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Bathroom pitfalls ... and how to avoid them

Bathroom pitfalls … and how to avoid them

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Bathroom pitfalls … and how to avoid them

If kitchens are the hub of the home, then bathrooms must be the inflated tires around them. They provide a smooth and comfortable ride until something goes wrong – such as worn treads or a bulging sidewall – and they fail to function as designed. Designers and manufacturers of bathroom products have continually been changing trends to keep us chasing that fresh, spa-like bathroom experience. Society ditched the public baths the Roman’s famously built out of fear of spreading disease long ago. While those oversized public baths may seem like a distant mistake of the past – especially amid our modern-day pandemic, there are other design pitfalls to avoid during your own bathroom renovation!

Here’s a quick cheat sheet …

  • Custom shower pans – we recommend custom fibreglass over the rubber membrane with a dry-pack method to avoid leaks below the shower. If you go with the conventional, do the dry-pack before the drywall work to avoid risk to tears which result in leaks.
  • Check fixture flowrates – and total them relative to your hot water tank or tankless hot water heater/boiler. Some tub fillers have rates of nine gallons per minute, which can knock out a combination boiler or steal an entire tank of hot water in seconds, leaving the rest of the house on ice!
  • Insulate the floor and wall under the tub – to avoid losing the heat from your bathwater in a hurry! Tubs are installed before the drywall, and sometimes these cavities are forgotten, until the first dip in the bath!
  • Add a floor drain beside the toilet. Toilets back up – virtually every toilet has a failure at some point in their lifespan, and this drain can save a lot of mess and associated costs in an overflow or a seal failure.
  • Membrane the walls – green board, fibreglass board and cement board are not perfectly waterproof. Add a membrane, glue on, paint on, no matter the type; it will help ensure you avoid the long-term effects of water creeping behind the tile or slabs on the walls.
  • Cover your fixtures during the work stage – especially the shower floor and the tub. Tools fall, materials grind and finishes are delicate and often expensive. Preserve the new stuff until the job is complete with liquid membranes, insulation and hard surface coverings, so you don’t prematurely dull the shine or marry the finish.
  • Not all mixing valves are created equal – Splurge for a shower valve with controllable temperatures inside the valve, especially if you have a tankless water heater or combination-boiler. Otherwise, you might be left with a lukewarm rinse until you decide to renovate again.
  • Recirculatation lines to the vanity faucet and shower and tub fixtures – will ensure you are not running water long to obtain the hot water you are after – especially for on-demand tankless and boiler systems. Saves wasting time and water – a win-win! Insulate those lines to avoid wasting energy for the winning hat trick.
  • Pick and then plumb – true of all fixtures, but especially for showers, toilets and vanities, as wall-hung units can create different plumbing rough-ins and avoid costly re-run at finish installation time.
  • Potlights – best kept for inside the shower or water closet only, not at the vanity as they create long and dark facial shadows that can make you look old and tired at any time of day. No thanks!

If you want to design, build or renovate your perfect bathroom, remember these pitfalls, and know there is real value in working with a professional to design and create the space. Visit renomark.ca, the home of the professional renovator, to start your search when looking to start your project!

Brendan Charters is a Founding Partner at Toronto design-build firm Eurodale Developments Inc., the 2020 BILD Renovator of the Year.




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Beyond a bathroom

Beyond a bathroom

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Beyond a bathroom

Photos by Larry Arnal

What used to be a mere closet in homes a century ago has now emerged as one of the most important rooms in our home. It’s the humble, functional bathroom. But, beyond sheer utility, the bathroom can also be, dare I say, beautiful. Afterall, why have a merely functional space when you can make it a “go-to” destination?

Even an upgrade in taps, faucets and towel holders can transform a bathroom beautifully. Here, all the hardware is in a burnished gold colour.
Even an upgrade in taps, faucets and towel holders can transform a bathroom beautifully. Here, all the hardware is in a burnished gold colour.

As a result of spending more time at home these days, we are taking another look at the potential of our greatest asset – the home itself. Does it work well if we’re all at home, all the time? Do we stay and renovate, move, build or just stay put? As a result, we’re seeing bathroom renovations on the rise.

Whether it’s adding a second bathroom, a powder room or renovating your main bathroom, function and accommodation are top of mind. It’s a smart idea; bathroom upgrades are a sensible investment whether you plan to stay in your home for years to come or sell. It’s the second highest return for your renovating dollar, after kitchens.

Designers have the privilege of hearing what people want in their homes, first-hand. We share our findings with new-home builders, developers and homeowners. What’s new? What are we learning? That the powder room is the first line of defense when it comes to a healthy home.

Steam showers are an upgrade many people are asking for as they bring the gym experience home.
Steam showers are an upgrade many people are asking for as they bring the gym experience home.

With today’s added emphasis on hygiene, a main floor powder room is now more important than ever. Now, when you enter your home it may be the first room you visit for a good hand-scrubbing, a quick refresh after removing your mask, or the usual reason to visit. It’s part of the routine transitioning from the outside world.

Family bathrooms have already seen changes over the past several years. Upgrades such as double sinks and larger vanities with plenty of storage are always on the request list. Two sinks can mean twice as much cleaning, but today, having two sinks can be helpful and promote good health – especially if one person spends more time outside the home.

Clients are still asking for separate showers and free-standing bathtubs. This isn’t a new idea, but now we’re seeing there are at least two notions this provides. A shower can offer quick function – get clean, get out. A free-standing tub, on the other hand, is considered a great wellness tool. A place to unwind, relax, regenerate. It speaks to how important wellness has come to the forefront in our homes today.

Stand-alone tubs make an elegant statement. Also consider larger format tile, less grout, less chance for germs and less cleaning.
Stand-alone tubs make an elegant statement. Also consider larger format tile, less grout, less chance for germs and less cleaning.

The spa experience isn’t a luxury anymore. We can incorporate multiple shower heads, wands and safety features such as thermostatic taps into most showers. Presets of different pulses offer the soothing effects of hydrotherapy. Pair that with the colour-washing and flowing LED lights of chromotherapy and you have potential mood-boosting for mind, body and spirit.

As most Finns know, steam is a great stress reliever. It’s also known to improve circulation, help you breathe better, sooth sore muscles and relax joints. With the help of professional renovators, a new digital control panel and new doors, most showers can be converted to steam showers.

Your bathroom serves you in many ways, and let’s face it, we spend a fair bit of time in there. Why not make it beautiful?

Designer, spokesperson, author and television personality, Jane Lockhart is one of Canada’s best-known experts in the world of design and colour.


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The hotel look at home

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The hotel look at home

Even though travel may be limited, you can still have the look and feel of your favourite hotel bathroom at home. Hibou Design & Co. shows you how

One of the best parts of travelling is the stay at a chic hotel, but you shouldn’t have to leave home in order to feel pampered. Travel can lend some great inspiration for your own sumptuous retreat right at home, and since you start and finish each day in your bathroom, it only makes sense to show this room a little extra love. Aside from kitchen renovations, bathroom renos also give you the best return on your investment, so your payoff will be two-fold.

Here are some of our favourite tips:

Indulge a little… Ok, a lot

Bathrooms have taken on new meaning in the modern home, and even more so with people spending more time at home these days. These once-utilitarian rooms have evolved with exotic finishes and exceptional details that make them as unique as their owners. Allow yourself to splurge. You use your bathroom multiple times, so thoughtful upgrades will be well worth it.

Inspired Design:

Choose a theme and run with it. In this space, we opted for a hotel-chic theme featuring a classic black and white penny-tile floor with a custom motif that literally greets you every morning, en Francais. The matte black faucets and hardware provide punctuation to this crisp white palette. This high-contrast colour scheme is warmed up with a natural wood cabinet-style vanity. Modern-industrial lighting rounds out this cool look.

If you’re a shower person, consider expanding the shower enclosure if space allows, or upgrade to a steam shower. If you’re partial to baths, treat yourself to that sculptural freestanding tub you’ve been admiring in the showroom window. Heated floors and towel racks, a make-up counter or mani-pedi bar, meditation zone, mini fridge… this space is all about you. If you’re renovating, this is an opportune time to build some custom elements right into the design.

Get smart

Our quest to stay connected transcends every room – yes, even the bathroom. Connected and voice-activated technologies have disrupted interiors as much as they have our daily lives, and they have become an essential luxury by all accounts. Commanding your Google Assistant or Alexa to hit the lights, turn on the tap and deliver the news of the day is only one benefit. Hands-free technology is also touted as the cleaner, germ-free option for these traditionally high-touch surfaces – and less scrubbing means more time to relax and enjoy it all.

Aside from convenience, technology also allows for a level of customization that even the most luxurious hotels can’t match (unless they are accompanied by a butler). Your smart tech can learn your behaviours and preferences, from the perfect lighting levels, to just the right speaker volume, and the perfect bathwater temperature, right down to the degree. It won’t be long before your every whim is being accommodated, even before you get the chance to ask.

For all to love

When it comes to finishes, think “mass appeal” and opt for a minimal aesthetic and neutral choices. Hotel designers aim to appeal to wide range of users, and since bathroom renovations can be pricey, those neutral choices will prove to be money well-spent.

Neutral choices also tend to promote rest and relaxation. The look is clean, crisp and fresh, not to mention very versatile – which bodes well for those pricey elements such as tile and fixtures that won’t soon be replaced.

Make it memorable

As we well know in the interiors industry, good design is all in the details. Collectively, it’s all those seemingly small things that make all the difference to the overall look and feel of a space. Regardless of the room you’re renovating, you want it to make the right impression on you and your guests.

We often look to the world’s hotels in search of some well-placed interior inspiration, but our homes need to be so much more than a few luxurious nights between 800-threadcount sheets. Our homes have to pamper us while delivering on our functional needs and aesthetic desires. Working with a design professional can bring all your dreams to life.

Designers Eugenia Triandos and Korina Khamis, are co-founders for Hibou Design & Co. The company provides complete bespoke residential design services throughout Canada and North America. hiboudesignco.com


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Boutique hotel bathroom

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Boutique hotel bathroom

Photography By Erik Rotter

Whether it’s time spent getting ready in the morning, enjoying the ritual of primping for an evening out, or unwinding in the tub at the end of a long workday, we spend a generous amount of time in our master bathrooms each and every day. That’s why it’s equally as important to shower your master bathroom space with sophisticated design elements as it is in the rest of your home. Here are a few tips for creating a thoughtfully curated space that bathes your bathroom in beautiful design.

Be open to reinterpreting a typical layout

First things first: when looking to revamp your master bath, discard any pre-conceived notions and conventions related to interior space planning. By reinterpreting a typical master bathroom layout, you can create a space that is tailored to you and functions around your needs. For this particular design, the homeowners craved a hotel-inspired experience to help outfit their 1,200-sq.-ft. master wing. By combining the bathroom and walk-in closet within an open-concept space, their master bathroom became an expansive ensuite dressing room with the functionality of built-in storage space, and the beauty of a luxurious spa-like environment.

Create harmony by balancing stylistic and functional needs

We’re often juggling competing needs in a master bathroom space – whether those are stylistic or functional in nature. We all desire a little Zen, so ensure each partner feels like the bathroom is a space made just for them by incorporating elements that suit their style and needs. For example, double monolithic his-and-her rain showerheads and separate walk-in entryways were installed in this ensuite shower so it could be conveniently accessed and shared by both husband and wife. Separate floating vanity spaces on opposite ends of the room were incorporated to create individual pockets of relaxation, while also allowing each person to breeze through their morning routine without rubbing elbows or fighting for counter space. Combining feminine and masculine design details, like the dark and moody exotic wood, with jewel-like fixtures and lighting pendants, also helped to create a harmonious look that both partners love.

Layer materials and mix textures and shapes

Avoiding an all-white clinical approach helps to make any bathroom space feel more inviting. You can still preserve that coveted spa-like look, but do so by adding a mix of materials and layering of textures and shapes, which creates more visual interest and adds a greater sense of warmth to the space. This bathroom design balances a number of contrasting shapes throughout – from the round vanity mirror and circular pendant lighting, to the sharp square and rectangular shapes of the custom floating vanity, deep soaker tub and built-in shelving systems. Softer, rounder elements were incorporated to add contrast and visual relief to an otherwise masculine space. Incorporating a repeating element, like the exotic wood running through the base of the vanity, which is replicated throughout the dressing area’s wall panelling, helps to ground the design. Don’t be afraid to play with contrasting tones like charcoal grey and white, warm woods, smooth glass, and shiny metals. While fundamental elements of the design may differ in palette, shape, or material, it’s important that they all tie back to a cohesive theme. In this case – that was Zen.

Incorporate stylish storage – but first, catalog your belongings

A gorgeous bathroom can easily be taken to the next level by adding practical and stylish storage. Bathrooms tend to get overloaded with cosmetics and grooming products. Before getting started on a renovation, catalog your storage requirements, whether it’s makeup and other grooming products, or, if combining a master bath and walk-in, garment and accessories requirements. Creating a catalog of your belongings before starting a renovation helps ensure every drawer, closet, and shelf works for you to neatly and efficiently conceal clutter.

Statement details

Think of fixtures, faucets, lighting and art as the jewelry of your home. Once the space has been planned and laid out, each of these accessories provide the opportunity to truly personalize your bathroom space, and help to create a visual focal point. Take the custom round pendant installed above the soaker tub in this master bath for example – it’s a simple yet unique design element that adds flair and draws your eye to the magnificent soaker tub.

Take note of the little things

Finally, add the finishing touches to your master bathroom space by upgrading to high-quality, spa-like bath linens and robes, incorporating incense or aromatherapy to create a unique sensory environment, and pressing play on a calming playlist. Your master bathroom will soon become your favourite place to luxuriate.

With over 30 years of industry experience, Melandro Quilatan is president and co-founder of Tomas Pearce, and leads creative direction in all aspects of the firm’s residential design practice area. As principal design lead, Melandro believes that through the discipline of interior design, designers have the power to enhance people’s lives and heighten the enjoyment of their environments. tomaspearce.com


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When bathroom design is a wellness win

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When bathroom design is a wellness win

The idea that the bathroom should also serve as a spa-like sanctuary is reflected in a rise of luxurious finishes, high-end fixtures, and elegant accessories for that space. Now that the language of self-care has become part of the design lexicon, there’s a similar uptick in bath elements that both look good and promote wellness.

There are lots of reasons why bidet seats/toilets are emerging as leaders in the category. Integrated bidet seats can provide a better clean than paper alone, which can cause irritation, spread germs, and exacerbate certain bowel conditions. Conversely, rinsing with water after using the loo is gentle, soothing, and hygienic, and may be especially useful for, says, new moms and those with limited mobility.

Bidets can also reduce by up to 75 per cent the use of toilet paper, each roll of which takes about 140 litres of water to manufacture, and may be bleached with chemicals that release back into the water table. Use of wet wipes, which can clog drains, and may contain polypropylene that ends up in oceans as microplastic, can also be reduced.

American Standard’s Advanced Clean line www.americanstandard.ca offers several options, including the 3.0 SpaLet bidet seat. I installed one on an existing elongated American Standard toilet: it was fairly routine DIY job. I like that temperature, strength, and direction of water flow is adjustable with a small, discrete, wall-mounted unit with easy-to-understand graphics.

There’s also a deodorizing feature and a setting to clean the water nozzle. This model has a heated seat — a nice touch on a cold winter morning — and a drying function that can further reduce use of toilet paper.

The Advanced Clean 100 SpaLet shares many features with the seats, and has automatic flush settings, as well as an auto open/close lid and seat, and sells for around $5,100. The 3.0 seat goes for around $1,990.

That may sound pricey. But given the life expectancy of a toilet — and depending on your budget — either may be a worthwhile investment in comfort and well-being. That, after all, is hard to put a price on.

A soft-close seat adds convenience, especially for those with impaired mobility.

A user-friendly wall-mounted control panel makes it easy to customize preferences.

A bidet toilet saves space by eliminating the need for a conventional bidet.

Vicky Sanderson is the editor of Around the House Having written and talked about home décor/improvement, design, and lifestyle for more than two decades, she has tested almost every home-related appliance known to humankind. For more of her scathingly brilliant insights, go to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and her column in Reno & Decor.


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Safety First, Bathroom upgrades that make sense for everyone in the family

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Safety First, Bathroom upgrades that make sense for everyone in the family

From the moment you are born… you start aging. This indisputable fact makes ‘aging in place’ design, otherwise known as universal design, important for everyone.

Universal design is designing for the present as well as the future needs of homeowners, people of all ages and abilities. It may not be an imminent concern but implementing living-in-place design will ensure your home is adaptable for the future, which includes accessibility and improved liveability for you and your guests. The ultimate goal is to make the space convenient, safe and functional for all who enter.

At My Design Studio, we are very passionate about Universal design. In a series of upcoming articles in RENO & DECOR, we will be looking at all the elements that will help you to consider implementing universal design in your next renovation. Since this is the bathroom issue, we thought we would start with this all-important space.

Did you know that the bathroom is the most hazardous and accident prone room in your home?

More than 65 per cent of emergency room visits are due to bathroom falls. That’s a high percentage. Falls happen frequently due to wet floors and the limited space within which to manoeuvre. Whether you have mobility challenges or not, know that even a temporary injury presents a problem with all the bending and lifting required to access the tub, shower and toilet.

Improve Functionality And Mobility

Here are the top design elements when planning an accessible for all bathroom without sacrificing style. Let’s begin with creating wider entry doorways and openings. A minimum of 36″ is recommended.

Plan your new design to allow adequate open space to comfortably move around in and easily access all fixtures: sink, shower and toilet.

It is important to choose high contrasting colour finishes for the transition of floor spaces. This helps identify space limitations and will help prevent tripping. For example, do not choose a white bathroom floor, white curb and white shower. Use a white shower step with a darker contrasting floor so you can see where you are stepping.

By adding a curbless walk-in shower, you eliminate the step over. This gives you an elevated design, and provides safety and convenience.Today these showers are the ideal design standard for everyone.

With the rise of mounted cabinetry, toilets, shower seats and grab bars in the bathroom, it is important to include plywood blocking reinforcement behind all the walls. Of course, the installation of grab bars is an essential component of universally designed homes. These aren’t the sterile type of grab bars we are used to seeing in hospitals, rather they are part of an attractive collection which includes, the toilet paper holder, soap holder and towel bars These products are available in a multitude of finishes and styles, from modern-contemporary to traditional farm house.

Solid Ground

Non-slip floors are one of the most important things to address in the shower to prevent falls. When selecting your tile, check for the tile-slip rating. As a general rule, choose textured tiles, as they are more slip-resistant.

Install anti-scald mixing valves to maintain a safe water temperature and volume as this will prevent burns when there are water pressure changes.

Take Charge

Install shower controls where they are the most convenient and accessible for you and/or a caregiver. Shower controls can be placed anywhere, even outside your shower stall. Or, get shower-smart and install a device where you can start your shower remotely using your cell phone. These products also feature user-memory for pre-set temperatures. Installing an additional hand-held showerhead on a slide bar, near the shower seat, will make controlling the temperature and showering easier in general.


Select bathroom fixtures and accessories for ease of use, considering which ones require minimal effort. For example, we recommend a touchless faucet on a sensor with a pre-set temperature and a convenient automatic shut-off function.

Improve Illumination

Plan for a combination of ample layers and natural lighting during the design process. Increasing the amount of light can prevent falls and provides overall safety by letting you see the details that escape us when it comes to performing everyday tasks, like cleaning.

Install layered lighting with LED lights; they are long-lasting, conserve energy and improve safety. The addition of a skylight is advisable as it provides a great deal of natural light, especially if there is no other natural light source.

Finally, install dimmable switches for ambient lighting to control the intensity and glare

Create Better Access

Design cabinetry to accommodate pull-out or slide-out full-extension drawers. Remember to add accessible shelving or niches in the cabinets or in the walls, this way you can place regularly used items at the front for easy access.

The key takeaway when incorporating universal design is to improve the functionality by creating spaces that work for everyone’s needs now, and in the future. All these recommendations will enhance your bathroom and help ensure it’s a safe space, without sacrificing style.

If you want to incorporate living-in-place design into your next renovation, look for designers and contractors who have experience in the area and be sure to ask for references.

We are certified in universal design and are avidly recommending and executing projects of this nature. We will be discussing the benefits of incorporating living-in-place design in every room of the home in upcoming issues, so stay tuned. In the meantime, stay safe and stylish.

Over the course of Yasmine’s 15-year career, she has developed, My Design Studio, the top independent decor centre servicing the residential construction industry in Southern Ontario. As a CAPS (Certified Aging in Place Specialist) designer, Yasmine comes full circle on her passion for beautiful and sustainable design, by also adding design for living in place. my-designstudio.com


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Bathroom makeover, coutry style

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Bathroom makeover, coutry style

Photography By Kerri Torrey, Larry Arnal

When it comes to design, country can mean different things to different kinds of people. From barnhouse details to all things wicker and antique, country style is as vast as the landscapes it is inspired by.

Here we have two designers, Megan Crosbie and Evelyn Eshun, who have taken two very different approaches to a country esthetic to make their spaces more contemporary and unique. Whether you lean toward a slicker version of country, or you’re looking to freshen up a more traditional room, these bathroom updates are sure to give you plenty of inspired ideas.

“Contemporary country” is how designer Megan Crosbie describes this bathroom, which features a combination of updated traditional elements, natural details and modern whimsy.

When the owners of a farmhouse in Erin, Ontario, decided to renovate their master bathroom, they called on Crosbie, who had already designed other areas of the rural home and was familiar with their modern style and their wish to maintain some of the original feel of the traditional home.

“The key to contemporary country is keeping things simple,” says Crosbie. “Clean lines and not too many things competing, then adding little details that reference back to country.”

Traditional elements

One of the traditional features used throughout the farmhouse is beadboard wainscotting. Crosbie carried this into the bathroom redesign by incorporating beadboard into the fronts of the cabinets, by Fox Custom Woodworks. White subway tiles from Saltillo were also used to mimic wainscotting on the bathroom walls, giving the room a traditional feel with a modern twist.

One of the “must-haves” for the client was a clawfoot tub, says Crosbie, who sourced the Victoria + Albert tub from Taps Bath, and paired it with a faucet from Rubinet. “The tub is really traditional, the clawfoot is one of those things that just feels really authentic in a country bathroom,” she says.

Modern finishes

Contemporary simplicity was introduced through a black-and white colour scheme and this gives the space a clean, bright feel. Black, textured metal on mirrors (Restoration Hardware), sconces (Schoolhouse Electric), faucets and towel bars add an industrial feel to the space that’s also very of the moment.

The heated slate floors, in a large-scale chevron pattern, also from Saltillo, provide a modern foundation to the room. Tiles on a shower shelf, also in a chevron pattern, tie into the floors for a cohesive, elegant look.

“I like the play between traditional elements and modern ones. It perfectly suits the home, the homeowners and the space,” says Crosbie.

Natural details

With lush nature surrounding the farmhouse, Crosbie decided to bring some of the outside in by incorporating the colour green along with the black and white.

“I think green has really turned into a neutral — much to my delight — and in what can be a cold, more sterile space, it gave us the opportunity to warm things up,” says Crosbie. “It also helped to avoid falling into the more contemporary and very popular black-and-white bathroom trend.”

To balance the seriousness of the space, Crosbie chose a whimsical roman blind from Christopher Farr Cloth, sold at Kravet, featuring vines, much like the ones growing outside the farmhouse and barn.

“It really completed the space for me,” says Crosbie, “as it worked so beautifully with the vanity, and offered that softness we were lacking with all the hard elements in the space. It acts like a piece of art in itself, without being too formal or stuffy.” A match made in contemporary country heaven.

“Rustic refined” is the look designer Evelyn Eshun came up with when she was brought in to design a main floor bathroom in a brick bungalow near Port Perry, Ontario. While the homeowners love the clean and simple lines of contemporary design, they also wanted welcoming country undertones to suit the rural location.

“The goal was to create a space that felt textural and warm while embracing the simplicity of a minimal design esthetic,” says Eshun. “The clients wanted to embrace the fact that they live next to a forest, yet they wanted to be current in their expression of their lifestyle.”


In the bathroom, a vanity by custom builders Tacoma Woodworks sets the tone for the city-meets-country space. The vanity, which is highly durable, mimics the look and feel of real wood, yet features clean, flat, contemporary lines. For storage, an asymmetrical tower cupboard was added to the design.

The textured feel to the room continues via a solid granite sink from Art Bathe and black hardware from Berenson on the cabinets, which complement the dark grey Caesarstone countertop.


On the back wall, striped wallpaper, from Crown Wallpaper, is also textured, and, like the vanity, is also very durable — it’s made from vinyl that won’t be damaged by water.

“My client wanted the space to be comfortable and low maintenance but to also have personality and character,” says Eshun.

Golden glow

To elevate the rustic feel of the space, Eshun added touches of brass throughout the room. A mirror with an antique brass trim from Renwil was chosen, along with other coordinated accessories — including a brushed brass soap dispenser, tissue box and small decorative dish — giving the room an elegant feel. For the floors, 24″x 24″ limestone tiles from Tycos Tile were chosen for easy maintenance and a coordinating gold tone.

“I like the juxtaposition of different materials — the rough wood-looking vanity with the sophisticated warm, brushed metal — it makes the space so much more interesting,” says Eshun.

All in the details

Another goal for the space was to include as little white as possible, and that extended into the inside of the drawers, which are covered with gunmetal grey drawer liners from Bloom.

Attention to detail also applied to the lighting: two pendant lights from Union Lighting were hung on either side of the feature wall mirror for a symmetrical look. “It’s sophisticated but also provides a balanced light,” Eshun explains.

With its metallic accessories and rustic, wood-themed cabinetry, the room has a unique style and polish to it that’s not out of place in the country.

Indeed both bathrooms, thanks to their integrated design and thoughtful touches, showcase contemporary stylings and traditional design for truly inviting, statement-making spaces inspired by the homes’ natural surroundings. Country chic indeed.

Catalina Margulis can’t wait to renovate her master bathroom into the ensuite of her dreams. Until then, she satisfies her cravings for marble floors, spa-like showers and photoshoot-worthy tubs with decor articles showcasing the hottest looks and trends. As a magazine editor and writer for The Globe and Mail, Flare and Elle Canada, among others, she has covered everything from fashion, beauty and travel to health, food, decor, business and parenting. When she’s not working on her latest assignment, she’s chasing after her four young children and writing her first novel.


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Men At Work - Bathroom Reno

4 tips to design your dream bathroom

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4 tips to design your dream bathroom

Photography by Valerie Wilcox

We get it. A bathroom renovation is by no means a glamorous undertaking. No matter what the end result looks like, you can count on an unimaginable amount of dust, loud noises and traffic from tradespeople, who you’ll soon get to know all too well. Despite the stress and costs that come with renovating, we promise you that investing in your bathrooms is worth the headache. Aside from the kitchen, bathrooms are hands-down one of the best ways to increase your home’s value while greatly improving your everyday living.

We tend to appreciate good bathrooms the most on those hectic mornings we’re just trying to get out the door, or those relaxing (and often rare) evenings we take the time to run a bath. The functionality and luxuries of good bathrooms come down to thoughtful design and thorough project management. Here’s a handy guide of what we think you should know before taking on your next bathroom renovation project.

1 Set a budget

Our designers and renovation professionals are always stressing how important it is for homeowners to understand the financials behind the renovation. What can you afford? What can you expect to get from spending that kind of money? Setting a realistic budget early on will help your contractor determine what the budget parameters are for each category required to complete the project. For example, a contractor or project manager will know what percentage of your total budget will need to be spent on different trades, and what can be spent on interior selections. Start by determining what you’re willing to spend and what your priorities in spending are; then be sure to communicate that to your contractor from the start.

2 Determine your scope

Decisions like tearing down walls, rearranging plumbing, or adding more natural light through a skylight or window are bound to increase the cost of your project. The longer it takes to finalize big decisions, the longer the life of the renovation – meaning more money spent. Our professionals agree that an average bathroom renovation will take anywhere from six to 12 weeks, however, much of that is dependent on the scope of work that’s been set and the length of the overall design phase.

As the homeowner, the single most important thing you can do to speed up the design phase is to be quick with approving designs and deciding on interior finishes, fixtures and accessories. Something that people tend to greatly underestimate is the time it takes to choose finishes. Today there are seemingly endless options of everything, so it often becomes overwhelming to commit to one faucet, one tub filler, one shower system, when thousands are so readily available.

Another miscalculation that homeowners often overlook is how long it can take the items they chose and ordered to arrive at their home. Longer lead times can be the result of various things, but it’s often due to items being on back order or the manufacturing process happening overseas that cause orders to take weeks, sometimes months, to get to the jobsite. It is for this reason that our design team always stresses the importance of selecting fixtures quickly and placing orders early on to avoid delays and unforeseeable expenses.

3 Lay it out

Once you’ve determined the budget and scope, you can start playing around with the configuration of the space. Consider how you, or those visiting your home, will use that particular bathroom. Is it a kid’s bathroom that requires a bathtub and height considerations? A main floor powder room or a guest bathroom that will be used by many people. Or maybe, this is your dream master ensuite that you’ve been relentlessly pinning inspiration pictures towards for years. Regardless of which bathroom you’re renovating, maximizing the space and layout to be as functional as possible is of the utmost importance. A fun little exercise to try, that always seems to pay off, is to have your family create a wish list that includes ‘must-haves’ and ‘nice-to-haves.’ Fill out those two sections and present them to your designer and contractor. Lists like these are helpful for everyone involved in the project because they clearly point out the bottom line priorities of the renovation, and what the ‘nice-to-have’ add-ons are.

4 Make it timeless, not trendy

It’s likely that you won’t be renovating your bathroom every few years, so choosing timeless over trendy elements, tends to be worth it in the long haul. Realistically, if your next renovation provides you with a functional bathroom layout and relatively timeless finishes and fixtures, giving your bathroom a little facelift in a few years might be as simple as swapping out sconces or replacing the shower curtain. All this to say, never underestimate the impact that small changes can make to a familiar space that you’ve grown bored of.

Undertaking a bathroom renovation of any sort may seem invasive and overwhelming, but the results will make it worth your while. One way to reduce the stress for you and your family is to hire an experienced Design Build team to take on the project. This will make the experience more enjoyable because you can focus more on the design side of the project (the fun part), and leave the production side in the hands of your trusted contractor.

Jessica Millard joined Men At Work Design Build in 2017 while studying at Ryerson University.

The Toronto-based firm offers integrated engineering, design and professional construction services for addition and major renovation projects on old Toronto homes.

Jessica has been involved in various internal departments within the firm, and is currently the company’s Project Coordinator.


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Build a better bathroom

Build a better bathroom

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Build a better bathroom

Bathrooms are second only to kitchens in terms of which room homeowners most-often renovate, and the amount of money they’re willing to spend on them. The next time you’re ready to renovate a bathroom, keep these five features in mind to elevate your space.

Séura Smart Mirror, courtesy of Séura.
Séura Smart Mirror, courtesy of Séura.

The heat is on

For millennia, builders have used tile flooring in rooms where there’s a high risk of water damage. Whether you opt for slate, marble, or ceramic tiles, the material is impervious to water. Unfortunately, stone and tile are cold to the touch. That’s fine – and actually quite desirable – in the summer, but can be an unpleasant shock during a mid-winter, midnight trip to the bathroom.

That’s why heated floors are becoming a must-have for mid- to high-end bathroom renovations. If your home is heated by hot-water radiators, it’s fairly easy to add a run of piping below the floor before laying the tiles. If not, there are a number of electrical mats that can be installed directly underneath the flooring.

And to take this luxurious warmth to the next level, consider installing a towel warmer. Who wouldn’t want a towel at the ready that feels like it just came out of the dryer when stepping out of the shower? Again, you can buy models that are heated by water from the boiler or via electricity.

Ditra-Heat System courtesy of Schluter Systems
Ditra-Heat System courtesy of Schluter Systems

Reclaim the throne

By now, we all know the importance of swapping out old, high-water consumption toilets for low-flow, dualflush models that reduce the amount of water wasted with each use. And now you can be both eco-conscious and luxurious when it comes to choosing a commode.

Bidets are still relatively rare in North America but once you get over the novelty of them, they are a very hygienic option. Rather than having to take up precious floor space installing a toilet and a separate bidet, a number of companies make combined two-in-one units, or replacement seats that include the washing function.

Still not sold on a bidet? There are a number of other luxurious upgrades you and your family might enjoy – from heated seats and lids that open and close automatically, to built-in nightlights and even speakers for streaming music.

Soak it in

Once upon a time, a shower consisted of a single fixture, hung directly overhead. But with homeowners increasingly seeking a spa-like experience at home, manufacturers started increasing the number of ports and jets for water to shoot out from in the shower. While an overhead “rain” soaker and a hand-held fixture are fairly standard now, the next-level upgrade includes a column of body jets lining the walls of the shower enclosure to literally soak you from head to toe.

Photo courtesy of Kohler
Photo courtesy of Kohler

Divide and conquer

Back in the 1980s, his-and-her sinks were all the rage in master bathrooms. The trend more or less faded away when homeowners realized that 95 per cent of the time they just used one of the sinks, leaving the other one spotless. One of today’s trends takes the separation to the next level: his and her bathrooms. Yes, dual ensuites for the man and woman of the house. Obviously you’ve got to have enough space and a big enough budget to even consider this upgrade, but can you imagine the ease of opening the drawers or vanity without having to wade through your partner’s lotions and creams to find your toothbrush buried in the back?

Add some A/V

Singing in the shower is a pastime for many. But it’s even better when you have something to sing along to. You could simply buy an extra wireless speaker, such as a Sonos or Google Home, but the excessive moisture – particularly during the colder months when the windows are closed – can damage these electronics.

Ideally, you’ll find waterproof, wireless speakers for your audio entertainment. One option is Kohler’s Moxie, which combines a showerhead and wireless speaker in one.

To truly turn your bathroom into a home entertainment centre, consider a mirror with a built-in TV or smart touchscreen so you can catch up on the news and weather, plan your commute time, or update your calendar while getting ready in the morning.

CAPTION: Photography courtesy of Margaret Mulligan

Jim Caruk, Renovation Editor

We look forward to hearing from you and welcome your feedback. Do you have a reno or decor question for our team of experts?

Email editorial@renoanddecor.com


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Redesign your bathroom with safety in mind

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Redesign your bathroom with safety in mind

No matter your age, safety in the bathroom is paramount. Many of our clients are redesigning their homes, not only for themselves, but also for their young grandchildren. Now, more than ever, it’s easy to add additional safety features that are not only functional, but are great looking.

Slip-resistant flooring

Slips and falls are the most common accidents in the home. Tub surfaces can be especially slippery, so consider adding slip-resistant strips.

When installing tiles, the grout lines actually reduce the slippage rate. If replacing your bathroom floor, or tiling a shower, consider anti-slip mosaic tiles with grout lines that are no more than two inches apart. If you prefer the look of large-format tiles, look for textured porcelain with a honed finish.

Stylish support

Regardless of your age or physical ability, grab bars are not only functional, but they can be decorative. Having a grab bar by the toilet and in the shower provides extra security. They can also double as towel bars. Sleek options are now available from a wide range of companies in various colours and finishes that match faucets and shower fixtures. Textured finishes prevent your hand from slipping when holding on.

When extra support is required, install hand grips and grab bars.

Consider adding grab bars in the bathtub and shower areas. Also, lower the height of valve controls and handheld shower heads. When selecting a tub, choose one that’s low profile, so that it’s easy to get in and out of.

Curb-less showers

This has become a popular trend. Not only do curb-less showers look sleek, but they also help to reduce the risk of tripping when entering and exiting. If you’re not a bather, consider removing the tub altogether and replacing it with a large shower that includes handheld sprays and a bench seat. If you’re going this route, make sure that your contractor knows how to grade the floor and where to place the drain.

Commode considerations

If you have arthritic knees or other limitations, standing up from a low toilet can be excruciating. A standard bowl height is 15 inches off the ground. Today’s ‘comfort height’ toilets feature bowls that are 17 to 19 inches high. The higher bowl is not only good for knees and backs, but also for taller people and those with mobility issues.

Further tushy comfort can be found on ‘intelligent toilets’. These smart privies come with seat warmers, and also have built-in cleansing sprays and warm air dryers to assist with personal hygiene. Some brands offer a night light feature, as well.


Falling is often a concern when in the shower. And, for some, standing can be very tiresome. A shower seat is a great addition, along with an accessible hand-held shower. If you’re tight for space, fold-down shower seats can be stored when not in use. When sitting, it’s easier to shave and bathe, and it’s far more relaxing.

Single handle, or touch-activated, faucets are ideal for those who have difficulty turning knobs. The same concept holds true for doors – lever handles are much easier to operate.

When outfitting your bathroom, there’s no need to compromise on beauty – or safety.

Rebecca Hay is well-recognized for her professional design work, and has appeared on HGTV. rebeccahaydesigns.com


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