Spa bathroom ideas - Grand Designs magazine
biophilic bathroom design

Spa bathroom design and installation tips

Create a spa scheme with high-performance fittings that look good and are a pleasure to use

By Paula Woods |

Having a space where you can escape everyday life to rejuvenate your body and mind has great value in this frenetic world. The plethora of massage showers, whirlpool baths, steam cabins and saunas tap into a desire for a multipurpose bathroom with therapeutic benefits. Designing a scheme with high-performance fittings that are a pleasure to use and that look good too, is a balancing act between function and aesthetics. These spa bathroom ideas, complete with practical design and installation advice, will help you create a space to relax and recharge.

Bathroom budget

Whether renovating your bathroom or building a new one, take time to decide exactly which features you want. You may need to prioritise a wish list, taking into account the size of the room and your budget. Massage showers, whirlpools, steam cabins and saunas are pricey and you’ll need to factor in the cost of installing adequate services, ventilation and drainage.

luxury spa shower horizontal shower in a marble bathroom

This horizontal shower by Dornbracht has a heated recliner, six WaterBars and relaxation programmes

Consider your space

If you are renovating and want to invest in a luxurious scheme but your bathroom is small, consider stealing space from an adjacent room, corridor or landing. Changing the position of pipework and the soil pipes may also free-up space and give you greater flexibility with the layout but moving the soil pipe will add to the cost of the project. What about access? Will the spa bath you have your heart on fit through doorways and up the stairs? And is the bathroom floor robust enough to support it safely?

freestanding bath with gold floor-mounted tap in a spa bathroom with potted plants hanging from the ceiling

Terrassa oval freestanding bath from Victoria + Albert Baths

Plumbing, drainage and water pressure

Even the most cutting-edge spa bathroom ideas will fall flat without an efficient plumbing and drainage system. ‘The first thing to check is the water heating and pressure capabilities,’ says Adam Logan, training manager at Grohe UK. ‘Multi-jet showers often require high pressure, without which you could end up with something that looks great but performs poorly.’

A system that allows for adequate removal of waste water is also a necessity. ‘A shower waste should have a greater flow-rate than the head,’ adds Adam. ‘And the drain of a steam fitting is best placed next to, but not directly below, the generator.’ The installation of hi-spec fittings can be complex. So, seek out firms with relevant skills and experience. Alternatively, hire a specialist bathroom design company to manage all aspects of the project.

A compact corner sauna in a home spa bathroom

Effegibi Sky corner sauna, from CP Hart

Spa bathroom décor

By definition, a multifunctional bathroom serves different activities. It changes ambience from day to night. The best spa bathroom ideas require a well co-ordinated scheme. Avoid cramming the space with overtly hi-tech gadgetry – but do look out for sleek, chic new bathroom innovations – and limit the materials and colour palette to promote a sense of calm. Incorporate plenty of storage so that everything is easily accessible and has its own place, reducing clutter to a minimum.

Add glamour by including a statement light fitting to supplement practical recessed spotlights. Operate via a dimmer switch or remote control. To make the room even more inviting, bring in a stool, armchair or even a chaise longue. And there are few things more welcoming and soothing on a chilly evening than stepping onto a cosy tiled floor warmed by underfloor heating.

spa bathroom ideas: natural materials and muted palette for contemporary spa-style bathroom

Vero Air bath, with C1 mixer tap and shower, from Duravit

Biophilic bathrooms

Biophilia means a love of nature. Being in and around nature helps us deal with the stress of modern day life, so it makes sense to incorporate this idea into your spa-style bathroom design. The relatively recent trend visually connects architecture and interiors with nature by increasing light and fresh air with large windows and skylights, and choosing natural materials such as wood and stone.

You can also integrate plants into a spa bathroom to improve air quality. Use something like the PlantBox soil-based system from Growing Revolution, a stackable kit with integral water reservoir, to create a living wall. Alternatively, if you don’t have windows in your bathroom, add a few plants that can survive in humid, low-light conditions, like Devil’s Ivy.

biophilic bathroom design

Villeroy and Boch Aveo New Generation freestanding bath

Spa bathroom technology

When considering spa bathroom ideas, seek out tech that combines sophistication with ease of use and the precision of digital control. The spray strength and patterns of hydrotherapy showers work to ease tired muscles. Advanced systems, such as those by Dornbracht and Hansgrohe, also include coloured light, sound and fragrance for a multisensory experience. The new BubbleSpa shower from Kelda uses air-powered technology drawn from aerospace and automotive engineering to transform a standard shower into a spa experience.

Hydro massage baths soothe or revive and some models include light and sound. The versatile Sound Wave system from Kaldewei can be fitted and retrofitted to any of its baths. And if you suffer with stiff, aching joints, the Flotation Tub from Toto is designed to relieve pressure for complete relaxation.

For the ultimate in ambience, look for dual-purpose bathroom technology that combines ease of use with adaptability and saves space. One example is Zuma’s Lumisonic LED light with integrated speaker, which is recessed in the ceiling.

BubbleSpa shower from Kelda is hi-tech with low-environmental impact

BubbleSpa is the only shower with Kelda’s patented bubble technology inside