House Update: Guest Bathroom

The guest bathroom is almost finished.
This room is on the 1930s plans as the “Maid’s Room” and has been somewhat altered over the years. This is how it looked when we moved in:
IMG_0334 The only original thing was a little bit of the tile. So I didn’t feel too bad about ripping everything out and starting again! Here it is in February of this year:
IMG_3705 And here is where we are now:
IMG_5445 The basic layout remains the same, with the tub replaced by a walk-in shower. The original master bathroom sink I had hoped to re-use was damaged during demolition but the new vanity (from Restoration Hardware) reflects the art deco style of the rest of the bedrooms. The medicine cabinet IS original to the house, again salvaged from the master suite.
IMG_5448 The tile design is based on that used throughout the rest of the house, re-imagined in crema marfil and emprador light marble. I love this combination!
IMG_0336 The bedroom doesn’t get much light, so we are replacing the solid paneled door with one of these glazed doors:
IMG_5452 which originally led from the upstairs landing to a sun terrace on the roof. Sadly, the original 1930s glass needs to be replaced for safety, but at least it will allow some extra light into the room when the door is closed.
We are still lacking curtains and a coat of paint, and there is a towel rail to go above the toilet, but beyond that we are done! Roll on the visitors…

Friday I’m in Love: Pool-friendly plants

I’m planning a planter to go alongside our new hot-tub (on which more next week). From a practical point of view the plants need to be hardy, drought tolerant and evergreen. Ideally they should be tall or visually interesting, to disguise the boring wooden sides of the spa.

I’m leaning towards succulents. Nothing spiny or sharp, but there are some beauties out there that would make a striking display. Here are some inspirations from Pinterest…what do you think?





Terrace Garden

When we bought our house, one of the main attractions was the view. It’s beautiful, day or night.


But the main garden – a terrace that wraps the house to the south and west – was uninspiring. Serviceable, but fractured and a bit boring.


And in remodelling the new kitchen and porch, much of it got trashed.


So once the main building work had quietened down we started landscaping. We wanted a space for entertaining which was water-conscious and wildlife-friendly, in a Mediterranean style to match the house. Pinterest was a great source of inspiration!


The old spa bit the dust when we extended the porch so we began by getting rid of the old pink concrete.



Luckily a friend of Contractor John needed exactly that to build a wall, so it went to a good home! Then we marked out the beds, put in a drip system for irrigation, and edged them with salvaged roof tiles, an idea I’d seen at the Old Mill in Pasadena.


The main part of the terrace is a boules piste (bocce ball court to Americans).


John had never made one before but I found instructions here. Since we didn’t have oyster shells we used the tiny loose stones from erosion control bags. I can see it getting a lot of use once we start entertaining properly this summer!

The planting is a mixture of drought-tolerant aloes, euphorbias and succulents, California natives and Mediterranean plants. They’ve been in about six weeks now and are filling out nicely.



The seating area is positioned for the best views. It’s high desert flag, a greeny-grey stone already in use elsewhere in the garden, interspersed with gravel. I’ve planted Corsican mint in some of the gaps, which gives off a wonderful smell when stepped on. The seat can accommodate eight when separated, or pushed together becomes a massive lounger for when we feel like lying around.


Beyond that, at the back of the house, is the spot of the – future – pool or spa. Currently overflow storage for garden equipment and building detritus!


And at the other end of the piste is my kitchen garden.


Have you designed a garden for yourself? What are your inspirations?