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  •  The Spa Experience 
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  • Velux skylights in the bathroom. Click for more information.
    The Spa Experience

    Picture yourself soaking in a tub with champagne-like bubbles floating around, soothing aromatherapy filling your senses and the sound of the ocean surf crashing on the beach. Or imagine yourself standing in an aqua-massage and stepping into a sauna after a relaxing steam shower. Chromatherapy soothes your soul, and the familiar sounds of your mp3 player are a touch away.

    You don’t have to be beachfront at an exotic spa to enjoy this type of relaxation, nor even at a strip-mall day spa. In fact, this oasis can be found in your very own bathroom. Consumers are looking to the bathroom, second only to the kitchen, as the room most likely to exceed their budget allowance. As hot products range from the necessary to the excessive, homeowners are not afraid to spend money on indulgences and create their very own home spa.

    In the 1950’s, bathrooms, including the master bath, usually consisted of a toilet, bathtub, mirror, small vanity and a showerhead in the bathtub. Counter space was lacking and elbow room was sparse. Forget two people trying to use the bathroom at one time.

    More recently, bathrooms started to embrace the need for counter space and dual sinks by enlarging the square-footage of the room. Vanities became more frequent and in some upscale bathrooms, a separate shower existed. Fast-forward to the bathrooms of the 21st century. Home designers are listening and have responded to consumer’s requests by designing bigger bathrooms, abundant counter space, separate tubs and showers, private toilets and wiring for new technology.

    Barely mirroring the bathrooms of yesterday, today’s bathrooms are outfitted to offer nothing short of a home spa experience. Trends that promote rejuvenation include: bigger bathroom size, private privies, his-and-hers sinks, separate tubs and showers, chromatherapy (using color to heighten the senses), mixed materials such as stone and wood, chaise lounges, music therapy, upgraded fixtures and dimmed lighting.

    Depending on your budget, creating a bathroom spa can be as extravagant as installing steam showers or adding a few simple gadgets, such as a towel warmer. The number one key to relaxation is the bathtub. Long, rectangular tubs are a thing of the past; current home plans include space for everything from Jacuzzi tubs to standup showers.

    If you prefer a soaking tub, consider the elegance of a claw foot tub that allows water to fill up to the chin. For those who want more action, an exciting new product is the air-jetted tub. Offering gentle bubbles by forcing air into a high-pressure stream of water, an air-jetted tub grants the spa experience without circulating water that can later cause mildew or damage to a water-circulated, jetted tub.

    While soaking and light massages are a great way to unwind at the end of the day, the new trend of body spas and steam showers with built-in saunas are an even bigger indulgence. Body spas take a series of whirlpool jets and arrange them vertically in a shower-like enclosure. Water is propelled through the air, instead of air through water as in a whirlpool. This allows the user to experience a truly massaging effect on the whole body. Touch pads often come with the vertical jets and allow users to adjust the intensity and direction of the water flow for just the right degree of massage action. For an even greater spa-like experience, bring the heat of a steam and sauna into your shower.

    Steam showers are the number one product for indulgence. The steam increases blood circulation while relaxing the body. Popular models include whirlpool baths, foot massagers, waterfall faucets, chromatherapy, rainfall showerheads, thermostat faucets, LCD controls, ventilation fans and even emergency alarms. Some units have the steam on one side and a sauna space with a bench on the other. Perfect for maintaining healthy skin, these side-by-side units can fit in a corner or stand alone. Because the latest trend in master baths includes room for both a tub and shower, it is possible to have a steam shower and a comfortable soaking tub.

    When exiting a sauna, steam room or bathtub, your body is typically warm and relaxed. What better way to keep that warmth than with the addition of a towel warmer? It is a small touch that goes a long way. Not just for towels, they are also a great way to dry a bathing suit, baby blankets or hand washables. Available in several colors, finishes and mounting options, choices exist to suit practically everyone.

    Just as you want a warm towel to wrap around your body, in a true spa you would also want a warm floor when you exit the bath. Widely popular, floor warmers consist of electric heating systems that can be installed under new ceramic tile to keep toes toasty after finishing a bath. These warmers are also available for other areas of the home. Now that you’ve created the ultimate way to relax, dry off and exit the bath, consider a few hot products that can transform an otherwise boring bathroom into an indulgent oasis. For additional warmth and ambience, bathroom fireplaces are quickly finding their place, as are digital thermometers that control the water temperature and can be adjusted with the quick press of a button.

    Living in a digital age means that electronics also have their place in the bathroom. If you find yourself singing in the shower, but your partner wishes there were background music to mask the sound, consider an in-shower music source. Not just a waterproof radio, today’s in-shower components are complete with space for your mp3 player or favorite CDs. Allowing you to listen to tunes into the shower, whether relaxing or rocking out, electronic gadgets instantly bring your bathroom into the 21st century. If the shower radio doesn’t completely fulfill your needs, another hot trend is the addition of televisions and complete entertainment systems in the bathroom. Catching up on the weather and morning news is easy with a television, while surround-sound speakers bring the sounds of the rain forest in stereo. Waterproof remotes, built-in wall speakers and televisions placed in mirrors sound like something out of a science fiction novel but are all available now.

    If this sounds like over-indulgence, there are simpler methods to create a home spa. Rainfall showerheads use cascading water over your entire head to invoke a sense of massage, or the feeling of standing under a waterfall. Because shower stalls are often big enough for two people, adding a second showerhead is also a popular trend as they can be installed into the ceiling or a regular showerhead mount

    Upgrading hardware, such as sinks and faucets, also enhances the bathroom. Popular choices include above-counter sinks, or vessel sinks, as well as “wet surface” sinks (where water runs over a plate-like slab). The absolute hottest trend in lavatory design though, is the sink set into furniture. Fusing function with art, these artistic sinks showcase furniture that also serves a purpose. Combine that with new “hands-free,” electronic faucets and you have a completely modern washing station.

    Spa bathrooms are not for everyone, but we all need to indulge every now and again. Whether you prefer the extravagant steam shower, or just a comfortable bathtub, designing your own home spa is possible in some form for just about everyone.


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