Design Tips for Home Spas

As preferences differ from personality to personality, client expectations will also differ for their at-home spa. Some will be satisfied with a deep soaking tub and aroma candles, while others will desire the master shower experience with body sprays and a large rain showerhead as their therapy.

Your job is to know and understand the various spa products designed to pamper, calm, sooth and relax the body and mind. Most Asian spas and many continental day spas incorporate yoga-style relaxation techniques and whole-body massage. Therefore, an area for relaxation and meditation should be planned for clients who enjoy this.

Your client’s expectations will determine the space required for their retreat. The height of pampering will include space for a massage table as well as space to store oils, candles, stones, towels and robes. A minimum of 80 sq. ft. will suffice for one table plus associated storage. Eighty square feet might seem small but keep in mind, however, the massage experience does not rely upon space but rather atmosphere.

The massage area must include cabinetry that provides accessibility to all necessary therapy products. Cabinetry should be counter height and either 18 or 21 in. deep. Open wall shelves will provide easy access to lotions, oils, aroma and nonscented candles and other products that also make an attractive display.

A small cleanup sink is necessary for the masseuse to start and end the therapy session. Do not relegate cleanup to a lavatory sink in the bathroom. A stainless steel sink of 15 by 18 in. is the minimum size for this purpose.

As you research products for the ultimate spa, allow space for a stackable washer and dryer.

Small appliances to both chill and warm therapy stones as well as towels and robes are a must. A warming drawer rated for damp locations will be well-suited to this space. A second warming drawer in the master bathroom likewise will be appreciated.

A small refrigerator will provide for juice and water and also can chill stones for cold therapy. Essential oils, preferred by some therapists, should also be chilled. We usually relate cold beverages to a spa experience; however, warm aromatic tea and flavored coffees may be your client’s choice. Provide a place to brew tea and to make coffee.

Soothing music is appropriate during spa treatments, so be sure to include an audio device of some type, or the ability to pipe it in from somewhere else.

The HVAC and lighting systems also are important considerations. The temperature should be maintained at a comfortable 80 to 82 degrees F, and a heated tile floor would be a good idea as well. Lighting should be dimmable with the ability to interject color as a mood soother.

Determining the amount of space needed to accommodate your client’s requests will require experience and knowledge of the therapies to be provided within it. Obviously the area required for a two-person shower, deep soaking tub, sauna, dual massage tables and the accessories that pertain to storing these items is significant. When confronted with a spare-no-expense, we-want-it-all request, 400 sq. ft. would be the minimum.

Designing a home spa will be a rewarding experience when these easily grasped concepts are mastered. As you come to appreciate the difference between a luxury shower with a jetted tub and a properly equipped home spa, you will be ready to take on the ultimate home pampering design challenge.

This is not an exhaustive treatise on spa products. Many additional therapies and items to pamper and soothe the body and spirit are available. You might find the following Web sites of interest:, and