How to Transform Your Bathroom into a Relaxing Retreat

Streamline your bathroom and your bathing routines to create a place of renewal

by Laura Gaskill
Houzz Contributor

Imagine entering your bathroom to see clean, clear surfaces, freshly folded towels and just a few carefully chosen bath products beside the sink. A small vase of flowers brightens up the windowsill, and a tray resting over the tub holds a candle and essential oils, awaiting your next leisurely soak. If that image is far from the current reality of your bathroom, perhaps it’s time for a fresh start.

In this series, we’re approaching each room in the house from the perspective of identifying what sparks joy. In the first installment, we tackled the bedroom. Read on as we look at ways of clearing the clutter and creating a peaceful retreat in the bath.

Choose the best and let go of the rest. A simple, clarified space is within reach if you’re truly honest with yourself about what you want to keep in the bathroom — and give yourself permission to let go of everything else. It’s better to have a few products you love and use daily than a dozen half-empty containers of products you don’t really like. Likewise, choose to keep only your favorite bath mat and best towels, instead of using those so-so sets in rotation.

Take action: Center yourself by taking a few deep, mindful breaths before you begin clearing out the space. When you’re ready, sort through the bathroom one drawer, shelf and cabinet at a time, choosing the items you love and use and removing everything else. Don’t worry just yet about where those ousted items will end up. Start by simply removing them from the room.

Tidy up what’s left. Wipe down the sink and other surfaces, fold or roll up clean towels, and place your everyday toiletries neatly on a tray or shelf. Take your time and really shine up the surfaces. With less clutter, it should be easier to give the space a thorough cleaning.

Rethink your routine. As you’re clearing the clutter, take this opportunity to rethink your morning and evening routines. Do you tend to feel rushed and disorganized in the mornings? If so, simplifying and streamlining your bathroom routine (including the number of products you’re using) could help. Try removing all but the essentials from the room and see what it feels like to use this simplified space. If it feels good, stick with it.

Take action: Sometimes it’s difficult to clear out all the clutter in one go. If that’s the case for you, take a break and revisit your clearing project the next day (or week). Often it’s during the second pass that we feel more ready to let go of items. An intermediate measure can be to place the nonessential products in a small basket and temporarily store it in a hall or bedroom closet.

Find the right details. Once your space is clutter-free, you can begin to think about whether what you have in the space is really doing its job well. For instance, if you want to take relaxing baths more often, perhaps a small stool to hold your book or cup of tea beside the tub would help. Or if your sink-side essentials still feel disorganized, maybe bringing in a small basket or tray to corral them would make things feel neater.

Take action: Before you go out and purchase new items, take a walk through your home to see if you can repurpose a few things you already own. Ceramic cups and dishes from the kitchen can be used as plant pots, toothbrush holders and soap dishes, and all sorts of storage baskets can be put to work holding towels and extra supplies.

And if you haven’t yet gotten rid of the items you removed from the bathroom, make a point of doing so now.


Savor your new space. Use your newly refreshed space as a reminder to slow down and be mindful. When you wash your hands at your fresh, clean sink, keep your mind focused on the warm water and the scent of the soap instead of thinking about all the things on your to-do list. Instead of hurrying through your morning routine, take an extra moment to carefully put your things back where they belong, and enjoy the small satisfaction that comes from leaving a space better than you found it.

Take action: Once your bathroom is clean and clutter-free, pick and choose from the list below to enhance your morning and evening routines:

  • In the morning, keep a glass of water with fresh lemon slices beside you at the sink to sip as you get ready
  • Add essential oils to your shower or tub — try peppermint or basil in the morning and lavender or bergamot in the evening
  • Keep a small vase of fresh flowers beside the sink
  • Use a tray or stool to hold a cup of herbal tea (such as chamomile) to sip as you soak in the tub
  • Dim the overhead lights and enjoy a bath by candlelight

Find Inspiration for Your Bathroom Makeover
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Set the Mood With Adjustable Lighting

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