How can you make a bathtub more relaxing? 8 designers share their top styling tips for a spa-like space

Bathtubs provide the ultimate at-home getaway. Here's how the experts get the look down

Three bathtubs
(Image credit: Studio Laloc; James Carriere Studio / ballonSTUDIO; BC Designs)

A sleek and stylish bathtub makes for a spa-like retreat right at home – and getting the look down isn't too difficult. With just a bit of consideration, the bathtub becomes a stunning focal point, giving a bathroom a design upgrade and granting you a restful oasis.

From infusing natural elements to making room for a gorgeous outdoor view, there are plenty of small decor tricks that take a tub to the next level. This is how interior designers style a bathtub for peak relaxation – and how you can carve out a serene space in your own home.

How to style a bathtub for relaxation

Here are interior designers' top tips for styling a bathtub that transports you to a calmer place and ensures you create a spa bathroom at home. 

1. Infuse natural elements

A bathtub in a room with wooden vaulted ceilings

(Image credit: Erin McGinn / Moore House Design)

Ensure your bathtub is relaxing by integrating organic elements into your bathroom design. Blair Moore, creative director and principal designer of Moore House Design, says that her team's Coasters Chance Cottage project, pictured above, 'aimed to infuse contemporary convenience with old-world allure by incorporating natural elements.' The results? A 'tranquil retreat for bathtub indulgence,' she says.

'I just adore the juxtaposition of a sturdy matte resin white tub set against the backdrop of warm, exposed wood tones, complemented by Belgian linen curtains. As you sink into the tub, surrounded by the harmonious interplay of textures and tones, you can't help but feel a profound sense of peace wash over you – a timeless moment suspended in the embrace of luxury and nature,' says Blair.

Blair Moore headshot
Blair Moore

Blair Moore is an award-winning designer, as well as the creative director and principal of Moore House and Moore House Design.

2. Focus on the lighting

A bathtub in a neutral-toned bathroom

(Image credit: BC Designs)

Bathroom lighting might not be the first thing that comes to mind when dreaming up your ideal bathtub setup, but Barrie Cutchie, design director at BC Designs, says this design detail is of the utmost importance.

'Nobody wants to have to make do with bright spotlights when you are trying to switch off after a busy day. Therefore, consider how you might be able to add ambient lighting. Generally, this may come in the form of pendants, either near the vanity unit or even positioned close to the bath,' he says.

Barrie adds that LED bathroom lighting, which illuminates the stunning bathtub pictured above, is another favorite that 'can be practical but adds plenty of wow.' He suggests placing these lights underneath a lifted freestanding bath for a luminous look.

'Not only does it highlight your bath to visitors, creating layers of shadows and textures, but when it comes to wanting to relax while using it, you can turn off your main lights and bask in the warm glow you’ve created,' he says.

3. Opt for a warm color palette

A bathtub in front of a window with a towel draped over the side

(Image credit: James Carriere Studio / ballonSTUDIO)

When going for a calming, laid-back look, a warm color scheme becomes your best friend. Along with natural materials 'like linen for towels and bath mats,' Sabra Ballon – founder and principal designer of ballonSTUDIO – suggests bringing in these pleasant hues to 'emphasize tranquility and make a bathroom look more luxurious.'

'Incorporate a warm, serene color palette with pops of complementary hues to evoke a sense of calm and beauty. Enhance the space with beautiful details, such as textured accessories and natural light, to elevate the overall ambiance while maintaining an elegant yet playful atmosphere conducive to relaxation and rejuvenation,' says Sabra.

A headshot of designer Sabra Ballon
Sabra Ballon

Sabra Ballon is the Founder and Principal Designer of ballonSTUDIO, a leading boutique design firm in San Francisco.

4. Cater to all five senses

A white bathtub with gold fixtures behind a black metal and glass door

(Image credit: Studio Laloc)

A spa-like bathtub setup caters to all five senses, and each matters as much as the next when looking to achieve the perfect soak. Lauren Lothrop Caron, interior designer and founder of New York City- and Seattle-based Studio Laloc, says a cohesive color palette and natural materials contribute to the visual success of a bathtub space. 

'In terms of styling bathtubs for relaxation, our favorite tricks involve paying attention to the natural senses and considering the ways we perceive the world beyond just the sense of sight,' she says.

Lauren also suggests factoring in a peaceful view or a discreet music source to level up your bath time. Position the tub under a window if possible – natural light and 'if you're so blessed to have one, a view' will ensure you're feeling at peace each time you take a dip.

Soft, comforting materials like 'honed natural stone, softly polished wood or plush towels for when you leave the bath' leave the room feeling like a safe haven, she says. And for an extra touch of sensory contentment, Lauren suggests bringing indoor plants into the mix.

'We love to add plants to bathrooms which add a bit of natural beauty and the feeling of bringing the outdoors in. If a beautiful panorama outside isn’t possible, there's nothing more comforting than looking at greenery. Plants also can add a natural, earthy smell to a space which can be very relaxing,' she says.

A headshot of designer Lauren Lothrop Caron
Lauren Lothrop Caron

Lauren Lothrop Caron is the founder of Studio Laloc, a full-service interior design and architecture studio based in New York City and Seattle.

5. Keep it simple

A bathtub in a black-and-white bathroom

(Image credit: Vivian Johnson / Emily Kates Design)

When designing your bathtub space, the key is keeping it simple, says Emily Kates – principal designer and owner of Emily Kates Design. Pare back the design elements you include so that the real star of the show – the tub, of course – is truly allowed to shine. In this bathroom, pictured above, Emily says the 'simplicity of form and material contrast is what gives this tub quiet elegance.'

'In this wet room, the deep soaking tub sits against a dramatic tumbled marble wall, where it also gets drenched in natural sunlight. Because it's behind glass, the tub feels more private and sanctuary-like. Instead of standard towel bars, the wooden ladder was used as a warm natural element to enhance the spa-like feel and complement the dark minky toned Grafite marble floor,' she says.

A headshot of designer Emily Kates
Emily Kates

Emily Kates is the Principal Designer and Owner of Emily Kates Design, a full-service, boutique residential design studio based in California.

6. Give yourself a view

A black-and-white marble bathtub in front of a large window

(Image credit: Studio LIFE / STYLE)

The added benefit of a beautiful view cannot be understated when it comes to styling a bathtub. Just ensure the location is hidden enough to conceal you from view, and admire in awe the natural scene or cityscape.

'The natural light seeping through makes the space feel zen-like and calming. When there is a relationship between what is happening inside and the outdoors, it feels symbiotic,' says Lexie Sokolow, designer and brand manager at Los Angeles-based STUDIO LIFE / STYLE.

7. Let the tub take center stage

A bathtub in the middle of a bathroom below a circular overhead light fixture

(Image credit: Michael J. Lee / White Webb LLC.)

The bathtub doesn't need much adornment to do its job, and allowing it to steal the spotlight can make a strong impact on the bathroom's overall design scheme.

'For those who enjoy a good soak, we feel the bathtub ought to be a destination. Rather than tuck it in a corner, we like to let it breathe and if possible, afford a view,' says Matthew White, interior designer and co-founder of New York City-based White Webb.

This bathroom in Massachusetts sees the tub 'take center stage beneath a sparkling pendant feature,' says Frank Webb, interior designer and White Webb's other co-founder.

'Warm wood accents and plants help to balance the cool calm of the limestone-clad walls, and a playful Pierre Frey window sheer provides privacy along with inspiration for daydreams,' says Frank.

A photo of two designers
Matthew White and Frank Webb

Matthew White and Frank Webb are co-founders of White Webb, a New York City-based design studio.

8. Accessorize away

Neutral bathroom with checkerboard marble flooring

(Image credit: Julie Soefer/Marie Flanigan Interiors)

According to Lauren Robbins, founder and lead designer of Lauren Robbins Interiors, 'a relaxing bath at the end of a long day is nothing short of miraculous' – and we can't help but agree. But when you don't have everything you need at arm's reach, a serene bath time can quickly turn stressful. To 'make sure your at-home spa session is a success,' Lauren says that accessorizing your bathtub setup is key.

'If you have a freestanding tub, be sure to have a bench or garden stool nearby to hold a book, glass of wine, and your best bath towels.  Otherwise, built-in tubs with larger marble surrounds provide a surface that holds all of the accruements one might need for an evening of relaxation,' she says.

A headshot of designer Lauren Robbins
Lauren Robbins

Lauren Robbins is the Founder and Lead Designer of Lauren Robbins Interiors, a residential design studio based in Georgia.

Peak bath time relaxation isn't far away after all, with these designer-approved tips for styling the tub. Channel nature and design with your senses in mind for a spa-worthy soak right at home.

Abby Wilson
News Writer

I am a News Writer at Homes & Gardens, with a focus on interior design. Most recently, I worked with Better Homes & Gardens, where I wrote and edited content about home decor, gardening tips, food news, and more. Before that, I studied Journalism and English Literature at New York University. I’ve moved around quite a bit in the last several years, most recently making the trip to London, and love transforming each new space into a comfortable retreat that feels like home. When it comes to decor, I’m most drawn to unique vintage finds and calming colors.