As National Relaxation Day, August 15 is a day to consider how the usual routine can be made more relaxing. One room of the house in particular served as a focus for members of the Milwaukee/NARI Home Improvement Council Inc., the area’s leading home improvement and remodeling industry resource for 51 years. They have several remodeling recommendations for creating a bathroom that’s ready for relaxation.
The perfect bathroom doesn’t need to be a huge room straight from the pages of a magazine. “Even with limited space your bathroom can be a sanctuary to escape from the stress and pace of the busy world,” said Aaron Ciesielczyk of Aaron’s Building Services in New Berlin.
The trends he sees most fall into the upscale “spa” look with a natural or organic feel. Milwaukee/NARI members offered the following tips and details for adding comfort and constructing a spa-like bathroom.
Soothing Colors. Ciesielczyk recommended beginning with a concept, image, or theme such as tropical, beach, modern, southwest, north woods, urban or provincial. “Trends are warm earth tones, greens and browns,” he said. “Organic, light earthy colored walls will make the space seem larger, but you can choose one wall to be darker and dramatic. Dark cabinetry is in. Accent tiles in green blues, dark grays, black and glass add detail and color to tile patterns.” By evoking water, shades of blue have the most calming effect. Note that too many colors will be overwhelming.
Comforting Elements. “The element of fire and water together brings a most serene environment,” said Kristin Allen from Wauwatosa’s Creative Home Designs by Kristin. “There are great small fire ‘places’ that can easily be incorporated into a bathroom to really bring that final element in.”
Music is a true stress reliever. “Having the ability to bring in soft music without it being noticeable is often a must for a master bathroom where relaxation is of utmost importance,” she said.
In addition to large comforts like in-floor heating or a lounge chair, Ciesielczyk recommended simple touches for a spa feel. “Get a basket and fill it with lotions, candles, and body scrubs. Place towels on a shelf or vanity top in the open. Put out fresh flowers, fill glass bottles with colored oils, put colored stones in a bowl, or make a dish of sage, lavender and mint herbs.”
Popular Materials. Porcelain and stone are popular for flooring. “Try running the pattern in a diagonal or subway pattern for a sophisticated look,” Ciesielczyk said. Wainscot tile and even full height tile creates a refined feel.
Although solid surface is still around, he confirmed that granite is very popular for vanity tops. “Molded marble is competitive, and glass and concrete tops are gaining in popularity,” he said.
Brass hardware and faucets are out in favor of brushed nickel.
Convenience. Although a large whirlpool bathtub might be the first thought for a relaxing bathroom, sometimes convenience has the same effect. “More and more people are completely removing the tub for a large walk-in shower with a seat,” Ciesielczyk said. Frameless pivoting shower doors are also popular for looks and convenience.
Rain showerheads and multiple showerheads are the trend. If a homeowner wants fast convenience, adding a small corner shower seat and a hand-held showerhead are a good start.
Balance. In interior design, sizing and placement are done with a purpose. “Keep elements in proportion,” he said. The linen cabinet and vanity should be smaller so as not to overpower the space. “Have an anchor element that is bold and stands out.” Examples include a claw leg tub; a display niche for a sculpture, painting, or photography; or as Allen suggested, a type of fireplace.
Light. If a homeowner wants a truly simple way to make the bathroom more relaxing, change the lighting. Too much unnatural light can affect sleep patterns, and the glare or flickering from bright lights can cause headaches. A dimmer switch should be fairly easy to install and it creates instant ambiance. Switching to softer ambient lighting or, better yet, natural light can make a world of difference. Ciesielczyk said, “Do not be afraid of natural light. Use large windows or skylights.”
In the end, the perfect bathroom will depend on the homeowner. What one person finds relaxing, another may not. Allen said, “Every bathroom I design is different, so it plays into the lifestyle of homeowners, and getting to know them better allows me to really make sure they end up getting that perfect space they were after.”
The Milwaukee/NARI Home Improvement Council was chartered in July 1961, as a Chapter of the National Home Improvement Council. In May of 1982, the National Home Improvement Council merged with the National Remodelers Association to form NARI – the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.
The Council’s goals of encouraging ethical conduct, professionalism, and sound business practices in the remodeling industry have led to the remodeling industry’s growth and made NARI a recognized authority in that industry. With over 800 members, the Milwaukee Chapter is the nation’s largest.
For more information or to receive a free copy of an annual membership roster listing all members alphabetically and by category, and the booklet, “Milwaukee/NARI’s Remodeling Guide,” call 414-771-4071 or visit the Council’s website at www.milwaukeenari.org.