By Lisa van de Geyn
Renderings by Dima Ahmad Interiors Inc.
It all started with a movie. It’s no secret that designers can find inspiration from anywhere, but, for the first time in her career, Oakville, Ont.-based interior designer Dima Ahmad was asked to draw inspiration from a feature film. In one of her first conversations with the gentleman of the house, he said he wanted a Scarface bathroom — arguably one of the most iconic bathrooms in cinematic history. “I initially thought he was just kidding, but through further discovery and conversation, I learned the homeowners are actually quite creative and really open to this kind of ingenuity,” she says. “There was a lot of learning on my part. I had heard of Scarface, but there was a lot of research that had to be done. I spent the time watching the movie and really understood Al Pacino’s character and why it fit him so well to be sitting in that tub,” Ahmad explains. “It was certainly the first time I used a movie reference as inspiration.” So, she promised the homeowner he’d get his Scarface bathroom — not an ostentatious room, like the one in the film, but a tastefully done space, complete with a bathtub where he could relax and look up at the stars.
“It’s like being tucked away in your own oasis.”
The homeowners of this 40-year-old home in rural Caledon, Ont., are commercial builders. They were keen to find a home their young family could grow into together. On the 14-acre property, there’s an existing 2,100 – square foot home, but Ahmad is currently in the process of adding an extension — the new construction will add another 4,000 square feet of living space for the couple and their young children. “They entertain a lot and they both come from big families, so they wanted a home they could invest in and have their extended families over,” she says. The home is surrounded by forestry. “I practice mindful design, and it’s important to be mindful of the outside. When you have the liberty of having no neighbours and you can just be surrounded by beautiful nature, it becomes part of the architecture and design of how you experience the house. You need to take advantage of the foliage around you,” she says. The existing home is very much a Red Cedar log home with walls and vaulted ceilings clad in wood. While the new addition will lend itself to a more modern space, Ahmad is careful to respect the original property and plans to incorporate some of those wood elements and history into the new build.
The principal suite, which features this exquisite bathroom, is being built at the intersection of the old house and the new abode — where the two buildings connect — so the floor plan has been challenging to work with. Still, it hasn’t stopped Ahmad, who has designed a space that perfectly suits the exuberant, worldly couple.
In designing the ensuite, Ahmad researched Scarface and how the tub in the famous scene was created, and she opted to play with organic shapes when it came time to select a tub. Her goal was for it to be an art piece — a statement- maker. “Clearly the tub mattered to the homeowner, and that also determined where we were going to place it. I chose to put it where you could see it from all angles of the bathroom. I want it to shine,” she says. The ceiling is made up of windows (and the plan is to make them retractable, permits pending), giving the couple the perfect view of the stars when soaking. There will also be windows behind the tub that open, with a balcony that will surround the room overlooking the infinity pool.
For the shower area, Ahmad took inspiration from one of the homeowners’ requests: They asked for lots of secret rooms and hidden spaces to be built throughout the home. (There are plans to create a secret room in the bathroom; it will be hidden behind a beautifully curated bookshelf.) “The shower area is private, and you’re secluded when you’re inside — it’s like being tucked away in your own oasis. They wanted their home to feel like a resort and having the two showers on either side of the tub elevates the entire experience.” The woman of the home told Ahmad she didn’t want to feel cold or have a large shower area — instead, she wanted a smaller space that was more intimate. “It’s still grand and luxurious but it’s certainly not cold,” she says. The shower zones are also completely personalized: Ahmad takes measurements of her clients to make sure the rainfall shower heads are perfectly situated, and the jets are hitting the appropriate pressure points. “I would feel like a goddess showering there,” she says.
The floor is also a showpiece. It was initially out of Ahmad’s comfort zone, but the homeowners were vocal about wanting something completely unexpected. “It’s jaw-dropping. It’s sassy and you get that vibe from the couple that they’re low-key, but a bit spicy, too. I went through multiple floor options, but I kept coming back to this one. It really sets the tone and vibe of the entire suite.” The material cladding the walls throughout the space is microcement. “The space is meant to get wet,” says Ahmad, adding she chose the colour because the tone worked with the flooring, and it had an “element of exhale that I wanted to capture in juxtaposition to the loud flooring.”
It goes without saying that the homeowners and Ahmad can’t wait to see the finished space. “It’s been a lot of work and we’ve been able to be so creative, thanks to the couple’s inspiration. It’s been quite the experience to work on this property, that’s for sure,” she says proudly.