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Sarah's House 4: Master Ensuite & Basement

by - Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Wow, it’s the second to last week of episodes of Sarah’s House 4! The season has just flown by.


With an upgrade budget of $11,000 and 195 sq ft to play with, Sarah and Tommy set out to create a dreamy ensuite. There is room for every luxury in this space – a water closet, separate shower enclosure, soaker tub and double vanity. Sarah is set on making the most of her upgrade budget by using natural stone for the floor and less expensive ceramic tile for the wall.

Using the floral fabric from the ensuite as a jumping off point, they select a Ming green marble for the floor and set the colour palette for the watery space. Next up is the vanity. Instead of opting for the expensive $3500 upgrade offered by the builder, Sarah chooses to get the standard cabinetry but customize it with antiqued mirror in the recessed panels of the door fronts and adding feet to make it look like glamourous piece of furniture at a cost of $2100.

A freestanding, sculptural tub is added (definitely a Sarah “perk” – I’m not sure if many home builders would agree to this change). In a design move we’ve seen Sarah use before, she puts a 12”x12” tile on the floor but adds a tile carpet pattern using different sized tiles (total cost $1975). Large 4”x12” white subway tiles line the shower stall with a diamond tile border and chair rail to liven things up. A cross-handle chrome and porcelain faucet and vintage glass sconces add some retro glam. Full length drapes $875 in washable cotton add some softness.

Curvy accent chairs ($195 for the pair) are dressed up with a new paint job, shimmery fabric, and white piping to enhance the shape. The glam vanity is brought to life with a quartz counter upgrade of $1575 and a pair of custom narrow mirrors (which repeat the diamond motif from the shower accent tile). All in all $11,200 upgrades plus décor of $4,500. Creating a grand and soothing suitable for this grand home.


On to the huge basement! During the construction stage, Sarah added a walkout for $15,000 - a big investment but one which adds abundant natural light and value into this multipurpose space. Another upgrade: $1740 spent on modifying the ductwork and walls to create a larger space with less unsightly bulkheads.

With the entire basement clad in an upgraded wool carpet, Sarah decides to add a amp up the colour by layering a red Persian rug on top. The bold pattern of the rug needs to be balanced with other similarly bold elements so a mix of patterned fabrics in a vibrant palette of red, grey, and cream are sprinkled throughout. Soft felted wool grey is used for the William Birch style sofa while modern striped blinds in red and cream draw your eyes to the windows. More zing is added with the two opposite end walls painted in a bold barn red to visually reduce the length of the large room.

A casual, clean lined pool table at $4,375 eats up most of the décor budget so the rest of the large room is filled out with cheap finds like Craigslist chairs and a country table-turned-coffee table. A mix of feminine floral art and masculine car art make the room appealing and welcoming to all.

Tips from the show:

  • Do basement changes at the construction stage. Working with a quality builder, like Ryan Homes, that offers flexible floor plans is optimal. That way, you get a finished usable space rather than having to live with a builder basic unfinished basement for years. 
  • Mix lighting. Potlights are necessary but add pendant lights to pull the eye down and add decorative interest. 
  • Carpets can add vibrancy and colour to a boring basement. 
  • Using a variety of fabrics – wool, linen, cotton – and patterns contribute to an easy-going, easy-living feeling in the rec room 
  • Basement seating should have a deep seat, tight back and high back – perfect for kicking back and snuggling in to watch a movie. 
  • Custom built media units can be expensive. Save money by using flexible component pieces. 

The tally for this large basement: décor cost of $22,600 and upgrade cost of $43,600. That brings the total upgrades thus far to $107, 375 – more than the $100,000 budgeted and there are still a few more rooms to do!

What do you think – was it money well spent?

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