Designer Feature: Creating a Dream Ensuite Bathroom

When a Calgary home built in 1975 needed an update to the ensuite bathroom, the homeowners had a lot of things to consider. The previous owners had been doing cosmetic updates here and there, but the new homeowners knew it was time to make a more drastic change — but where to start? How best to update the bathtub? Are there certain elements they should keep? Is it possible to get everything they want in one bathroom? On top of that, they had to contend with the constraints of a small bathroom, a common feature of homes built in the 70s. What the homeowners knew is that they wanted something new and comfortable that would make them happy long-term.

Ensuite Bathroom Before & After

That’s where Ana Cummings of ANA Interiors came in. She was able to revamp this outdated bathroom into something truly special. The inspiration for the design came from the spa-like experience of an upscale boutique hotel bathroom. The intention was for the ensuite bathroom to be bright with a clean look, but also bring a sense of serenity upon entering. Considering this room won an award from the Canadian Decorator’s Association for Best Bathrooms Under $25k, it’s clear that this vision became a reality.


Where to Start?

Like most of the projects we feature in our Expert Advice columns, the design process started with one main fixture and using that as the focal point for many of the other design decisions. In this case, the glass tile running up the bathtub wall was the first piece chosen and all other decisions flowed from that.

The elements of light and dark in the tile pattern make it easy for the light and dark contrast throughout the bathroom to blend together.


The Renovation Process – From Dated to Dazzling

To fit both a soaker tub and a walk-in shower in the small bathroom, the sink wall was moved two feet into the adjacent bedroom. The loss of just two feet in the bedroom made a huge difference in the eight foot by nine foot bathroom. The MAAX Ella Sleek tub, with its slimmer profile, let the homeowners have a spa-like soak in the limited space.

The custom-tiled shower is both luxurious and practical, providing the look and feel of a boutique hotel, but in a compact space with a sensible showerhead.

Also, since older homes don’t typically have ceiling fans, the contractors had to retrofit one in with venting through the attic. They found the attic wasn’t properly insulated, so the contractors had to re-insulate the space, further protecting the home from temperature changes that could potentially damage plumbing lines.


The Little Details

The homeowners requested dark fixtures to match elements throughout the rest of the home. The choice paid off, since it adds consistency of look to the bathroom, and the home as a whole.

Ana matched the dark cabinet hardware, shower handle, light fixtures and trim and even the toilet paper holder to remain consistent with the dark plumbing hardware for a cohesive look that contrasts the brightness of the walls. Ana also incorporated a square, modern style into the plumbing and lighting to keep consistency as well.

In small ensuite bathroom measuring only eight feet by nine feet, it’s important that it doesn’t look too “busy,” which can happen when there are too many dissimilar elements.


It’s All in the Extras

Ana incorporated a few special upgrades to elevate the overall design. For example, the wall-hung toilet creates a luxurious feel that you’d find in an upscale hotel or spa.

The undermounted, rimless Kohler Caxton sink is a small upgrade that makes a subtle impact on the overall feel of the bathroom. Having a conventional bathroom sink that sits atop the counter would stick out in the sleek and serene atmosphere of the rest of the room.

The homeowners also requested heated floors for maximum comfort in the wintertime, especially when the floor is made up of marble tiles.

It’s these subtle extras that make the difference between a nice ensuite bathroom and an award-winning one.


What’s Important to You?

One of the reasons this renovation was an award-winning success was because the homeowners had a clear wishlist of what they wanted, and Ana was able to turn that into a simple and cohesive design.

If you’re thinking of re-doing your ensuite bathroom, or any other room for that matter, think of a few things that are most important to you, whether it’s a feature like a soaker tub, or a look, like a spa or boutique hotel. From there, it’s a matter of making decisions revolving around those “must-haves.”

If you’re looking for help narrowing down the list of choices, call or stop by your local Robinson Lighting & Centre showroom and one of our experts can walk you through the process.



Ana Cummings

This post was written in collaboration with Ana Cummings of ANA Interiors. Based in Calgary, her best clients are those that embrace possibility, appreciate one-of-a-kind design, and make use of her vast network of superior trades and Canadian vendors. Ana commits to continuous learning, design conferences, identifying trends and showcasing the latest in home design. Ana is a multiple-award winner with distinctions from the Canadian Decorators Association, Interior Décor Resources Canada and Houzz. You can read more about her here.