For many of us in lockdowns all over the globe, our homes are the only places we are allowed to spend our time and energies. And while some people are focusing on the limitations this situation puts us under, others are focusing on the opportunities.
Many folks are using their extra time at home to check off all the improvement projects they’ve had on their minds for years. Our global situation gives us some extra impetus not just to tackle the mundane projects that always need doing, however, but to invest in turning our living spaces into places we love. Or at least, don’t want to claw our ways out of. To that end, we offer these suggestions for turning your current bathroom into an eco-friendly bathroom retreat.
Planning your Eco-Friendly Bathroom Retreat
Plan your reno or redecoration strategies around how you want to feel when you emerge from your daily shower or morning routine. Are you an evening bath person? Do you want to focus on relaxation and unwinding? Do you spend the most time in the bathroom in the morning? Do you want an environment that will invigorate you and help get you ready for the day?
The size of your bathroom and the scope of your renovation are not important. You can find inspiration for any bathroom and any redecoration project with a bit of internet research. But you might find more inspiration by reflecting on what makes you feel like you’re rested and ready.
Think of your retreat as one more tool in your toolbox for taking care of your mental wellness. Your other tools might range from meditation to psychiatry (and if you’re one of those people who’s unsure about psychiatry, this article might be helpful). Whatever your strategies are, the retreats you create in your home should help keep you grounded and balanced.
Rather than planning this retreat by thinking about individual projects, consider your renovation/redecoration holistically by focusing on your senses:
Vision, Lighting and Colour
Declutter your bathroom by recycling or repurposing extra toiletries. Then reduce the numbers of products and things you buy. Keeping surface areas clear will make your bathroom feel cleaner and make you feel more relaxed.
As in any eco-friendly renovation or remodel, make the most of natural lighting. If you’re doing a major renovation, try to put the sink and vanity close to a window to maximize the light it gets. Frosted window glass or privacy window decals will let in more light than curtains, although curtains will help more with thermal loss. Try to make your decision with energy-efficiency in mind. If your bathroom doesn’t have windows at all, think about a skylight. The more natural light you can get in the morning, the more refreshed and awake you’ll feel.
Make your artificial lights LED lights. Install a dimmer on all lights so you can custom create some mood lighting and save energy at the same time. Strings of LED fairy lights can add some soft, relaxing evening lighting.
Colour is an essential consideration in your eco-friendly bathroom retreat. Cool colours are often considered more relaxing. Warm colours, however, can trick your body into feeling warmer than it is. If you live in a cold home, using warm tones in the bathroom is one way you can feel comfier without having to turn the heat up.
Earth tones are the most traditionally spa-like, but this is your retreat and if you love bright colours, you should have them. Whatever colour palette you choose, source out natural or zero-VOC paints to avoid toxic off-gassing.
Make sure your bathroom is well insulated. Wall insulation does double duty—it keeps your warm air in and keeps street noises out. If you have a hollow-core door, upgrading to hardwood will help muffle sounds coming from other parts of your home. Look for certified lumber products if you do upgrade.
For a natural soundscape that won’t require any power, hang windchimes outside a bathroom window. You could also hang a bird feeder or put a birdbath right outside the window so you can tune into the local wildlife.
Rely on natural scents over conventional scented candles or synthetic air fresheners. Conventional paraffin candles contain chemicals such as formaldehyde, phthalates and benzene, which are released into the air when the candle burns. Air fresheners contain volatile organic compounds, benzene, formaldehyde and ethanol, among other undesirables.
Since manufacturers do not have to disclose these ingredients, you’re unlikely to know whether they’re in any given product, even if it’s labelled “green,” and even if you check labels and manufacturers’ data sheets.
Bundles of dried lavender, a vase of fresh jasmine flowers or a few branches of eucalyptus smell great and do not contain carcinogens. Natural soy or beeswax candles will also be a much healthier bet.
Touch and Texture
Use natural materials for floors, cabinetry and countertops. These materials let us tap into the innate processes of restoration our brains undergo when we’re in natural settings. Slate floors, wooden cabinetry and lots of potted plants will bring the outdoors in and rejuvenate you.
Skip the rain shower head. These shower heads feel fantastic in a spa or hotel because they have a bigger surface area. In a residential home, that larger head can mean less pressure unless you upsize your pipes. Instead, install a high-efficiency shower head with extra features like a massager.
Consider what you want to step on as you’re walking across the floor in bare feet. Wooden bath mats have a classic spa aesthetic, while thick organic cotton mats or rugs will feel luxurious and keep your toes warmer.
Splurge on plush, oversized organic cotton or bamboo towels and facecloths. These items are the workhorses of the bathroom and since you’ll be using them every day, it will pay to have soft, fluffy materials that feel great every time.
Last but not least, incorporate opportunities for taste into your bathroom getaway. Perhaps you want to enjoy something decadent like a glass of wine or a cup of green tea while you’re in the bath or stick to something absolutely essential like an espresso while you’re getting ready for your day.
Plan for a stable, safe place to put a glass or cup so you won’t send it flying. You can DIY a simple bathtub caddy out of reclaimed wood and make your beverage both safe and stylish.
Enjoy your new eco-friendly bathroom retreat!