something that will make you look as good as you feel.

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14. Good Bathmat and Fluffy Towels

You can never go wrong with white towels. Roll them up and make them look nice. You can, however, go wrong with buying cheap towels. My secret is to wait until Black Friday rolls around. Sometimes all I’ll buy is socks, bedding and towels. You can get the really pricey towels that you normally can’t afford, instead of the cheap ones that fray and feel like cardboard. The bathmat is another often-neglected feature. Spend a little more and get one that’s knitted on the bottom and not coated with chunky white grip. Those break up in the wash, but the knitted mats will withstand countless washes. I’ve had mine 7 years now.

15. A Snack With a Cup of Tea

If you have a devoted partner who will treat you when you get out, take them up on it. If not, prepare yourself a fruit and cheese plate and put it in the fridge. Put some water on the stove and prep a cup of tea – all you’ll have to do is turn on the water and pour it. Lounge by the fire, or in the sun, or in the shade, with a good book, some upbeat music and a nice snack, you’ll feel good as new.

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