The design bar is being raised in private spas and “wellness areas” says Lawson Robb’s Alix Lawson, as plunge pools and steam rooms are lifted out of the basement and into the light.
World-class hotels continue to inform home design. Coupled with increasing focus on health and well-being, we are specifying wellness areas in the domestic setting more and more frequently. Let’s face it: no one really wants to share plunge pools, steam rooms, saunas and treatment couches with others unless there is no alternative. The challenge now is to bring that spa offering into the home with preferred therapists and personal trainers in private employ.
Over the ten years that Lawson Robb has been creating private spas in prime central London, clients have demanded ever more radical designs that often surpass those found in the world’s best hotels. As a case in point, we were recently lead architect and designer on a Grade II listed 15,000 sq ft Mayfair residential development project (pictured below). The opportunity for visionary scope was vast. We created a new basement level, fully appointed with high specification features to befit one of the area’s most impressive addresses – as well as positioning it as the most desirable property on the market. The comprehensive wellness area incorporates massage, steam rooms and sauna, and a walk-in jet shower located within the adjoining vaults. As well as elective three-way mirroring between pool and gym areas, a secret stone stairway leads up through the wine cellar, where a back-lit single onyx slab conceals a remote control pop-up bar. The stairwell extends to the library above, neatly uniting multiple pleasures.
Another of our Knightsbridge clients enthuses that his home spa area is “transformational, pioneering and visionary design” when describing how a labyrinth of rooms was turned into a multi-faceted spa experience (pictured below). This included a plunge pool and massaging waterfall, with sauna and steam room using heated glass to avoid condensation. Mirrored cupboards for storing linen reflect the vaulted ceiling and also conceal the TV. With natural light being a requisite, a glass footbridge was installed two floors above the Jacuzzi and beams the light down in volume. The barrel vaulted ceiling creates drama and height and connects the space to the vaults underneath the pavement which have been converted to a wine cellar and bar.
Whereas spa rooms and wellness areas have predominantly been incorporated into ground and lower floors, we are designing these more often as part of the main living space. Clients are particularly keen on walk-in spa areas that are an extension of their principal bedroom, roof terrace or living room, where the outdoors becomes an integral part of their wellness routine. In Belgravia, the entire third floor was given over to a private spa following a crisp, minimalist approach (pictured below). Glazed panels house a steam room, sauna and shower while strength training was delivered in the guise of techno gym equipment. Floor-to-ceiling bi-folding doors create a seamless transition to the external terrace and outdoor fireplace. After all the joys of exercising in open air are often lauded yet not frequently available within London homes.
There are astute design ways to incorporate wellness zones into a home so that they are impressive as well as luxuriously functional. Their position can easily be elevated from lower ground areas without compromising other essential living spaces. It takes a blended sure understanding of architecture, spa functionality and lifestyle. After all, wellness is a holistic part of everyday that merits a superior design approach.
Alix Lawson is co-founder of Lawson Robb lawsonrobb.com