Your Master Bathroom: Customize a Relaxing Retreat

master-bath-spa

There are more options than ever when it comes to bathrooms.

No longer utilitarian spaces, they run the gamut from spa-like retreats to marble halls worthy of a Roman emperor. Considering how vital and much-used this room is, remodeling an older master bathroom is a worthwhile investment. Accuracy is always important but in a generally small space like a bathroom, “a little bit” off could mean the difference between plumbing fixtures fitting or not—an expensive mistake. Everything must be shipshape, i.e., watertight and sealed.

Determine your goal and budget first, then consider your options. How much space is there? If privacy is important, can you partition off the commode?  Will you want a soaking tub, glass shower stall… both? Installing a second sink in an outdated bath ramps up the renovation cost because of the extra plumbing. Maybe a larger sink would work.

The trends in luxury showers are all about surfaces and fixtures: subway tile or seamless marble walls; pebbled-stone base for a naturally nonslip surface; rain shower head, handheld European fixture, waterfall or rain bar; even “car wash” style stall for two with multiple shower heads mounted on the walls. A power wash for the body can refresh and rejuvenate like nothing else.

Let there be light.

Gone are the flickering fluorescents that made everyone look green. Today’s sanctuaries feature chandeliers or pendant lights, with dimmer switches for ambiance. Tub, spa and shower fixtures offer “chromatherapy” (colored lights) and aromatherapy to suit or improve your mood. Integrate a heat lamp into the recessed lights above the shower or tub. Of course, you’ll need bright task lighting for shaving and makeup application.

A firm foundation

Tile—ceramic, stone or porcelain masquerading as stone—is a bathroom classic. You can even get slate with a non-slip surface for safety. For an antique look, black-and-white diamond tiles give a retro punch in a pristine white setting.

Check out radiant (under-floor) heating before your floor install. Strategically placed wires or mats under the flooring warms you from the bottom up—and don’t use more electricity than a few lightbulbs’ worth. No more cold feet!

Starring the bathtub

There are many to choose from, from freestanding to clawfoot, sunken and recessed. separate-shower-and-tubSoaking tubs are so-called because they’re deeper and shorter. Some feature wide stone or tile surrounds for accessories like candles–or a glass of wine.

The slipper style has a higher end so you can sit back and lounge with your head supported. Another benefit: soaking tubs keep water hotter longer.

Traditional Japanese soaking tubs are made of wood and are even deeper for water up to your chin. If you’re going for a natural retreat or tree house look, this could be just the thing.

Whirlpool, hydrotherapy or air-jet tubs add that spa feel—along with extra cost, power usage and weight. Will you use it often enough? How noisy is it? Will filling that tub use up too much well water? With every dawn, we’re a day older. Might a walk-in tub be ideal?

A few more things to consider:

  • A deep or spa-style bathtub can be a beautiful focal point. Is your hot-water heater up to the challenge?
  • A tankless (also called instant) hot water heater doesn’t waste energy reheating water; it heats and delivers it on demand.
  • Engineering: Bathtubs (especially traditional enameled cast iron or stone) are heavy—especially when filled. An experienced design/build team will ensure your home’s bones can support it.
  • Ask about newer, lighter materials including acrylics or fiberglass.
  • Factor in the cost of retrofitting/replacing plumbing–pipes, valves, fixtures—as part of the project to avoid behind-the-wall disasters from old pipes in the future.

Winter warm-up  

Nothing says cozy comfort and luxury like being warm while a snowstorm rages, and these extra touches do the trick:

  • Heat lamp in an overhead lighting and fan fixture
  • Heated towel rack or bars
  • Lights that give a warm glow, with a rheostat for dimming
  • A sauna or steam room

Strategies for small spaces  

small-bathroom-spaceIf your bathroom is “intimate” sized, a pedestal or wall-mounted sink visually opens up floor space. Cabinetry and toilets can be mounted on the wall too.

No room for a tub? Choose a shower with barely-there glass walls for the illusion of room. Make it a steam shower or add an aromatherapy element.

Inset medicine cabinets (not your grandmother’s metal one) are making a comeback and are helpful where there’s limited counter space. Or angle a combo tub/shower into an alcove.

With so many options to consider, you and the team at 3W Design can transform your master bath into a unique retreat fit for a king—or just grown-ups who need to refresh and soak away stress.

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4 comments on “Your Master Bathroom: Customize a Relaxing Retreat

  1. I am newly married and our home is not yet fully equipped and designed thats why I am gathering ideas from the web. Thanks for your suggestions, I am considering doing them.

  2. For me, the bathtub is the focal point of the master bathroom. I appreciate your commend about traditional Japanese soaking tubs because we are considering getting a wooden or stone bathtub. I appreciate the article!

  3. I have a small master bathroom and I really like the idea of adding a glass shower stall to give the illusion of more room. Do I need to add more plumbing for the steam shower upgrade or does it run of the normal shower plumbing?

    • Thanks for the question. Without knowing all the details, here’s how we would answer. Steam showers are an awesome addition to any custom tile shower but must be treated very differently than a traditional shower. The steam unit is a separate system that is plumbed and powered apart from the other electrical and plumbing fixture in the bathroom. The steam unit must be stored in close proximity to the shower. Since the steam unit itself is smaller than a computer tower, often a window seat or a cabinet can house this unit or it can be installed below if the lower level is open to allow for the unit to be attached to floor joists.

      The construction of the shower itself is different as the ceiling must be installed last leaving a slight gap on a wall out of the way of any seats. It must also be installed with a slope to that spot to allow condensation to run off in that area. This prevents condensation from dripping on the user if they are sitting on a bench. The gap should be filled with caulk to allow any slight movement from the extremes of heat and cold.

      The glass doors should be installed to the ceiling with a venting transom above the door. This will allow steam to be released and to aid in drying out after use.

      Hope this helps!

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