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Stacey Brandford for The Globe and Mail

You may not be able to schedule (or afford) a regular spa getaway in your frantic everyday life, so why not consider the next best thing? The restorative, relaxing and rejuvenating elements associated with the pampering rituals of a luxury spa remain an inspirational constant in bathroom design. In fact, I think it is safe to say that the "spa" influence has surpassed trend status and become fully embedded in the practices and principles of how many homeowners approach designing bathrooms. Whether you're attempting to bring a lacklustre old bathing salon up to modern standards through a reno or starting from scratch with a bathroom in a new build, though, making sure that each and every choice is the right choice for the long haul should be a common focus.

Trends and passing fancies do, of course, have their place in the home – and that place is anywhere where making a change should you want to isn't going to be too difficult. (Maybe fuchsia, for instance, isn't the best colour to start and end every day with in your master bathroom.) Both kitchens and bathrooms are costly to renovate (or build), so I generally encourage spending on neutral material choices that will stand the test of time, both in terms of durability and style. There is no reason to live without colour in your bathroom if you so desire. But if you've got resale on your mind, you will never regret creating a serene salle de bain with a soothingly watery palette.

Break out of the mould

The common shape for bathroom vanity mirrors is round or rectilinear, but you can customize yours in almost any shape you want. Made from standard picture-framing profiles, for instance, the tall and narrow his-and-hers mirrors in this bathroom accentuate the ceiling height as well as allow enough wall space to install both artwork and wide, elegant crystal wall sconces.

Soak without a surround

It's no secret that I gravitate toward free-standing baths over built-in models that require a tub surround. You can't argue with the decorative and sculptural interest that an oval tub introduces to a room that is generally dominated by big, boxy shapes such as vanities and shower stalls. By floating the tub in an oversized space, you can also introduce such soft elements as drapes that float behind the bath. If you install drapes, opt for a washable, breezy fabric (such as eyelet) and leave them unlined for easy care.

Enlist a little shower power

That spacious, two-person shower with enough room to practise your yoga in may seem like a fantastic idea during the planning stages, but it may come back to haunt you when the budget-crunching part of your master-bath adventure kicks in. The good news is that you can never go wrong with a classic: One of the tried-andtrue bathroom classics is white ceramic subway tile. Whether you pick it up at your local big-box store or go for a fancier handmade option from a specialty tile shop, there is always an opportunity to inject a little accenting to your all-white enclosure. Adding an accent band of decorative tile at standard chair-rail height can often get in the way of plumbing controls, however, so elevate your band up to about 60 inches above the floor. This way your eye will be directly focused on something interesting instead of average.

Play with proportion

After selecting your main floor material, there is no need to limit yourself to a single size or shape of tile (or stone). In the same way that you'd combine a few different fabrics for upholstered furnishings, you can mix and match a number of different tiles to bring a more dynamic and textured look to your floors. It doesn't cost much to define a large tiled area with a few bands of smaller mosaic to create the effect of a carpet detail underfoot, yet it definitely breaks up the monotony of using a single tile size throughout.

Indulge your vanity

Think about ways to dress up otherwise average bathroom elements with interesting decorative touches. If your budget only allows for a vanity with a simple Shaker door profile, consider customizing it for a more personal, even glamorous look. One of the advantages of the linear Shaker profile is how it allows for an easy retrofit with, say, mirrored panels. Here, I used antiqued mirror panels, each of which was pre-drilled in the centre to showcase the addition of pressed-glass knobs that sparkle and shimmer as they float against the reflective backdrop. Moreover, you can elevate the hulking mass of a doublesink washing station by incorporating furniture details. The Queen Anne-style legs seen here reference traditional furniture details while bringing a fluid finishing touch to the vanity.