Trends in Residential Architecture Design: The Spa-Inspired Bathroom

Whether first thing in the morning or last thing at night, the time is always right to enjoy a moment of relaxation in a calm, soothing, well-organized bathroom. Here on Chicago’s North Shore, we’re hearing a familiar refrain in many of our client meetings: the desire for a spa-inspired bathroom. Our clients, it seems, are part of a growing trend - according to the experts at Houzz, spa bathrooms are quickly becoming one of today’s most requested amenities. At Morgante Wilson Architects, we’re not surprised to learn our clients are like so many people across the country looking to begin and end their days in the peaceful luxury of a well-designed, spa-like space. Here are five rules to achieve spa-like serenity in your own bathroom:


Less (stuff) is more (peaceful).

This is an easy one: the less stuff cluttering your bathroom counters, the more peaceful your bathroom is going to feel. Plenty of unobtrusive storage will keep everything from toiletries to towels close at hand, yet out of sight. Recess your medicine cabinets so they take up the least amount of visual room. Float your vanities so they leave lots of floor space open to make the room feel larger.  These are tricks residential architects and interior designers use all the time to give the illusion of greater square footage. If space is truly at a premium, simply reduce the number of items that are stored in your bathroom. (This, by the way, is a handy tip for creating a more peaceful household in general. But that’s another post for another day!)


Fewer materials equal greater tranquility.

Commit to a minimal number of materials that complement one another quietly. They don’t necessarily have to be exclusive or super-expensive materials; they just have to be clean, calm, and consistent. Also, illuminate the bathroom with plenty of soft, ethereal light, rather than can lights or exposed bulbs. If bulbs are exposed, be sure they’re soft light, or have a decorative glass shade so your eyes don’t stop and take notice. In a spa bathroom, nothing should be jarring.



Plan for seamless design.

Yes, you can certainly incorporate breathtaking elements in your bathroom. Just don’t frame them with neon! A rock wall, or a glass inlay on a floor or backsplash, would be stunning additions to any bathroom. The difference in a spa bath is that such elements aren’t intended as dramatic focal points. Rather, they’re holistically integrated into the overall design so the user of the bathroom experiences the space as a unified whole – not as a series of “wow” moments. Remember, you never want the eye to stop at any single place in a seamlessly designed bathroom – you want it to continually rove.  The user should feel enveloped in calm, not interrupted by attention-getting features.


Almost anything goes in terms of materials and colors. Really.

This one may surprise you, but it’s true. With the exception of the aforementioned neon, just about any material – or color, as long as it’s not vibrant – can look appropriate in a spa-inspired bathroom. There really aren’t any no-no’s. If you love blue, go ahead and paint your bathroom blue. But make it a soothing, washed-out, grayed tone of blue. You don’t want to walk in and be overwhelmed by the color. Once again, your design should be about the overall space.


Choose white towels.

Towels are the one instance when color – or rather, the lack of color - really does make a difference. It may sound trivial, but actually, it’s of key importance. Ask yourself this question: in a soothing, restful bathroom, where everything flows quietly together, do you really want a navy blue towel to contrast with all that calm? A navy blue towel on your vanity is going to stand out like a sore thumb – and cause your eye to register the fact that it doesn’t quite belong. That’s exactly what you want to avoid when designing a spa bathroom. Forget the idea of an accent color, and focus instead on repetition of color.


Opt for simply-detailed bathroom hardware.

Hardware options today are virtually endless, and many of them are strikingly beautiful. So go ahead – choose drawer and door hardware that makes your heart sing. Just try to avoid ornately-detailed varieties and instead select those that are cleanly designed. Unnecessarily fancy or fussy hardware styles have no place in a space where the overall mantra is “less is more.”  A shower door handle is only there so you can open the door. It should not make your eye stop – whereas in a kitchen, or on a piece of furniture, that might be precisely the point.


Incorporate these five rules into the design of your bathroom, and you’ll be well on your way to creating spa-like serenity. For more ideas (link to additional spa bathroom images Sakura will provide), or to schedule a consultation, just give us a call – we’ve got plenty of experience designing dream bathrooms!


Elissa Morgante
Morgante-Wilson Architects
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Morgante-Wilson Architects provides residential architectural services in Chicago, Evanston, Winnetka, Glencoe, Glenview, Highland Park, Kenilworth, Wilmette, Northbrook, Deerfield, Northfield, and Ravinia.

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