Floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking your own private white sand beach at sunset, softly flickering candles lining your already-filled Italian marble jacuzzi tub, warm luxurious towels waiting to be chosen to wrap you up: welcome to your own personal spa.
It sounds too good to be true.
But what is it about these images that immediately make us feel more relaxed, and how can we recreate them in our own home? Let your senses be your guide. Here are five easy steps to use your senses to create a spa-like atmosphere in your bathroom – without paying spa-like prices.
1. Smell: Biologists and psychologists agree that smell is the strongest sense we have. It is the most precise sense, and the one most likely to bring back memories. With clawfoot and freestanding tubs becoming more and more popular, the days of lining our tubs with candles (and fearing for the safety of our hair!) are over. Since spas use aromatherapy oils to calm, relax, and rejuvenate their guests, you can literally follow your nose to find a scent that will drum up memories of a time you were truly relaxed. If aromatherapy oils aren't your thing, try an aromatic plant such as your favorite flowers or a strong herb like thyme or basil.
Get this: Aromatherapy/essential oils, potted plants or herbs, air-filtering plants
2. Sound: Walking into a spa you are guaranteed to hear some version of a babbling brook, Japanese flute, or gently crashing wave playing through an overhead speaker. In your private spa you can choose whatever soundtrack you want: the important thing here is to choose something. Listening to classical music has been proven to reduce stress hormones and lower blood pressure, and researchers suggest that might be a good place to start for a spa-like experience. If you can't stand classical music, find what works for you. When you get out of the bath and realize you hadn't been thinking about anything the whole time you were in it – you've found your sound.
Get this: A wireless Bluetooth speaker and an iTunes account (or an account on a music server such as Pandora or Spotify)
3. Sight: You may not have the means to magically transport your bathroom to a white sand beach every time you take a bath, but that doesn't mean you can't go there. Use inexpensive décor to bring your spa to your happy place. If it's that white sand beach, fill clear vases with sand around the room. If it's a snowy mountaintop, place baskets of pine cones in view. These are small touches but they are powerful ones. These symbolic decorations that contrast the world outside your walls will make your bathroom your oasis, your escape. A dimmer light switch will give you the power to make it sunrise, sunset, or a starry night inside your home spa.
Get this: Dimmer light switch, printed framed photographs (your own or found) to hang on the walls, clear vases or baskets, simple decorations that represent your personal happy place
4. Touch: There is something magical about the white, fluffy, robes and towels found in spas everywhere. Maybe it is that they always seem to be fresh out of the dryer, or maybe it is that none of us would dare have those white towels at home! Relaxing white towels can become symbols of stress when you realize you'll be the one to have to keep them white. Find a nice neutral-colored towel that you like, and spring for the extra soft ones. The worst part of any bath is when you open the drain and realize it is coming to an end. Make the luxury last a little longer with a towel you are excited to climb into, and one you don't dread keeping clean.
Get this: Plush, neutral towels, robes, and slippers, a towel warmer
5. Taste: Eating and drinking in the bath is a hotly debated topic: there are those who swear by it, and those who scoff at it. If you've never done it, try eating a piece of your favorite chocolate while soaking during your next tub. It will give you another reason to look forward to that special spa time, and (bonus!) if you choose dark chocolate, science says it will even add to your relaxation.
Get this: Dark chocolate, herbal tea, ice water, any treat you will look forward to indulging in
By fulfilling all five of your senses you won't just turn your bathroom into a spa, you will turn it into your own personal spa. Use these tips and make where you are where you want to be.