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Home Design: A Small Bathroom with a Big Personality



I have been meaning to share this exquisite bathroom with you for some time, just because it is too beautiful not to. What this bathroom went through is similar to a Pygmalion experience, when a little focused TLC transforms something from ordinary to extraordinary.


When I first moved here from Hawai’i almost two years ago – has it been that long already!? – one of the first things my friend Valerie did, pretty soon after the pups and I rolled into her house at almost midnight, was take me to the bathroom door with a very excited look. Then she opened the door and turned on the lights.




Yes, I was as open mouthed as you are now. Even more so because I remembered very well what this bathroom used to look like. Now I do the same thing with new visitors: the moment they ask for the powder room, I lead them to the bathroom and wait for their reaction.

In the two images above you see it the way I saw it from the doorway: daylight on the left, nighttime with lights on on the right.

Isn’t it exquisite?




Unfortunately I do not have any before pictures to show you for comparison. But trust me when I say that this space looked completely different before. It had dark jade green carpeting, white walls, a floating vanity that that was both old and old-fashioned, and took up the wall to the right and wrapped around to the area where this lovely vanity is right now. The mirror covered the right side wall from vanity to ceiling.

By all means, it was not an ugly bathroom, but it had not been renovated in over thirty years, so it was quite outdated.




Where the shower is now was just a space that was occupied by a little table and chair with the round basin filled with towels, and a pile of books and magazines.


Now, as you can see, the corner space by the window is a spacious open shower, with the floor sliding into the shower space in one continuous swoop, the only difference being a switch from large tiles to smaller ones, and a gentle slant for the water to drain away into that strip drain you see against the longer wall.




Images above: on the left, angled view of the shower space with interior lights off.

On the right, straight on view of the shower, interior lights on.


This is the home’s second bathroom, so a guest bathroom to go with the guest bedroom downstairs. Initially there was  no shower curtain because Valerie really loved the open look. But after I started taking a few showers, even carefully pointing the shower head towards the wall, the area nearby would get inevitably sprayed, and the lovely white rug completely soaked. In came the shower curtain, chosen among hundreds at Bed, Bath & Beyond. It is extra long, so it reaches the floor, and is just enough to keep the water spray where it belongs.




The beautiful basin and stand above have been around for a long time. The basin was the one that used to sit on the chair and was filled with towels. The stand belonged to Valerie’s Mother, the lovely and very missed Betty, whom I am sure approves from the other side as she would have loved this bathroom.


The bathroom is in tones of grey, with the walls, ceiling and door all painted in a custom-mixed shade of grey that carries a hint of green. You don’t always see the green tones, it depends on the light, but it is there, and it was intentional.


The floors are not tile, but stone. They are beautiful, but we have since discovered that stone does not suit bathroom use, especially not in the shower, where, over the months, the water from daily showers has eroded the protective coating and created calcium deposits that turned out to be impossible to clean off, and certainly not with vinegar. In the end, the tile specialist had to be called in to sand off the top of the shower stone and re-coat it. Eventually, the whole shower stone floor will be replaced with a matching tile one. I thought I should let you know just in case you were thinking of using stone. For daily shower use it is too delicate.




Where the w/c is now used to be the shower space. The w/c ensemble has remained the same, just repositioned from where it was, which was in the space between the old floating vanity and the window – basically across from where it is now.


The artwork above the water closet is a framed cross stitch piece, lovingly embroidered by my own Mother. I hand carried it on the plane with me on one of my many trips of the past, when airline regulations were more flexible.




The rose painting on the wall that suits the space perfectly is one Valerie has had forever, and is a vintage piece she discovered in a yard sale.

By the way, though the work was done by a professional contractor, this bathroom was completely redesigned by Valerie herself. She is quite talented, don’t you think?!
She said it all started with the mirror, which she found at a design show in Scottsdale, Arizona, while she and her husband Jack were there visiting friends. They loaded it in the back of their car and drove it all the way to California.


Then the vanity happened, which is by Restoration Hardware. I just looked on their site, and though they have heaps of lovely vanities, this kind is no longer available as they clearly have moved on to other designs.




The toilet paper stand is by Frontgate, and the beautiful silver sconces with the light reflecting glass drops she found at Lamps Plus.




The candle holder and silver bas relief wall art is by Z Galerie, one of my favorite design stores in the area.




As you can see in the images, this bathroom finds its color complements in shades of rose, lilac, purple and certain tones of green – like that in the rose painting. When I was out shopping with the styling of this bathroom in mind, I saw those beautiful hydrangeas in just the perfect tones of lilac pink.




Just a few more details: the soft, fluffy and absolutely machine-washable white rugs are by Martha Stewart Collection. The hand made artisan soaps are by Arabella, and I purchased them at this year’s Gravenstein Apple Fair in Sebastopol.




Tell me, are you inspired? Are you ready to go and redo your bathroom?
As for me, I can’t wait to see what she does with the master bedroom. I know a complete redesign is floating around in her head.



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  • Diantha09/19/2015 - 7:50 am

    Love this bathroom! Really exquisite details!ReplyCancel

    • Monica Schwartz09/19/2015 - 11:38 am

      Isn’t it just gorgeous, Diantha?!ReplyCancel

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