Asian Inspired Bathrooms For A Zen Like Spa Style

Spa style master bathrooms have become hugely popular in recent years and are a great way to make a master bathroom that little bit more indulgent and relaxing. But while many of these bathrooms have a distinctly Nordic influence, lately homeowners have been looking farther east for inspiration. The simple, zen-like vibe of Asian inspired bathrooms meshes well with the trend toward natural, open bathroom spaces, but this style has its own distinct sense of elegance.

Asian inspired bathrooms are all about creating bright, open, uncluttered spaces, which is a perfect pair for a spa bathroom (by Linebox Studio)
Asian inspired bathrooms are all about creating bright, open, uncluttered spaces, which is a perfect pair for a spa bathroom (by Linebox Studio)

It’s worth noting upfront that “Asian inspired bathrooms” rarely bear much resemblance to bathrooms you would actually find in Asia. Asian nations tend to have different bathing practices than in the western world (for more about that, click here), but many homeowners and designers have adopted eastern design aesthetics and applied them to the western bathroom. The look that’s really popular right now is a simple, earthy minimalism that features lots of light wood and very simple, spare, open spaces.

Bamboo wood elements give a bathroom a warm, bright quality while offering a greater degree of water resistance than most hardwoods (by CCS Architecture, photo by Joe Fletcher)
Bamboo wood elements give a bathroom a warm, bright quality while offering a greater degree of water resistance than most hardwoods (by CCS Architecture, photo by Joe Fletcher)

Many spa style bathrooms feature wood elements, but Asian inspired bathrooms focus specifically on bamboo: on the floors, the walls, and the furniture. Bamboo is a great choice for a steamy spa bathroom because it’s naturally more resistant to moisture than most hardwoods, and it has a light golden color that will really make the space feel warm, relaxed, and inviting. Lots of bamboo will also help evoke the natural character of the space, making it feel earthy without looking rustic or cabin like the way many hardwoods can. 

Loose river rocks have a lovely natural quality, feel great underfoot, and drain water well in damp areas (by Tracy Murdock Allied ASID)
Loose river rocks have a lovely natural quality, feel great underfoot, and drain water well in damp areas (by Tracy Murdock Allied ASID)

Asian inspired spa bathrooms are all about creating a sense of natural balance and harmony. Much like Japanese rock gardens, this type of bathroom should showcase natural elements – stone, wood, and water – to help those who use the bathroom reconnect with the essence of nature. Water is easy to come by in a bathroom (though if you’re feeling adventurous, a lagoon style in-floor bathtub is a great way to emphasize this element), but don’t go the traditional cut-and-polished route for the stone. Instead, look for smooth, uncut river rocks that are large enough to feel nice underfoot. You can either lay them on the floor or walls like regular tile or (my personal preference) create an indentation in the floor around the tub, shower, vanity, or the perimeter of the room and fill it with loose stones, which has a much more natural appearance.

Asian inspired bathrooms use a single living accent rather than a lot of ornamentation to give the space a spare yet striking visual quality (by Andre Rothblatt Architecture)
Asian inspired bathrooms use a single living accent rather than a lot of ornamentation to give the space a spare yet striking visual quality (by Andre Rothblatt Architecture)

Adding at least one live plant is key. While wood and river rocks will make the space feel natural, nothing really compares to the little visual surprise of having an actual living plant in the bathroom. I’ve seen people get really ornate with this, with gorgeous living plant art on the walls or even live moss or grass bathmats. But to get that eastern flair, opt for a small, delicate plant like a cluster of bamboo or a single orchid. Pink orchids are especially trendy right now, and will give a nice bright pop of color to an otherwise neutral decor. Whether the plant is green, white, pink, or otherwise, this single simple accent will act as an assertive focal point in the space, and can stand on its own without any additional ornamentation.

Sliding shoji style doors give a bathroom a dynamic quality, making it possible to open up the space or add privacy without barring natural light (by Orfield Remodeling, Inc)
Sliding shoji style doors give a bathroom a dynamic quality, making it possible to open up the space or add privacy without barring natural light (by Orfield Remodeling, Inc)

Japanese style shoji screens are also becoming a common feature in spa style bathrooms. This is maybe my personal favorite eastern element, because they help make the bathroom a more dynamic space. Poised on rollers and fitted with translucent panels (either traditional rice paper or frosted glass), shoji screens can easily be moved to open up the bathroom or closed to create privacy, and always allow light to filter through, keeping the space feeling warm and bright.

Asian inspired bathrooms can be very modern while still retaining that natural elegance and simplicity, provided you include a few earthy elements to draw the eye (by Susanna Cots, photo by Mauricio Fuertes)
Asian inspired bathrooms can be very modern while still retaining that natural elegance and simplicity, provided you include a few earthy elements to draw the eye (by Susanna Cots, photo by Mauricio Fuertes)

What really sets Asian inspired bathrooms apart from other spa styles, though, is how very modern the style can be without feeling cold. Often wood-heavy spa bathrooms can feel very rustic, while highly modern bathrooms have a very industrial look and feel to them. A zen-like, Japanese style offers the best of both worlds, combining natural warmth with elegant minimalism. Asian inspired bathrooms are simple and uncluttered, minimizing ornamentation and combining simple natural elements to create a relaxing, harmonious space.

What do you think of these Asian inspired spa bathrooms? Let me know in the comments!

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