Published on January 1, 2020

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Photography by Madeline Tolle

Taking an old, run-down foundation and transforming it into a modern living space is enough of a project…and doing so while expecting a baby makes it one highly stressful endeavor. But when it came to upgrading her 100-year-old Los Angeles home, designer Barbie Palomino totally pulled it off. 

Aside from basic architectural updates, like opening up the floor plan and doing away with such dingy fixtures as yellowing tile and old flooring, the main goal was simple: Create a space that was a happy compromise between adult and fun. Palomino and her husband worked on one room at a time, taking a hands-on approach to everything from paint jobs to custom headboards. Here’s a snapshot of some of the most dramatic transformations.

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Photography by Madeline Tolle

The Bathroom

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Photography by Madeline Tolle
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Photography by Madeline Tolle

First to go was the dinky old bath. Palomino moved the tub to make the limited square footage work for them, then focused the rest of the budget on updating the tile and fixtures. “I was having an old-world moment,” she explains. “I kept seeing these dreamy images of handmade zellige tiles everywhere. I had to have them!” 

The Living Room

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Photography by Madeline Tolle
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Photography by Madeline Tolle

“An open floor plan was the key to our small house,” shares Palomino. The room had just gotten a fresh paint job, so after they rejiggered the flooring to make the whole thing airier, all they had to do was inject a healthy amount of color. This proved to be quite the happy chore. “I’m a pillow fiend,” confesses the designer. “Some people dye their hair or splurge on shoes, but I have to change out my pillows practically as often as the seasons.” Balanced out by a light gray sofa and bright yellow chairs in the nearby dining room, they strike the right chord. 

The Kitchen

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Photography by Madeline Tolle
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Photography by Madeline Tolle

Just beyond the built-in bookshelf in the dining room sits the brand-new kitchen. The teal cabinets and herringbone floors light up the space, and you’d never guess that it used to feature ugly brown tiles and dull green countertops. “I used to have to vacuum the counters; it was so hard to get them clean,” says Palomino. “Now the kitchen is truly part of our home. Everyone who comes over congregates around the island.”

The Bedrooms

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Photography by Madeline Tolle
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Photography by Madeline Tolle

In terms of style, the nursery and master bedroom couldn’t be more different. The former is playful and airy, full of jeweled tones and what the designer describes as childish glamour. “I love seeing nurseries that are grown-up friendly,” Palomino says. “There’s no need to sacrifice your adult tastes for your babies. I dread her someday liking the stereotypical kids’ decor, but I’ll cross that bridge if we ever get there.”

By contrast, her room is a moody retreat. “It’s calming to me,” she says of the deep charcoal walls. She pulled from the velvet moments in the living-dining room and had a headboard custom made to fit between the two windows to really play up the coziness. However, the space is not solely based on style—opposite the bed is an entire wall of closed storage and bulletin boards. “I try to corral the crazy,” she says, laughing. “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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