The Sensual Bathroom: Create a Healthy, Relaxing Retreat

You don’t have to spend a fortune to create a delicious, decadent room that goes way beyond bathing.

| September/October 2002

  • Simplicity equals elegance in this bathroom in the home of Boulder, Colorado, architects David and Betzi Barrett.
  • In this sensual bathroom at Gold Lake Resort in Colorado, slate and stone connect bathers with the earth and evoke a warm, nurturing feeling.
    PHOTOGRAPHY BY POVY KENDAL ATCHISON
  • Organic, unbleached bath sheets by Indigenous Design (650-568-7360, www.indigenousdesign.com) and naturally dyed Indika towels (866-446-3452, www.indikahome.com) are soft, absorbent—and healthy. This rustic wood bench brings an earthy element into the bath.
  • Can’t afford to make structural changes in your bathroom? Enhance your bathing experience with bath products such as Inara’s Babassu Milk Bath (888-688-7565, www.inaraorganic.com), Tend Blend’s Snuggletime Bath Froth, (866-275-5812, www.tendblends.com), handmade herbal soaps, a Mythic Tribe body buffer (818-506-5192, www.mythictribe.com), and a Rest Your Eyes eye pillow (800-426-4336, www.uncommonscents.com). All products are available through Boulder by Design (303-443-2084, www.boulderbydesign.com).
  • Amate bark lantern beeswax candles from Inara (888-688-7565, www.inaraorganic.com) create a mood of primitive simplicity, bringing a soft glow and delicious scent into the bathroom.

  • Photo courtesy The Japanese Bath, by Bruce Smith and Yoshiko Yamamoto (Gibbs Smith, 2001)

Sometimes, in the words of William Wordsworth, “the world is too much with us.” There’s so much happening, so much to do. How do we stay sane?

Take a bath.

“Frequently people look at the bathroom as a refuge or day spa for themselves,” says Jules Lambert, a kitchen and bath designer for DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen in Bellingham, Washington. “It’s a place they can escape from the kids, the television, the phone, their work.”

Ask people what their ideal bathroom would look like, and the details are delicious. “It would have a stone tile floor and a pebble composite-type sink with lots of natural light,” says Heather Pike, owner of PikeWorks Design Studios in Walls, Mississippi. “Balance that with a deeply textured rug for crawling out of the big tub, thick Egyptian cotton towels and, of course, candles. Lots of candles. And some fantastic smell, like rosemary, and a tray of gorgeous perfumes and soaps that I would use for only me. And lace somewhere.”



Sounds yummy, doesn’t it?

The biggest difference between the closet-size bath and the Cleopatra-like opulence is cost—to your pocketbook and to the environment. A full bathroom remodel might range anywhere from $3,000 to more than $20,000, depending on architectural changes, finish materials, and fixtures, and it will involve a hefty amount of natural resources and energy. But with some minor, earth-friendly modifications that introduce inviting colors, textures, and the right accessories, even a basic bathroom can become a personal sanctuary, a sensual space that nurtures the body and soothes the spirit. The key to a sensual bathroom is to remember all the senses.



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