How to create a peaceful spa-inspired bathroom on any budget


Create a luxury-inspired spa-style bathroom in your home with tips for complete renovation and remodelling or easy, budget-friendly DIY updates.


One of the first questions I ask new clients is how they want to feel in the space we’re renovating. With bathrooms, the response is usually: “like my own mini-spa in my house”.


But every spa is a little different when it comes to styling. There isn’t just one colour palette I can recommend or a specific tile that will complete the look. The overriding feeling, however, is usually one of peace and relaxation. While that may seem daunting at first, I like to think that the lack of a definitive ‘spa style’ means you can create that sense at home without losing your own personality.



It can also be difficult to approach bathroom styling because you might not have the budget to rip everything out and start fresh. I didn’t want to write a post that focused exclusively on big renovations or write just about small DIY changes. So, I’ve split this post into three sections: complete bathroom renovation, updating your existing bathroom and the finishing touches.


When you want to rip out your bathroom and remodel entirely


It might sound obvious, but bathroom renovations are expensive. If you’re changing the layout of existing plumbing the labour costs can quickly mount up. Not to mention adding the cost of all the fixtures and fittings.


This is where working with an interior designer can be a huge benefit. Although you might have to outlay a little more for the design initially, designers can help you prepare for such a big project and make sure it doesn’t go way over budget (or take months longer than expected).



Bath, shower and other fittings

Let’s start with the obvious: choosing your bath and shower configuration.

Really consider whether you need to have both. Sometimes a spacious shower area is far more luxurious than squeezing in a bath. I know… what about turning families away when we come to sell? If you're planning to stay in your home 5-10 years or more, and you barely bathe, go for it!

If you want to do both, Japanese soaking tubs can be a brilliant solution for small spaces – we've just installed one in a recent bathroom project. They aren’t as long as regular baths, but much deeper. You can even get some with whirlpool jets for that added spa-like luxury.

The depth is something to consider if you want to have the shower over the bath, as you might find it annoying to step into and out of on a daily basis. But the benefit of choosing the more compact bath could be freeing up space to create a semi-wetroom or shower area in another part of the bathroom.



You can also opt for the more traditional single-ended bath which includes a comfortable space to lie at one end and a shower at the other. Alternatively, there’s the ‘L-shaped’ bath which features a larger space for the shower cubical space at one end. This can really help you feel like you’ve got a little more space during your daily shower.

Whatever you choose, make sure to choose a good showerhead: this is such a small thing that can go a long way to creating that luxe feeling. Make sure you’ve got the right water pressure and consider a rainfall showerhead or a combination.


While there’s nothing wrong with a shower curtain, it’s not exactly spa-like. I’m always a fan of a shower screen. If you’re craving an industrial-inspired look, something like a Crittall shower screen can bring urban elegance into the bathroom.


If you’ve got a more compact space, opting for a wall-hung toilet and vanity will create a feeling of space. Make sure you’re also adding in as much hidden storage as possible to help keep all the bits and bobs tidied away.


Lusso Stone

Lighting

Obviously, water and electricity don’t mix well so when it comes to lighting your bathroom there are regulations over the components that can be installed. This is a good guide to get you started, but I recommend speaking with an expert if you're unsure.


However, I would suggest starting your lighting (and potentially also window placements or fittings) from scratch to make sure they’re all up to modern standards.


If you have the budget, you can look at having two lighting circuits: one for practical lighting and the other to create mood. So on the first circuit, you can have your task lights (e.g. wall lights by your mirror or a couple of downlights) for showering and cleaning your teeth. And then some dimmable or accent lighting on the second circuit to create that spa feeling when you bathe (with a bath bomb and wine in hand).


Soho Farmhouse Piglet

Tiles

Your tile choice should be partly guided by the style of your property. While large tiles are popular for bathrooms, they’re better suited for new builds and modern properties. Walls and floors in character properties might not be quite level and large tiles can really highlight the slightest imperfection. However, it’s important to remember the smaller the tile, the trickier it will be to fit!


You may have heard the suggestion that smaller patterns should go in smaller rooms, but I quite like doing the opposite! If you go for larger tiles with grout that matches the colour, it can create a feeling of seamless space. While smaller tiles will need more grout and sometimes this can feel quite busy.


In terms of colour, I love a neutral or sandy tone for that luxury spa feeling. But as I said earlier, there’s no one colour palette I can suggest to create that vibe.


You can also inject some fun with the colour of your tile trim or grout. I love using tile trim to create accents, either around a niche shelf or vertical/horizontal lines to break up a large area of tile.


Carrying the floor tile up the wall will help blur the lines between floor and wall, helping again to make the room feel more spacious.


If you want a pop of colour or pattern, you could choose a feature tile for a small space like a splashback or shower niche.


Mandarin Stone


Updates to refresh your existing bathroom


Bathroom renovations are a huge commitment, so what can you do if you either don’t have the budget or don’t want to rip out all your fittings? There are so many options for small, and mostly DIY, improvements that can breathe new life into a tired old bathroom.


Tiles

The first option to avoid ripping out tiles is painting them. Yes, this is likely not going to be a long-term solution. But tile paint can be a fantastic option, especially if you want to make your bathroom look a little nicer while saving for a big renovation.


TV presenter and DIY guru Stacey Solomon did this last year, explaining the budget updates were in lieu of a full re-fit. The black tile transformation in this room is pretty stunning!


Just make sure you’re ready to clean and prime the tiles correctly and you should be able to get a lovely new look with relatively little expense. Check out this full bathroom tile painting guide for tips.


You can also get creative and stencil a pattern onto your tiles, try using tile stickers on the floor or your splashback, or even create a terrazzo effect like @mishkashoe - which looks incredible and a great way to add some texture.


@mishkashoe

Paint the walls

Painting is the go-to for a quick refresh in any room. When choosing a colour, look at what you’ve got to work with. If your room has lots of natural light, you might want to go for bright and airy light colours. But if you have minimal natural light, lean into the darker tones to create a cosy and warm spa-like luxe atmosphere.


Just make sure that when you’re selecting paint, it’s bathroom-specific to make sure you get something that’s durable and mould resistant. This guide should help you find the right paint.


You could also experiment with panelling if you're looking to bring in some more interest to your walls, or something I'm going to try in our cloakroom is a painted wallpaper effect - something like this:


Storage

Just like when you’re planning a bathroom from scratch, I recommend looking for as many ways as possible to add storage. Basically, aim to only have a few things on display and the rest of your cosmetics, tubs and bottles out of sight. Baskets and cannisters are your friend!


Finally, look at how you’re storing your towels. Adding new towel rails (the non-heated variety) can make more of a difference than you imagine! Plus, they’re generally low cost and easy to fit.


Alternatively, if you’re happy with the look and placement of the rails, painting them is an option. For example, I love this transformation from chrome to matte black.




Finishing touches for any bathroom


Creating the spa-like luxury at home rests on some finishing touches whether you’re building a new bathroom or refreshing something more dated.


Here are my favourite ways to finish any bathroom:

  • Add scents through candles (perfect for that long soak) and reed diffusers. I also love popping a few drops of essential oils inside the loo roll – you’ll be surprised how much this fills the room!

  • Treat yourself to some fluffy new towels and create storage space for them. This will really add some softness and texture to a room that can otherwise be quite hard and cold

  • Add some greenery. There are so many houseplants that love a warm and humid bathroom and it just adds some life to the room.



What would create a luxury spa experience for you? I would love to hear your dream bathroom must-haves, plus if you use any of these tips to update your own bathroom.


Whatever home project you’re doing, it should always start with a moodboard! My free guide will help you start your next interior project with clarity. Get your copy here.


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