Ideas for a primp-perfect bathroom

By Kim Cook

Associated Press

What makes a great bathroom, one perfect for prepping and primping?

A well-considered combination of fixtures, lighting and amenities — the kind we often first experience in a really nice hotel.

“Bathrooms are the most private parts of our homes. They’re also the most private parts of hotels, our ‘homes away from home,'” says Los Angeles author Anneli Rufus, who has written travel books among others. It’s the sense of a space that’s exclusively ours that’s appealing, she says, enhanced by fittings and fluffy towels.

We often want to recreate that luxury-hotel experience when we return home, says Paul Flowers, chief design officer for Lixil, the Tokyo-based parent company of higher-end, bath-product brands like DXV and Grohe. The bathroom, he says, “is moving from a rational space for cleaning and grooming into an emotional space for relaxation and contemplation.”

Some ways to bring the hotel-style bathroom home:

Flicking on that hotel bathroom light switch is often where the magic begins: Complexions look healthier, skin smoother.

“Typically, the best type of lighting is layered, because it addresses the bathroom’s different lighting needs,” says interior designer Jessica Shankman of Laurel & Wolf in West Hollywood, California.

“I always recommend installing a dimmer to control the light output and create a different atmosphere in the room,” she says. That might mean bright lights when you get dressed, for instance, and soft lighting while you soak in the tub.

For makeup application, task lighting’s your best friend, she says: “I suggest mounting wall sconces on either side of the mirror to provide shadow-free lighting on the face.”

LED lighting has had a big impact on bath design. Old-school vanity lighting often involved harsh fluorescents or intrusive marquee lights. Now, the lighting can be embedded in the mirror itself, and the reflection can be warm and flattering. Duravit’s L-Cube mirror, for instance, is a frame of LED light that can be dimmed with a touch of the hand. (www.duravit.us )

LEDs have also given product designers new places to put lighting, such as under toilet seat rims and around the perimeters of spa tubs.

In some cases, the lights change color, so the mood of the room can be adjusted, to provide a soothing blue, say, or a zesty yellow/orange glow. (www.paulmann.com )

Or opt for a color-changing HotelSpa or DreamSpa shower head from ipShower, with colors that shift depending on the water temperature. (www.ipshowers.com )

Designers are also pulling in lighting from other rooms — such as chandeliers and pendants — to amp up the drama and luxe look in a bathroom.

High tech and personalization continue to move into the bathroom.

American Standard’s SpaLet toilet/bidet by DXV features a heated seat, temperature-controlled bidet, automated flush, and a seat that opens and closes via sensor. (www.dxv.com )

Bluetooth-enabled sound systems and vanity mirrors embedded with TVs bring soundtracks and programs into the bathing environment. (www.zadroinc.com ; www.seura.com )

And Broan-NuTone’s Premium Humidity Sensing Control monitors moisture levels and automatically turns on the fan before the mirrors steam up. (www.broan.com )

Sheila Schmitz, editor at the homes website Houzz.com, sees a trend toward treating the bathroom as more of a “living room.”

“Our users love it when they see a bathroom warmed up with vintage and furniture-like details,” she says. “Console tables, comfortable chairs, and new or repurposed dressers make a bathroom feel more like a living space than just a place to wash up.”

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