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Debbie Travis house to home: Spa daze

Don't be shy, turn even the smallest space into a unique, special place you'll love to start and end your day
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Most bathroom spaces are small and not terribly exciting. Many don't have windows, especially in condos, but you can make the smallest room in the house uniquely special, and the perfect place to start and end your day, your very own spa. 

I have just finished remodeling this bathroom, which was not huge, but I wanted it to have a real sense of glamour. My journey began by choosing the tub, as this is usually the most expensive item. Freestanding baths, whether clawfoot or sleek and modern, are the biggest bathroom trend right now. Once you have made the decision to treat yourself, then the homework begins. You will want to check out the many varieties of baths with the space that it will live in at your home. Visit showrooms, and don't be shy; climb right in and try out the tubs. And please ask lots of questions, such as where do the taps go, freestanding or on the wall? 

You are looking for a combination of style, comfort, price and ease of maintenance. The least expensive are Fiberglas, acrylic and porcelain over steel. All three are at the lower price range but they can scratch or chip and even fade over time. They are all light and easy to install. Cast iron tubs will last a lifetime and do not chip or stain easily. They are very heavy and you will need extra help to install them and may even require the floor to be reinforced. However, because they are heavy they retain the heat well, which I love. They are also expensive. Proving more and more popular are solid surface tubs because they come in a variety of shapes and sizes and can be fixed if they chip. They are natural looking, but they are still heavy and quite expensive. 

One of the most exciting materials used to make bathtubs is QuarryCast. This is the bath I chose as it really is superior to everything I saw. Made by Victoria+Albert, vandabaths.com, from finely ground volcanic limestone mixed with resin, it has a wonderful hand-finished feel. The natural white comes from the stone and is glossy and silky to the touch. It is harder than acrylic, which makes it incredibly strong and ensures there is no creaking when you lower yourself into the tub. I was hooked; time to move onto the flooring and shower tile. 

Again, so much from which to choose. Ceramica Sant'Agostino, ceramicasantagostino.it/en, is an Italian tile company that is available worldwide. They lead the way in innovative floor and wall tile. Last year they introduced a tile that looks like carpet. Sounds crazy, even awful, but it is a textured tile, which I love, as I am constantly slipping in the bathroom, probably due to the fact that I am a 'splasher'. This bathroom is small but I still put down oversized tiles and the room actually looks bigger.

In the shower I took the same gray as the floor and added a pure white, creating fat stripes. I did not apply the tile to the rest of the bathroom walls. Instead, a giant black and white photo of Sophia Loren was blown up onto thick canvas by Motive Media, a visual communications company, motivemedia.ca. and adhered to the surface with wallpaper glue. They will take your beloved art and photos and turn them into wallpaper. The photo is a stunning background for my stylish tub. The wall taps are also by Victoria+Albert and are part of the entire drama of the bathroom. It is exciting times for the smallest room in the house. Enjoy your research and go a little wild.

Debbie Travis' House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Please email your questions to house2home@debbietravis.com. You can follow Debbie on Twitter, and visit Debbie's new website



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