Need a warm place this winter to relax, maybe sip some wine and read a book? Look no further than your bathtub – at least after a few of our tips.

In many homes, bathtubs are out to make room for bigger showers. In some cases, it’s a great idea. But vintage clawfoot and slipper tubs are also popular with many home remodelers because of the warm look and feel of a big tub of water. Some homeowners have to hang onto their tubs because they have kids to bathe or lack the funds to knock out the tubs and install luxurious showers with multiple heads. So we’ve got a few ideas for making the tried-and-true tub a luxury winter retreat.

Make a place for kid stuff

Speaking of kids and tubs. If you have to use the single tub in your home for family baths, it’s likely loaded with several half-used soap bars, pieces of toys, maybe magnetic letters and numbers, rubber ducks and an ever-present ring. It’s time to clean up the tub and bathroom and get the little soakers to help keep it clean so adults can enjoy a warm bath after they’re tucked in.

Assign your child, or each child, a plastic bin, beach bag, or layer of a hanging basket for his or her toys. After the bath, the toys go into the designated organizer. Anything that doesn’t fit in the bin or bag has to be dried and taken back to their room. You can attach the bins to a curtain rod hung inside the shower for dripping dry after the kids’ baths, but this probably won’t add to the spa feel when you’re bathing. It’s better to keep their stash small, manageable, and easy to push out of your way. Keep the rubber duckie where you can reach it, though.

Make the tub area more relaxing

When it’s time to enjoy a relaxing bath, you want to set the mood. So add a few luxuries to make the soak special. Bubble bath in your favorite scent is a given. And you can’t go wrong with candles. Spend a little money to buy yourself some plush, oversized towels. Or ask for plush towels and a soft, warm robe for a gift. Another quick and inexpensive way to set the mood is to add a dimmer switch to your bathroom lighting. You can dim the lights and rely on your candles for the rest of the warm glow.

Upgrade your shower curtain, add an orchid or other attractive plant, and or course, get rid of that ring. If you have kids you share the tub with, place your candles, special bubble bath, and other spa-like accessories in an attractive basket you can carry into the bathroom with you.

Make bathing a retreat

With a few additional accessories, you can make bathing more than just a way to cleanse or grab 10 minutes alone (or alone together). Add a heater for your towels or a heat lamp or overhead combination light and heater for the room. Add music from your smartphone or stereo with wireless speakers or a portable unit you can pop the phone into and control with a small remote. But only do this if you won’t be tempted to check work e-mail and answer the phone. Today, some bath caddies have holders not only for soap and washcloths, but for books, candles and wine glasses. Slide the caddy into place and soak until your skin wrinkles.

Or remodel and add a slipper tub

Slipper tubs add a touch of elegance to any bathroom. You can get the tubs with a high back on one end (or both) in vintage, clawfoot styles or modern, sleep designs. Place the fixtures on the long side and you don’t have to lie back against a cold drain or faucet handle. Extend a window to add a view, creating a small garden area outside the window if privacy is a concern. And to keep your bath experience toasty warm, be sure to put down radiant floor heating. Add your own touches to make your entire bathroom more like your favorite spa and you have a relaxing retreat in your own home. 

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