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Suite soak

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Photo: AtlanticFocus NL

A timelessly elegant reno brings a long-awaited luxury bathroom to a Newfoundland bungalow

It’s the end of a long day. 

All you can think about is a cup of tea and a soak in the tub. Then you open the doors to your new ensuite and feel as if you were transported to a luxury bathroom in a dreamy five-star hotel. All of the worries of your day melt away and you shed your weary layers to rejuvenate in your personal spa. 

Denise Philpott doesn’t have to imagine this any longer; she just needs to open her bathroom door.

She and husband Derrick have loved their ranch bungalow in Topsail, Nfld. since they moved in 36 years ago. It’s where they raised two kids, a place where grandchildren happily visit and feel at home. The house has been good to them and they’ve been good to it. There have been a few updates over the years, but when their adult children started to build their own modern houses, Denise decided it was time to get serious about renovating the homestead.

Waterfall edges on cabinetry plays up the bathrooms elegant contemporary design. Photo: AtlanticFocus NL

“One day I walked into my daughter’s brand new home. It was so lovely and modern. I went home to my husband and said, ‘That’s it, we are renovating,’” says Denise, teleconferencing for an interview from her kitchen, alongside designer Kiersten Gaulton, of Newfoundland-based Property Projects, a company specializing in kitchen and bathroom renovations.

Over the last two years, Denise has worked with Kiersten and her business partner Ryan to transform most of her living space. The kitchen and living room now have the clean, modern look that Denise admired in newer builds, while keeping warmth with a few design elements that maintained the family vibe. 

Last year, she decided to tackle the ensuite bathroom they never had. The big question was: where to find the space? Like many empty nesters, Denise and Derrick had empty bedrooms. “We opened up the wall between the existing bathroom and her daughter’s old bedroom, says Kiersten. “It was exactly the space we needed to achieve what Denise wanted.”

The wish list included a soaker tub, separate shower, and walk-in closet. “It’s hard to believe but in all of those years we never had a tub,” laughs Denise. “Now I want a nice tub not just for myself but for when my grandchildren come to visit. A few of them are getting too big for the kitchen sink.”

A bathroom redesign requires big decisions on features that must pass the test of time. Calling it her forever home, Denise wanted the results to be timeless. 

The theme is black and white. “That’s the way we went with the décor in the main part of the house and I wanted to carry that idea into the bathroom,” she adds. 

Denise wanted to install a spray attachment on the deep soaker tub making it easier to clean and rinse off the grandkids when they
come to visit. Photo: AtlanticFocus NL

“Now I want a nice tub not just for myself but for when my grandchildren come to visit. A few of them are getting too big for the kitchen sink.”

The new ensuite is where the colour palette really makes a statement—classic, elegant, fresh, and dramatic. The sleek black soaker tub is set against a dazzling quartz wall. Designer lighting heightens the spa vibe with dimmer switches to set the mood. Each element of the bathroom is controlled in its own zone: soft and low for private time, or bright and cheerful when it’s bath time for a grandchild.

Two sink vanities are wrapped in the same quartz (via HanStone in London, Ont.) as the feature wall. The waterfall edges, a newer trend in stone installation, sets off the warmer wood tones of the cabinetry. Denise selected black and chrome hardware. While she loves the look of brass, she felt that chrome was another element that never goes out of style.

The tub dominates the room. The Philpotts considered jets but opted for a simplified soaker. “When you talk to a lot of homeowners,” says Kiersten, many say that they don’t use their jets, which are expensive to install.

Kiersten believes the more important feature of the tub was a quality filler with a spray attachment. “The spray not only is great to bath the grandkids, but it also makes cleaning a deep soaker tub a little easier,” she says.

The walk-in shower tucks in behind the feature wall. Subway tiles stretch to the ceiling, adding height and balance. The wall mounted hand shower is great to rinse sandy feet in the summer, and handy for cleaning the glass enclosed stall.

Denise and Kiersten worked together to select the tile. Beyond its qualities of being waterproof, easy to clean and sanitize, tile sets the texture and tone of the space. 

With thousands of samples to choose from, tile selection can be overwhelming. But having completed several projects together over the last few years, Denise and Kiersten knew what to expect from each other. The Philpotts worked exclusively with DSF Granite and Tile for the stonework in their kitchen and bathroom renovations. 

“DSF can do just about anything we ask them to do,” adds Kiersten. “The large feature wall in the bathroom was challenging because we wanted to make it look little a single piece of stone and the installation is just beautiful.”

Last spring, COVID-19 precautions forced the reno to pause, just as they were about to start work on the bathroom. In late May, work resumed and Denise was soaking in her tub by the end of October.

While her budget was not determined by the province’s new pandemic economic stimulus program that is providing a rebate on construction and renovation activity, Denise said that the little bit of cash back in hand was definitely a bonus for renovating at a time when building costs took a significant jump. 

Denise has been waiting for this bathroom ever since they bought the house. “My splurges were on the HanStone wall and the waterfall edges,” she says. “You would never walk into this house and think it was 36 years old. Just about everything in the house is now brand new. I am staying here forever, and I love it!”

Crystal Murray

East Coast Living