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You would think Kim Culmone’s pink bathroom was directly inspired by her job. If you were Mattel’s senior vice president and global head of design for Barbie, you’d feel contractually obligated to embrace the color, right? But Culmone’s decision to paint her space’s walls in Farrow & Ball’s Setting Plaster and frame the shower with blush tile surprisingly had nothing to do with the iconic doll, despite what it looks like. “We just wanted it to feel really sexy,” says Culmone’s interior designer who, ironically, is named Barbie Palomino. “I’m sure those shades were in her mind subconsciously, but she requested something monochromatic and elegant.” 

The beginning phase of the renovation was anything but glamorous. Culmone’s two-bedroom Los Angeles home is in a condo building, so Palomino’s plans were limited by the place’s strict HOA policies and the fact that many of the walls have steel framing, making them immovable. “We even had to have the floor X-rayed to ensure that we would add the plumbing for the new tub in the right location,” says the designer. “It was a big hurdle.” After much back and forth with the contractor to figure out what was possible, Palomino essentially took part of the old guest bathroom and joined it with the main bathroom to take her client’s en suite from 45 to 85 (!) square feet.

The Shower Trifecta

The shower, before.
The shower, under construction.

While the wet zone stayed the same width and depth, Palomino ditched to tub combo and designated the spot as a stand-alone shower. Then she turned up the volume on the drama by cladding the side walls in zellige tile from Zia Tile (a riff on the peachy pink wall paint) and swathed the back wall and partition in a quartzite called Alpine from Arizona Tile. “It looks like it has crystals inside of it,” Palomino says of the stone’s rich splotches and subtle sparkle. To keep the room from feeling overly glamorous, the designer opted for weathered concrete floors.

Brass’s Cooler Cousin

Having zero windows in a bathroom isn’t ideal if putting on makeup is a part of your daily routine, so to make up for the lack of natural light, Palomino made sure she went beyond simple ceiling cans. The Visual Comfort wall sconces brighten up either side of the vanity, while going with polished nickel finishes for all the Phylrich plumbing fixtures over popular brass was a strategic choice: “It helps bounce the light around,” she says. 

A ’50s Moment

While the space was still too small in the end to fit a double sink vanity, Palomino was able to give Culmone some extra washing space by opting for an extra-long trough version that seamlessly blends in with the white quartz countertop. The custom cabinets are made out of walnut, giving them a mid-century–inspired feel with the elongated Nest Hardware handles.

Splash Zone

With the rearrangement of the condo’s floor plan, the designer gained a corner to place a new freestanding tub. She stuck with the nickel theme and hung an ultra-reflective Mirror Ball pendant lamp (a DWR find) over the soaking zone and—as a nod to Culmone’s grandmother’s New Orleans home—added molding detail to the niche. “It dresses it up,” says Palomino. “It’s a little bit of lipstick.” Barbie’s Dream House has nothing on this.