Ensuite update in a century-old home a shining success

What do you do when your client asks for a modern, spa-like ensuite update in a century-old home? If you’re ARTium Design Build, you knock it out of the park by going with marble tile, a steam shower, Colonial-style trim and sundry other bold and surprising design ideas.

Which is exactly what the Ottawa reno firm did with a home in New Edinburgh, transforming a tired, cramped attic-level ensuite into a bright and luxurious space that speaks to both the past and present in a singularly self-confident voice.

“Putting a modern design in a traditional space is tricky,” says ARTium’s Jenny Neilson, who created the stunning design for this three-month project. She says marble is one way of connecting past, present and even future because “it’s very classic. It won’t go out of style.”

The rest of the colour scheme — light and charcoal grey plus white — is at once on trend and neutral, so it, too, offers both a contemporary and timeless feel.

The new ensuite, which required the repair of water leaks, levelling the floor and similar construction interventions, bubbles over with other creative designs that look good and optimize space. For instance, in the picture above, the built-in wall unit to the left of the tub is storage space, including a spot for the shower’s steamer unit.

The clients were the ideal ones for this kind of project, says Neilson. “They knew what they wanted but they were really trusting. It’s nice to able to work like that.”

Those homeowners would doubtless agree with Neilson when she says of the completed project, “I’m proud of this one. It feels good.”

ARTium Design Build ensuite update home improvement bathroom remodel

The classic, quartz-topped vanity with his and hers sinks is strongly linear, in keeping with the design of the existing bathroom, including its angular dormer. “Sometimes you have to work with the existing architecture,” says Neilson. “But you need to have balance and surprise, so we softened the design with round mirrors and a bathtub that’s oval, almost feminine.”

Having a floating vanity adds lightness to the room, while the skylight — which was an existing feature — along with pot lights and the unexpected linear pendant light over the vanity (where sconces would be the usual choice) bring out the inherent brightness of the marble.

ARTium Design Build ensuite update home improvement bathroom remodel

A 7-foot shower with dual benches replaces a cramped 3-foot-by-3-foot affair. Its extensive glass, like the mirrors opposite, creates a sense of airiness by reflecting light. The shower’s hexagonal floor tile is at once traditional and contemporary, helping foster the timelessness that Neilson brought to the entire project. The sleek, flat drawers on the custom vanity are beaded along the edges, again blending modernity with a traditional element.

ARTium Design Build ensuite update home improvement bathroom remodel

Before its three-month rejuvenation, the ensuite in the century-old New Edinburgh home was outdated, cramped and leaked water.

ARTium Design Build ensuite update home improvement bathroom remodel

Veining in the new quartz countertop aligns with the black and white of the marble tile, while the built-up edge helps make the entire vanity an anchoring design element in the room and relates it to the home’s overall substantial nature. The undermount sink underscores the clean lines of the room, says Neilson, and the Grohe fixtures are “very contemporary, but the 3-spoke handles pull in the traditional element. That carries into the tub and shower with the same fixtures.”

ARTium Design Build ensuite update home improvement bathroom remodel

LED pot lights add contemporary style and energy-efficient brightness to the shower. All the lights in the ensuite are dimmable — ideal for a long, relaxing soak in the tub. The Colonial door and trim echo the home’s overall traditional design. The space-saving pocket door was an important choice because a regular door would have either interfered with access to the ensuite’s vanity or robbed more square footage from the master bedroom, which had already surrendered space for the enlarged bathroom.


If you are considering a renovation, check our directory of Ottawa-area home improvement pros.

More stories by Patrick Langston

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