Designer for a Day: What About This Old Tiled Bathroom?

Let’s put on our design caps and see if we can help Erik, a reader with an old tiled bathroom he’d like to update. He writes:

“I’ve got a Monterey Spanish house in the Hollywood Hills, where there is no master bath, and the main bathroom for the bedrooms is fairly large, and is tiled in what I think is original tile.

“There is a large tub and a separate stall shower. There is a sink with a cabinet built around it and a window on either side of the mirrored medicine cabinet.

I want to keep the original feel of the house, so would like to update it, but tastefully.

Granite or marble would be overdoing it, and I’m not really sure what else to consider.”

Any advice for Erik?

Got a remodeling design challenge for us? Or want to show off a design challenge you successfully met? Email pictures and your tale to

4 Comments on Designer for a Day: What About This Old Tiled Bathroom?

  1. tarbubble

    just to clarify my earlier post, i also LOVE the tile and think it should be preserved. my only concern about the bathtub is that if it is original, it might not be in the greatest shape. from what i can see in the pics, it looks good, but we can’t see all of it. But even as it is, the bath is lovely. it can be made even lovelier with a few subtle changes. no need for a major overhaul.

  2. sheila

    what’s wrong with it? i don’t like the paint, either, and it looks like the color of the floor tile totally clashes with the wall tile (that could be the photo), but otherwise, it’s gorgeous — i love the wall tile and tub.
    for paint colors and decor ideas, check out moorish, turkish, indian and portuguese design books (like taschen). maybe a skylight in the shower stall and either a clear shower door or a clear shower curtain would make it feel less claustrophobic?
    don’t believe the hype of “updating” an architecturally consistent house unless you have a specific need. it is beautiful already, other than the paint.

  3. Mr. Charming

    I would be thrilled if a bathroom in my house looked this good. And you want to rip it out? For something trendy?
    There’s just no pleasing some people.
    Mr. Charming

  4. tarbubble

    i think that the bath is really beautiful, and i’m glad you want to preserve the original feel. some inexpensive ideas — change the paint color on the walls (above the tiles), refinish the cabinets under the sink, and add new knobs. I’m not sure if you could replace the pink tub without damaging the lovely original tilework — but if the tub is in good condition you may be able to work with it. would a new toilet look too out of place? and are the floor tiles original? they don’t really look quite right. replacing them would probably make a big difference. something other than a plain white shower curtain will make a big change as well — you could have the same curtain at the tub and shower (with a liner of course), or different but complimentary colors.
    i notice that you have no wall cabinets. looks like you have space for one above the toilet or the towel bar. depending one where your studs are, you could have inset shelves/cabinets put in those spaces also.