How a 100-Year-Old LA Home Went From Old-School to Modern Glam

Everything from the walls to the flooring was completely transformed.

Media storage, CB2; sectional, Floor Plan LA Photography by Madeline Tolle

We’re suckers for a good home renovation: There’s nothing quite like seeing an old, rundown foundation transformed into a classy, modern living space, and with a new baby on the way, Homepolish designer Barbie Palomino knew it was time to upgrade her 100-year-old Los Angeles abode into something a little more fun and eclectic.

“We really wanted our space to be comfortable, tidy, and a happy compromise between adult and fun,” says Palomino.

Photography by Madeline Tolle
Photography by Madeline Tolle

The first major update to the space? The bathroom. Earlier, an ill-placed tub, yellowing tile, and a brown wall took over the space, but Palomino decided to add more light into the area by adding pops of white and some stunning ivory tile on the walls.

“We moved the tub to the window to fix the previously dumb floor plan and make its small square footage work for us,” she says. “As there was no room to expand it, we really had to work with what was there—so I splurged on tile and fixtures. Between the tub/window move and all the new lighting, it's become such a bright bathroom.”

Wall tile, Cle Tile; fixtures, Brizo Photography by Madeline Tolle

A few darker accents, including a Moroccan-style rug beside the tub and a brushed wood cabinet, prevent the area from being too high-maintenance, and also allow the ethereal tile to take center stage.

"I was having an 'old world' moment, and kept seeing these dreamy images of handmade zellige tiles everywhere. I had to have them!" says Palomino. "I didn't want to go full-on Moroccan theme in our main bathroom, so I brought in the oak to be a little period-appropriate, and the modern black fixtures to marry the two."

Photography by Madeline Tolle

In the living area, Palomino chose to completely revamp the flooring, thus giving way to a lighter, airier space that made use of textured accents and soft colors to really let some personality shine through.

“An open floor plan was the key to our small house,” explains Palomino. “My husband, Jason, had actually painted everything light gray before I moved in. The first major change I made was repainting my favorite shade of white so that all the shutters didn't feel like contrasting accents. That totally changed the vibe! Our front windows face east, so I sit at the dining table with my laptop and my morning coffee every day and get so productive in that light, I rarely make it out to my office!”

Photography by Madeline Tolle

Replacing the outdated furniture, using frosted teal glass on the door, and playing with a combination of bright pillows also did wonders to fully utilize the natural light shining through the space.

“I'm a pillow fiend!” says Palomino. “Some people dye their hair or splurge on shoes, but I have to change my pillows out practically as often as the seasons, so I needed their backdrop to be neutral and dark enough to handle the inevitable milk stains.” A light grey sofa and off-white rug were the perfect new additions.

Dining chairs, West Elm; dining bench, West Elm; artwork, Saatchi Art Photography by Madeline Tolle

In the dining area, a rustic wood table plays with interesting yellow chairs that add a more subdued touch to the space. “The dining table is one of two pieces in Jason’s fully furnished house I didn't replace: It's made of two thick slabs of wood, and while it wasn't what I would have purchased, I felt it could work with a little glam in the chairs,” says Palomino. She played with nontraditional velvet and brass materials for the West Elm seating, allowing the seating area to have its own distinct vibe, given the open floor plan.

Above, a built-in bookshelf separates the kitchen from the dining area. “We were blowing out the wall separating the kitchen from the dining room, so instead of completely tearing it out, it was the perfect opportunity to enclose the cabinetry on the kitchen side and maximize storage on the other side,” says Palomino. “We had been living with all our books stacked on the floor on the back side of the sectional for like a year, and while it did look kinda cool, it was ultimately too bohemian for our neurotic tidiness.”

Photography by Madeline Tolle
Photography by Madeline Tolle

The biggest change, however, came in the kitchen. While now, teal cabinetry, herringbone floors, and gold accents light up the space, previously, ugly brown floors and dull green countertops made up the small, enclosed area.

“The countertops were not just tile, but this gross green textured mess with super thick grout lines. I used to have to vacuum the countertops; it was so hard to get them clean,” says Palomino. “But now, it's truly a part of our home, and everyone who comes over congregates around the island.”

Kitchen fronts, Semi Handmade Doors; double sconce, Circa Lighting; faucet, Efaucets; countertop brackets, Rejuvenation; counter stools, AllModern
Photography by Madeline Tolle

The fresh, modern feel of the kitchen is accentuated by the contrast of light and dark, as well as a fun rug to add some color. “I originally wanted green. He wanted blue. We compromised on this bluish green,” says Palomino. We went with a Carrara quartz to make it feel fresh and clean, while also being super practical for our lifestyle. The green and the brass felt right with the dining chairs.”

Rug, West Elm Photography by Madeline Tolle

The baby’s nursery is also different, thanks to the fun wallpapered accent wall, large windows, and soft carpeting. Hanging lights, fun jeweled tones, and brown and tan accessories give the area a bit of childish glamour perfect for a baby girl, while still remaining fairly sophisticated.

Crib, Crate & Barrel; wallpaper, Flat Vernacular Photography by Madeline Tolle

“I was torn between this romantic celestial theme I had, and what we went with here,” says Palomino. “Ultimately the white foundation with pops of color fit better with the rest of the home, and we wanted to take advantage [of the fact] that she didn't have an opinion yet. I love seeing nurseries that are grownup-friendly: There's no need to sacrifice your adult tastes for your babes. I dread her someday liking the stereotypical ugly kids' decor, but I'll cross that bridge if we ever get there.”

Photography by Madeline Tolle

Palomino’s bedroom, on the other hand, takes on a whole different vibe, with mod dark walls and a moody aesthetic. "I love dark walls in a bedroom. It's calming to me,” says Palomino. “And I love velvet, hence all the pillows and dining chairs. So, I had this headboard custom made to fit between the windows.”

The lighter bedding and curtains make sure the room doesn’t go too dark, and still fits in with the rest of the home.

Rug, Overstock; sofa, Organic Modernism Photography by Madeline Tolle

The little study out back is actually Palomino’s garage, which was renovated entirely to give her a space to work. “A third of the foundation had sunk, so since we needed to re-do that concrete, we decided to keep the floors looking industrial, and just seal it all with a glossy finish,” says Palomino. She also played with color with her velvet (what else?) couch and shiny metal coffee table, but let the study area be more monochrome to give her some focus.

“I try to corral the crazy,” laughs Palomino. “Opposite the bed and sofa is an entire wall of closed storage for my design library, and the bulletin boards hold all my random pieces of paper. I got lucky to find a partner with my same desire for tidiness. A place for everything and everything in its place—if it doesn't fit or serve a purpose, it has to go.”

See more home transformations:
Tips to Steal From a Dramatic Kitchen Renovation
Inside the Colorful Home Kitchen Renovation of Aww Sam
Before and After: Bathroom Makeovers That Give Us Hope 

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Published on April 13, 2018 - 5:16pm EDT

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