Shelf with candle and green plant

Photo courtesy of Jessica Arends/​Unsplash

If you’re like us, a casual scroll through Instagram is enough to induce full-on bathroom envy. It’s the natural venue for so many of the self-care activities we’re prioritizing for 2018 (dry brushing, anyone?), and recreating those jaw-dropping floral baths is truly a dream. But let’s get real, when Step 1 is just remembering to clean the tub, transforming your space into a wellness sanctuary might feel a little out of reach.

Cleaning habits aside (working on it!), here are four ways to up the spa quotient in even the most temporary apartment bathroom.

1. Outside In

It’s no secret that bringing plants into any room of the home is a great way to instantly beautify and impress visiting friends. But plants can also have some very real effects on our feeling of well-being, emitting mood-boosting negative ions that can purify the surrounding air. So when a euphoric outdoor shower is out of the question, adding plants to the home bathroom is an automatic boost for both décor and biology.

Depending on your light level and positioning, we recommend hardy plants suitable for humid, warm climates. Spider plants and tillandsia are great starting options, or even a potted tropical flower like an orchid. Just be sure to check that your selections are safe to have around pets and children, if you share your space with either.

2. Smell Good, Feel Good

All that heat and steam makes the bathroom an ideal spot for some DIY aromatherapy. When we can remember, we’ll pick up a bunch of eucalyptus or fresh herbs at the grocery store to stick in our shower caddy (you could also tie it to the shower head). Add steam, and the plants soon start to emit vaporous, spa-like, natural aromas. 

Another option is using essential oils, operating from the same principle as a diffuser. Grab an EO with your desired benefit (relaxation, invigoration) and, before turning on the water, shake a few drops onto your shower floor. Concentrate the drops toward the very front, where they won’t get washed away, and you’ll soon notice a stimulating scent wafting nose-ward. Start with just a few drops of oil and do some experimenting to get your desired level right. It’s also a good idea to give any oil remaining on the floor a quick rub-down once you’ve turned the water off, to prevent interaction with your tub’s surface material.

Woman sitting in front of vanity mirror

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3. Sink Simplification

With bathroom storage space at a premium, we’re often left with product overload around the sink. In the interest of creating a bathroom oasis, our goal is to simplify, not necessarily in terms of the number of products that we have, but in terms of how and what we choose to display. 

Basic cotton swabs, pads, brushes, you name it, look luxe in clear glass apothecary containers. Decanting suitable liquid products like witch hazel into reusable spray bottles also makes for easy misting. Amazon Prime or any storage stores will have you covered on affordable options, but we’ve also been known to check local resale shops for unique pieces. Prioritize your display items and then, if space allows, move remaining packaged products out of sight. 

Speaker on window sill

Photo courtesy of Jonas Jacobsson/​Unsplash

4. Sound On

For those short on time and attention span, long baths, mask applications, and dry brush sessions can take some getting used to. The addition of a bluetooth speaker in the bathroom, for playing podcasts and music, might make you more likely to luxuriate just a little longer. If working on a meditation practice is on your list for the new year, try listening to a guided meditation (apps like Evenflow or Headspace are great places to start) while you’re somewhat captive and can’t be distracted. 

The reality is that your garden variety oasis lacks the ringing cell phone, calling child, and barking dogs that punctuate the atmosphere in our busy homes. If incorporating an aural distraction means we’re more likely to finish the health-boosting task at hand, we’re all for it.

No bluetooth speaker? The old phone in a cup trick still totally works for amplifying your cell phone.

What are your favorite ways to elevate your bathroom space? Let us know in the comments.