Beyond Steam: 5 Additions to Enrich Your Steam Shower Experience
Accessories are the spice of life. You can accessorize your wardrobe, your vehicle, your computer. You can even be an accessory to a crime, provided you can maintain your composure in a high-speed chase. Accessories are the toppings on your pizza, the sprinkles on your sundae, the $3,000 stereo in your kid’s $3,000 Honda Civic.
Your home steam shower, too, deserves a little accessory love. The potential benefits of steam therapy are well-established, from the physical (possible improved circulation, relief of allergies like symptoms, and potential enhanced quality of sleep) to the emotional (reduced stress, possible improved mental clarity, and an overall sense of wellbeing.) But, like pepperoni and black olives, a few well-chosen add-ons can amplify all these benefits. Choosing the right steam shower accessories will define the elements of both luxury and utility for your new purchase. So, go on, gild the lily. Here are five ways to turn your steam shower into a truly inspired sanctuary.
1. Complete Control: Automation
The human mind races through an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 individual thoughts per hour, only 40 percent of which are “I’d like a snack.” The steam shower is a place to slow your roll mentally, so why not automate the process, ensuring that your preferences will be stored and available to you at the touch of a button. Here’s how to get your steam shower to anticipate your every need, from temperature to scheduling to music and more:
Set it and forget it. A sleek, automated control panel like the iSteam3 has presets for up to eight users, remembering preferences on temperature, aromatherapy, color, and music settings.
HomeWizard connects with your existing home automation system, allowing you to activate the steam shower from any corner of the house.
Steamlinx allows for seamless control of the steam room functions from your phone. Is that your mother calling? Quick, rev up the steam shower, because in 20 minutes you’re going to NEED to relax. See how that works?
2. Holistic Health: So Many Options
At its best, steaming is a multisensory experience, telling your body through every inch of your skin, your nose, your ears, and your eyes that it’s time to relax.
To address woes with your nose, consider aromatherapy—a practice that for many has been known to soothe anxiety, sleep issues, even physical discomfort, using essential oils derived from plants. “Modern research supports our intuitive recognition of the impact of aromas on mood and other mental states,” wrote aromatherapy expert Joie Power, Ph.D., in her article, “Aromatherapy and Emotion.” She continued, “Different essential oils have been shown to produce consistently different brain wave patterns on EEG.”
For a DIY aromatherapy experience, place a few drops of a high-quality essential oil into a warm, wet washcloth, and place it within the shower enclosure. If your SteamHead has an aroma oil well built in, simple place a few drops in it and let steam do its magic. For a more sophisticated experience with your SteamShower, a state-of-the-art pump such as the AromaSteam system electronically atomizes essences into the steam, providing a controlled infusion of healing scents.
But what flavor to choose? Start with these popular aromatic oils, depending on your mood:
Eucalyptus: Choose this for stuffy noses, colds, or allergies.
Mint: Not a morning person? This invigorating scent will get your engine running.
Evergreen: Woodsy and festive evergreen is ideal to use on gloomy days or during the winter, when energy and mood can sag.
Lavender: This super-chill scent lets stress dissipate and may relieve anxiety and insomnia.
When you imagine yourself blissing out in the steam shower, do you picture your eyes closed? Not so fast. You’re missing out on the mood-enhancing benefits of chromatherapy—the practice of using lights of a specific color temperature to enhance and alter your mood. For example, red light is invigorating, blue light is calming (unless it’s attached to the police cruiser bearing down on you in your rearview mirror). A system like ChromaSteam brings the mood-boosting influence of color into the steam shower, where you might find yourself relaxing with your eyes open.
Finally, consider making your steam shower a feast for the ears, as well as every other part of you, with MusicTherapy. A good system with moisture-sealed speakers and an amplifier linked to the audio source of your choice will allow you to waft away on the billowing notes of your favorite music, or perhaps even better, fill your steam shower with the soothing sounds of nature—a babbling brook, a rushing waterfall, or a circling clan of cackling hyenas (if that’s your thing.) Just no political podcasts in the steam shower, please. That defeats the purpose.
3. Daily Relief: The Perfect Seat
Inside a steam shower, muscles relax. The busy mind unspools, becoming serene and focused. And some of us want to shave our legs. Clearly, this calls for a spot to alight, perchance even to full-on lounge. But what sort of seat will complete your residential steam shower? It’s a matter of personal taste and the dimensions of your enclosure. Here are some options:
For smaller spaces, a wall-mounted folding seat crafted from sealed teak wood is ideal, as it flips down when in use, then flips back up for a storage position. Teak is a moisture resistant wood that holds up well with continued exposure to water.
A triangular corner bench can give you a permanent perch in even a small steam shower.
In a larger space, a full-sized bench allows you to recline or to snuggle up with a partner. Many longer benches also have under-seat storage for stashing essentials, such as shampoo and body wash.
For a higher-end look that will make your personal shower feel like a luxurious spa, go with a built-in seating ledge surfaced in tile, travertine, or teak.
A note on grab bars…
For the sake of accessibility and safety, especially if your shower will be used by seniors, install a shower grab bar adjacent to the shower bench. Grab bars come in many metal finishes, including stainless steel, chrome, and brass, so they can blend with any décor. Ideally, have your shower bar installed by a professional, before you tile the walls.
4. Eye Candy: Adding Visual Appeal
Are you one of those people who can’t wait to see the bathroom when you enter a fancy home? You are not alone. Bathroom remodels not only bring a disproportionate amount of enjoyment to home ownership relative to other renovations, a freshly remodeled bathroom also boosts your home’s resale value. Design considerations include:
Steam shower enclosures usually use one or more of these materials: tile, natural stone, acrylic, fiberglass, or composites. Each material has different heat retention properties, and this can be a factor in the generator you select. Natural stone tiles, such as limestone or marble, are more porous, which means they may absorb the moisture from the steam, and they require frequent sealing. Porcelain or ceramic tiles are known for being very sturdy and they help keep steam alive by being less absorptive than other options. They also come in a wide range of colors, opening up the possibility of creating beautiful mosaics that will bring you pleasure every time you take a steam.
Options for the steam shower floor abound, from the earthy appeal of teak slats, river stones or pebble surfaces, to the simple elegance of tile. (Make sure any floor tile you choose is non-slip.) If you live in a chilly climate, talk with your contractor about radiant floor heating, which can be installed under the bathroom tile, ensuring that the icy chill of a cold, hard reality doesn’t undo the effects of your steam session the moment you step out of the shower.
How about a skylight? Skylights fill a room with uplifting, natural light, and allow all the room’s textures to be seen more clearly. If your steam shower enclosure is on the smaller side, position one skylight directly over it. In a larger room, you can play with more options, including double skylights, rows of skylights, or even a lantern roof over the enclosure.
Recessed lighting, on the other hand, is installed directly into the ceiling and provides a more dramatic, concentrated light. Hire an electrician and be sure to use a durable fixture meant specifically for use in a shower enclosure, such as the MS/CU Recessed Light.
5. Luxuriate: The Towel Warmer
Posh hotels have them, why shouldn’t your home? A towel warmer is one of those little luxuries that make life so much more enjoyable. Look for a finish that complement the room’s style, whether that means sleekly contemporary or classically glamorous. The towel warmers from MrSteam allow you to digitally program a start time, so your towels are toasty warm and ready when you step out of the steam shower. Forgot to turn off the towel warmer? No, you didn’t—since you are using the automatic shut-off feature, you’ve already toweled off and are puttering down the hall to deal with the espresso situation. Some of the MrSteam towel warmer models boast even more ways to pamper, such as a hook for warming your robe and an essential oil well for an aromatic boost.
See? Your steam shower is like a beautiful blank canvas on which to paint a transporting, multisensory experience in a spectrum of soothing comforts, colors, aromas, and sounds. That doesn’t mean you need to have it all—consider what you enjoy most, give yourself a budget, and prioritize your pleasures. Factor in your floor plan, your habits, and your personal style. Big-picture questions like these will lead you to the right combination of features, elevating your steam shower experience and boosting both health and happiness. For help getting your MrSteam game plan going, or for help finding a licensed dealer, click here.