From petite powder rooms to spacious ensuites, bathrooms are often one of the best places in the home to get a bit bold when it comes to design. Whether you’re planning a renovation of a well-loved spot or building a dream home from scratch, here are 5 tips for making the bathroom a smartly designed retreat.

luxe-getaway1. Turn the ensuite into luxe getaway.

Calgary architect Richard Davignon of Davignon Martin thinks about ensuite design as a series of rooms, each pivoted around the main vanity space€”dressing rooms, shower room and water closet all rotate around the one central space, creating a luxe, hotel-like getaway. Here, the long and narrow shower room€”enclosed behind curtains rather than glass€”gets a view to the city beyond, and has plenty of elbow room for two.

shower-drain2. Disguise the shower drain, and you'll get a more comfortable floor.

You'll have to look closely to spot the drain in this South Pender Island bathroom designed by Tanja Hinder of Marrimor: it's just two thin lines running along the floor. But the simple concept pays off: the floor of the steam shower is made to keep the user comfortable for long, decadent soaks. HOME-page-one-material

3. Use one material throughout for a statement-making design.

Designer Karin Bohn of House of Bohn loves the look of marble in a bathroom€”and even more so when it's everywhere. The white and bright material covers the floors, the walls and the lining of the shower, with smaller mosaic tile on the floor to provide grip and the right angle for drainage. Framed mirrors offer just enough visual break and serve to warm up the cool marble, too. natural-light

4. Take advantage of natural light.

When the homeowner was renovating the upper level of her home, designer Negar Reihani of Space Harmony suggested she position the ensuite shower under the skylight, creating a rare opportunity to bathe in natural sunlight. Clad in natural stone, the simple space doesn't need many bells and whistles to shine: a wrap-around bench, a gorgeous sunny day, and it's a room made for luxuriating.

pattern5. A small space can still go big on pattern.

The powder room is perhaps the perfect place to experiment with a bold wallpaper: its small square footage reduces any risk of a space feeling overdone. This petite powder by designer Negar Reihani gets intrepid style thanks to a wallpaper that marries vintage and modern: lacy, doily-like patterns of old are paired with a mod (and au courant) teal blue.

Originally published April 2015