Suite It Is

While not a true makeover – it was created from the whole cloth of a top-floor addition to a Coquitlam home – this ensuite treatment by My House Design Build of Vancouver is certainly an inspiring bathroom project.

We like the details of matching the fireplace surround to the windows, creating an appealing visual punch. The muted colours also work well, tying in a large room through the choice of wall paint and furniture colours.

Countertops are in marble cream marfil; cabinets are dark; and all faucets are from Kohler.

The bathroom countertops are marble cream marfil, a luxury touch, while the large sunken bathtub sports rim-mounted Kohler faucets including spray nozzle. As designer Linda Jones explained, the gas fireplace was originally meant to be a two-sided version that could be viewed from the bathtub and the bed.

“Privacy won out over aesthetics,” Jones said, and the fireplace remained facing only into the bedroom.

The dark cabinets are solid maple, and the porcelain large-format tile floor has tumbled marble mosaics insets, which are also used in the shower stall floor and walls. Floors are equipped with in-floor radiant heating.

The shower stall has tumbled marble floor and wall mosaics, which are also used as insets for the bathroom tile

The glass-sheathed shower is equipped with a giant Kohler rainhead shower.
To capture a view, the windows are covered in “bottom up” Levellor blinds that still allow privacy.

This master ensuite is among the My House Design entries in the 2008 Georgie competition.

Zen And The Art Of Renovation

Buddhist teachings say the key to overcoming obstacles is to face them with confidence and creativity.

So when Yee Jee Tso of ArtiZEN Renovations Inc. received a picture of a kitchen torn from a magazine to use as a point of reference to make over two outdated bathrooms in a West Vancouver home, he readily accepted the challenge.

Before: With its fading wallpaper and hard-to-clean carpeting, the original ensuite was in desperate need of a makeover.

“Essentially, the entire renovation stemmed from that single image,” Tso explained of the project at the home of Henry and Hanna Tong. “We used it to glean more information from the homeowners about their needs and desires for the rooms.”

With his friendly, easy attitude and dedication to customer service, Tso, who co-founded ArtiZEN with his carpenter partner in 2005, helped the Tongs define a vision for their dream home.

“They wanted clean lines and a modern look, but not ultra-modern or unlivable,” said interior designer Leanne Poon, who collaborated on the British Properties home the Tongs share with their two sons. “We guided them through the process step by step and helped them choose beautiful, natural materials – lots of wood and texture.”

With fading wallpaper and hard-to-clean carpeting, the master and shared baths in the house hadn’t been updated since the 1980s. Partition walls separated the toilets from the tubs, blocking sunlight and making the rooms feel cramped. The old-fashioned vanities and ancient storage cabinets added to the shabby look of both spaces.

“At first, we considered making the rooms bigger and brighter with entirely new layouts,” said Tso. “But we had a budget to stick to, so we took both partition walls out and replaced them with glass.”

Then came new appliances, fixtures, cabinetry and décor, and the Tongs had what ArtiZEN’s marketing and communications manager, Ashleigh Franklin, called “a whole new bath.”

With the new glass divider filling the boys’ bath with natural light, ArtiZEN removed the old enamel tub and built a walk-in, custom-tiled shower. “It was right up our alley,” said Tso, a former tile installer. “Totally waterproof, with a frameless glass enclosure, we felt it suited two growing, active boys more than a bathtub.”

Indeed, upon completion of the renovation, the Tongs’ sons called their new bathroom “cooler” and “more masculine” than its former incarnation.

Featuring the same tiles as the smaller bath but a completely different look and feel, the master bath was transformed into a soothing space with a spa-like feel – a perfect place in which the man and lady of the house can relax.

“We’re so happy,” said Hanna. “Both bathrooms are absolutely gorgeous, and the staff were extremely professional and thoughtful. They made us feel at ease throughout the entire process.”

Along with the rest of his team, Tso accepts the praise with quiet modesty, pointing back to the basic principal that drove him to create ArtiZEN: “When you show up on time, are easy to deal with and do a good job, the work speaks for itself.”

Take 2

As part of a complete house makeover, West Vancouver-based Interior Solutions Design Group designer Tiffany Karlson was asked to turn an unused bedroom into a luxurious master bathroom, and to upgrade the guest bathroom into a more welcoming space.

Explains Karlson: “The clients wanted a natural and modern West Coast look highlighting simplicity, balance and warmth. Influenced by Asian design, they wanted the home to have a serene and calm “Zen-like” feel with a clean, linear style.”

The vacant bedroom of the 1970s North Vancouver house provided ample space to add the ensuite bathroom and a walk-through closet to the master bedroom. The new spa-like master bath features a Japanese soaker tub, tile-based shower with frameless glass enclosure and rain shower, twin under-mounted sinks and a three-inch thick granite counter top.

One challenge, according to Karlson, was the over-sized, 45-inch high soaker tub. It was so large it had to be brought in through a window and so high that Karlson had a solid-wood Asian-inspired stool custom made to allow the owners to reach the tub. It also required the installation of a larger hot water tank.

The tub sits on a granite deck with millwork wrapping that blends into a full-height cabinet with open shelving that serves as a backdrop for the toilet. All millwork was done in a riff-cut white oak laid horizontal, with one and half-inch black reveals around the tub to create interest as well as mimic and modernize the look of a traditional Japanese soaker tub.

Large format 12-inch by 24-inch porcelain tiles in black, grey and white, were used for the flooring, atop a heated floor warming system. Kohler fixtures, including a low-flow toilet, and faucets were specified.

Pampered guests

In the guest bath, the vanity, which has the same millwork as in the master bath, sits in front of a feature wall tiled in a linear naturally tumbled marble tile. The guest bath, Karlson explains, mirrors elements from the rest of the renovation, but was designed with a unique palette to make it a special space that would give guests a sense it was created just for them.

The new Evoke sink from Kohler sits like a work of art on three-inch thick marble countertops. The floor of the frameless glass enclosure shower is a profusion of leaves in tumbled marble, reflecting the room’s colour palate. The walls of the shower feature 12-inch by 18-inch porcelain tiles in charcoal grey with mauve highlights, colours that are repeated in the wall tiles and counter top. •

DNA Of A Makeover

A leak and resulting water damage allowed a Whistler couple the opportunity for a major renovation of their master bath, a contract entrusted to award-winning designer Earl Lawson of V6B Design Group of Vancouver.

The original room was a standard condominium five-foot by eight foot bathroom with a sink and toilet on one wall and a tub on the other. The master bedroom suite, however, was quite large, and there was enough room to plan for a more luxurious master ensuite.

There were concerns as to how to include all the elements requested by the client inside the bathroom while incorporating a proper hallway and the closet storage required outside, Lawson said. The bathroom was redesigned to accommodate a double sink vanity, a frameless glass shower enclosure (for him) and a soaker tub (for her).

The key element in making the room plan work was the angled hallway. While decreasing the space in the bathroom at the toilet end, this hallway plan allowed for additional closet to be included on the opposite wall and gave a more central entry into the bedroom, he explained.
V6B, which accepted three awards this spring in the 2007 Art of the Industry National Kitchen and Bath Association Design Competition, drew out extensive floor plans and elevations on the project so the client and crew would know exactly what was to be done.
As the residence is at a ski resort, the finishes were kept very natural: stained knotty alder cabinetry with black highlights, matching his and hers mirrors, and extensive use of travertine and tumbled marble. In order to accommodate the increased bathroom size, the hallway and closets had to be reworked. The new closets were framed out with knotty alder closet doors to match the vanity cabinetry. The entry doors were also changed to knotty alder to complete the transition. Matching door hardware was used throughout.
Lawson notes that homeowners should not be swept up with the most recent fads or fashions, but concentrate on putting together a design that works for their lifestyle and the particular style of the home, at a quality level that is consistent with the homes value.

Bedroom To Bathroom

When Robin and Wayne Poncia bought a charming English Arts and Crafts home in the affluent Uplands district of Victoria, they wanted to retain its 1920s-era character while updating its interior.

The first step was adding a much larger bathroom to the four-bedroom home.

Built in 1929, and close to 5,000 square feet, the house needed some updating. But the couple was adamant that home’s fine features and classic lines would remain preserved and intact. They found a soulmate in Victoria designer Bruce Wilkin of Bruce Wilkin Design.

“With two school-age boys, the bathroom can be a busy place, so we had to bring all of our needs together in this space,” Robin explained.

The solution proved to be converting a second floor bedroom and small ensuite into a large new family bathroom.

The first challenge Wilkin encountered was how to accommodate the bathroom’s functional elements.