Design Tips with DC Interiors – WOMAN ESCAVES-Me Time!

Written By: Subi Shehaan

One of the things we as women neglect to prioritize in this busy and hectic life we lead  is ‘me’ time. I can tell you from personal experience that unwinding and relaxing is not something I would pencil into my calendar, while everything else from project to-do lists and other people’s deadlines would go in there in a heartbeat. We work too hard and we should reward ourselves for all our selfless acts of love we bestow on others.

You have all heard of man caves, and I have been asked to design a few, but none of my female clients have ever asked me to do a special space for themselves. I am deciding to coin it Woman Escaves (a delicious escape from reality). Most of the women who call me for a consult would ask to set up a basement for their husbands with a home theatre and a bar, and maybe the occasional closet-for-her, but now it’s time to kick back and be selfish for a change. This is for all you ladies who work too hard and need to set aside some time to play just as hard!

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So what does a woman escave include? What’s the first need that comes to mind when we walk into the house to be greeted by all that mess, dinner waiting to be made, bickering kids and their hungry dad, and all this after long hours of work? If you said a spa, we are both on the same wavelength. If you said a couple of shots of tequila, you may have another problem.  Instead of escaping to a spa on our birthdays or only on anniversaries that our other halves are considerate enough to book us into to, why not consider building a home spa instead. Take a room in your house (discard the office idea he wants. He should know all about happy wife-happy life), and plan on using that completely for your relaxing purpose. An ensuite bath would also be a good addition for a soothing bubble bath or rainshower treatment.  Consider turning it into a sauna if you can afford to, or simply upgrade to a jacuzzi.

Your foot is what carries you throughout the day and the first to feel the weight of a stressful day, so it should obviously be the most loved during your home spa treatment. Your Escave should have a feet soaking station (my sister once gifted me this wonderful electrical foot massager that is a mini massager-hot water whirlpool soaker combo which came into use many times for my achy feet). Consider also getting a foot vibrator, an anniversary present from my husband that I plug in and use while watching a movie or while reading. A 4-in-1 stone-buffer-callous removal kit is great to include in here as well. Several body shops also carry peppermint-infused skin lotion to relieve those tired soles.  You can also make a home recipe with 1 cup olive oil, 1 cup oatmeal, and 1 cup brown sugar and rub this around the balls of your feet. A cherry on top for your foot spa suggested by one of my friends: rub Vaseline on your feet just before bed, put some socks on and wake up the next morning to baby soft feet.

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A further splurge would be a massage chair with all these options. It should have a heating and all targeted body parts massage elements. A step down from that for the budget-friendly would be those chair wrappers containing both heat and massage options with a push of a button that sit atop any chair.

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Sometimes a human touch is all it takes and whereas a live-in masseuse/masseur may not be a practical option, opt to call one over for some much needed kneading. There are quite a few registered massage therapists that offer to come home to you with a massage table in tow. Your achy muscles will thank you for this.


Don’t forget to make ALL your senses happy. Did you know the scent of florals, spices barks, roots and leaves stimulate brain function and uplift one’s mood? In addition to these wonderful essential oils available in different scents, invest in various scented candles that you can place throughout the room. Also consider purchasing your favourite scent as a time-release plug-in whose aroma immediately and warmly
will greet you as you walk into your escave.

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When you shut that door and immerse yourself completely in a more relaxed environment, you want an ambiance that speaks to you from even its shadows. Soft cascading corners with 3-setting brightness lamps work well to both create calmness in its low setting and the splash of light in its higher option. Task lighting should be used from below (such as up lights to highlight a foliage) and from above (desk lighting to help illuminate small tasks such as applying nail polish) as well as strip lighting along horizontal and vertical lines (ie. around mirrors). A mix of tall and short candles placed in groups of three’s or five’s also work cohesively to soften up the space with warm flickering glows.


And I don’t mean just using organic products, which by the way can be added to the list as well. But the use of nature’s abundance sporadically placed around the room not only serves as a supply of oxygen but also as a luscious sight for sore eyes.  A line of small lavender plant in tiny pots can be placed next to a window to add some
color and foliage.  Mark the pots with words such as ‘Relax’ or ‘Breathe’ to reinforce these in your mind as your eyes fall on them. A decorative set up of bushy silk plants on surfaces also add to the scenic landscape. Adding a small display of electric waterfall cascade in a corner also help to alleviate and calm your mood and speak to your auditory senses.

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I know I mentioned a woman escave should be more of a relaxant, but for those times you need to work out your stress, consider purchasing a treadmill, a yoga mat and ball, and skipping rope to work up a sweat.


Mirrors add so much more space via its illusion of depth that a home spa must include at least one wall-to-ceiling display of this. It does not only serve as a decorative  aspect but also to enhance the ambiance in the room when it doubles up all the soft glows in its reflection at night.

Speaking of walls, you’ve also seen the use of bamboo in spas. It’s a nice decorative touch to your room. Home hardware stores carry bamboo wallpaper as well as forest murals and you might consider buying a roll or two of these to accent one wall.

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Start a collection of soothing music:  rainwater sounds from gentle puddle trickles to heavy torrential downpour; forest sounds such as birds chirping to the occasional calls of the wild to relaxing instrumental tunes. Surround sounds, built in speakers as well as a large TV screen may be a good idea to install to alleviate the soulful experience.


No spa is complete without a refreshment corner to house water, herbal tea and some of the strong stuff. Make sure you don’t just get a table for this. Build a functional bar with easy electrical access to blend your cocktails, a sink and plenty of storage space for glasses. Make sure you have a small fridge or wine chiller to have your drinks chilled and to store some snacks so that you are not running back and forth to the kitchen. Keep a set of utensils nearby (a cutting board, a knife, disposable plastic spoons and knives so that you have less to wash).  Your girlfriends will enjoy this area when you decide to open up your woman escave to occasional gatherings. Have a kettle hooked up or hot water dispenser and a bowl to soak up hand towels for a hot steamy skin treatment at the end of your me-time.


For those of you who had the privilege of using my services, you know I am all about plush, comfortable and abundance of seating. So it comes as no surprise that I  am suggesting throwing out plenty of cushions around the room. To create your zen corner, you can buy a coffee table, cut its legs off to be low to the ground and surround yourself with a stock of plush cushions on the floor. This not only serves as a comfort zone, but the practice of feng shui dictates that this grounds your energy more and makes you feel more balanced.

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If space permits, you can include a reading nook with a chaise propped up with a warm throw. If you get cold like me with little fat insulation for the peripheries, consider a body sweater or space heater.

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A home spa is not complete without a mani-pedi station. Consider installing long floating shelves to the wall to house all your nail polishes in plain view. Have a designated desk below with filers and clippers, hand lotion and finger soaking bowls with fresh lemon squeezed in (have lemon wedges stored and ready in the fridge).

Install a mirror in front of the desk or a magnifying desktop LED-lighted mirror to put your make up on. Make sure this area is well lit.


I recently went to a birthday party for my friend’s six year old daughter, and there was a room decorated with hot pink and zebra stripes. It was quite a parlour with a make up
station, a lounge, and a dress up corner. What surprised me the most was the frantic shuffle to get to the princess dresses to play dress up. I don’t mean the younger kids, but the speed at which all my beautiful friends rushed up to choose their dresses was quite endearing actually. So consider having a wardrobe of variety of dresses (long gowns, boa furs, hats, Alice bands, shawls, heels and slippers to cater to the little girls in us.

“We are all princesses at some level” no matter what our age.

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It’s important to indulge sometimes and we deserve the best treatment we can gift to ourselves. Make sure you set aside some time for those three most important souls in your lives-Me, myself and I. Amidst the hustle and bustle of daily life, create that oasis of a woman escave in your own home to escape to and treat yourself well.

Subi - DC  Subi Shehaan is the award winning founder of Design Contours (DC Interiors) established in 2008 which  specializes in interior designing,      home  staging, and renovations in Toronto. Her company is catered  towards residential owners – simple residential room decor to large  interior  renovations and basement  finishing. Apart from residential projects, she has completed commercial projects including law offices,    restaurants,  home builder’s sales offices, real estate offices, and college reception area. You can see more  of her work on Design  Contours or DC Interiors.

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