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Five Shower Upgrades You Don't Need New Plumbing For

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Liv Tyler

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Anya Ziourova

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Sara Chavez

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Pamela Hanson

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Liv Tyler

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Anya Ziourova

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Sara Chavez

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Pamela Hanson

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After moving for a job a few years ago, I spent a couple of strange months living in a really nice extended-stay hotel. Apart from the fact that I love hotels, the sheer fact that I was acting out my Up In The Air/George Clooney fantasy was enough for me to die happy.

Part of the deal was that my apartment would be cleaned twice a week, whether or not it was needed. (Not the most environmentally sound amenity, but I digress...) With that service came fluffed pillows and freshly laundered linens to enjoy more often than I have ever accomplished for myself. The constant presence of a stack of stark, white towels can do wonders for your peace of mind. It's very tabula rasa when you think about it.

These days, I'm out of the hotel and back in my own digs—digs that unfortunately do not come with regular maid service. Thus, I've had to construct some of my own rules to bring back that happy, clean feeling one gets from a pristine hotel suite. They are as follows:

When in doubt, go with white

Your subway-map shower curtain doesn’t encourage calm. Buy a stark, white curtain (even just a liner will suffice), machine wash regularly, let dry outside of the tub, and you’ll never go back to graphic patterns again. The same holds true for towels—choose pale and plain if you’re at a loss. Quick drying peshtemals and Khadi cloths have had a run recently in the world of laid-back, bespoke decor, but if they don’t suit your current budget, any monochromatic cotton towel will do. Just be sure to separate your brights from your whites on laundry day.

Stick with simple, stainless accessories

If extra shower storage is a necessity (when is it not?), stick with basic, metal caddies that hang from the shower head. Another sanity (and pipe) saver is a drain protector, especially if you and/or your roommates have anything longer than a pixie cut. Of key importance in the bathroom are wall hooks—you can never have enough. I prefer the wall-mounted variety to the over-the-door type, though whatever works.

Plant life is well-suited to steam

Real talk: Is there anything more luxurious than a bathroom full of thriving plants? I mean, just LOOK at Gucci Westman's flora-filled bathroom. Perfection. A few minutes in a hot shower is enough to create a mini-rainforest hospitable to hanging plants like ferns and philodendrons. Orchids, similarly, are happiest in humid bathrooms with low light. Try a bundle of eucalyptus branches hung from the shower head for a more ambitious home-spa experience—the heat and steam will release the plant’s therapeutic oils for some thrifty aromatherapy.

Strike a match

If, like me, you prefer to shower at night, consider eschewing electricity for old-fashioned candlelight. While I don’t recommend this when shaving is on the agenda, a low-lit bathroom experience is 100 percent more relaxing. Add a beer on the weekend, and you’re really in business.

Buy a wooden bathmat, and never look back

If I could be an evangelist for wooden bathmats, I would shout this message from my pulpit. After buying one last year, I will never go back to the woven fiber or tufted variety. The benefits are manifold: Wooden mats wipe clean, feel good under feet, dry quickly, and look chic all at a relatively small expense. Trust me on this—it’s worth the investment.

—Lauren Maas

Photographed by ITG.