If you have an en suite bathroom that needs updating, there are ways to convert it from functional to fabulous. Whether you plan a complete redo or a simple, decorative makeover, here are tips and ideas to create a personalized, relaxing and beautiful space. An added bonus is that updated bathrooms add to the value of your home. 

Analyze Your Needs

Unlike common baths that must meet the needs of several people, an en suite attached to the master bedroom can be personalized. If a bath is attached to a child's room, the design, layout and decor should be compatible with the needs of the children. However, your creativity can still soar in these spaces.

Designers recommend analyzing your needs to as you plan. Do you and your partner both need access to the sink at the same time? Installing two sinks eases the tension of two people vying for access in a rush. Do you want a dedicated makeup space? If you share a bath, a dressing table with mirrors and a small stool can be placed near the door in either the bedroom or bath, creating as an attractive transition that is out of the path of main traffic.

If you are older, it may be difficult to climb in and out of a bathtub. Having to step into a shower that is higher or lower than the main flooring can be dangerous for older people and impossible for someone in a wheelchair. A well-planned, efficient space will be relaxing to use and easier to maintain.

If the bath is attached to a child's room, consider scale and safety as you plan. Because bathrooms are expensive to redo, factor in elements that ensure the space can evolve as the children grow. Installing two sinks at different levels lets children of different ages and abilities complete their morning rituals independently. Alternatively, one sink and a sturdy stepstool can accomplish the same function. Choose colors, fixtures, and tiles that are evergreen. You child may love superheroes today. However, in five years, your child may prefer different decor. Paint is easy to change, but tiles and permanent wall designs can be costly and inconvenient to replace.

Linking Bed and Bath

Some designers continue the look of the bedroom as it transitions to the en suite, using color, textures and scale to blend the two spaces. A continuous floor level links the two areas. A doorless frame draws the eye into the next room.

Alternatively, you may want a bath that is distinctive in style and design. The choices of wall claddings, floor tiles, vanities, plumbing hardware and fixtures are almost infinite. Pick a color scheme and play with nuances of shades and contrasts. For a cohesive look, use a single color on walls and a complementary color on floors. To make a dramatic statement, design a shower wall using tile color, pattern and texture to create a unique look.

Design for Beauty and Function

Many master baths have a spa-like feel, often featuring free-standing tubs and large showers. If your space allows for a free-standing tub, make it the focal point of the room. There are many styles available, such as Zen soaking tubs, marble enclosures and old-fashioned, claw-foot baths. The style will define the aesthetic of the room. Free-standing tubs exude luxury and an atmosphere of relaxation. Other features, from sanitary ware to flooring, should complement the design without overpowering it.

Creating a wet room is a practical way to maximize space with a cohesive, uncluttered look. The entire room is waterproofed, which eliminates the need for a shower tray. This works well for the wheelchair-bound or disabled because it eliminates a step up or down into the shower. It is best to work with a licensed plumber to ensure proper drainage and verify that the area is truly watertight. Wet rooms are easy to maintain. Using classic wall and floor tiles gives a timeless elegance to the space.

Glass shower surrounds allow other elements of the room to shine, be it tiles, flooring, fixtures or sanitary ware. Glass shower enclosures can be either frameless or framed. Glass is available as clear, opaque or tinted. Make sure the glass has a motif, border or hardware to make it visible. Borders range from metallics, such as brass and stainless steel, to sleek finishes, such as satin black. Distinctive hardware can create a custom look that complements accessories. Match it to other hardware and plumbing fixtures for a cohesive look.

Use Space Effectively

Check that doors have enough space to open fully without hitting fixtures. Also make sure that the toilet, toilet paper and towels are separated from shower spray. If the room is small, go with fixtures that are simple in design and scaled to fit the space. Wall-mounted toilets, floating sinks and streamlined vanities give an uncluttered, clean look.

Irregularly shaped spaces can be used creatively. Place a free-standing tub into a small space under a window. A corner sink can transform an awkward space into an interesting one. Place mirrors on both walls over the sink and join them at the corner. The mirrors reflect light, which brightens the nook and makes the space feel bigger.


Flooring is important for both looks and safety. If you go with a wet room, use a single pattern of floor tiles for the entire space. By continuing the pattern from within the shower to the main flooring, you create a cohesive, clean look. Floor tiles can serve as a focal point or complement another design feature in the room. Professionals recommend using large tiles because they require fewer grout lines, making them easier to keep clean.


Lighting creates an atmosphere. If your bathroom has windows, take advantage of the natural light. If privacy is an issue, install window treatments that can be easily opened and closed. Windows also can be used for ventilation, an important factor in rooms with a lot of moisture.

Place lighting to highlight areas, such as a vanity or dressing table. For drama, add a chandelier over a free-standing tub. If you prefer a minimalist look, try pendant lamps and stainless steel wall sconces. Dimmers allow you to control brightness according to your needs and mood. Because of the hazardous combination of water and electricity, it is best to work with a licensed electrician to ensure safe installation.

Your master bath can become a haven of relaxation and beauty with a few simple changes. As with any decor, define a color scheme, and use accessories to create nuances of tone and pattern. If working with a professional is in your budget, take advantage of their experience and knowledge about what works. If you are working on your own, rely on your sense of beauty and aesthetics to create a space that is pleasant and functional.

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October 13, 2020