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Turn Your Bathroom Into a Spa

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As the weather turns colder and we prepare to spend the winter shivering by the light of our SAD Lamps, the thought of enjoying a soothing bath becomes more and more enticing. Which is why now is a great time to think about tackling a home improvement project, especially one that should take you no more than a weekend to complete: Let's turn your bathroom into the spa experience of your dreams.

Go Deep With Your Cleaning

If you clean your bathroom regularly, a deep clean is something you'll probably (hopefully!) only have to do once or twice a year. If your bathroom hasn't been attended to, however, be prepared to spend some quality time scrubbing to get it ready to be gussied up with spa-like accouterments.

Bathrooms can present a whole host of challenges in terms of cleaning, and it would be impossible to address them all in one go. But common afflictions are, well, common enough to merit mentioning a few products that can be used in service of deep-cleaning a bathroom. Pay particular attention to the shower and tub where, presumably, you'll spend some time soaking away the hours of hard labor you put in to get everything spic and span.

Be prepared to spend some quality time scrubbing to get it ready to be gussied up.

If mold, mildew, and other bacteria that thrive in damp environments has taken root, X-14 will make short work of its elimination. Be aware, though, that it smells quite strongly and so you should use it in a well-ventilated area. Also, because it is a fairly harsh chemical, you'll also want to wear protective gloves when working with it.

The use of an oxygenated bleach, like Oxo Brite, is the ticket for brightening up soiled or dingy grout. Dissolve a quarter cup of powdered oxygenated bleach in a gallon of hot water, and use the solution combined with a scrub brush to give grout a working over. Then, wipe away the cleaning solution with a damp rag and clean water, and allow the grout to dry, at which point you will be amazed at how much brighter it appears.

Got glass shower doors that are covered in soap scum? Scrub them with wet dryer sheets! It's totally weird but it totally works; the dryer sheets will break up the scum, which can then be wiped away with a sponge, rag or squeegee. Follow with glass cleaner to remove any remaining streaks.

A Magic Eraser can be put to work to treat surface stains on walls and floors; for stained porcelain sinks, tubs and toilets, a pumice stick is the tool you'll want.

Shine Some Light on the Subject

Ask any decorator and they'll tell you that one of the fastest, easiest and least expensive ways to improve the look of any room is to change the lighting fixtures. Replacement fixtures can be found for under $50; this pretty lotus flower-inspired fixture can be yours for less than $20. Paper lanterns are another inexpensive and attractive choice. Small accent lighting, like this Himalayan Salt Lamp from Urban Outfitters, offer a lovely alternative to overhead or wall-mounted lights for when you want a slightly dimmer experience.

The fastest, easiest and least expensive ways to improve the look of any room is to change the lighting fixtures.

Maybe you're not up for installing new light fixtures on your own, and hiring someone for the job feels like a bit more effort and expense than you're willing to put in. Totally fair. In that case, you can absolutely still improve the lighting situation in your bathroom by swapping the existing light bulbs for soft pink bulbs. Both GE and Sylvania offer 60 watt soft pink bulbs, which are extraordinarily flattering, and much gentler on the eye than white bulbs.

This last suggestion might surprise you: Ditch the wax candles. In a bathroom, decorative candles tend not to get used frequently, which means that dust and particles (which become airborne thanks to the aerosol effect caused by flushing a toilet) can embed themselves in the wax. Yuck. If you like the look of candles while you take a relaxing bath, try placing electronic votives in iridescent or jeweled votive holders that will add an extra reflective quality to the flickering of the light. Bonus: Electronic votives are much safer than an open flame in a small space, where items like towels or shower curtains can be easily lit on fire.

Stink Up the Joint

Yes, I took away your wax candles, what with their lovely scents. Fret not! I've got plenty of other options for those of you who like your bathroom to smell of rose, or lavender, or lemongrass.

Lidded baskets are a great way to create extra storage and some visual appeal.

Reed diffusers are a good alternative to scented wax candles for imparting a lovely smell. Speaking of smells! Since this is a bathroom situation, we should address the less lovely smells that can occur: A small plug-in fan can help greatly in bathrooms that lack good ventilation.

And finally, maybe you'd like to up your bath game by adding some glamour to the experience — these scented rose petals will dissolve in water, which means you can have the look of flora without having to clean up soggy leaves after your relaxing soak.

Get in Touch with Your Inner Decorator

We stash a lot of stuff in our bathrooms, where space can often be at a premium. Lidded baskets are a great way to create extra storage and some visual appeal, while hiding items like hair brushes or bandaids. Decant products that you want to keep within reach into matching or coordinating display containers; opt for lucite or plastic over glass, which can be easily knocked over, creating a shard-y, dangerous mess in a place where we're often barefoot.

And finally, learn to roll your towels the way they do in spas: Start by laying the towel on a flat surface, then fold in thirds lengthwise. Next, fold the towel in half, widthwise. Then, holding the towel taut to prevent bunching, roll the folded edge toward the edge where the two seams meet. Voila! Perfect spa-style rolled towels that can be displayed attractively and make your bathroom appear extra fancy.

Now, go run a nice bath for yourself — you certainly deserve it after all the hard work that went into making your bathroom a beautiful, spa-like oasis!