Julie’s First Lead Design With VHD – A Primary Bath Reveal + Tips On How To Easily Blend Classic & Contemporary Styles
Hi EHD friends! Julie here & I am back with another exciting room reveal but this time from Team VHD. If you haven’t heard the news already, the EHD Design Alum team (Velinda, Grace, & myself!) are reunited again under the helm of Velinda Hellen Design. It’s been a little over a year since I joined forces with that incredible duo for all things ‘Full-Service Clients’ in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, Grace is masterfully juggling the ‘E-Design Clients’, with the help of Marlene, Brittany & Trina, all over the Globe. And Velinda (our trusty leader) bounces back and forth like a Wimbledon tennis match between the two design worlds.
Today, I am excited to share my first VHD project as Lead Designer & this time we have a bathroom to reveal. Yes, we do more than just kitchens. And if you’ve missed those reveals you can check out our most recent green and tambour cladded kitchen & Velinda’s first freelance client with some clever storage solutions.
Now to meet our lovely clients & take a peek at the ‘straight-out-of-the-early-2000s’ bathroom before photos…
We didn’t get a proper portrait of the pair but nonetheless, we still wanted to introduce the most spectacularly self-sufficient clients, Gloria & Marc. We were beyond lucky to have them as our client during these unprecedented times of design meeting Zoom calls, installs over FaceTime & endless emails finalizing every detail big or small.
Here she is in all her former glory & while the bathroom wasn’t unusable it definitely needed some upgraded functionality that was more practical for our client’s needs. Ultimately, the bathroom just lacked the soul of this classic Craftsman-style home. Downstairs is filled with walnut built-ins and detailed paneling that is original to the home and upstairs, a beautifully curved banister with a matching curved skylight above. Our end goal was to take this bath from a beige Wonder Bread sandwich back to the original charm of the Craftsman home but with modern sensibilities.
BUT the challenge was doing so while also incorporating our clients’ desire for a ‘modern spa’ feel. Clients frequently ask, ‘How can I stay true to my clean/minimalist/modern aesthetic when I live in a traditional home?” (i.e. victorian, craftsman, colonial, etc., etc.). While each case is different, the solution we seem to find comes in being INSPIRED by traditional elements that remain true to the architectural style (here they are: color, wood tones, tile usage, & plumbing finishes) while allowing for an updated take on the aesthetic. Being too ‘true to the era’ may end up feeling too dated, but a modern room in an architecturally-aged home can feel out of place. We aimed to dance in the world between.
Here are some inspiration photos for the overall look & feel of the space:
Green handmade tiles, darker wood tones, curved detailing (mimicking their banister in the hallway just outside their bedroom), clean lines yet traditional aesthetics in fixtures & custom cabinetry that feels a part of the home’s history were the main takeaways from our inspiration phase of the design process.
Over the course of designing, the construction phase & the shoot, we were physically in the space a total of 3 times. Gloria (thankfully) stepped up & in as our acting project manager and was so on top of things that we jokingly told her we wanted to hire her (but seriously, Gloria, the offer is still on the table). She and our GC were amazing at communicating all the changes with our team because, as most of you know, when it comes to construction you can plan to the last ⅛” detail but something will always arise to put a twist into the final design.
Above are the renders of the final design we presented to Gloria during our second time in the space. As you’ll see in the reveal photos, not much changed between this and the ‘final result’… just a detail here or there, which was a big digital design sigh of relief.
And now…Welcome to our “Autumnal Craftsman-Meets Contemporary Spa Bathroom”, it’s like a PSL… but a bathroom.
On our first visit, Gloria mentioned that she loved the original green handmade tile on the fireplace surround downstairs so we instantly knew this green tone (plus a walnut wood) should be included in the final design. The fireplace tile became our jumping-off point. The idea was to take the classic craftsman aesthetic but update it to suit their more contemporary taste. And so the balance of ‘two, varying design styles’ began & it all came down to the details.
As you walk into the room your eye is instantly drawn to the two tones of the handmade green tiles from Fireclay Tile. They had the perfect shades of green to give a nod to the craftsman style while keeping it feeling up to date & slightly trendy with the color block design we implemented.
The idea was to use a slightly darker 3” square tile in Peabody on the bottom portion that was closer in color to the tile downstairs, but then create a stopping point at the top of the tub to keep the room from leaning too dark overall. The darker tile also helped to balance out the custom walnut vanity that runs the length of the space & prevented it from feeling too heavy/overwhelming for this more narrow bath footprint. Then the lighter 3” x 6” tile in Rosemary is in a vertical stacked pattern on top & as the shower surround which gives a light & airy spa-like balance while still bringing more color into the space.
DESIGN DETAIL TIP | Tile
Classic Element: the colors of the tile & handmade quality
Contemporary Element: the vertical stacked pattern & use of the trendy color block design
THE VANITY – STORAGE
The original vanity in this room came with a lot of storage but most of it wasn’t quite functional. As you can see in the “Before Photos” from earlier in the post, the drawers were long and narrow. This made it difficult to store some things easily… a blow dryer would surely get lost in the cabinets below. The deeper drawers were off to the left side which was out of arm’s reach & the limited vanity area on the right side was never fully utilized.
Since we were starting from scratch with the vanity design, we asked them our typical questions when it comes to custom cabinetry:
- What do you plan to store?
- Do you prefer drawers vs cabinets?
- Are there any specialty items to include in the design?
Here is where we landed. As you can see above we started by creating a deeper cabinet in the middle, which provides more counter space for getting ready. The two sides are a bit more shallow to prevent the space from feeling too narrow. It also helped to avoid overlapping the door frame to their bedroom (their previous vanity was a culprit of this design faux pas).
The middle section is a little shy of 60” wide and includes 6 drawers (4 that are more shallow /narrow for storing make-up, etc. & 2 that are deeper for brushes, a blow dryer, etc.). A 36”W under-sink cabinet provides storage for the bulkier items like toilet paper and cleaning supplies. A lot of storage potential for this new vanity already!
The left side hides two specialty item requests from our clients:
- A small folding ironing board in the top right drawer
- Two laundry basket inserts in the large drawer below
The opposite side has a wide deep drawer to store additional toiletries with an open shelf below for extra linens & provides access/space for the air vent. All the drawers & cabinet doors are adorned with brass hardware from Rejuvenation that warms up the darker walnut wood. The plumbing fixtures, pulls & knobs, towel ring & hooks, & toilet paper holder are all from the West Slope Collection creating a uniform and more classic look.
DESIGN DETAIL TIP | Custom Vanity
Classic Element: walnut wood & brass metal combination
Contemporary Element: slab fronts & minimal style hardware
THE SINK DILEMMA
The windows in the space created a design dilemma. Our client’s original goal was to install double sinks. Due to their desire not to replace/change the windows (and the resulting limited space allotted for a mirror), our solution was to install a 30”W trough style sink. This was a major upgrade from their previous small, round vessel one. The new sink is wide enough for them to share at the same time. This is also a budget-friendly option since you don’t have to buy two of everything + double installation costs.
We also saved dollars by keeping the wall-mounted sink faucet in place and swapped out the fixture for one that seamlessly blends the classic and contemporary worlds. The overall clean lines & trendier cross handles of the West Slope Faucet from Rejuvenation feel fresh yet the brass tone and curve to the design give it a touch of classic style.
THE STONE DETAILS
The other vanity dilemma was how to make the wider, middle section feel purposeful since it overlapped with the two flanking windows. The solution was to create a beautiful two-tiered, curved backsplash moment using the Sereno Bianco from Vadara. This quartz stone is not only very user-friendly, it also has the most beautiful veining pattern in person making it one of our go-to quartz for our clients. Which created plenty of movement & ‘texture’ without looking too bold/cramped under the window sill. Speaking of, can we just take a second to appreciate the precision of the stone fabricator and how perfectly that piece fits under the trim.
DESIGN DETAIL TIP | Stone Countertop
Classic Element: the curved backsplash design & veining pattern with a slight polished finish
Contemporary Element: keeping the edge profile a simple miter instead of an Ogee curved profile
ADDITIONAL STORAGE & LIGHTING
There was one final request for storage and that was of the vertical kind. We were pretty limited on wall space so a medicine cabinet mirror was a great option. It looks like any other mirror when closed… but it has ample storage. When I opened the mirrored door slightly for the shot, Emily Bowser, our stylist queen who expertly made this room feel so special with the final touches. (LOOK. AT. THOSE. FLOWERS. Perfection!) was actually shocked by the fact this was a medicine cabinet (which TBH are often kinda meh). This one though… so pretty!
The cherry on top is that Rigdon Wall Sconce from Rejuvenation. It provides plenty of ambient vanity lighting & is such a classic design yet with clean lines. Since we crammed so much between the two windows we wanted something that was functional, beautiful & a little more understated since the opal glass helps it disappear on the white wall.
DESIGN DETAIL TIP | Mirror
Classic Element: brass finish & curved edges
Contemporary Element: clean linear lines & thin minimal frame (if it was oval or had a thicker more decorative frame it would read more classic)
THE ‘WC NICHE’
Since we decided to install a full height dividing wall between the shower and toilet area we wanted to keep things simple over here & it wasn’t a high priority place to spend money. Savings came through keeping the toilet in its original location. There was, however, an amazing opportunity to add open shelving for some personal styling touches/storage (with a ledge on the back wall topped with the same quartz material used throughout for ease when cleaning).
The collage piece is from an amazing artist on Etsy, Artistic Side of Life, located in the UK. Maya’s pieces evoke the whole concept of the design by using classic elements with a new contemporary spin. To top things off, we added a walnut shelf with brass brackets from Rejuvenation. This was a great way to add in a smaller dose of the darker wood tone which helped balance out the vanity.
DESIGN DETAIL TIP | Art
Classic Element: subject matter – vintage photos & classic buildings
Contemporary Element: collage media – makes for a quirky & fresh piece of art
THE SHOWER AREA
Moving to the shower area, you get a close-up view of the two green tile tones from Fireclay paired with the rust–colored towels Emily B. pulled in. The contrast makes each of the colors really pop. Quick Question: Are you ‘Team Towel Bar’ or ‘Team Towel Hooks’? Curious minds would like to know, so leave a comment below!
The extra-large tub we chose was ideal since Gloria and Marc plan to bathe their two small kids mainly in this bathroom. The tub measures 76” long, so we created a 48″ wide double glass door opening to serve as the shower enclosure. This allows them more room when bathing their two kids at the same time. We also installed the same Vadara quartz for the tub deck & added a small overhang to the front of the tub for water spills. This is a great tip if you plan to use a material that isn’t fully waterproof… plus it makes for easier clean up.
The shower fixtures are also the West Slope line from Rejuvenation and add so much warmth against the tile. In the earlier phase of the design, we were toying with the idea of putting the tub spout centered along the back wall but opted to keep them all on the same wall which helped to cut some costs from the final budget.
HOT TIP: Always try to match the plumbing fixtures in a space (which often means using the same brand/vendor). Not only is the finish more likely to match, but it also makes it easy for your crew to install or repair down the line since they most likely have similar parts. If you’re blending design styles, it’s not a design mistake to mix-and-match contemporary and classic styles, as long as the finishes match. This can enhance an eclectic look.
The new, full-height wall was the perfect spot for a large quartz-lined shower niche. We opted to create two tall openings for family-sized bottles, freeing up the tub deck space for toys to entertain the kids during bath time.
PSA *Pretty vase not included during aforementioned bath time*
The large-format floor tiles used were pretty simple in design & very budget-friendly. So to add a ‘special vintage moment’ we sourced this amazing worn Caucasus rug from Blue Parakeet Rugs, an EHD & VHD vintage-rug-favorite.
The colors of the rug’s design worked so well with the green tile & rust styling accents. Plus, the design has a geometric/contemporary feel, but is so classic & is a true vintage piece. Every room deserves to have at least one ‘antiqued/used’ item for some added soul. Sheba, the owner of Blue Parakeet Rugs, is so knowledgeable in her field and if you live in the LA area she does a “Rug & Roll” bringing tons of options to her clients’ homes to see which is the right fit for each room. Her process is so fun to watch on IG stories!
Last but not least (and some of you sleuths may have caught this from the ‘before photos’)… we removed the painted shutters & swapped them with linen roman shades. We were torn on whether or not to do this since there are shutters in some other rooms of the house. But even when open the original shutters didn’t let in a ton of natural light and proved to be ‘in the way’ when in this position. Roman shades not only were more considerate of the limited space, but also added a bit of warmth. Softness/color provided by fabric always makes a bath feel cozier… and that was the goal.
The final touch for a bit of subtle contrast (and a hint toward Craftsman) was a very, very light green paint for the window trim. We were all already fans of this idea, especially after Sara wrote a post on the trend & implemented it into her own home. This detail added a bit more color onto the other side of the space opposite of the tiled area to once again balance it all out.
And as always to conclude, here’s the obligatory, “What do I do with my hands, Sara?” photo to wrap up today’s reveal. But in all seriousness, it was truly such a pleasure to work with our client’s Gloria & Marc, and our wonderful GC whom we are so excited to be working with on future projects. A special thanks to all of our amazing vendors (Rejuvenation, Fireclay Tile, Vadara, & Blue Parakeet Rugs) for helping to make this room design a reality.
I feel immensely lucky to be working with our dream design team again, all thanks to Velinda who bravely started a company in the midst of a pandemic. If you have a space that is ready for a revamp & live in the Los Angeles area (or surrounding areas, we have an amazing client in Ojai!). We are wrapping up a few more Full-Service projects & would love to work with you! Also, if you live literally anywhere else in the world (or LA but don’t need Full-Service for your project) we offer E-Design packages for any room size. The E-team is incredible at creating beautiful spaces from afar & each project comes with a “To-Go Box” that includes every last detail you’ll need to implement the design on your own.
We are so thankful to Em & the EHD team whom we love immensely, to be able to keep sharing our ideas & room reveals with you all. We’ve missed you so let’s chat & catch up on all things design in the comments below, see you there!