Creating a Sanctuary: The Bathroom Remodeler's Guide to Health & Wellness
So you want to create a bathroom sanctuary in your home – emulating the feeling of visiting a luxury, high-end spa whenever you want. It’s important that this be a private space in your home where you can relax and rejuvenate after a stressful day – and that it contributes significantly to your health and sense of well-being.
As you plan your wellness retreat, you’ll want to consider all the aspects that will transform your bathroom into a place that is inherently special to you and yours. Here are some ways to do so.
Start with the room itself
Because this is a room dedicated to your well-being, you’ll want to think about the room’s dimensions, design, fixtures, and finishes. And as you contemplate creating your sanctuary, you’ll probably want to also select sustainable materials that are environmentally friendly.
Ideally, you want a paint that is low in VOCs (volatile organic compounds), fungicides and biocides, and doesn’t include toxic pigments. Paints with VOCs can let off gas that cause health issues such as nausea, dizziness, eye irritation, heart, lung or kidney damage – the very opposite of that healthful retreat you want in your home! Consider milk paints, which are made with milk protein (casein) and lime, or natural paints from such substances as citrus, balsam, or minerals. There are also latex paints created with low VOC levels, which are easier on the environment. Select a paint that is less than 5 grams/liter per can.
Additionally, clay plaster is an alternative to paint, which is completely non-toxic and durable. Another aspect of bathroom paint is that it needs to provide protection from humidity and moisture, which can lead to staining, chipping, and peeling. This generally means that you want to choose a semigloss paint which is washable and mildew-resistant.
You will also want to consider your choice of flooring. Refinishing an existing floor is the most environmental correct choice, but you can also choose among such sustainable materials as cork, bamboo, natural linoleum, and hardwood.
Your home spa should include cabinetry that stores all the supplies you’ll want – for those home treatments that help you wind down from a rough day, as well as towels, soaps, shampoos, and other bath supplies. You may also want to add a well-positioned feature wall – a well-lit space of interest in the bathroom that could include art work, a niche for candle light or unique artifacts, or plants – objects that will encourage meditation and rejuvenation.
Now, consider fixtures and features
Of course, the focal point of any home spa is the shower. Today, your shower can come with multiple body sprays, as well as a rainwater shower head, providing you the same natural sensation as standing outside in a downpour, letting you bring your own rain cloud indoors where you can control it. And consider a low- or no-threshold shower, which is so much safer than the traditional stall curb – and especially helpful if you or someone in your household is older and has mobility issues.
But an even more healthful choice is that of a steam shower – which is scientifically proven to provide health and well-being in a wide variety of ways. As shown in our Benefits of Steam Bathing brochure, this includes:
- Respiratory health, by opening up nasal passages, helping those suffering from asthma, allergies, cold and flu
- Skin care, by opening pores, lubricating and hydrating skin, and making shaving and waxing easier
- Physical wellness, by increasing blood circulation, boosting metabolism, and improving muscular health
- Holistic health, by removing toxins, excess sodium and metabolic waste from the body
And perhaps most important for those seeking a private home sanctuary where they can find rest and rejuvenation, steam is proven to enhance your well being by relieving stress, helping you to relax after a stressful day and get a good night’s sleep. If you include a built-in or fold-down bench in the steam shower, you can luxuriate in the steam, all the while knowing it is one of the most healthful of home spa treatments.
And while steam can do all this on its own, steamtherapy is most effective – and your home spa more closely resembling those you’ve visited – when you combine them with steam shower therapies – such as:
Music therapy, which pipes music, meditation, or soothing natural sounds into the room, surrounding you with a natural anti-depressant that has used to improve mood and defuse stress since the beginning of time.
Chromatherapy, in which you select color and light to bathe you along with the steam, allowing you to engineer specifically how you want to feel.
Aromatherapy, long been recognized as a mood enhancer, with everything from Lavender’s soothing relaxation to Mint’s bracing and invigorating scent.
Now, go beyond…
One new trend in home spas is a dedicated space where you can work out. After all, what could be more optimal than already being in the room where you can shower and steam right after pushing your body to its limits and breaking a sweat?
You may want a more gentle workout space, of course, for the quiet, contemplative exercise of yoga. In that case, you might equip your room with a calming corner and exercise mat. Or if you want a more strenuous workout, consider tucking an exercise bike, treadmill, or elliptical trainer into a corner. And with new, wall-mounted TV s, or technically-equipped mirrors with embedded television sets that vanish completely when not in use, you can watch your favorite programs as you exercise!
Dana Santas, a certified strength and conditioning specialist, whose clients include national baseball, hockey, football, and basketball teams, was interviewed on CNN about equipping her bathroom spa with exercise equipment: “I recommitted to working out at home with a few cost-effective multipurpose tools: yoga mat, yoga block, dumbbells, kettle bell, mini band and foam roller. Although the crate holding these things didn't take up much space, by placing it conspicuously next to my shower, I saw it every morning. And when I used a dry-erase marker to write workouts on the bathroom mirror, they'd literally stare me in the face.”
We talked earlier about creating an interest wall in the room, complete with artwork, candles, unique objects, and whatever else will prompt a sense of relaxation. Plants are another wonderful addition to your home spa, providing not only beauty but health.
It should not surprise anyone that surrounding yourself with foliage can be therapeutic. The Japanese call spending time walking among trees and plants “forest bathing.” Bringing that greenery inside your home evokes that same sense of serenity – the perfect attribute for a home spa. Some of the ways indoor plant life can affect you include:
Improving air quality. NASA found that plants effectively removed indoor pollutants from a sealed chamber in a 1996 study – and we’ll mention some of these by name below.
Boosting mood and improving productivity. In a study published in 2014 by the Journal of Experimental Psychology, focus, productivity, and job satisfaction were all significantly higher when the job site include workplace greenery.
Aiding in healing. Ever wonder why flowers and plants decorate hospital rooms? Turns out, research shows patients with flowering plants in their rooms are happier, have less anxiety, and do better on medical tests, reducing the time it takes to heal.
But what plants should you include in your home spa? Here are just a few excellent choices:
- English ivy will absorb mold, always a potential problem in a room of high humidity and warm temperatures. Just make sure you set your plant in a sunny spot where it can thrive.
- Peace lilies, on the other hand, are a great addition if you don’t have natural light in the room. These plants break down carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and benzene.
- Azaleas flourish in humid environments, which makes them a perfect – and pretty – plant for your home spa. They also improve indoor air by absorbing formaldehyde.
Because your health and well-being are necessities, not luxuries, constructing a space at home where you can reduce stress and regain equilibrium should become a priority in your life. We know that transforming your bathroom into a wellness retreat will revitalize you, adding overall satisfaction to your life!