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October 1998 Issue
Sumptuous Spaces
by Jenny Wojcik
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I’ll wait here while you take a quick walk into your bathroom and look around. Yes - right now - go check it out. When you get back, I have a short quiz for you.

You’re back, good. Now answer truthfully - did you want to rush in and rush out or did you want to linger there? Do you think of the room as merely a necessity or a private haven? More importantly, think about how you feel when you venture in there. Are you just getting ready to do something else, or did you want to stay there until someone made you come out?

If you answered yes to the first part of each question, you don’t have a Shangri-La or a sanctuary; you have an essential space - not thrilling, just needed.

When you thumb through decorating magazines, you will notice many of them feature kitchens and baths. The reasons are apparent. Kitchens and baths are the two most frequently remodeled rooms in existing houses, and the first to be planned for when building a new home. No matter what the size of the house, people are enamored with large kitchens and baths. And when looking at a per room expenditure, they are undoubtedly our largest investments.

So here’s what we know. We’re spending a lot of money on our baths and kitchens, and we spend a great deal of time in them. Considering that, why leave our baths unadorned, or treat it as just a need? Isn’t our bathroom the one place where we go, lock the door and spend time alone? Isn’t it the one place in the entire house where we can have some real privacy? Making our baths more luxurious is one way we can improve our homes, and we will pamper ourselves in the process.

If I could afford to send you to the best hotels around the world, I guarantee that you would leave there talking about their bathrooms. You would remember how pampered you felt and how luscious the baths were. You’d use words like splendid, sumptuous and lavish to describe how they looked and how they made you feel. You would talk of bold warm colors like honey beige or pumpkin and marble-topped counters with platinum colored fixtures. You would detail the light fixtures and beveled mirrors that made you look fabulous. In these hotels you would be hard pressed to find lighting strips or mirrors that are simply glued to a wall, and you would never be attacked in the shower by a plastic curtain!

The first time I ever spent a night in Lake Tahoe, I was tagging along for a business meeting that my husband was attending. Fortunately, his company was picking up the tab and we stayed in a luxurious hotel. I was so impressed with the bathrooms (yes, there were two: his and hers) in our "suite" that I took photos of them. It’s true. They were "over the top" when it came to being well appointed. Each had a television (I’d thought I’d never see my husband again) and a telephone, which makes sense considering that you’re always in the bathroom when the phone rings.

Seriously, whether our bathrooms contain shower stalls or garden-tubs, the room should be inviting to us, encouraging us to linger. Fabric shower curtains, billowy window treatments, soft to the touch rugs, a stack of magazines or books - all these things help make a bath sumptuous and are specifically designed to pamper and please.

If you want that feel, I can give you a few suggestions for creating a refuge in the bath that you call your own.

  1. Get rid of the clutter (it’s always first with me).
  2. Put the "necessaries" in decorative containers. Mouthwash looks a lot nicer in a decorative decanter than the plastic bottle it comes in. Cotton balls look nicer in a jar and are easier to use! Toothbrushes look better in holders; cotton swabs take on a whole new importance when decoratively displayed.
  3. Lotions and potions can be contained in a nice wicker basket lined with fabric to match your bathroom décor.
  4. Big fluffy towels seem much more luxurious and inviting when they’re rolled and stuffed into a basket sitting at the edge of the tub. Go for the bath sheets - they’re much larger and luxurious.
  5. Plants grow well in a humid bath - especially ferns that can hang from the ceiling or the wall. No green thumbs? Use silk plants. They’re great on ledges and on the back of the toilet tank. They’re also pretty sitting against that basket stuffed with towels.
  6. Decorative soaps can be used for everyday. There’s no law that says you have to save them for company.
  7. Those big candles that are so popular give a beautiful glow to your skin and seem to scream "special occasion".
  8. A wine rack can be a beautiful display for bottles of bubble bath or bath gel. If you buy the economy sizes, fine - just pour the contents into decorative bottles and refill them as necessary.
  9. The walls in a bathroom can accommodate the art of your choice, and a room with art of any kind is special. Make sure your art is "behind glass" to prevent moisture damage.
  10. Fill a basket with all of your own personal necessities for a good long soak. It may include a loofa scrub, a gel pack for your eyes, a jar of bath salts, a scrubbing mitten or a back scrubber - it’s up to you. Add a good book, something to drink, soft music and you’re ready to create, contemplate or meditate.
Claim that private place and make it a sanctuary. Then hire a babysitter if you have to - lock that door and pamper yourself in posh privacy. Even if it’s only thirty minutes once a week, it will revive you and make you feel pampered. You are worth it you know. Oh ... and the telephone? Turn the ringer off and the answering machine on. Enjoy!


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