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Create a Home Spa - on a Dime!

By Ann Thariani


Can’t get to the spa as often as you’d like, or simply want tranquility and pampering at home?  Luxurious home spas with steam showers and professional spa amenities are all the rage these days, but if big bucks for a bathroom remodel aren’t in your budget - don’t lose hope! 


You can create your own home spa retreat - and you can do it on a dime! 


You’ll need to consider three things:  the environment, the tools of the trade and of course, the fun stuff!

First, the Environment


Choose a room in your house where you will be undisturbed.  Often that’s a bedroom or a bathroom, but make sure you have easy access to water.


If the first rule of real estate is “location, location, location”, the second seems to be “declutter, declutter, declutter.”  Every “thing” in your house talks to you, saying things like, “dust me,” “pay me” or “sort me.”   That’s talking dirty (and not the fun kind) when you’re just trying to relax, so first you must declutter!


Remove everything, and only bring back the things that lift your soul. Natural objects like stones, and a green plant are always good.


Next, tackle the furniture.  You need a comfortable chair and a small table to hold supplies if a counter isn’t close, as well as a footstool and a basket to hold soiled towels.


What about lighting?  Do you have a window that offers a view of a green space?  Take advantage of it.  Let accent lamps and a tray of twinkling candles help create a soothing mood. 


Bring in music with a small CD player.  Escape outside noise with earplugs.


If you get massages at home, allow a 6' x 9' space for the massage table most massage therapists bring with them.

Next, the Tools of the Trade

Spas are very particular about the towels, tools and other linens that they use every day.  They want them to be attractive, durable and most importantly, functional.  White towels and linens look fresh and clean and can be bleached if stained.  “Green” linens and towels, (usually naturally cream-colored) should always be laundered immediately to prevent permanent stains.


Towels:  You’ll need about a half dozen hand towels and washcloths. You’ll also need a couple of bath mats to put under foot baths and hand bowls.  Try rolling the towels instead of folding them, stored on a shelf or in a basket.   Waffle Weave towels are traditional in many spas, but terry’s fine too.  Gilden Tree offers waffle weave hand towels, and washcloths that work perfectly.  They were recently featured for this purpose in the New York Times.


Blankets:  Small, throw blankets helps keep you warm and comfy, but many spas actually use bath sheets because they cover well without excess fabric getting in the way.


Sheets:  Forgo fancy sheets and instead use a flat twin sheet folded over.  Massage therapists will bring their own sheets.


Spa Wraps:  Changing into a soft, comfy wrap is more than just a practical way to keep your clothes clean.  It helps you relax, just like putting on pajamas helps you start feeling sleepy.  


A wrap should be pretty, easy to wear and comfortable, but should also launder well.  Gilden Tree waffle weave and velour wraps have been called the “Gold Standard” by many satisfied spa owners.  It’s well worth buying a real spa wrap.


Spa Robes:  Opinions vary about robes in home spas.  What’s better - a special robe or your every day robe?  If your everyday robe looks and feels good, it’s probably fine.  But if you want to splurge a little, consider a professional-quality waffle weave or velour spa robe.


Headbands and slippers:  A comfortable headband should keep hair out of the way, without crushing the crown, and should launder well.   Slippers should be non-skid and comfortable. 


Bowls & tubs:  Get 3-4 inexpensive small bowls (cereal size is fine).  You’ll use these for mixing your own home spa recipes.  


Get a couple bowls large enough to use for soaking your hands and for wet wash cloths, and a large rectangular tub to use as a footbath.


Mixing spoons: You’ll need spoons and forks to mix home spa treatments.  A good quality rubber spatula is helpful for applying and smoothing treatments on. Bamboo spatulas work well, too.


Cheesecloth:  Buy cheesecloth or a small box of old-fashioned gauze bandages to create herbal “sachets”.   A coffee filter and a rubber band work well, but may not hold up for scrubbing.


Sponges, brushes and all the rest:  Buy a good quality sea sponge, or a scrunchy nylon sponge.


You’ll also need a good nail brush, emery boards, orange sticks, cotton balls and nail clippers.   A pair of disposable pedicure slippers can be very helpful.  If you’re planning a spa party, Gilden Tree offers an inexpensive pedicure party pack with all the basics included.


Find an attractive, water-resistant container to hold your sponges, brushes, etc.  Nothing’s worse than having to chase down a missing nail clipper or nail brush! 

Finally, the Fun Stuff!

Here, the possibilities are endless... 


- Bath salts in a pretty container for soaking.

- A sealable pitcher of good quality oil for massage and bath. (Jojoba oil is pricey but wonderful).

- Black basalt stones for stone massage or simply for warming and applying to pressure            points.  (Soak them in hot water before using.)

- A small pitcher for sparkling water with fresh fruit and a beautiful wine glass, or several water bottles, labels removed. 

- An assortment of essential oils for scenting baths, and other treatments. 

- A silk eye pillow. 

- A nice container for all your nail polish jars.

- Cotton gloves and socks (or mitts and booties) to help creams and moisturizers soak in. 

- A terra-cotta Footscrubber to remove calluses and dry skin. 

- Hand-massage tools made from wood or plastic.

- A Marbelous Foot Massage.

- A yoga mat. 

- Fresh flowers or bamboo in a vase.

- A microwaveable rice wrap to wear over your shoulders.


So create a home spa that’s your refuge and retreat, and enjoy knowing you did it all “on a dime”!  Send us a photo of your fabulous home spa retreat, telling us what you did and why you love it and we’ll try to feature your home spa on our website.  Please send everything to: [email protected].   


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Ann Thariani is an ardent home spa enthusiast, who along with her husband Kumy, started Gilden Tree, an eco-friendly company in 1990.  She and her husband have been featured in TIME Magazine for their work in helping educate children in Pakistan, and in the Healing Arts Guide, which chronicled the love story underlying Gilden Tree. To learn more, visit