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How to Design a Master Bedroom With Ensuite (9 Step Guide)

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  • This article has been written and researched by Andrei Vasilief – a professional architect and interior designer – to ensure the highest content quality.

Ensuite bedrooms are a great feature to have in any living space, as the added privacy is a significant factor in creating a pleasant, comfortable living experience.

But how do you design a master bedroom with an ensuite bathroom from scratch?

To design a master bedroom with an ensuite: plan the bed, dressing area, and bathroom space; layer the lighting, create a color palette, select the bedroom floor materials, paint the bedroom walls, use white or gray for the bedroom ceiling, coordinate the finishes, and align the furnishings.

The rest of this article shows you how to design your master bedroom and ensuite in exact detail step-by-step – with floor plans and mock-ups to give you some ideas and inspiration.

Related: should bedroom and bathroom decor match?

How to Create an Ensuite Bathroom in a Bedroom

Follow the 9 steps below in order to design and build your master bedroom with an ensuite bathroom from scratch:

1: Plan the Bed, Dressing Area, and Bathroom Space

Bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms have three major areas that you need to consider in the planning phase:

  • The bed space.
  • The dressing area.
  • The bathroom.

The bed space is the heart of the bedroom and usually features a double bed and two nightstands.

The dressing area can either be a small area next to the bed or a separate space altogether.

Then finally there is the bathroom.

All of these areas can either be open or closed.

Open or closed refers to the separation between the rooms.

1.1: Choose a Closed Plan Bathroom for Practical Purposes

In most cases, if you buy a unit with an ensuite, then the bathroom will most likely be separated from the rest.

If you are building the ensuite, then you might consider having an open or closed bathroom.

Open bathrooms are very tricky and are the type of feature that looks good in a magazine but is far from being practical.

It works in only one situation: a very large bedroom with the toilet stall being closed off.

The worst thing you can do is having a completely open bathroom.

Generally, I’d advise against open bathrooms, they are very complicated to get right.

But if you have a large space that can accommodate it, I recommend bringing in a professional designer to tackle it.

1.2: An Open Dressing Area Allows for More Freedom

Open dressing rooms can be a very good way to save space and make it easier to move around – depending on how you incorporate them.

But you can use solid walls as separation, or room partitions, for more privacy and to create a more segmented feel if that’s what you’re after.

Below is a floor plan that shows a master bedroom with an en-suite and an open dressing area:

Floor Plan of a Master Bedroom With En-suite and Open Dressing Area
Floor Plan of a Master Bedroom With En-suite and Open Dressing Area (Custom Image: Animo Regis.com)

1.3: Partition the Ensuite

Once you’ve decided on these features, it’s time to partition the ensuite unit.

You should place the bed in the area with the most light.

The bathroom should have a window, as this is a much simpler way to ventilate it, rather than relying on mechanical ventilation.

But if this is not an option, a windowless bathroom is also viable, as long as it has adequate ventilation.

The dressing space can be placed in the darkest part, as it does not need access to natural light and can be artificially lit.

Start with planning the bathroom, deciding what you want to incorporate.

You have to make some choices here:

i) Shower: Walk-In or Cabin

Showers can either be walk-in (which has to be built) or cabin.

Walk-in showers are ideal if you have the space and budget.

Cabins fit in smaller budgets and spaces.

ii) Tub: Embedded or Freestanding

If you don’t want a shower then you can opt for a tub instead.

Generally, a tub is more multipurpose than a shower.

Tubs can either be embedded or freestanding – with freestanding tubs being the more aesthetically pleasing option and embedded tubs being the more space-saving one.

iii) Sinks: Single or Dual

Dual sinks are considered to be the best, but certainly not a rule.

iv) Toilet: Freestanding or Embedded

Embedded toilets are the best choice, but they need to be built in the bathroom.

Freestanding ones can always be integrated into the design aesthetic of the bathroom.

v) Optional Features

There are some optional features that you’ll want to consider integrating into the bathroom: a storage unit for towels, other various toiletries, and potentially a washing machine.

For the washing machine, remember to place it close to the water pipeline, so that it can be attached easily.

For storage, you have two options: the classic under the sink space, or a dedicated cupboard.

If space is at a premium, the under the sink option is good.

But, if you can, consider fitting in a cupboard.

The reason for this is that it’s much more comfortable as you don’t have to bend over to get stuff from it.

Below is an example of a floor plan for an ensuite master bedroom with an open dressing space and a complete bathroom:

Floor Plan of a Master Bedroom With Ensuite and Open Dressing Area and Complete Bathroom.
Floor Plan of a Master Bedroom With Ensuite, Open Dressing Area, and Complete Bathroom (Custom Image: Animo Regis.com)

1.4: Plan the Bedroom Layout

Once the bathroom is sorted, you can move on to the bedroom.

If you have space for a dressing room, you can explore some options of integrating it.

Go with an open dressing room to use space as efficiently as possible.

If this is not an option, place the storage space in a spot where you can make it the longest.

You’ll want to have one wardrobe, without relying on additional storage, to achieve a clean look.

With all that placed, you can look at the bed, starting with the width.

Bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms will almost always be the matrimonial areas, so you have two options:

  • 72’’ (183 cm) width – the best option, provided it fits.
  • 60’’ (152 cm) width – the solid go-to option for smaller spaces.

If you can, avoid anything smaller, as it can become a bit uncomfortable for two people.

You’ll want to place the bed away from the wall, so you can go around it.

Again, if possible, avoid placing the long side of the bed right next to the wall.

Keep in mind when doing this step that the bed will be larger, because of the frame, so plan everything with that in mind.

Also, take into account the additional space required for headboards, footboards, and adjustable beds.

2: Layer the Bedroom and Bathroom Lighting

When you have a clear understanding of where everything goes, it’s time to place the light sources and fixtures in both rooms, keeping in mind the light typology in each room.

By ‘layering’ the lighting (using multiple light sources in the same room), you can create an ambiance that suits your style and mood.

The number of light sources in the bedroom and bathroom are as follows:

  • 1 ceiling light.
  • 2 bedside lights.
  • 2 bathroom lights.
  • 1 ceiling light.
  • 1 vanity light.

2.1: Frame Your Bed With Overhead and Bedside Lighting

The bedroom ceiling light should be placed above the bed, being framed by the two bedside lights.

The bedside lights can either be lamps or built-in, such as hanging lights.

This is the best option if you can implement it, as it saves room on the bedside tables and can look really good – not to mention being a good way to make your north-facing bedroom look brighter and warmer.

Below is a custom image that shows how two bedside lamps work with one overhead light:

Bedside Lamp and Overhead Bedroom Light Arrangement
Bedside Lamp and Overhead Bedroom Light Arrangement (Custom Image: Animo Regis.com)

2.2: Centralize the Bathroom Ceiling Light and Leverage Affordable Vanity Lights

The ceiling light in the bathroom should be placed centrally in the room, with the vanity light placed next to the mirror.

An excellent option here would be to use a vanity mirror with a built-in light.

These have become more popular and affordable in recent years and you can find them almost everywhere.

Make sure to check the height of the light fixture.

Large hanging lights have become popular, but they tend to be quite tall and might not fit.

Measure the height of the room and then double-check this against the height of the fixture.

For the bathroom, I recommend against hanging lights, as they can get in the way and generally be a nuisance.

The image below shows an example of how overhead and vanity lighting can work in your ensuite bathroom:

Overhead and Vanity Lighting in Ensuite Bathroom
Overhead and Vanity Lighting in Ensuite Bathroom (Custom Image: Animo Regis.com)

Go with soft yellow light that relaxes and calms, avoiding white light.

Also, buy light fixtures from the same set, if possible, so you have a coordinated look.

The color of the light should be the same for every room.

2.3: Consider Smart Lighting in the Dressing Area

Smart lighting is an option for automating the lighting in your dressing area.

Just like vanity mirrors with light, these have become quite affordable.

Whilst complex systems can be difficult and expensive, smart light bulbs are easy to implement and provide dimming options.

This is one of the best features you can add to a bedroom, as the intensity of the light has a strong effect on your overall wellbeing and sleep quality.

The custom image below provides an example of what smart lighting looks like in the dressing area of a bedroom:

Smart Lighting in a Bedroom Dressing Area
Smart Lighting in a Bedroom Dressing Area (Custom Image: Animo Regis.com)

3: Create a Color Palette For Both Rooms

In order to ensure that your master bedroom and ensuite has a clean, premium feel, you need to create a color palette as you go through the project and stick as closely as possible to it.

A palette will have base colors, general colors, and accent colors.

These will be attributed to the design as follows:

  • Base colors – are for the general finishes, such as the floor and wall.
  • General colors – are in the larger pieces of furniture; such as the bed, storage, and large bathroom fixtures.
  • Accent colors – are stronger and should be used sparingly; these will be found in artwork, small fixtures, and textiles.

Below is a side-by-side representation of how a single color change can transform the palette and the mood of your bedroom.

Here, the burgundy-colored bedroom accent wall creates a dramatic and vibrant feel that can match extroverted personalities and warm up the room:

Example of a Burgundy Color Bedroom Accent Wall
Example of a Burgundy Color Bedroom Accent Wall (Custom Image: Animo Regis.com)

Conversely, the same accent wall in a textured gray creates a cooler and more calming feel that can match an introverted personality, and create a more minimalistic feel:

Textured Gray Bedroom Accent Wall.
Textured Gray Bedroom Accent Wall (Custom Image: Animo Regis.com)

3.1: Use Light Colors in Small Bedrooms and Dark Colors in Larger Bedrooms

The one principle you need to keep in mind here is that lighter colors are very good for small bedrooms with ensuites because they will help to brighten up the space and make it feel less like a cave.

Conversely, darker colors work very well for larger bedrooms that feel too spacious because they help to make the room feel smaller and less lonely.

3.2: Use a Light and Simple Color Scheme in the Bathroom

Where I do advise against too much color experimentation is in the bathroom.

Generally, it’s best to stick to light colors or white to keep the room feeling crisp and clean.

Whilst it’s possible to have something like an all-black bathroom, it’s definitely something difficult to pull off on your own, and I would again advise getting a professional to help you with this.

4: Select the Bedroom Floor Materials, Finish, and Pattern

The type of flooring that you opt for will significantly impact the ambiance and have practical implications – such as the difficulty of installation, the cost, and how warm the room will feel.

4.1: Select Hardwood (More Durable But Costly) or Engineered Wood (Cheaper)

The first thing to consider is choosing hardwood vs. engineered wood.

Hardwood planks come in thick planks of solid timber – they are more expensive, more difficult to install, and not suitable for all environments (such as heated floor installations).

Hardwood floors are more durable however, and provide a much nicer feeling to the touch.

Engineered wood is made of a layer of hardwood on top of layers of other wood.

It’s designed to be easier to install, it’s more affordable, and is suited to multiple environments.

Because ensuite rooms are generally larger, there’s much more room to experiment when it comes to the color and finish of the floor.

4.2: Go For a Dark Finish or Experiment With Lighter Colors

Darker finish colors, such as greys, dark cherry, or dark browns are possible if balanced out with the color of the walls.

But if you are tired of the standard wood color, now is the time to experiment.

There is no right or wrong here, go with what you would like.

Note that this will also influence the type of wood you choose.

Oak has a more simple texture and works well with lighter finishes, which makes it suitable for smaller rooms.

Walnut is more suitable for darker finishes and has a richer texture.

As with the decision between hardwood and engineered wood, this again comes down to personal preference. 

4.3: Choose From Plank, Herringbone, or Diagonal Patterns

The pattern is the final aspect, and it can completely change the feel of the bedroom.

This choice can be difficult to make because you have to make it blindly and it can range from planks to 3D parquet.

So I am going to give you some standard solutions that are generally go-to:

i) Planks:

This is the basic floor, with multiple strips next to each other.

Ideally for smaller bedrooms, they work well with light and medium finishes.

I recommend avoiding dark finishes here.

It’s ideal for the smaller bedroom, with white walls and a minimalist overall design.

Also, it’s simple to install.

Plank Master Bedroom Flooring
Plank Master Bedroom Flooring (Custom Image: Animo Regis.com)

ii) Herringbone or Chevron:

This is more advanced, with multiple smaller strips aligned at either 45 or 90 degree angles.

This is ideal for medium to large bedrooms as they really add to the overall spatial sensation of the room and is also great with medium to darker finishes.

It’s also not overly difficult to install, but it is somewhat harder than planks.

Herringbone Flooring in Master Bedroom
Herringbone Flooring in Master Bedroom (Custom Image: Animo Regis.com)

iii) Diagonal Strips:

Ideal for any environment, as they really open up the room, this works in all finishes, light to dark.

It links the best properties of both herringbone and planks with a simple installation process.

Diagonal Master Bedroom Flooring
Diagonal Master Bedroom Flooring (Custom Image: Animo Regis.com)

5: Use Paint, Wallpaper, or Moldings for the Bedroom Wall

Wall design solutions are far simpler than floors, with your options being as follows (from the simplest to the most complex):

  • Solid color.
  • Wallpaper.
  • Panel molding.

i) Solid Colors: Easiest

Solid colors are the simplest, and can be a clear choice depending on the size of the room.

With light colors being very suitable for smaller bedrooms, and darker colors being more suitable for larger rooms.

White is standard – but light greys, cream, all the way to navy blue can work wonders and be amazing.

Creative wall colors, coupled with interesting floor patterns can create amazing effects.

In order to keep everything under control, here are some basic principles to follow:

  • Smaller room – lighter colors: white, light grays, light blues.
  • Larger room – possibility for darker colors: grays, blues, dark green, dark reds.
  • Avoid stringent colors – such as yellows or overly brights.
  • Create some contrast with the floor – by making the wall lighter than the floor.
Color Scheme For Master Bedroom With Ensuite
Color Scheme For Master Bedroom With Ensuite (Custom Image: Animo Regis.com)

ii) Wallpaper – Intermediate

Wallpaper can be a great solution to create some interesting combinations.

My recommendation would be to always go for a wallpaper with a subtle texture, ideally two-toned.

So, for example, you might have an overall dark blue wallpaper, with subtle gold detailing, to give a bold example.

Avoid large patterns, and photo wallpaper, as they can generally be easily misused and give off a cheap vibe.

iii) Panel Molding – Hardest

Panel molding is a somewhat unknown trick to people who don’t have an everyday connection to interior design.

These either come as a full panel or strip and are generally profiles that are attached to a wall to give it a classically-influenced pattern.

They originate in European decor and are making a bit of a comeback.

This is generally an advanced option: it doesn’t work well with every space, it needs to be tailored to the proportions of the bedroom, and it’s somewhat laborious to implement (not a DIY solution).

But it’s an option you should be aware of and take into consideration if you are looking for a design that stands out.

Example of Panel Molding
Example of Panel Molding (Custom Image: Animo Regis.com)

6: Use White Or Light Gray For the Bedroom Ceiling

The ceiling is by far the easiest to tackle as it is recommended to be left simply white in most scenarios, with some exceptions, such as when the walls are darker.

White, light colored, or wallpapered walls will always have white ceiling.

If the walls are darker, you can go for a light grey ceiling.

What you should never do, is paint the ceiling a dark color – as this will create the effect of it appearing lower.

Whilst it’s possible to paint the walls and ceiling the same color, this is something that is quite advanced and easy to mess up, so I advise against it.

7: Coordinate the Bathroom Finishes

When designing an ensuite, there needs to be a clear connection between the bathroom and the bedroom in terms of aesthetics and style.

The best way to achieve this is in a subtle manner by linking some textures and colors.

Because the bathroom is smaller than the bedroom, the best thing you can do is to treat it as a singular piece, rather than the separate wall-floor-ceiling strategy used in the bedroom.

Also, overly colorful bathrooms are something I recommend avoiding – as they can get dated quite easily.

Even with all the experimentation, you’ll want something that’s timeless.

7.1: Match the Finishes on the Bathroom Floor and Walls

The best way you can do this is to use the same finish on both the floor and the walls.

Get the largest tile you can afford that’s light-textured (such as natural stone), and apply it to the floor and the walls – all the way to the ceiling.

You might be tempted to use colored tiles, that match the nuance of the bedroom walls, but this will have a high chance of ending up kitschy rather than classy.

For example, let’s say you went with light gray walls, but a light gray bathroom that is not large enough can be somewhat depressing.

The best finish for a bathroom that doesn’t involve too much planning is a white marble style finish.

This can be expensive, so the next best thing is a white, natural stone finish.

The image below illustrates a coordinated finish between the floor and the walls of an ensuite bathroom:

Coordinated Bathroom Floor and Wall Finish
Coordinated Bathroom Floor and Wall Finish (Custom Image: Animo Regis.com)

7.2: Keep the Ceiling White – Link the Bedroom and Bathroom With Fixtures

The ceiling will remain white as well.

The way to link the bathroom to the bedroom is by selecting fixtures and bathroom accessories that have a color that is dominant or close to dominant in the bedroom.

A final word on floor tile selection: go with tiles that have a non-slip feature.

This is incredibly important especially for elder people, but they make the bathroom a much safer environment for everyone.

5 Architect’s Tricks for Advanced Finishes (Trade Secrets!)

What I’ve given you are the standard, mostly-easy to use options, so I will continue by giving some very advanced techniques that are mostly just known by designers.

But, be warned, these are much more difficult to implement than the previous ones.

From the simplest to the complex:

1) Wallpaper on just one wall – with the rest paint:

Ideally used with the wall on which the bed will be, the wallpaper needs to be chromatically compatible with the paint of the rest of the walls.

2) Painted wall molding:

Panel molding painted the same color as the wall can create a very strong effect on the bedroom, making it more high-end.

3) Painted wall molding on a white wall:

Just like the previous tip, but only this time the molding is painted – ideal for greys or very light colors.

4) Painted wall molding on wallpaper:

This is the easiest to get wrong, the molding will act as an accent to the wallpaper.

5) A single finish in both the bedroom and the bathroom:

This is amazingly impactful, using wooden textured ceramic tiles in both rooms.

These work best either on a heated floor or in hot climates.

If you live in a colder climate, then the only way to implement this is with a heated floor, as a cold tile will be uncomfortable.

8: Align the Furnishings of the Bedroom and Bathroom

The next step is to pick out the bathroom fixtures and general room furnishings, coordinating them with the finishes and space you have.

You’ll want to go in a specific direction, by starting with the bathroom fixtures and accessories, moving to the storage spaces, and finally the bed area.

The toilet will ideally be white – avoid going for atypical colors here as it can look weird.

Regarding the shower, if you went for a cabin or freestanding shower, it’s a good option to match the accent color of the unit with the walls in the bedroom.

So, for example, if you have a darker decor in the bedroom, you can go for a cabin with dark accents.

If you have a light decor, go for light accents.

If you chose a tub, look to synchronize the color of the tub faucet with the tone of the bedroom: dark decor = dark faucet, light decor = light faucet.

Moving on to the vanities, you have five design elements: the cupboard and handle (if you have storage under the sink), the counter, the basin, and the faucet.

We take these in order:

i) Cupboard

Generally, it’s a good idea to leave the cupboard white.

If the bedroom decor is darker, you might try a very light grey, but nothing too dark.

ii) Counter

For the counter, you have a few options to choose from.

You can choose to synchronize the color and texture of the counter with the color and texture of the floor in the bedroom (same wood color and texture for example, not the pattern), or the texture of the finish in the bathroom.

iii) Basin

You have two options here which are always solid choices: white (if going for lighter tones) or black (if going for darker tones).

iv) Faucet

The faucet is a good way to add accent; you can have it either the same color as the basin, or you can pick an accent color present in the bedroom (for example, if you have a wallpaper with gold accents, then you could go with a brass colored faucet).

Just make sure to go for either whites, blacks, metal or golds.

v) Handles

The handles can have the same color as the faucet, or a solid dark or light color, depending on what the atmosphere is in the bedroom.

8.1: Choose the Bedroom Mirror

A round mirror is an excellent choice for the bedroom.

But if you are going for a more structured look in the bedroom, it might be worth having a rectangular mirror.

Stylistically, you can try to sync the color and texture of the mirror frame with the bathroom counter or the color of the faucet.

These are some of the key principles that you can follow and you should have a stable color palette at the end.

Try to keep the same palette for all accessories in the bathroom and you should get a stable look.

With the bathroom finished, let’s look into putting the storage space in the bedroom.

8.2: Select the Finish of the Bedroom Storage

A good principle here is to synchronize the finish of the storage with the finish of the floor, to create a feeling of more space in the bedroom.

Go for sliding doors, with mirrors if you feel they are useful.

The storage should be as high as possible, preferably the whole height of the room.

Keep in mind what your requirements are when tailoring the dressing.

You can get customized wardrobes quite easily nowadays, so tailor it to maximize the space and efficiency.

8.3: Coordinate the Bed and Furnishings With the Decor of the Bedroom

The frame of the bed should match the color palette in the room.

So, a lighter color (such as light wooden tones) goes very well in a room with light colors.

On the other hand, if the palette is darker you can go for dark leather.

The nightstands should match the color and tone of the bed frame.

The bedside lamps come in to balance this.

A good way to do this is to link the color and tone of the lamps to the wall color and accents in the room.

To revisit our previous example, if you had a navy blue wallpaper with gold accents on the wall, the bedside lamps could be blue with some gold accents on the stand.

They should have a bit of contrast with the bed – this is the most important thing.

The image below shows how the bed frame can be coordinated with the wall and lamps:

Bed Frame Coordinated With Bedroom Wall and Lamps
Bed Frame Coordinated With Master Bedroom Wall and Lamps (Custom Image: Animo Regis.com)

9: Apply the Finishing Touches With Art and Texture

Everything is in place, so now you can start to close the design with some textiles and art.

The best principle that you can apply here is to sync the textiles with the decoration.

When it comes to wall art, look for as large pieces as possible, as these enhance the space.

Let’s say you find a stunning artwork that has red, you could then link that to a carpet which contains dark red, and some drapes which have dark red accents.

Carpets and artwork are also the best choices to balance the overall look if you feel it’s too dark or too light.

Ideally, the bigger the better.

It’s preferable to have one large area rug, instead of a few smaller rugs.

Same for the artwork: go for one larger one, rather than two smaller ones.

Avoid clutter as much as possible so that you can have a quiet, relaxing environment.

Art in Master Bedroom
Art in Master Bedroom (Custom Image: Animo Regis.com)

An architect’s trick would be to match the texture of the rug with the overall texture of the bedroom.

So, let’s say you went for a white marble bathroom.

Find a rug with white marble motifs, but a general color that is close to the ambiance of the bathroom.

But always keep in mind that it needs to work with the bedroom decor first.

Solid color drapes are great if you have solid-color walls.

If you chose wallpaper, pick textured drapes that match the wallpaper.

Finally, pick drapes that have a simple hooking mechanism, as they are far simpler to wash and maintain.

The image below shows you how to coordinate your drapes with the wall color:

Drapes Coordinated With Wall Color
Drapes Coordinated With Wall Color (Custom Image: Animo Regis.com)

Conclusion: Start With the Floor Plan and Work Up

In summary, to design an ensuite master bedroom start by planning the bed, dressing area, and bathroom space – draw up a basic floor plan to help you visualize the process.

Then work your way up by layering the lighting to create the desired ambiance, before assembling a color palette for both rooms to create the mood and feel that suits you the best.

From there, you should consider the materials, finish, and pattern of the bedroom floor; after which you can decide if you’re going to use paint, wallpaper, or panel moldings for your bedroom walls depending on your experience and desire for complexity.

In most cases, you’ll want to select white for the bedroom ceiling, before coordinating the finish of the bathroom floor and walls, and then continue the theme between the bedroom and bathroom by linking the two with appropriate fixtures and accessories.

The final steps are to align the furnishings of the bedroom and bathroom, before applying the finishing touches with wall art and textiles.

Also see: 9 ways to make a small bedroom look bigger with furniture.


Image Attribution and Licencing

Main image: ‘Luxury Ensuite for Master Bedroom by Manuel Tsanoudakis – used with permission under the terms of Canva’s One Design Use License Agreement.

All other custom images provided by AnimoRegis.com – used with permission.

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