The notion of the five-star luxury lifestyle at home and for the masses has become fully entrenched in a short space of time. While the snobs among us may be chagrined to find they have something in common with the plebes, spa-ifying at least the master bathroom at home — either with full redesigns or with simple accessories — is now fairly standard. From coloured tiles to steam showers, self-pampering is within reach for more of us than ever before.
“There is a growing trend for more spa-like bathrooms,” agrees interior designer Monique McLintock. At a redesign level, there is obviously more to choose from—at a much steeper price. But the aforementioned coloured tiles are among the easiest ways to perk up the bathroom. There are easy touches that come in a range of budgets, like open vanities (with rolled towels of course), natural materials wherever possible — wood or stone accessories — or adding a fireplace (there are plenty of indoor units on the market now) if a modicum of structural work is on the table. If that’s the case, all the rage now: either stand-alone or sunken bathtubs, which admittedly could be tricky in flat-heavy Hong Kong and vessel or trough-style basins. Finally, using deeper, richer colours few of us have associated with the bathroom at home before now — purple, red, blue, green — or creating personalised patterns for a specific vibe is on the rise.
If you’re of the mind the key to the home spa is in the hardware then there are a rising number of bathroom suite options. Rain showers have long since taken hold in residential bathrooms, but increasingly steam showers are joining the fun. Prices are coming down and installation is getting easier, and constantly changing technology is making it easier to include steam showers in small spaces as some steam generators don’t necessarily need to be near the shower now. Easily the go-to spot for something special in the bathroom is Colour Living, which currently has a range of spa-type bathroom suites from some of the world’s best designers. German manufacturer Dornbracht’s Sensory Sky shower seeks to reproduce the outdoorsy feeling of three natural environments with lighting, scents and varying water pressures. Italy’s Effegibi incorporates hammam and Finnish sauna traditions in their Logica Twin spa, a more decadent option for those with more space. Both are customisable, but if smaller is still what’s needed Effegibi’s new Touch&Steam can be installed in any shower, and uses a simple pane of glass to hide a state-of-the-art steam generator for steam showers and colour therapy.
Finally, no spa would feel like a spa if it didn’t have the right lighting, the right smell and the right materials. Major retailers from Tequila Kola, Indigo, OVO to indies like G.O.D and Rapee Living are all sources for reed and aromatherapy oil diffusers and scented candles for all your aromatic needs — and don’t forget most hotel spas sell their in-house product. The rise in LED lighting has focused new attention on the power of lighting to create mood, and anyone who’s stepped into a spa knows how relaxing the lighting makes things. And finally, a slew of linens manufacturers have moved into Hong Kong lately and brought the kind of plush, luxurious towels previously only seen in hotels to consumers. Also? Don’t forget the fresh cut flowers.
Spa-ing the bathroom does demand maintenance (A hallmark of spas? They’re spotlessly clean) and more crucially, how much you plan on investing in the bathroom depends on many factors: do you rent or own your home, are you going to spend that much time using the new “facilities” and is the rule of thumb (5 to 10 percent of your home’s value should go to bathroom remodelling) one you want to adhere to when a few rolled towels and some coloured stones in the sink just might do the trick?