6 Ways You Didn’t Realize Your Bathroom Is Stressing You Out
In the best-case scenario, your bathroom is your own blissful retreat—a little slice of spa heaven where you can unwind without ever leaving the comfort of your own home.
In reality, your bathroom is probably not so idyllic. In fact, a grim water closet could actually be adding to your stress instead of subtracting from it.
Fortunately, there are plenty of simple, affordable ways to add some Zen to your lavatory. Learn what experts say are the biggest sources of anxiety and despair in the bathroom, and then use these tips to destress on any budget.
1. Lack of storage
We get it: In a tiny bathroom, the storage situation can feel hopeless. Without the proper storage, you’ll find yourself facing a room full of clutter, which is a well-documented source of stress.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
“The best way to combat stress from lack of storage is to be smart with your space,” says Vian Abreu, senior interior designer at Interior Marketing Group. “Create special drawers or cabinets that fit your specific needs and uses.”
That means assigning a dedicated cabinet just for makeup if you’re a beauty junkie, or designating his-and-her drawers and inserting drawer organizers to keep odds and ends in place.
If you’re up for a DIY project, recessed shelves are a great way to add storage without taking up more room in a tight space. An over-the-toilet storage shelf also creates space without the commitment of a project.
If you don’t already have built-in storage shelves in your shower, pick up a bath caddy that fits over the shower head or in a corner to add extra space for shampoo, soap, razors, and loofahs.
Ultimately, opt for function over fashion when it comes to making your space stress-free.
“One of the worst mistakes is to choose a vanity with faux drawers for its appearance, because ultimately the lack of storage creates stress and clutter,” Abreu says.
2. The lighting
Bad lighting in the bathroom—whether it’s too dark or too harsh—can put a damper on your mood.
“Be sure there’s lighting for all of your daily routines so that you can experience a seamless morning,” says Jean Brownhill, CEO of Sweeten, a renovation matchmaker for homeowners and contractors. “Nothing is more stressful than feeling like you don’t know what you look like during the day.”
Add a dimmer so you can adjust the light depending on the time of day. You may also want to call in an electrician to put each source of light—shower, toilet area, vanity, etc.—on its own switch, allowing you to mix and match the light to fit your mood and your needs.
3. The color of your walls
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: A fresh coat of paint is one of the cheapest ways to make a dramatic difference in any space. Studies have shown a connection between red and an increase in blood pressure and heart rate, so if your bathroom is painted a bold shade of crimson (really?), you might want to consider switching to a calming blue.
“The right color choice can really create a spalike and calming state,” says Dawn Chapnick, principal designer at Dawn Chapnick Designs, in Toronto.
But that doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to muted neutrals or pale pastels.
“We see plenty of white-on-white bathrooms, but we also see graphic wallpaper and dark colors such as deep forest green tile in a high gloss, or a black-painted ceiling, which makes the space feel like a cocoon,” Brownhill says.
If you’ve had your eye on trendy wallpaper or you’ve long pined for an accent wall, your bathroom is the ideal space to try out the trend. You can always swap it out later, especially if you opt for a low-commitment option like removable wallpaper, which comes down easily without damaging your walls.
4. Your towels and linens
You know those ratty, threadbare towels you’ve been using since college? Unless you genuinely love the feeling of drying off with a Brillo pad, it’s time to upgrade your bath linens. Not only will your skin thank you, but a fresh set of towels also gives you an opportunity to sneak in a fun pop of color or a bold pattern.
“The texture and color can really up your look and give you that luxury feel,” Chapnick says.
While you’re at it, swap out your old bath mat and robe for something new. Stepping out of the shower onto a fluffy rug and wrapping yourself in a cozy robe are two surefire ways to melt away stress.
5. Your wall hardware
If the towel bar is 10 feet from your shower and hanging on the back of the bathroom door, you’re setting yourself up for stress the second you step out of the shower.
Chapnick suggests making small, functional improvements to your space that will make your bathroom routine more relaxing, like hanging bath towels within arm’s length of the shower—no more running to the other end of the room while soaking wet to grab a towel. Try installing a hook right next to the tub or shower stall.
If you’re always reaching awkwardly for toilet paper, move the holder to the other side of the toilet, or try using a free-standing toilet paper holder. Also make sure hand towels are easily within reach of the sink. Small changes can go a long way toward putting you at ease in your space.
6. The temperature
Chances are, your bathroom isn’t the most well-ventilated room in your house, especially if you have an older home. The feel of frigid tile on a cold winter morning is an undeniably unpleasant way to start the day.
“Consider floor heating and towel warmers to ensure you won’t be cold getting out of the shower,” Chapnick says.
For an ambitious homeowner, under-floor heating is a doable DIY project when you’re already planning to install new tile. Otherwise, bring it up to your contractor. Nothing transforms a bathroom from blah to spa quite like toasty toes after a steamy shower.