7 Ways to Turn Your Humble Shower into a Relaxing, Spa-Like Retreat

published Jun 27, 2022
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Someone lighting candle in restroom
Credit: Photo: Christopher Testani; Prop Styling: Carla Gonzalez Hart; Nails: Mamie Onishi

Sometimes, relaxing can be easier said than done. Maybe you’ve been darting in all directions lately, keeping your social circle and career and home and hobbies afloat — phew! So when you finally have a chance to unwind, it’s tough to actually do it. After all, don’t you need to schedule a calm moment for yourself, and isn’t that what places like spas are for? 

You shouldn’t need to find a free period to unwind, nor do you have to hightail it to a pricey professional treatment to do so. Baths get a lot of love when it comes to creating moments of self-care at home, but you don’t need a stylish clawfoot or a roomy corner tub to get the spa treatment. Your shower, the same one you use (mostly) every morning or night, can be transformed into relaxation central with a few tweaks.

Sure, a pro can do lots of heavy lifting when it comes to outfitting a shower with all the fancy bells and whistles, but you don’t need to call anyone in for these upgrades. Start by incorporating these seven simple solutions into your shower, and you’ll see how a little effort in this space can go a long way to giving it an ahhh-like atmosphere every single time you hop in.

Credit: Amber Kelly

Swap out your shower head.

Renters, listen up: You don’t have to settle for the standard shower head your landlord installed. Those one-setting shower heads might get the job done (or not!) but they certainly aren’t lending any sense of luxury.

Swapping in a new shower head is a 15-minute job you can do with nothing more than a wrench or a pair of pliers. The trickiest part will be removing the old head, which might have some mineral buildup locking it in place; with a little elbow grease, you should be able to unscrew it. Then, it’s as simple as twisting on the new shower head — modern styles usually don’t require any tools at all.

For the ultimate spa experience, pick a style that features two shower heads to help surround yourself with steamy water. A rain shower option, which you can get in a standard style or a water-saving one. Getting more water exposure will make your relaxing showers more relaxing — and will probably speed up your utilitarian showers, too.

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

Hang a humidity-loving plant. 

If you’re lucky enough to have a window over your shower — or even better, a skylight — take full advantage of those natural rays by hanging a plant from the ceiling. All you’ll need is an S-hook, a hanging planter, and greenery that does well with humidity and indirect light. The key here is to make sure that your S-hook is rated for the weight of your planter so that you don’t find your hanging plant hanging out on the floor. If your plant eventually grows some vines, put up some clear Command hooks to carefully string them on your wall as living art.

Add a natural scent. 

You’ve probably seen the social media trend of hanging eucalyptus leaves from the base of your shower head, and there’s a reason why it’s so popular: The steam of your shower helps release the oils of eucalyptus leaves, enveloping you in a tranquil scented sauna. There are a few tricks to get the most out of hanging eucalyptus. First, make sure to give the leaves a gentle roll with a soup can to help the oils come to the surface more easily. Then, cut the leaves off the bottom few inches of the stems so your bundle can be tied together with a loop for hanging over your shower head. Make sure to keep your eucalyptus leaves out of direct contact with water, which will dampen their smell faster. Then, shower as normal, and let the steam release the natural scent of the leaves.

A note: Eucalyptus leaves are toxic if ingested, so make sure you keep any real eucalyptus stems out of reach of both kids and pets. If you’re nervous about using real leaves, another great option is an essential oil diffuser.

Credit: Cathy Pyle

Use lighting to set the mood. 

Who says dimmers are only for the common areas in your home? If you want to have some seriously chill vibes in your bathroom, install a dimmer light that you can lower to the perfect illumination for a relaxing end-of-day shower. Or, skip the install altogether and choose smart bulbs instead; with those, you can not only control the light level but also the color temperature.

Pipe in some tunes. 

Whether your style is white noise or gentle acoustic guitar, it’s a good idea to create a playlist that’s just for your time in the shower. A waterproof bluetooth speaker is safe in the wet atmosphere of a shower; you can buy a regular old waterproof speaker or get one specifically made for the shower, which often includes a hook for hanging on shower heads or door handles. You can even buy a shower head with a speaker built in.

Credit: Lula Poggi

Install a why-didn’t-I-do-this-sooner towel warmer.

Hooks and rods work just fine, but again, the name of this game is luxury. Switch out those lowly necessities for a towel warmer, and you’ll achieve an upgrade that’s sure to make you feel first class. The wall-mount towel warmer is one you’ve probably spotted at high-end hotels, and that works great for home bathrooms, too — but those can get pricey fast, and may not work if you’re renting. A more flexible option: a portable style that can go with you from home to home (or even just room to room).

While you’re at it, see if you can make room on that warmer for a plush robe you’ll wear during post-shower lounging (and yes, if you don’t have a robe, it’s time to invest). You’ll wonder why you didn’t accomplish this task sooner. 

Credit: I Spy DIY

Pay attention to the finishing touches. 

Like cucumber slices in water, the finishing touches of your shower are what will truly send it into spa-like territory. If your towels are slightly rough to the touch, consider buying some new plush ones. If your bath mat squishes under your feet, pick up a new thicker one — or try a quick-dry stone style for less cleanup. If your shower curtain tends to stick to your body as you scrub, swap out the old straight rod with a curved rod that gives you more elbow room. And if your shower’s feeling visually cluttered, consider paring things down and decanting any frequently used products into matching bottles like these. Once your shower has morphed into a relaxing haven, you’ll look forward to spending time in it every day.