Guest Blogger: Peggy takes on her 1920s Burbank bathroom

Peggybathroommontage_2Part 2 of Peggy Olearczuk’s remodel story:

Another disaster area in our 1920s Spanish bungalow was our green-and-lavender Art Deco bathroom.

The dark, creepy shower had been patched through the years with the wrong color tile, and it leaked so badly we worried we’d fall through the floor. The 1970s-era wallpaper was peeling, and the built-in dressing table looked shabby, with sticking drawers and layers of chipping paint.

Unfortunately, under the hideous exterior lurked an equally hideous interior — water had leaked into the basement, necessitating replacement not only of the shower pan but also of rotten wood beams underneath. Plus, all of the sewer pipes had to be replaced.

We thought about tearing everything out and starting from scratch, but the old-style bathroom was one of the reasons we bought the house, and we really wanted to preserve its original look as much as possible.

Glendale-based contractor Bethanis Inc. handled the entire job; the company oversaw all of the shower repairs, found a match for the vintage green tile at B&W Tile in Gardena, raised the shower ceiling and added a light, making the shower much more inviting. Bethanis also painted the vanity, repairing the old drawers so they would slide properly, and found a lovely remnant of Verde Butterfly granite for the top.

The whole bathroom project took about eight weeks.

For our lavender pedestal sink and bathtub, and the remodeled shower, we chose Grohe Seabury chrome faucets and valves (cost: $1,040).

Other accessories used were Chatham chrome sconces and Bowman flush-mount ceiling light ($237) and crystal drawer knobs ($75) from Restoration Hardware, chrome Circe towel bars and robe hook from Ginger ($500) and Kohler mirrored medicine cabinet from the Great Indoors ($150).

We discovered that Wallpaper Bin in Northridge is a great place to find a unusual assortment of discounted wallpaper ($10.99 for a single roll — we needed three double rolls and it was much cheaper than the vintage paper I found online at $300 per roll!). Total cost of the bathroom remodel: $13,000. All projects were done by Bethanis General Contractors in Burbank at (818) 842-2300.

I think the only thing we would have done differently on both of these projects was not to wait so long to do them! A big element of the whole process was educating ourselves about the proper way to restore a house like this, and Mark Bethanis was instrumental in explaining what works and doesn’t work for a vintage house.

I also found the book "Bungalow Bathrooms" by Jane Powell to be an invaluable resource.

Something I’ve learned is that, at least for us, part of the responsibility of owning a vintage home is keeping it vintage. We’ve seen so many older homes ruined with modern elements that don’t belong. It means a little more research and, if you’re not a do-it-yourselfer, finding professionals to work with who share your vision. But the finished product is worth it.

Questions? Comments for Peggy? Please post below for Part 1.

5 Comments on Guest Blogger: Peggy takes on her 1920s Burbank bathroom

  1. Guido

    Sorry, but vintage does not mean great. Is that wall paper? If that is your style great but it’s definitely not mine. I find that horrific. I own a old spanish style home as well but would not want my baths to look like that. It just looks old like a grandma’s house (my wife’s words). A lot of people make the argument that we should preserve ALL the original details because that is the true “spanish style”. Really, it’s a american california faux copy of southern spanish architecture. No spaniard would preserve all the original details why should we? That’s not to say you should replace everything either. That style bath was what was considered high end back in the 20’s and 30’s but obviously it is not now. I do put my foot down though when it comes to the exterior, which I feel should be preserved. Having seem your new windows I think that was an excellent investment. Beautiful.

  2. lefty

    i think i’ve seen those bathrooms — at the ‘villa riviera’ condos in long beach. they were actually bragging about those ‘original tiles’. in my view the place should be torn down.

  3. Steve

    Impressive, looks leik you have a great contractor.

  4. Brent

    What a great bathroom! I love the barrel ceiling entry into the shower.

  5. Don Pinkerton

    Hi — Thanks for letting me know about your blog — it was very interesting. I am glad you are so satisfied with your home remodel — we have been very impressed watching it all happen. Regards, your neighbors Don & Jane