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Secrets of a Blissed-Out Bath

Three designers share their tips and ideas for scoring serenity in bathrooms big and small

The best baths are a little ooh, a little ahh and a little spa. And, oh yeah, they have to be practical, too. We break down the secret recipe.

Make It (Look) Big

When it comes to baths, small and spalike aren’t mutually exclusive—you just have to trick the eye. Make smaller spaces seem bigger with extra-large tiles, pedestal sinks or floating cabinets, and glass shower enclosures. “Nothing chops up a space like a shower curtain!” says Alena Capra, a designer in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “And in small, 5-by-8 bathrooms with no room for a free-standing big tub, I always install a drop-in tub and tile the front, which makes it look custom and finished.”

Another approach: Use shimmery glass tile and paint treatments to reflect light, making the space seem more open, says Tucson, Ariz., designer Lori Carroll.

Store Smarter

A cluttered countertop is the best way to ruin a good design, so put that hairspray away. “Between makeup, dental products and hair care items, there are a lot of small bottles,” says Christopher Grubb, a designer based in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Keep your counters clean with slide-out shelves installed inside cabinetry and vanities with several smaller drawers. (Even Grubb found it tough to find a vanity with enough storage—so he designed one himself!) Add a linen tower, recessed niches, or cantilevered or suspended shelves for bonus space-saving storage.

Stick with Stone

Our experts agree: Natural stone is timeless in a bathroom. “One of my favorite projects included a master bathroom covered floor to ceiling with 12-by-12-inch Vibrant Kashmir slate,” Carroll says. “The vivid colors and unique texture of the stone created a luxurious, spalike feel.”

Think you can’t afford it? Purchase a remnant slab you love for your countertop, and design the space around it. Or use stone in small doses, such as a vertical strip from the shower floor to the ceiling.


“Plumbing fixtures provide function, but they’re also the jewelry in the room,” Grubb says. He adds that many master baths today keep romance alive with at least two showerheads. Consider shower systems that provide a luxurious experience such as H20kinetic Technology®.