Even without the massage, body wrap or facial, spending a few hours in a spa is a great way to relax. That’s because the smells, sights and textures that surround you are themselves antidotes to stress. Having your favorite massage therapist on call 24/7 would be relaxing, we’ll admit. But these decorating tricks from some top spas are the next best way to make your day-to-day life at home more serene.
1. Bring the outside in. Natural elements soothe. At the spa at Colorado’s Vail Mountain Lodge and Spa, the art includes branches sprayed with silver and gold paint and affixed to the walls with dowels and wire. For an even easier do-it-yourself project, simply place branches in a vase.
Taniya Nayak, host of HGTV’s “House Hunters on Vacation,” loves to include pieces made of natural wood, like a rustic bench or a carved wooden bowl, in the homes she designs. Or, consider hanging a group of wooden picture frames in different shapes and sizes on a wall. “Don’t put anything inside the frames – not even a piece of glass,” says Nayak. “The frames themselves are the art.”
2. Engage your sense of smell. Bring home the “aaahhhh” scent of a spa with reed diffusers. As essential oils seep up the wood stems, which are housed in a glass cylinder, the scent wafts throughout the room. You can find a wide collection at Pier 1 Imports.
Search online for the Archipelago collection – which is available in that spa staple, eucalyptus and dozens of other scents from arugula to verbena – or for Red Flower’s organic diffusers in scents like jasmine and orange blossom.
3. Remember the five natural elements. Incorporate wood, fire, metal, earth and water. For fire, consider flameless candles and tea lights. “These protect your home from candle-related fires, but still give you the ambiance of the perfect spa escape,” says Mindy Terry, president of the consulting company Creative Spa Concepts.
Terry’s favorite way to introduce metal is with Tibetan singing bowls. Made from an alloy containing copper, tin, zinc, iron and other metals, “they’re not only beautiful; they’re also an interesting conversation piece.”
Plus, they appeal to your sense of sound. Simply tap the rim of the bowl with the mallet and the vibrations will produce crystal-clear tones. You can find both antique and modern versions of the bowls online.
4. Use transparent materials. Glass hurricane vases, for example, will help to create a sense of light and airiness. At the spa at The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles, orchids and lilies are submerged in tall vases – a clean, crisp and uncluttered way to introduce water and earth elements in your home. “These simple arrangements add a sense of movement to your space and keep your environment dynamic,” says Jennifer Kleen, the spa’s designer.
5. Keep colors harmonious – but not dull. When interior designer Warren Sheets chose the colors for the Renaissance-inspired spa at the luxurious Grand Del Mar resort in San Diego, he wanted them to be “simple and soothing.”
But instead of a monotonous palette of white and beige, he mixed earthy creams with warm slate hues and ecru, and “to lend energy and life,” he used azure blue as an accent color. “Restricting color to various shades of the same family imbues a relaxed feeling, while also evoking a positive energy,” says Sheets.
Nayak suggests choosing a paint color for your walls, such as teal blue – and then adding white to make it 50 percent lighter for your ceiling. “A spa vibe doesn’t have to be Zen and quiet,” she says. “It can be hip and modern and still serene.”
Shelley Levitt managing editor of The Style Glossy, is a former West Coast editor of SELF and senior writer at People.