Spa style bathrooms have become hugely popular in the past few years, and I’ll be honest, I’m a big sucker for the style. These hotel-inspired bathrooms are all about relaxing, unwinding, and getting back to nature. They have a warm, inviting feeling, lots of natural light, and tactile elements that combine to create a lush, bright, open space. Natural wood is instrumental in creating this effect, and natural wood bathroom vanities are a good place to start, offering perhaps the easiest (and least risky) way to incorporate wood into a spa style bathroom at home.
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Many luxury hotel spas feature natural wood in one way or another, whether it’s a small simple accent – like a wood plank shower floor – or an all-over design feature. But the problem with this for a home spa is simple: wood simply doesn’t stand up well in wet conditions. Some types of wood are better than others, but the better it is, the proportionally more expensive it is. Wood bathroom vanities are one of the few ways to circumvent this problem.
You see, while wood that’s sitting on your shower floor has to be able to stand up to constant moisture, bathroom vanities are relatively removed from the worst of the abuse. Because they only have to battle with humidity rather than more direct contact with water, wood bathroom vanities can be more successfully sealed against moisture, even if they’re made with a type of wood that isn’t particularly water compatible. Use anything but teak in a shower floor and you’ll likely have a problem, but a well-finished solid oak vanity (like these ones from James Martin Furniture) should last you a lifetime.
Blonde toned wood bathroom vanities work especially well for a few different reasons. First, the unstained blonde wood evokes the honey toned cedar, fir, and spruce used in Nordic style saunas. Of course these woods are chosen for their moisture-friendly properties, but the style is so ubiquitous that it has come to be closely associated with healthful relaxation and the kind of pampering you get in high end spas. Even having one central feature made out of natural wood – like the bathroom vanity – can help you “borrow” the style for your own space.
A Nordic style spa bathroom works best either with lots of wood or with a small amount of wood paired with light stone or ceramic tile. Both setups can help amplify the brightness of a bathroom, making it feel large and open. On the other end of the spectrum, though, natural wood bathroom vanities – even the same – vanities can also evoke a more Asian style. Now, actual Asian bathrooms are less likely to have wood elements, but many Western luxury spa baths adopt an “oriental” style, combining light wood with other natural features, especially river stones, lagoon-like soaking tubs, and live plants or trees to create an earthy, almost elemental feel.
This highly tactile element is actually one of my favorite features of spa style bathrooms. Plush terry cloth robes on your skin, the slightly rough feel of wood underfoot, breathing steam deep into your lungs, and sliding down into a tub full of piping hot water are all crucial parts of the spa experience. It’s also part of why wood is such a ubiquitous material in a spa style bathroom. Natural, light wood bathroom vanities lend to the ambiance, with a smooth, clean, unfinished look that emphasizes the simplicity and physicality of the space.
And, of course, wood bathroom vanities are a great way to draw a sense of nature into your bathroom space as well. Especially paired with green accents, like tile, towels, or even potted plants or fresh cut branches, leaves, or flowers, a blonde wood vanity can help blur the line between indoor and outdoor spaces. Especially if you have large exterior windows (or better yet, ones that look out on a private garden), unfinished, natural wood acts as an intermediary between the wild growth of the garden and that scrubbed-clean feel you want from a bathroom.
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