Saunas, Steam Rooms, And Soaking Tubs Can Turn Any Home Into A Mini Spa

More and more families are turning utilitarian bathing spaces into sanctuaries that convert routine into ritual, engaging all the senses: sculptural fixtures, artwork, and chromotherapy systems that use multi-color light are pleasing to the eye; hydrotherapy in showers and tubs feels good on the body; and candles infuse the room with delightful aromas—all the better to relax and nurture you in the privacy of your own home.


California Dreaming

The clients had just returned from a luxurious spa retreat in California and decided they wanted to indulge in the same type of experience every night in their own home rather than just a few times a year while on vacation. They posed the challenge to Kent Pruzan of Kent Pruzan Interiors, a firm with offices in Greenwich, Connecticut, and New York City. 

“First, we had to find enough square footage to include all the amenities the clients desired: a steam shower for two, a separate soaking tub, and a family-sized sauna, as well as all the usual master bathroom requirements,” Pruzan says. The design team, which included Gaussen Hamner and Ashley Wallace, annexed the existing contiguous closets along with a coveted home office; sometimes, sacrifices must be made. “We wanted to capture that California spirit, so we selected natural organic materials such as walnut for the wood-beamed tray ceiling, trim package, and vanities, with a combination of cool gray stones for floors, steam shower, and the vanity wall.”

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Earthtones create a soothing spa ambience. 

The client requested a family-size sauna with an all-glass front elevation to cap off the ultimate California spa experience.

Location: Armonk
Design Team: Kent Pruzan Interiors;
General Contractor: Dan Morganante
Photographer: William Briggs
Resources: Plumbing, lighting, vanities, tub and surround, mirrors, steam shower, and glass enclosures from Klaff’s; flooring, vanity wall, shower floor, walls, and ceiling from Marble America Corp.  

Let There Be Light

After 30 years, it was time to renovate, not only to update the look, but to fix the sloppy “builder” construction, according to Gary Paul of GP Incorporated Design Consulting in New York. “The first step was to organize the plan around an axis. Installing a new Palladian window brought more light into the space and the light washed-oak paneling with mirrored insets picks up cross reflections and adds a subtle glamor to the perimeter of the walls,” Paul says. 

“The palette is a soft green; we used verde aqua marina stone from Waterworks as an accent to the Calacatta marble from Ann Sacks, a mosaic of several green and white stones set into the bathroom entry and the sides of the sink backsplash. The shower is tiled in a small brick green colored tile from Ann Sacks. An English floral wallpaper from Lee Jofa adds pattern and softness to the architecture and ties the bath to the adjoining dressing room.”

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 A ho-hum bath received a much needed facelift, with the Palladian window a star attraction. 

Matching vanities reflect off each other, while mirrored insets add light and sparkle. 


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Location: Harrison
Design Team: Gary Paul of GP Incorporated Design Consulting;
General Contractor: Xylo Corp
Resources: Vanities by Rutt HandCrafted Cabinetry through Bilotta Kitchens, paneling by Genesis Woodworking of Colorado (all custom-designed by GP Incorporated), plumbing fixtures by Rohl, windows by LePage, hardware by Baldwin, lights through Visual Comfort.
Photographer: David Matthew Walters

Green, Serene, and Sustainable

Carol Kurth of Carol Kurth Architecture PC + INTERIORS LTD designed the original “Link House” in 1983 and was recently asked by the new owners to renovate and integrate contemporary materials and technologies into the home. She designed a bath with sustainable elements and spa-like hues of whites and creams, Indian ivory mosaics, and limestone countertops complemented by custom-designed cedar-plank cabinetry. 

“My concept for the Link House master bath suite was to create a modern backdrop incorporating materiality and texture to create a sense of tranquility,” says Kurth. “We integrated natural cedar-plank walls and coordinating custom cabinetry—the horizontal wood effect inspired by European saunas. A smooth Indiana limestone floor anchors the space and flows seamlessly into the spacious multi-jet ‘spa’ shower. Luxurious details such as built-in benches, modern plumbing fixtures, and recessed lighting further enhance the soothing and serene spa experience.”

Some people love soaking in a deep bath; others prefer the multi-sensory experience of a shower with a variety of jets and shower heads—this sanctuary satisfies both desires.


Location: Pound Ridge
Design Team: Carol Kurth FAIA, LEED AP, Christine R. Lent, AIA;
General Contractor: Taconic Builders
Resources: Cabinetry designed by Carol Kurth Architecture PC + Interiors LTD; sink by WETSTYLE; fixtures by Dornbracht.
Photographer Albert Vecerka/Esto

My Blue Heaven

The client really loved to take baths, but the plumbing layout didn’t allow for a freestanding tub. Phyllis Harbinger of Design Concepts/Interiors, LLC, in Cortlandt Manor decided to flip the entire layout of the bathroom and gained a great deal more room in this complete gut renovation. 

“The redesign made the bathroom more functional and aesthetically pleasing, and the chromatherapy oval tub creates a sculptural impact,” Harbinger says. “The shower and vanity walls are sheathed in a glass and Thasos stick-tile mosaic while the other walls have large-scale Carrara Bella tiles capped with glass liners at chair-rail height. We had fun with the design on the floor as well, adding interest with pattern in the same stone.  The custom vanity is fabricated from bamboo, as is the coordinating medicine cabinet, to bring warmth and modernity to the space; it just floats on the wall.” 

The tub is luxurious, to be sure, but note the discreet grab bars that will allow the client to age in place. The custom, paint-on-acrylic panel is by Carla Goldberg, a local Hudson Valley artist.


Goldberg’s artwork is reflected in the vanity mirror.

Location: Peekskill
Design Team: Phyllis Harbinger of Design Concepts/Interiors, LLC;
General Contractor: Amodeo Contracting
Resources: The plumbing fixtures and tile are from Klaff’s, tub is BainUltra, vanity is Lacava.
Photographer: Anastassios Mentis

A Touch of Glamor

“The original objective was to improve the layout of an existing master bathroom,” says Mimi Fong of Luminosus Designs in White Plains. “As it happens, the clients were planning on creating a new walk-in closet in a separate project, making the two existing closets redundant. I was able to annex the space from both those closets along with a hallway within the master suite into the floorplan and create a much larger master bath with a separate tub and steam shower. 

“The aesthetic design concept was to combine the serenity that the husband wanted with the glamor that the wife craved. For this, I combined a deep, lush accent color with an overall neutral palette. Architectural elements serve as focal points and draw attention away from the sloping areas of the ceiling. I used different modes of lighting to bring out the various textures and surfaces incorporated in the room, thus providing continuous visual interest.”

Mimi Fong blended serenity and glamour in this standout bath.


Location: Briarcliff Manor
Design Team: Mimi Fong of Luminosus Designs;
General Contractor: Greenbush Construction
Photograper: Tom Sibley
Resources:  Grohe shower fixtures; toilet by Lacava; tub by MTI; faucet and wall-mounted tub filler by Rohl; tub wall tile by Nemo Tile Company; custom vanity by Greenbush Construction; countertop by Millennium Stone; sink by Kohler.

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