How to Create a Spa Bathroom

Spa Bath FB post
Sunday nights are for relaxing. (At least I think they should be!) What’s better than retiring to your own spa oasis, having a nice long soak in luxurious bubbles, and just enjoying the moment?

If we follow our 5 senses, putting together a pretty good facsimile of a spa experience is quite doable. Here’s a video explaining it all, and I’ve put some notes and resources below the jump. Or, if you’d like the thumbnail, here’s an infographic/cheatsheet.


Two major themes here: decluttering the vanity surfaces, and creating a soothing color scheme.

When it comes to beauty “stuff” — all of our lotions and  potions — I get it. There can be a lot. And if your bathroom is on the small side, storage can be an issue. If your beauty care items have a home, put them back when you use them. That one simple act alone can make a huge difference in reducing visual clutter.

If you find you have a lot of things you use daily that don’t have a permanent residence in your bathroom, get creative with storage. There are a lot of inexpensive but stylish ideas out there. Here are 10 organizing ideas under $10 each.

Next, let’s talk about color. Think about your favorite spa. What colors did you see there? Chances are, the color scheme was designed to inspire a sense of calm. That usually means a monochromatic (one color) scheme in neutrals (white all the way up to taupe) or blues and greens. (For tips on how color affects the human mind and body, check out this infographic.) A monochromatic scheme is less stressful because the brain has less to process, fewer contrasting colors to process.

Whatever your color of choice, bring it in with paint on the walls, the shower curtain, window coverings, rugs, and of course towels. Here’s how I turned my guest bathroom into a more spa-like space for under $100.


Here’s a designer tip: whenever you’re using a monochromatic color scheme, your room needs varying textures to keep the design from being bland and boring.

In your spa bathroom, bring in texture through soft, luxurious towels. Buy the best you can afford, start with just a few pieces and build up your inventory if you have to. Because I see good towels as an investment, I want to know how they’ll perform before I plunk down my money, so I purchase a wash cloth from each brand I’m considering and I use them. Really use them and wash them a few times to see how they do. Then I can purchase more pieces of what I want.

Other ways to bring in different textures: the shower curtain; a soft looped cotton rug underfoot or a gel mat by the tub; floral arrangements; a loofah scrubber or mitts; a natural sea sponge; and/or a luxurious robe. (Seriously, isn’t that the best part of some spa treatments?)

A more ethereal texture: bath products. Yes! The silkiness of bath oil, whipped body butters and bubble bath all count towards the sense of touch. They also bridge the way to the next sense …


(I think I said “smell” in the video, but “scent” sounds nicer.) Of course here is where the core of many spa experiences is found. I love going to my local Aveda spa where they give you a choice of aromas to incorporate into your treatment. So pick up a few of these elements in a variety of scents to cover an array of sensory needs from de-stressing to energizing.

  • Scented candles
  • Reed diffuser
  • Bath products
  • Essential oils

Here’s a quick aromatherapy tutorial to help you decide on your perfect scents.


One year for my birthday I treated myself to the spa at one of the big-name casinos here in Las Vegas that had great reviews online. I was already familiar with other spas in their chain so I had every expectation it would be a great experience. Wow was I under-impressed with the sound environment! I could hear jackhammers, cars, and every other treatment going on since the walls didn’t go all the way up to the ceiling! It was totally distracting.

That’s when I realized the power of sound to transport us to that sacred zen place of bliss. Don’t skimp on this sense! Bring in a CD player, your smartphone or tablet (be sure not to get anything too close to the tub!) and play soothing music. Put together your own playlist, pick up a compilation CD (I always find them at Target), or listening to one of the spa/relaxation stations on your streaming music service.


The final spa element that you can replicate at home is taste. Spas are famous for their flavored detox waters and teas. Make yourself a pitcher of flavored water. Simply slice up some fruit of your choice, add some herbs if you like and place it all in a pitcher with some good, pure water. Chill for at least 1-2 hours to let the flavors infuse. Some traditional combos: cucumber-mint; lemon-mint; and blackberry-apple. Of course there are no rules here — use what you like best!

In a pinch, pick up one of the naturally flavored waters widely available at supermarkets. Make sure there is no added sugar.

So there you have it! The 5 easy steps to make a spa at home. I’d love to hear how you’re incorporating these elements and senses into your spa night routine. Please leave a comment over on the Facebook page and be sure to follow my master bathroom board on Pinterest.

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How to Apply Window Film

Here’s a great idea to hide unwanted messiness in any cabinet with glass doors.

Windo film

I’m using Gila Window Film in bronze to coordinate with the brown tone of a media unit that I re-purposed into more of a display area for my client. The former home of media components is now used for storage, and we wanted to mask that. Here’s the before photo:

Cabinet 1

A frosted window film would work great, too! See what’s available in your local hardware store or home improvement center.

Click on the video for a quick how-to:

For about $25 for both the film and the application kit, it gives a whole new look to the cabinet, and there’s plenty of leftover supplies to work on other pieces.

Here are the after photos:

cabinet 2

cabinet 3

My client is really happy with the new display area and is using the now-opaque glass doors for more storage. This was an easy process and a great way to re-purpose a display cabinet.

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The $100 Decorating Challenge: Guest Bath

Guest bath before

Recently I was collecting towels from the guest bathroom to launder them, and I looked around the room. The tub was still sporting its Valentine’s Day shower curtain and valance (shock! horror!) and it just seemed … jumbled with accessories. Cheerful colors, but it felt disjointed.

Ah ha! It was suffering an identity crisis.

The guest bathroom has evolved over the years culminating with new Italian porcelain flooring that I had installed last November. But I hadn’t updated other elements of the room to flow with the feel of the more sophisticated, spa-like floor.

I’ve known for a while that I’ve wanted to update the shower curtain. The “everyday” ensemble that is usually in place from March to October is one I made nearly 20 years ago. But it never really fit this tub and shower enclosure which is a foot taller than the standard 72-inch shower curtain. So I was determined to find drapery panels that I could use as a shower curtain, since they would be longer and would still conceal the basic vinyl shower liner.

On a recent trip to Target I found “the one” – a design and color that inspired a more tranquil, spa-like feel. Done and done. I gave myself $100 out of the house kitty and embarked on a “$100 Decorating Challenge.” The drapes took nearly half the budget, but their style (and importance in the room) was well worth it.

I replaced nearly every decorative element in the room. After a thorough cleaning and decluttering (most of the accessories went bye-bye), I purchased the new drapes/shower curtain, plus a shower rod, accent paint, bath products, wastebasket, wash cloths, tub mat and rug. I ended up spending $109—a $10 clearance rug was the perfect texture and color and I just couldn’t pass it up, even though it put me over budget. (The tax deduction for the items I donated to Goodwill as part of the decluttering will more than cover the overage.)

Other items such as the towels, artwork, candles and accessories were brought in from other rooms. Here’s the after photo!

Guest bath after

I love it and I hope my guests will, too. Here’s a tour of the room ….

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In addition to the drapery panels ($24.99 each, Target), the shower curtain rod was updated to a brushed nickel finish ($12.99 Home Goods) to coordinate with the grommets in the panels. I also hung the rod just outside the tiled enclosure and found it gives a more polished look to the tub area. The wall color stayed the same, although I will probably update it within the year.

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The vinyl liner remained, but a fluffy new tub mat ($9.99, Bed Bath and Beyond) will feel cushy stepping out of the shower.

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Guests will enjoy new luxe body wash (and a basket of amenities I stashed under the sink).

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The area over the toilet was a confused mess of decorative shelves and knick-knacks. I removed the small shelves, painted the shelf a shade called “Twig” ($4.99, Target) and added simple white tealights from my inventory. Then I hung a poster I found in France in 1993, that had been hanging in the garage. The artwork adds just the right drama and color.

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Across the room, I re-used the existing brushed nickel frames (and hung them more securely and straight!), replacing the images with pages from an old Paris calendar with dramatic black mats from another room. The white bath towels I already had on hand, while the hand towels are borrowed from the master bath.

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The tired orange rug (that didn’t wash well the last time I laundered it) has been replaced by a super soft rug ($10, Home Goods) in a shade I’d call “Malted.” It’s not white, it’s not tan – it’s like the lightest whisper of the hue in the shower curtain.

Vanity top: before

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One of my favorite transformations is the vanity top.

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The colors for the accessories were chosen from the Paris calendar prints. Alstromeria in tall, slender vases frame the sink and are a lovely addition when I have overnight guests.

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When I was cleaning out the linen closet, I found a bunch of fancy soaps that I’ve received as gifts or picked up over the years. Unwrapped and piled into an apothecary jar, they are the perfect accessory for a spa-like bath. The jar also brings much needed height, whereas in the “before” photo, there was no variety in the height of the vanity accessories.

With the jar, I’ve grouped a Himalayan salt candle and whimsical porcelain dish to use a jewelry tray.

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New, fluffy white wash cloths ($2.00 each, Home Goods) sit in a pretty silver and mother-of-pearl bowl from the kitchen, while a silver-framed greeting directs guests to bath necessities.

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I’m glad this art glass soap dispenser fits with the new decor. It’s possibly my favorite thing from the “old” guest bath.

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One thing absent: tissues! I could not find a suitable tissue box cover, so I’m keeping the tissues under the sink. (Anyone who visits my house is now on notice!) If I find the right box cover at a good price, I’ll add it later. But for now, I like the look of the candles on the shelf!

My goal for this room was to create a tranquil yet functional space for overnight guests to feel like they’re in a hotel. I think I achieved that. This is the new “everyday” look, although I’m already thinking how to add a bit of holiday color for the Christmas season. What can I say? I’m incorrigible on that count.

So how about you?? Is there a room in your house that could use a $100 makeover? I hope these changes will inspire you to create a look that is uniquely you, reusing what you can and shopping smart! Please post your challenge room and results on the Facebook page!

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How to Style a Bookcase

“A home without books is a body without soul,” or so said Roman philosopher Cicero more than two millennia ago. For me, the same holds true today. I love books. I can’t help it. I “wrote” my first book when I was in nursery school (okay, so it was a scratch pad with squiggly lines and stick figures) and was a typical bookworm in school.

I have a lot of books. And the bookcases in my home office were looking a bit, well, crowded, to say the least. So in an effort to make the bookshelves more functional and a bit more stylish, I started to thin out the collection a bit last year and added a few accessories to the shelves. This is how one of the bookcases looked in April 2013:

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And after my first try of at a bit fewer books and photos, and a little more style:

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Still, it looked dark and lifeless.

Last week I showed you how I lightened up the back of the bookcase with Devine Color® wallcovering from Target. This week it’s all about putting the books back on the shelves and adding some personal touches to keep it interesting. Here are the 5 steps to styling a bookcase:


Take all the books off the shelves, setting aside any books that you’d like to purge. (Tip: Donate your unwanted books to your local library or charity.) Then, scan the titles to see what categories naturally emerge. Categories might include general reading, biographies, literature and any special interests you might have. Anything with five or more books is its own category. Here are my categories, to give you an idea.

Classics & Poetry
General reading (trade paperbacks)
Gift Giving
Health & Healing
Personal finance
Politics & Economics
Spiritual growth

That might seem like a lot of categories, but that’s the level of breakdown that makes sense to me. You may have more or less categories, or you may sort your books alphabetically by title or author. Do what makes sense to you.


Once you have your categories established, you’ll have a sense of how much shelf space each category will need. Then simply designate shelf space for each category. Put the most frequently used books at eye level; that’s the most valuable shelf space. Think about how the most popular brands are front and center on grocery store shelves and more generic brands are towards the bottom. Same principle applies here.

Here’s where personal preference comes in: how to stack the books. Now, library purists will advocate the straight row approach with little or no accessories “in the way.”

If you’d like a more interesting looking bookcase, then vary the way the books are stacked on the shelves. Here’s a pin from one of my Pinterest boards with seven ways to stack books. Be creative! By mixing up the look, it will give the bookcase a more dynamic, inviting appearance.


Let’s face it: all books are NOT created equal. What I noticed with my book collection is that the foreign language dictionaries and some travel guides were small and kind of busy looking on the shelf. So I stashed them all in this pretty box that I found at Home Goods for $8. I also have some sheet music and music books that I used a magazine file to keep them together, and two more decorative boxes for notebooks and odds and ends. It just gives the shelves a neater appearance.

Bookcase and lavender 0614 010


If a row of books stops anywhere but the other side of the bookcase, you’ll need a bookend to keep the books upright. Of course you can purchase bookends at many retail stores, but think outside the box on this one. Anything that is hefty enough and tall enough can be a bookend.

Bookcases 027

On my bookcase, I’ve used a Chinese statue (above), a short stack of books turned sideways and a mercury glass vase. The point is, it doesn’t have to be a traditional bookend. Be creative here; this is a great place to let your personality and interests shine.


Yay! The fun part! Select a few accessories to display on the shelves with your books. Don’t let it get too cluttered looking, or place accessories in front of frequently used tomes. Otherwise you’ll have to move the pieces every time you need the book. I have just a few meaningful photos and figurines, along with a few pieces of mercury glass for a little sparkle and shine. This is the finished product:

Bookcases 018

I hope you find these tips and the video useful! Please post photos of your bookcase re-dos on the Facebook page.

© 2014 By Dsign Omnimedia, LLC. All rights reserved.

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How to Update a Bookcase with Devine Color Wallcovering

Give a plain, tired bookcase or hutch a

stylish makeover for about $40 in supplies.

In my ongoing quest for an efficient, comfortable and beautiful home office (all in the name of research to help my clients!), I recently did a mini-makeover on my teak bookcases using a new product that I found at Target. It’s Devine Color® peel and stick, repositionable wall and surface covering, and I’m in love!! I found it on sale for $23.99, marked down from the list price of $29.99.

I’ve been wanting to do something to the back of the bookcases for a while now. They’re fine, just a bit plain. And when I found this subtle taupe and silver weave pattern, I knew it was perfect. (There are all kinds of prints and colors; check out the collection here.)

Because I’m not sure how the product will be removed or if the wood will be damaged, I used an insert of hardboard so I can easily change back to the wood look, or recover the board again and again as the season or my mood suits me. The manufacturer states on the package that the paper “has been tested on successfully removed from various wood surfaces and conditions.” Still, since one can never be too careful, for just $9 in hardboard I am guaranteed that my bookcase will remain in good condition. Using the hardboard as a backer board is also a great tip for any non-smooth surface like bead board or grooved paneling.


I did a step-by-step video of the process:


I love the new look! It makes a huge difference and adds just a bit of sparkle and shine, especially when the light hits it during the day. I’m glad I waited for just the right product.

Bookcase b&a


This project was very easy, and I’d recommend it for any skill level. Here are some extra tips for using this product:

  • Be as accurate as possible with your measurements and write them down to take with you to the home improvement store. This will ensure the hardboard pieces fit perfectly.
  • Use a plastic paint edger/wallpaper smoother like this one to help guide the paper onto the surface.
  • Smooth any air bubbles from the center outward, or use your index finger to smooth tiny bubbles.
  • If you need to reposition the paper, lift it carefully and peel it back parallel to the surface.
  • Once you’re satisfied with the position of the paper, turn under any overhang and secure it to the back of the hardboard.
  • The shelves will keep the board in place; there is no need to adhere the board to the bookcase.

Good luck with this project!

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