11 Beautiful Bathrooms That Make for Dreamy Retreats
Plus designer secrets to get the looks at home.
1. Maximize a focal point with a glam chandelier.
In a master bathroom blessed with high ceilings and a pitched roofline, designer Janie Hungerford of Hungerford Interior Design installed a large-scale chandelier to draw the eye in. Sourced from Currey and Company, it’s as open and airy as the rest of the space. “The lines of the pitched roof lead to that focal point,” says Hungerford. “It was important to make that impactful when you walk in.” To continue the contrast of light and dark used throughout the extensively renovated 1920s Tudor home, Hungerford had the oak vanity stained a custom shade of dark brown to counter the gleaming porcelain feature wall and hexagonal marble floor tile.
2. Make an impression.
The mesmerizing bump detail in this master bathroom by Joanne Gates of Gates-Suter Architects was born of practicality: the homeowners sought a minimalist space that was easy to clean (no grout) and blissfully quiet (acoustic flaws in the 10-year-old home were an ongoing concern). “The shaping of the Corian wall panels came from the idea of muffling sound,” says Gates. Paragon Surfacing oversaw the fabricating process, heating eight-by-four panels and then pressing them into a layout of soup-ladle heads attached to plywood to achieve a precise, uniform look. Installed along the main wall of the 300-square-foot space and across sections of the ceiling, the net effect is an immersive experience like that of a contemporary art installation. “The light quality of the bumps was an added bonus,” says Gates. “They diffuse natural light in a beautiful way.”
3. Work with your natural assets.
The visible support structure in this master ensuite in Whistler was so striking—its angular fir beams creating the perfect frame for the view to Singing Pass outside—that designer Lynn Gentile of Cabin Fever Interiors wanted to enhance it with a quiet, neutral colour palette. Warm white marble on the “shower tower”—an inset into the room to help compensate for the sloping walls—pairs perfectly with the tiled Falda flooring. The latter is porcelain tile that’s made to look like board-formed concrete—a process that picks up the natural wood grain of the boards used in traditional home building, making for a natural twin to those fir beams. “With the minimal palette, the room feels really open,” says Gentile. “It’s just a really calming space.”
4. Open shelving lightens up a rich and moody space.
The hotel-like vibe to this gorgeous master ensuite is no accident. The homeowners wanted something a little different from their mid-century Palm Springs home; their Calgary space, they thought, should feel like a rich and moody retreat. Designer Amanda Hamilton brought in textured marble floors and a rich matte-black stain on the rift-cut white oak cabinets, but she kept the room from feeling too heavy with open display space and a vanity that floats off the floor. “We wanted to create opportunities for breathing room,” she says. The asymmetrical placement of the Santa and Cole pendant light overhead is designed to be perfectly aligned over the bather—no doubt finding a little breathing room herself with a book in the tub.
5. Go for dramatic detail.
This master ensuite in a new home in Vancouver’s South Granville neighbourhood features large-scale, custom-built cabinetry, but it’s a smaller design element that amps up its character. A different metal finish on plumbing fixtures—like the matte-black faucet used here—is another way to bring a custom feel to a space, say Jamie Hamilton and Greer Nelson of Oliver Simon Design. It’s a small hit of big drama. “Sometimes it’s just a matter of paying close attention to the little details, too,” says Hamilton.
8 Design Lessons from 8 Great Bathrooms
6. Bring a little curve into an angular room.
There’s a lot to love about this Whistler powder room, designed to feel as though it’s been there forever: the smart saw-cut reveals on the white oak panelling, the exposed fasteners on the walls, the post-and-lintel-like structure around the vanity itself. It’s a room of geometric angles that works perfectly for this ski chalet—but it’s great to add a little curviness, too. Designer Lynn Gentile of Cabin Fever Interiors opted for a circular mirror over the sink instead of the expected rectangle. “We put it in for softness,” she explains, “and to reflect that curvilinear sink.”
7. Play with shapes.
“We wanted it to feel modern and fresh, in keeping with the rest of the house, and to have some interest,” says Calgary designer Nyla Free of Nyla Free Designs of the basement bathroom she created for two brothers with architecture firm DeJong Design Associates. After addressing practical matters—creating separate enclosures for the shower and the toilet—she introduced a range of geometric forms that vary in perspective and scale. Among them: long 36-inch rectangular sinks from Wet Style, circular sconces from Schoolhouse Electric and that Magic Eye-like mosaic wall tile (Diamond Cube from Saltillo Imports). Is it a rhombus? A hexagon? It’s not saying. “The polished tiles are darker than the matte tiles,” says Free. “Depending on how you’re looking at them in the room, they give you that dimension and play on light.”
8. Float mirrors to keep statement tile continuous.
In this new custom-built home in Vancouver’s Shaughnessy neighbourhood, designer Jennifer Heffel of HB Design, working with designers Alex McFadyen, Joel Trigg and the late Lesli Balagno, maximized the impact of the striking gold-glazed ceramic wall tile (sourced from Creekside Tile) by floating a pair of medicine cabinets within a frame that runs the length of a cantilevered vanity finished in walnut veneer. Pendant lights centred in front of the openings highlight both the framing detail and the tile. “The homeowner wanted the elegance the gold finish offered,” says Heffel, who carried the finish over to the Aquabrass bath fittings—a warm counterpoint to the Calacatta marble-like porcelain wall and floor tile used elsewhere in the space. “The porcelain product has advanced so much in its aesthetic quality,” says Heffel. “It looks strikingly real and the slabs are thin, which makes the installation easier.”
9. Simple is striking.
When designer Peter Wilds renovated a 1,000-square-foot house in Lynn Valley, North Vancouver, the main bathroom had to service all three family members. He broke it into distinct zones (bath, toilet, sink, laundry), including this 33-inch-wide vaulted alcove with floating vanity, and created a neutral, black-and-white palette that’s “dynamic and graphic and, at the same time, calm and serene.” Big, white square wall tiles (staggered for effect) and small black hexagonal floor tiles (grounding the space) save on budget and juxtapose splurges: a statement-making black faucet and lighting (an Artemide Tolomeo sconce that highlights the soaring ceiling). “A Nordic quality was put into play,” he says, “using relatively simple materials but in a dynamic way.”
10. Incorporate a custom dressing area.
In this new riverfront home in Calgary, the owners opted for separate baths. (Why stop at separate sinks?) For his, designer Samantha LeSourd of Cridland Associates conjured the spirit of a traditional men’s club using dramatic black marble countertops and rift-cut white oak cabinetry stained a warm grey-brown. Three different floor tiles delineate the generous 300-square-foot space, as does the centre island, an element the client requested to make quick work of packing for frequent travel. Planning custom storage is a detailed exercise, says LeSourd. Wardrobes are inventoried and measured to get the pullouts and cabinetry exactly right. “People are very particular about how they hang their clothes,” she says, adding, “You find out exactly how they live.”
11. Tuck the vanity into an alcove.
The integrated look of this remodelled bathroom by Victoria McKenney of Enviable Designs with Marino General Contracting was achieved with layers of stone that read as one: the vanity area is clad entirely in slabs of porcelain (Statuario Bianco by Antolini); the floors and walls are a large-format marble tile (Bianco Pearl from Aeon Stone and Tile); the shower floor is an intersecting white-and-grey Carrara marble tile by GL Stone. “The space is a blend of a few different design aesthetics,” says McKenney, “but the overall look is quite transitional.” Integrating the vanity keeps the design light and streamlined. “Floating shelves inside the niches is a nice way to bring up the warmth of the rift-cut white oak,” she explains, “and create opportunities for display.”