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THE LOOK

Maybe its river-rock-and-bamboo-stalk fatigue. Maybe it's the plethora of luxury hotel projects, from the Ritz redo in Montreal to the new Shangri-La in Toronto, generating buzz in Canadian metropolises right now. Whatever the reason, the spa-like minimalism that has defined many a bathroom over the past few years is giving way to a richer, more ornate style suggestive of grand European hotels. "We are sooo done with the Zen bathroom," says design expert Janette Ewen, co-host with Ty Pennington of W Network's Inside the Box and ambassador for Quality Canadian Furniture, a network of homegrown furniture manufacturers. "People are ready, after a rough couple of years, for grander, less streamlined, more overtly traditional retreats," she adds, citing dark exotic woods and intricately veined marble, sumptuous patterned fabrics and mouldings on the walls. "I'm glamming up a Zen-like bathroom right now, bringing in a deep soaker tub and giving it a baroque feel over all. Three crystal chandeliers from Abraham's Antiques on [Toronto's]Queen Street West will illuminate the space. [The shop's owner]often reclaims hotel fixtures and furnishings." Think of the trend as a new way of puttin' on the Ritz.

DESIGNER MUST-HAVE

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The name of the manufacturer may call a famous London museum to mind, but Victoria + Albert's new bateau-style Toulouse tub, which made its Canadian debut at the Interior Design Show in Toronto in January, is all French chateau or grand hotel. "I'm super inspired by [Parisian hotels like]Le Meurice and the Ritz," Janette Ewen says. But unlike the tubs in drafty European loos, the single-cast Toulouse isn't cold against the skin, as it's made of volcanic limestone, not old-fashioned enamel. $5,500 through www.vandabaths.com .

ADVENTURES IN RENOVATING

Dos and don'ts from Style editor Danny Sinopoli, recent renovator

Don't… skimp when it comes to toilet technology. It may be impolite to talk about, but a unit with dual-flush or other water-conserving features are worth the extra cost. Your water bill - and the environment - will benefit.

Do… install a detachable hand shower if you have a big walk-in shower as I do . Besides being fun to use, it also makes cleaning large glass and wall surfaces a breeze. Kohler Flipside handshower, $130 through www.kohler.com .

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