My Ensuite Reno: Breaking Rules, Chasing Dreams – Part II

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Picking Up Where We Left Off

Welcome to Part II of my dream ensuite renovation project! In Part I, I walked you through some of the unique challenges of renovating a Century-old Schoolhouse, the planning process and some of the design choices I made, including: oiled hardwood floors, curbless shower, tiling, and plumbing fixtures. I also revealed the results of the shower and flooring install. If you haven’t read Part I of this series or need a refresher, visit: My Ensuite Renovation: Breaking Rules, Chasing Dreams Part I

In this edition, I’m excited to share the areas where I saved on costs and where I splurged, maintenance tips, introduce you to the team who made it happen, and of course, show you the final results! Let’s get to it!

Thinking Outside the Box – Literally

In Part I, I mentioned the unique challenges of renovating a Century-old Schoolhouse. If you recall, the 8 foot tall windows that extended into the second floor were covered with shuttered window boxes. We didn’t want to chop our beautiful windows in half because they are a defining feature of our home. So what did we end up doing?

It really came down to what made sense for safety, privacy, and our future needs in this home. We chose to close off the windows completely by building a large, framed box that spanned across the length of the windows. It was the safest, most private solution, and affords us the flexibility to utilize the box to accommodate our future needs: we can leave it as is or build it into a linen closet if needed.

Where I Saved vs. Where I Splurged

Saved: Layout & Plumbing

Keeping in line with my wish list, I identified the areas that I would find the most valuable for my budget, and I knew what I could sacrifice. I decided to keep the overall layout of the room the same as the original so I wouldn’t have to move plumbing. These resulted in some good cost savings, allowing me to focus my investment in the areas that mattered to me most.

Splurged: ‘THE’ Tub

Not just a tub, THE tub! I love baths so I knew I was going to splurge in this area for sure. Ever since I was in design school, I’ve had my eye on Victoria + Albert freestanding tubs. Not only are they beautifully designed, they are made from volcanic limestone that retains the heat of the water for much longer than an acrylic tub. No-one likes a cold bath! They’re also easy to clean and will last a lifetime!

Splurged: The Hardware

I chose champagne bronze for the bath filler, rain head, shower fixtures and sink faucets. Bronze is a more natural tone that compliments the wooden elements and contrasts well against the white walls. In choosing this colour, I was able to maintain the level of sophistication and warmth that I was looking to achieve throughout.

I originally did not have black in my colour palette but after learning that my must-have towel bar only came in black or chrome, I had to find a way to incorporate one of them into my plan. To do this, I purchased black wall sconces, door handles and artwork with subtle black detailing so that the black was balanced within the space. I now have a well balanced colour palette and warm towels, so this designer is a happy bather!

Splurged: The Custom Doors

The original doors to the ensuite were quite unique in the sense that they were slim double doors that you don’t often see in interiors. They also opened outwards into the hallway which took up less space in the ensuite. Although I did like the size and functionality of the original doors, they had their own issues: old, worn, short and were actually one door sliced into 2, so the sides were exposed and looked unfinished.

When it came time to update them, I replicated the look for their functionality and period style, just in a more solid, heavier door with nicer detailing. Solid wood interior doors is a European trait I definitely wanted to bring into our home.

I opted for a solid white oak with an oiled finish to compliment the floor and still give me that raw wood texture that I crave! I also chose trim on the ensuite doors to compliment other original doors in the home from the schoolhouse period and increased the height of the doors by 12 inches. A total splurge but so worth it! I absolutely love them!

Splurged: The Custom Vanity

We went with a custom vanity because I wanted it to fit the space not just dimensionally, but also  through function and style. (Plus I’ve also wanted to sketch a piece of furniture and then see it come to life! 🙂 I opted for a stone sink for an added natural element, which was originally going to be a double sink but I ended up switching to trough-style due to sizing. It turns out, when paired with double faucets, the trough became the perfect solution to provide the spaciousness of double sinks within the constraints of a 48” space, and we’re loving it!

I was also particular about keeping the bottom of the vanity open at the bottom so it didn’t weigh down the space and collect clutter underneath, which is now a dedicated space only for folded towel storage. Nothing else.

Maintenance Tips for Long-Term Luxury

Much like any other room in the home, care and regular maintenance is essential to keeping an ensuite as luxurious as the day the project was completed. After enjoying mine for about 3 months, my tips on care and maintenance include:

Floor Preservation from Water:

  • When using the shower, always have the shower mat halfway into the shower entry. We’ve done this for the past 3 months and not a single drop of water has splashed or leaked onto the wood.
  • Make sure the shower mat is a decent size – 24″x36″ minimum. The lovely 4’x6’ area rug is not only pretty but helps to protect the floor from water splashes or drips.

The skylight choice was also a key consideration for protecting the floor from water. It has a built in rain sensor so if we ever forget to close the skylight and it rains, it will close automatically. No water drips on the wood!

Cleaning Oiled Hardwood Flooring: 

  • Exercise caution when it comes to running a vacuum on an oiled hardwood flooring. Since it is not lacquered the vacuum may scratch it.
  • Do not use chemicals or cleaning agents.
  • Simply sweep with a soft-bristle broom.
  • It’s recommended to re-oil every 12 months but this is dependent on use of the floor. With an ensuite being a low traffic area, we will probably only need to do it every 24-36 months


  • Low abrasive cleaning products only

Shower Glass:

  • Remove water drops with a shower squeegee after every shower. You will be so thankful when you don’t have to spend hours scrubbing white hard water scaling marks that ruin your glass!

Shower Clutter:

  • Purge your toiletries every 6-12 months
  • When designing your shower, consider integrating built-in hidden shelving for your bath products so you don’t have to stare at them whenever you are in the room
  • Minimize the amount of products in your shower – put only what you use on a regular basis

10 Steps to Success: Following Our Own Process

Our ensuite renovation took 12 months from beginning to completion and only 2 of those months were spent on the actual construction. How did we do this? We followed our 80/20 Rule mentioned in Part 1. and used our exclusive 10-Step Design Process. In doing so we completed this sequence within 12 months:

  • Design and Space Planning (Includes fixture selections)
  • Demo
  • Prep work – levelling floor and walls
  • Skylight Repositioning
  • Framing and window install
  • Tiling
  • Drywall
  • Flooring
  • Fixtures and Vanity Installation
  • Towel Bar, Heater and Lighting Installation
  • Wainscoting
  • Paint
  • Accessories

Now that you’re familiar with our 80/20 Rule, you’re probably wondering about our 10-Step Design Process. Over the past decade, we’ve developed a systematic approach to our design process, breaking it down into 10 easy steps so our clients know what to expect at every stage. If you’re thinking of renovating or redesigning your space, download a copy of our 10-Step Staging & Design Process.

It Takes a Village: Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

Overall, I am over the moon about this transformation and have already spent time enjoying all of the luxurious elements that were once only part of my daydreams. As involved as I was throughout this project, I couldn’t have done it without the team of specialists who not only executed the design and renovation efficiently and professionally, but who were also honest, reliable and trustworthy. I can’t stress enough how important those qualities are in a renovation team. Download my Exclusive List of Contractors and Vendors who made this transformation happen.


Living My Ensuite Dreams: The Final Results

This renovation journey is one that will always be near and dear to my heart. Not only because it was my home and my dream ensuite but because it allowed me to take on new challenges that I perhaps wouldn’t have experienced otherwise. I’ve grown as a designer and learned more about myself as a homeowner and an individual.

It speaks to the value of taking a moment to evaluate what really matters and to let those things guide decisions, both in design and in life. I invite you to do the same: decide what you want, discover what lights your spirit on fire, and find a way to move towards it.

After all the dreaming, planning and investing, the results are finally in and we’re in love!





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