Feature article

Renovation ideas for your ensuite bathroom

From designing with colour to adding decadent texture, and turning small spaces into alluring sanctuaries.

Last updated: 9 February 2024

If you’re considering adding an ensuite, renovating an existing bathroom or simply giving your ensuite a spruce up, here’s what you need to know – from designing with colour to adding decadent texture, and turning small spaces into alluring sanctuaries.

The open plan ensuite: Why designers favour this approach

In an ensuite setting, there’s often no reason to introduce elements that will hinder movement and circulation, especially where space is at a premium. Open plan layouts are, therefore, generally the starting point when designing or renovating an ensuite bathroom.

To delineate areas in an open plan space, colour and texture are often successful. In the Waiheke bathroom pictured above, a dark feature wall creates a visual focus and a crisp juxtaposition with floor-to-ceiling large format tiles in the rest of the space.

Cover image: Waiheke Bathroom by Shane George. Image: John Williams

A clever ensuite design by Ben Hudson Architects. Image: John Williams

Moments of decadence: Double shower and freestanding bath ideas for an ensuite

Where space and budget allow, there’s nothing better than a generous ensuite with space for two to relax and go about daily rituals. Maybe it’s a freestanding bath, or perhaps a double shower appeals more. Whatever the hero, there’s many ways to create an ensuite with all the luxuries.

Designing an ensuite as a place to retreat – somewhere to unwind and enjoy – means design decisions will unfold around creating a sense of calm and clarity. Deep tones and layered textures along with subtle lighting, and where possible, framed views all play a part in designing a peaceful space to enjoy.

In the ensuite pictured above, dark, textural tiles are punctured by glazing that follows the roofline to frame views of the sky and create a connection to the environment while maintaining privacy. Identical mirrors are placed side by side, while rounded counter-top basins echo the curvature of the mirrors.

Double showers are another way to introduce an element of luxury in an ensuite. Equally, the freestanding bath is a sought after accoutrement for high-end bathrooms. Where privacy is not an issue, baths can be placed in more open spaces – often becoming a sculptural element of the room rather than simply a functional piece.

Melons Bay ensuite by BH Construction. Image: John Williams

Small space and big ideas? Use colour to design a tiny ensuite that speaks volumes

When it comes to bathroom design in general, it’s an area where creativity can come to the fore. Bathrooms are a meeting of textures – from vanity tops to tiles, cabinetry, flooring, screening and light. Often more compact than other rooms where this is the case such as kitchens and laundries, they’re an opportunity to select a material palette that delivers a striking aesthetic.

If you’re considering how to make a tiny single ensuite into an immersive private retreat, think about colour and texture. When designing an ensuite, as opposed to a main bathroom, it’s also an opportunity to create a room with a strong personality – perhaps more so than one guests would use. Pictured below is a small feminine ensuite combining blush pink tiles with organic curves. Here, colour, form and texture combine to create a sumptuous space that feels far larger than it is, and one with a distinct and personal design language.

Pt Chevalier ensuite by Yellowfox. Image: John Williams

What does it cost to build an ensuite in New Zealand?

The cost to renovate or build an ensuite varies greatly depending on the materials used, whether there is existing plumbing, and the type and number of materials, finishes and fixtures used.

The cost estimates range from around $20,000 where plumbing exists and a dated ensuite is being upgraded with mid-range material selections, to around $60,000 where plumbing is needed and a space is being reconfigured to incorporate a new ensuite with higher-end materials. To obtain accurate pricing estimates for your ensuite design and build, it’s always best to talk to a professional to understand potential costs, risks, and the options available.

Pt Chevalier ensuite by Yellowfox. Image: John Williams


Clare Chapman
Clare Chapman
Editor in Chief, HOME - homemagazine.nz

Clare has spent the last 16 years working across Australasia as a journalist, editor and writer. Her work has appeared in books and publications around the world. Clare has led editorial teams for numerous architecture and design publications. In 2020, she was appointed Editor in Chief of HOME magazine, before taking the helm as publisher in 2023.