Bedroom / ensuite remodel

Bedroom/Ensuite Remodel: Designing the Perfect Master Suite

When it comes to a renovation or remodel, most homeowners focus on the kitchen, bathroom and living room, forgetting the place where adult masters of the house spend roughly 30% of their time, in the bedroom. According to the Sleep Foundation, quality sleep allows our bodies and minds to recharge, leaving us refreshed and alert when we wake up. Sleep helps us remain healthy and stave off diseases. For most adults, at least seven hours of quality sleep each night are needed for proper cognitive and behavioural functions, and a bedroom/ensuite remodel can create your perfect sleep environment.

A beautiful sleep environment, with easy access to a bath and wash basin, hygiene products and grooming supplies, and an organized wardrobe for the next day can provide a sense of calm and order when retiring, conducive to a wonderful, rejuvenating night’s sleep.

The master bedroom is usually the largest sleeping space in the house, and the occupants are typically the couple that owns the home. A master bedroom becomes a “master suite” when there is a bathroom ensuite or attached private bath.

Renovation or remodel?

The words “renovation” and “remodel” are often used interchangeably and that can be confusing. If you’re happy with your bedroom and ensuite’s layout and functionality, a renovation may provide the facelift the space needs to bring it up to date. A renovation updates the look and feel of the room without changing its intended purpose. A renovation may include fresh paint and wood laminate flooring in the bedroom, repairs, replacing the old drop-in bathtub with a sleek freestanding acrylic one, with matching basins, gleaming new faucets, floating vanity and porcelain tiles in the ensuite.

Remodelling is the process of changing the functionality and design of the space. It may involve tearing out or moving walls to expand your master bedroom or bathroom, perhaps adding a dressing area, and reconfiguring the layout so the closet/wardrobe, vanity, bath and shower are in new locations. Likewise, constructing a bump-out addition to your bedroom or bath would also be considered a remodel.

Begin with the floor plan and work up

Bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms have three main areas to consider in the planning phase: the bed space, the dressing area and the bathroom.

Your bed space is the most important area in your master suite, with a queen or king-size bed, typically flanked on either side by nightstands. Chosen carefully, the bed can be a showstopper. Your bedroom is a place to relax after a long day, so a neutral palette is the most popular choice. Feng shui experts consider the wall facing your bed the most important wall in your entire home. Painting this accent wall with a calming colour like, lavender, blue, green or light gray can create a tranquil, therapeutic setting.

Bedroom big screen TVs are popular, but sleep doctors like Dr. Mayank Shukla in New York warn about the health risks and sleep disruption caused by watching the screen before bed. A seating area, with a loveseat or armchair, can be a comfortable place to talk, reflect on the day’s events, read or play a game of cards, and decompress before retiring.

The dressing area can be as simple as a small space next to the bed, with a wall mirror and occasional chair. Some bedroom designs include a built-in wardrobe/closet along one wall, with sliding or swing-out doors. Wardrobes allow you to add functional and seamless closet storage where none existed before.

The dressing area could be a small foyer at the entry of the walk-in closet, with mirrors, a dressing room table and/or a freestanding armoire/wardrobe. Or it may be a short hallway at the entrance to the bedroom, with wardrobe millwork along either side.

And then there are separate walk-in dressing rooms, with floor-to-ceiling millwork and cabinetry. These luxurious rooms typically feature open shelving and doorless wardrobes; drawers for socks, delicates, underwear, ties and shoes; perhaps a sliding library ladder for reaching top cabinets; a makeup desk with mirrors and lighting; and a catwalk with a large mirror at the end or some island seating.

The current trend is for ‘his and hers’ dressing rooms. Choose rich and deep tones with dark walnut cabinetry for a mature and sophisticated masculine feel, or lighter tones to make the space feel bright, elegant and feminine.

The space for adding a walk-in dressing room extension is usually gained by taking out a wall between an adjoining bedroom or building an extension to the existing floor plan.

A closed plan bathroom will offer the most privacy. Showers can be built as a walk-in, or installed as a ‘cabin’ all-in-one shower unit. Tubs can be embedded or freestanding. If you have chosen a separate shower, a freestanding tub will be more aesthetically pleasing. Embedded tubs are the space-saving option, with the tub doubling as a shower enclosure.

En suite, wetroom or private bath?

An en suite or master bath is a bathroom that immediately adjoins a single bedroom, forming part of the same suite of rooms. It is usually the primary bathroom in the home and typically has either a single vanity with two basins or two separate vanities. The bathroom can only be accessed from that bedroom, making it fully private.

Where a wetroom differs from a bathroom is its floor. Within a wetroom, there is no differentiation between the shower area and the rest of the room. The key advantages of having a single-level floor that drains are ease of cleaning, and fulfilling accessibility needs without making the room look too clinical.

A private bath can be attached to the master bedroom instead, but it will also have a door to the home’s common area. The disadvantages are having to check that either the bedroom or common door is locked for privacy, or needing to use the bathroom, only to discover it is already occupied.


It’s important to ‘layer’ the lighting by using multiple light sources within the same room, in both the bedroom and ensuite, so you can create the ambiance that suits your style and change the mood as needed.

An overhead bedroom light should be mounted above the bed, with two bedside light sources framing the bed. These can be bedside table lamps or hanging lights. Hanging lights are usually preferable because they don’t take up room on the tables. Recessed lights – also known as downlights – give a clean, contemporary look to your bedroom, and will combine well with other lighting fixtures. Downlights give the illusion that the ceiling is higher than it is.

In the bathroom, mount the ceiling light centrally, with vanity lights above or beside the mirrors. Soft, warm lighting is relaxing and calming for most of the bathroom. Colour-adjustable smart LED lights, like the Philips Hue White ambiance line, are ideal by the mirrors for applying makeup, allowing custom adjustment from warm to cool white light.

Creating your colour palette

When choosing the colours for your master bedroom and ensuite, it’s important to coordinate them because the rooms adjoin. You don’t have to paint both rooms the same colour, but they should complement each other. For example, since the bedroom is larger, and you may want to create a more relaxed mood, choosing a colour one or two shades darker on the colour swatch for the bedroom than the one used in the bath maintains a harmonious relationship between the two rooms.

Neutrals are the best colours in both rooms to draw the focus away from the walls to the furniture, bed coverings, artwork, bathroom fixtures and tile work. Browns are on trend right now, but dark browns can visually shrink the space; so a light mocha brown for the bedroom and taupe or soft beige for the bathroom would be better.


Hardwood flooring adds warmth and beauty. It can be stunning in a bedroom, in ash, oak, walnut, and maple. Strip, parquet, and plank are some of the most popular patterns. Laminate flooring is less expensive and looks like natural wood, available in a wide range of wood-tone colours. Area rugs can soften and warm up hard floorings like wood or laminate.

Natural stone is a luxurious bathroom floor treatment. It’s not completely waterproof, so it requires some care and attention. Porcelain and ceramic are also classic bathroom flooring choices. They’re waterproof and more affordable than stone. Engineered wood is also becoming popular. Engineered wood looks like real wood because a hardwood veneer is used in the top layer. It holds up quite well against moisture but is prone to scratching if you’re not careful.

Establishing a budget and finding your contractor

Renovation budgets can add up quickly, exceeding your expectations. Begin by finalizing your wishlist. Do your research so you understand what you are getting yourself into. It’s best to already have a solid grasp on the ins and outs of the renovation process when you begin looking for your contractor.

Your design-build contractor will be able to convert your wishlist into an estimate with a budget. Your budget will include funds for the designer-builder, structural changes, any wardrobe millwork, bathroom cabinetry, countertops, flooring, wiring, lighting, plumbing, plumbing fixtures, decorating, and accessorizing; with an extra 10% as a contingency, to handle any unforeseen expenses.

Your designer-builder will be able to create 3D renderings of what your new bedroom, ensuite and dressing area are going to look like. When approved, architectural plans can then be created, necessary permits secured, and construction can commence.

Reid Madiuk

Reid Madiuk's been putting on a toolbelt since he was twelve years old, alongside his father, one of Whistler's first residential builders. As a third-generation Squamish and Whistler builder, Reid brings over 20 years of carpentry expertise to designing and constructing exceptional homes.

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