10 Bath Luxuries

Instant bliss is easy to achieve. Just follow these ideas for enriching your bath.

This spacious bathroom is endowed with a host of creature comforts. But it doesn't take a ballroom-size space to create a sense of contentment.

We've defined ten ways to enhance the looks, performance, and sensory delights of a bath. Why wait to create your own dream?

1. In the Best Light

Color, light, and neutral tones set the mood in this bathroom.

Banish the shadows. The appearance, performance, and safety of your bathroom will improve dramatically if it's illuminated properly. In this bath, you can see how good lighting adds sparkle to fixtures, fittings, and surfacing materials. In any bath, it helps you distinguish the merry-berry lipstick from the ravishing-red, and makes you less likely to cut yourself shaving or take a misstep and fall.

Medium-to-large bathrooms need a generous number of general-illumination fixtures, such as recessed downlights, for overall lighting.

Small baths, toilet compartments, and closets may need only one ceiling fixture with a 60- to 75-watt incandescent light or a 30- to 40-watt fluorescent tube. If you love mood lighting, put your incandescent lights on a dimmer.

When lighting a grooming center, it's best to plan light from above and both sides. Install a fixture that casts light just over the front edge of the sink. This will bounce light off the countertop and up onto your face. In addition, install fixtures on both sides of the mirror. Theatrical lighting strips that frame a mirror work wonderfully.

For safety's sake, be sure to use enclosed vaporproof fixtures in shower enclosures and enclosed tub areas.

Tips to Maximize Light in a Bath

Today's faucets are designed in an impressive range of styles, colors, and features.

Invest in high-quality faucets for your sinks, tub, and shower. Faucets are the most frequently used devices in the bath, so replacing them can be a quick and satisfying way to upgrade a bathroom.

Top-notch faucets are engineered to prevent aggravations, such as leaks, drips, reduced water pressure, difficulty regulating water temperature, and stoppers that don't close or open.

In addition to improving performance, today's faucets enrich a bath's appearance; they are available in an amazing array of styles and finishes. Handsome faucets such as the vintage-style one in the tub and the bridge-style ones on the sink could be considered sculpture.

Faucet Guide

The bathroom is an eloquent statement on behalf of neutrals. Quiet in temperament, neutrals are easy on the eye and soothing to the psyche.

The range of neutrals goes far beyond white, beige, and taupe. Black, browns, and grays also are considered neutrals. So are wood tones and reflective surfaces, such as glass, mirrors, and all the metals.

To avoid any hint of blandness, texture and pattern are essential in a neutral scheme. Interior designer Jack Kreitinger orchestrated both in this bath. Walls are covered with scratchy grass cloth and slick tile. Those materials are separated by a run of decorative tiles.

The walnut vanities are topped with rough limestone counters, which house hammered nickel sinks. Pattern shows up in the tile stripes on the walls and reappears in the faux area rug, fashioned with ribbons of tile amid the tumbled-marble flooring.

Elegant Baths

Every bath should have a clock. It will keep you on schedule and let you know how much time you have left to get ready.

If you have counter space available, try a beautiful silver clock perched on a tray of bath salts and fresh flowers.

You can hang a clock in a prominent place on the wall or have one built into a custom cabinet. There's a vast array of battery-run, wall-hung clocks on the market, so it should be easy to choose one that complements the style of your bath.

Need a place to dress, file your nails, or apply makeup? Try a bench under an open section of countertop.

Or, nestle a small chair or rocker into a corner so you don't have to perch on the edge of the tub or toilet. For a comfier seat, add a cushion upholstered with fabric.

In the shower, a 12- to 15-inch-deep bench or tiled shelf is a boon to anyone who loves to linger beneath the steamy spray and to every woman who shaves her legs in the shower.

For the ultimate luxury, install a heated floor system under tile.

Toast your towels and your toes. Imagine stepping from the tub or shower onto a heated floor, then wrapping up in a warmed towel. That's luxury, pure and simple. You can enjoy such pleasures by installing a towel warmer and a below-floor radiant heater.

Choose from many styles of towel warmers, including some that double as room heaters. Or, install kitchen appliances -- a warming drawer or microwave oven -- to warm towels. (Don't warm towels with plastic appliques.)

Radiant heaters are designed to heat tile and stone floors to a comfortable temperature. Low-wattage heating mats or systems of hot-water tubes are installed between floor joists or on top of concrete slabs. The flooring material is installed in the normal way on top of the mats or tubes. The systems are operated by thermostats or timers.

Towel Display Ideas

Infuse your bath with personality -- yours. Accessorize with artwork and collectibles you love. Create a mini gallery with framed prints or family photos on the wall. (The room's humidity may damage artwork, so keep your expensive pieces elsewhere.)

If you have floor space available, bring in nonbath furniture. An antique armoire or chest of drawers carries character and supplements storage space. The goal is to fashion a welcoming space that makes you comfortable.

Bath Decor

Artwork adds personality to this neutral bath space.
  • A small desk or end table topped with a lovely scarf can serve as a cosmetics center.
  • Partition space with a privacy screen.
  • Mount a dried-flower swag above the door or window.
  • Install shelves to display arrangements of pretty bottles, silver trays, jars of seashells, or potted ferns.
  • Keep a bouquet of fresh flowers or a few fresh plants on the vanity or tub deck.

Colorful Baths

The road to paradise is surely paved with lavender, roses, rosemary, eucalyptus, and other plants that waft sweet fragrances into the air.

Indulge your sense of smell with scented bath products, such as candles, soaps, sachets, bath crystals, and oils. It's one of the least expensive ways to create your very own paradise.

Do you jump-start the day with CNN or the Today Show? Does music help you wind down after a taxing day? Then by all means, install a television, a radio, or a super-sound system in your bathroom.

Just be sure to secure these electrical appliances away from any source of water. Consider buying a shower radio, which is safe even when wet.

For convenience, safety, and to preserve counter space, you may want to mount your television on a swiveling wall-hung rack, available at most home improvement centers.

All About Bath Linens

Consider your bathroom storage needs and options; customize with features you need.

Do you drop to your knees to retrieve a towel from the vanity cabinet? When you reach for the toothbrush in your medicine cabinet, do you invariably knock the aspirin bottle into the sink? To find a comb or razor, do you rummage through a cluttered drawer? Those are just some of the frustrations that characterize a bath with poor storage.

The bathroom pictured here is endowed with two tall custom cabinets. Compartments and drawers keep towels, toiletries, and cosmetics organized.

But even if your bathroom isn't spacious enough to house such furniture, you can improve its organization.

Walk through a home improvement center or a cabinetry showroom and review the storage options available for small spaces.

Bath Storage Solutions

  • Retrofit your cabinetry with organizers: drawer partitions, turntables, pullout baskets, or a tilt-out tray that replaces the decorative panel on the front of a vanity.
  • Replace a small medicine chest with a bigger model.
  • Buy or build a chest that stretches the length of your vanity.
  • Make use of vertical space with shelving that's narrow and tall.
  • Free up cabinetry space by displaying towels on wall-hung shelves, or insert rolled towels in a wine rack.
  • Store cosmetics in a rolling cart that can be concealed in a closet when not in use.


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