1930s bathroom remodel
Home, Los Angeles Living

At Long Last: Our 1930s Bathroom Remodel Before and After Photos!

One of my best friend’s Holocaust-survivor bubbies had an expression. She’d say — and you have to imagine this in an old-country accent — “Everywhere is it nice, but home is it the best.”

This is more or less my own life’s most fundamental mantra, and the underpinning beneath every word written on this blog. I want to go everywhere and see everything, and in between I want to come home to my own coordinates, on my teeny-tiny piece of the earth, and sit in my sweet little 1,350-square-foot house, surrounded by my family and my friends and rascally cats. That’s the nougat filling if travel is the chocolate coating.

So quite literally every time I touch down at LAX, or pull into the driveway after a long time away, I say out loud — affecting the same Yiddish accent — “Everywhere is it nice, but home is it the best.”

After more than six weeks out of our house, living with parents and in-laws and traveling out of town every single weekend, our bathroom remodel finally wrapped up and allowed us to move back in earlier this month. And by then, home felt more luxurious than even the most far-flung five-star resort.

Black and white bathroom inspiration

A neighbor’s black-and-white vintage-inspired bathroom was the the inspiration behind ours. I loved it the minute I saw it — but I think ours has even more functionality.

Sure, we may not have had shower doors right away (so I bathed in that sumptuous tepid bathwater of a pregnant lady not advised to take a hot soak), nor cabinet hardware (eh, opening drawers is overrated), but we were home.

And with a brand new black-and-white bathroom (among other improvements)! The inspiration for our 1930s bathroom remodel came from a revamped bathroom I’d seen at an open house down our street; I loved that it was clean and modern, but in keeping with the vintage ’20s/’30s style of homes in our area of Los Angeles in particular.

My mother-in-law, Linda Rosen of Linda Rosen Interiors, helped us execute the concept. (And she’ll be taking pro photos next week, but I just couldn’t wait to share! Imagine these eh-quality snapshots swapped out for wow-worthy ones, which may actually happen if I don’t deliver two babies by the time the pro’s photos are ready.)

Anyway, without further ado, our before and after photos!

1930s bathroom remodel: before

Carthay Square Los Angeles 1936 Spanish Deco Tiled Bathroom

An aesthete friend remarked that it would be “a crime against Los Angeles” to renovate this bathroom, which has such classic details of the deco area. But here’s the thing: Nobody wants old, stinky plumbing and cracked tile. It’s a recipe for a future buyer walking through this house and thinking “teardown,” as part of the “mansionization” phenomenon so common and controversial now in our area. Then it’s bye-bye 1936 house altogether. We reasoned that a new bathroom in keeping with a vintage style would not only be functional and comfortable for us (and our future babies), but also might give the bathroom 80 more years of livability for families to come.

Los Angeles 1936 Spanish Deco Tiled Bathroom 1930s bathroom remodel before and after photos

Flash forward six weeks to…

1930s bathroom remodel: after

1930s bathroom remodel pictures

Et voila! The lighting fixtures (double sconce and flush-mount ceiling fixture) are vintage repros, splurgier buys from Rejuvenation (which overall just slays us — have you been in there? OMG). Overall, we now have like 500 watts in the bathroom, which is finally enough to tweeze eyebrows and put on makeup effectively. (I’ve arrived!) We also moved the window over the tub; the window that had hung over the left side of the sink had appeared way off center since the 1970s, when an adjacent half-bathroom addition forced the removal of its counterpart window on the right side.

1930s bathroom remodel pictures

We got some additional size in the shower by adding a bench seat on the tub deck, and removing the decorative arched wall enclosure around the tub, which had pretty much just made the room seem smaller and darker.

1930s bathroom remodel pictures

I’m obsessed with the vintage-inspired tile pattern on the floor, carried into the striping on the tiled walls.

1930s bathroom remodel pictures

Black caesarstone tub and countertop (with so many intricate cuts — don’t get me started on how much we underestimated the cost of fabrication!), and these pretty black and white bathroom accessories from Pottery Barn that just totally grabbed me.

1930s bathroom remodel pictures

I never thought I could have feelings as strong as I do for something called a “shampoo niche.” Ask me.

1930s bathroom remodel pictures

Border tile work! The piece de la resistance, IMO.

1930s bathroom remodel pictures

Custom vanity with glass hardware from House of Antique Hardware, so pretty and a fraction of Restoration Hardware’s prices. That black-framed mirror (and the sunburst mirror decor piece from West Elm) hung in our previous bathroom too.

 

Update! Now with a couple of pro photos that do it a bit more justice:

1930s bathroom remodel 1930s bathroom remodel

 

 

So what do you think? Was our 1930s bathroom remodel a “crime against Los Angeles” or a respectful upgrade?

 

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24 Comments

  • Reply karen May 27, 2014 at 3:56 am

    Definitely a respectful upgrade! I love it.

    • Reply Alice May 27, 2014 at 2:50 pm

      Thanks so much, Karen! 🙂

  • Reply sharon August 13, 2014 at 10:13 pm

    WOW! to die.

  • Reply Aubun August 29, 2014 at 4:33 am

    Sorry, but crime! Don’t get me wrong, the after is absolutely beautiful. You did an amazing job. But man, I would have KILLED for that before bathroom. My heart broke a little!

    • Reply cindy July 28, 2015 at 6:59 pm

      I agree Aubun, my heart broke a little too! That bathroom looked like Audrey Hepburn lived in it. I’ve been searching for a house like that for years.

  • Reply chas belden August 31, 2014 at 3:39 am

    Your bathroom looks great. What model are the sink and tub faucets you used?

  • Reply JR February 1, 2015 at 7:56 pm

    Sorry, but I agree with Auburn. The after is very nice, but now it looks like everybody else’s new bathroom. What you had before was classic and very hard to duplicate nowadays. Its kinda like those people that bought a 1963 split window Corvette and paid the dealer to cut out the split and put in the full glass window from 1964. Now they would realize they destroyed the beauty and exponential value of a iconic classic. Only time will tell.

  • Reply Vixenvena February 28, 2015 at 8:54 pm

    The after is nice, but has time period elements that are just completely wrong. I agree with Auburn and JR. You’ve done a terrible thing to such a formerly nice piece of work.

  • Reply Leann March 3, 2015 at 12:18 am

    Crime! Sorry! It’s beautiful though!

  • Reply Sonya April 17, 2015 at 9:34 pm

    I almost cried at the before pictures! We used to have a bathroom just like that, complete with black and purple tile. The after is very nice but not as special as the before. I under the functi0nality issues though.

  • Reply Jacquie April 27, 2015 at 5:29 pm

    We are in the process of remodel and looking for ideas. Our bathroom (1933) is lavender, yellow, black and white with a lavender tub, sink and toilet. there are just too many repairs to not gut and remodel – what size if your bathroom – Love it!

    • Reply Alice April 27, 2015 at 5:37 pm

      Hi Jacquie! I am not sure the exact dimensions, but it’s not huge. We were going to do a double vanity to add to the functionality, but it would have involved even more changes to the bones — and we were on a tight timeline (thanks to my pregnancy). Good luck! I’d love to know how yours goes!

  • Reply Max May 14, 2015 at 9:35 am

    Very nice new bathroom but as your friend said, it’s a crime (against what remains of an iconic era, not just LA). My feeling is when you take ownership of an original classic that shows real craftsmanship, whether it be a piece of furniture, car or house, you become the custodian of it for future generations, which includes its upkeep and protection. On the other hand, don’t beat yourself up about it, enjoy your new one!

    My eyes did pop at your before bathroom. I’m showing that to my wife when she wakes up. We are also on a pregnancy deadline going for a deco look to replace a hack job someone did in last 20 years.

    If anyone else out there has a similar before bathroom and reads this, before you demolish, there are artisans who will handmake tiles to match the original. I found ‘clay squared to infinity’ in the states and was impressed. I even considered doing our tile order from them, and I’m down under.

  • Reply Dorian May 26, 2015 at 8:35 pm

    What is not to like!? You did a great job and kept your updates/remodel true to the vintage of the home which is wonderful. I came across your blog because I am about to embark on a similar project and turns out we live in the same neighborhood! Can I ask who built your cabinet?

  • Reply Amy July 28, 2015 at 9:41 pm

    The original bathroom was out of this world. The new bathroom is a dime a dozen. My heart breaks for the loss of the original bathroom.

  • Reply Monika July 29, 2015 at 12:03 pm

    The original was so much prettier. I would love to have that original bathroom in my home!

  • Reply sharon July 29, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    the original was my dream bathroom! I agree with amy!!

  • Reply Tamara August 3, 2015 at 5:25 am

    Sorry but as nice as the new bathroom is the old was was so much better.

  • Reply WilhelminaMildew July 14, 2016 at 1:51 am

    The original was gorgeous and you destroyed it. What a shame.

  • Reply Tiffany September 3, 2016 at 1:05 pm

    As vintage and artsy as it is, I don’t think I could have lived in that “before” bathroom! But I love the remodel, and forgive me but I also just found the solution to flooring in our small 1930 powder bath. LOVE the Greek key inspired border! Totally swiping this look!

  • Reply Erin September 10, 2016 at 11:31 pm

    Ahhh! The after is pretty, before was amazing and original. I have a very similar bathroom but in peach and black in my 1930 house. I’d never take it out.

  • Reply WeezieD January 19, 2017 at 9:30 pm

    Oh dear. A horrible crime. What an absolute shame. 🙁

  • Reply Bianca N. May 22, 2017 at 9:00 am

    I wish you guys would have bought yourselves a fixer upper with an ugly, moldy, looks-like-you’ll-get-a-disease-if-you-use-it bathroom… Or at least something in 1970’s Harvest Gold and with lots of wallpaper. Then your renovation would have been worth it AND worthy.
    But what you had… WHAT YOU HAD!!!!!!!!!!!!! How, HOW could you buy a house, see THAT bathroom and say “Yup, we need to gut this!” What’s wrong with you?!!!

  • Reply Matthew May 25, 2017 at 3:43 am

    Wow, the before had so much character and was so well preserved. The after is so dreadfully boring. It’s sad how people value ownership over stewardship. Oh well, it’s gone forever now.

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