Design Tips for Home Spas

A s 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. Still a great many more will seek to capture all of the delightful body- and spirit-soothing therapies they enjoy when visiting their favorite professional spa and masseuse.

Your job is to know and understand the various spa products designed to pamper, calm, sooth and relax the body and mind so you can plan properly. 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 into a spa space for clients who enjoy this.

My daughter-in-law, a licensed massage therapist, contends that the height of body revitalization is an 80-minute Swedish massage administered by the practiced hands of a professional masseuse. Such pampering is possible in a home spa without significant expense when planned for properly.

Your client’s expectations will determine the space required for their oasis 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; a quiet, dimly lit area that provides the masseuse access to all sides of the table and easy reach to oils and lotions.

Space is an important factor when planning for a spa area; therefore, the initial client survey must be thorough. I recommend the National Kitchen & Bath Association client survey as an excellent start. You can modify it for your particular practice and use it as a guide during the design phase.

The massage area must include specific 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. Most professional therapists who provide home services travel with their own table, lotions and oils and they will appreciate this convenient accommodation.

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. It should be handy to or within the master suite.

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 F, and a heated tile floor would be a good idea as well. If the massage room is separate from the tub and shower room, the heated floor should span the entire spa suite. 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. Even more space would be required if in addition to these amenities a plunge pool and exercise room were included.

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

This isn’t 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 websites of interest:, and