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Before & After: This 1950s California Bathroom Grows Up

We recently updated the bathroom in our house that is (supposed to be) shared by all four of our children. A reminder — we did not buy our house for its fantastic layout or gobs of space because, well, our house doesn’t offer that. We bought our house because we loved the neighborhood and the neighbors. We loved the yard and the pool and the Fourth of July bike parade. And we were about to have our third baby and our house would be the perfect size for a family of five.

But then we had a fourth baby. And we became a family of six. Which is the same as a family of 37. Give or take.



And the house got smaller. And the kids got bigger. And the needs changed.

Most decisions were based on common sense or desperation. Diapers stashed on every floor, meals outside so I could hose down every single thing and every single body and the glorious gift that came in the shape of a very old and very loud attic fan that drowned out enough noise to allow for naptime - my sole goal besides brushing my teeth.

Today, everyone has their own drawer in the bathroom and their same seat for dinner. There are spots for backpacks and coats. There are monogrammed bags for ski gear and swim stuff. There are monogrammed towels and monogrammed bins and monogrammed mugs. So our days are full of monograms. And joy. And lots of love and loads of laughter.

I mean, kind of.

Someone is always looking for something - mostly gum or library books or hairbrushes. I've heard some families play board games. Ours accuse each other of various criminal activities including but not limited to: stealing hair bands, throwing away something very important, taking someone's seat on the couch because "I was JUST SITTING THERE," eating the last of anything worth eating and the illegal use of someone else's phone charger.

So I was excited when I got to fly to San Diego to update a tired bathroom for three teenage girls. Because three is less than four. And those children in California didn't belong to me and I had no idea who was sitting anywhere first. Easy.

The great thing about an all-girl bathroom is there are no boys. Everything is prettier and everything smells better and there is always lip gloss and nail polish.

This house, built in the 50s, is a quintessential California ranch which means the layout is dreamy because almost every room offers views of the backyard. But the finishes were very dated and the house felt heavy. Here's proof:


The shower/tub combo used to be to the left of the door, the sink was shoved into a corner and the toilet was not only in the direct line of site from the hallway but it was also reflected in the huge mirror over the sink. Not typically what you want to look at while applying the aforementioned gloss.

By moving the toilet to the left of the door, centering a large free-standing vanity and moving the tub and shower to the far wall, the room feels bigger and brighter.


A bold pattern on the floor and clean white finishes on the vanity and shower walls keeps things interesting but uncomplicated. A complementary black and white tile in the niche is sweet littlepot for the concoctions these three girls won't need until they are 48 and by then it's too late anyway.

The gray quartz countertop is forgiving of spills and brushed nickel hardware is a timeless choice.

Everyone gets their own hook for towels, their own drawers for makeup, their own shelf in the medicine cabinet and their very own spot on the back of the door for wet swimsuits.

By creating room in front of the sink more than one person can get ready — though if you’ve been around teenage sisters this is not recommended. Adding textured glass on the one window allows for lots of light and plenty of privacy.

Bougainvillea grows rampant in San Diego and clipping a few stems of it or any one of the hundreds of other plants and flowers that seemingly grow overnight is the perfect finishing touch.

We have been tackling so many bath renovations during the pandemic — look for more in our upcoming blogs and take a look of some of our past projects here. If you are thinking about a refresh on your own bath, we always recommend taking a picture on your phone and looking at with a fresh eye. This gives you a chance to really see what you’ve become numb to, such as a toilet in full-view of the hallway and the dingy towels hung crookedly on the towel bar. And then ask yourself what is missing: Do you need more storage? Better light? A monogrammed tea cup and a monogrammed padlock on the door? Us too.

PS: I have a client launching a monogramming business and will share more with you soon, after I place all my orders for the year.

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See you next time at The Neighbor's House!


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