A Small 1920s Guesthouse Bathroom Gets A Modern Makeover

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By Macala Wright / Published by Macala Wright
Modern maker Jeran McConnel believes that simplicity is key in creating small spaces that carry big impact; her bathroom renovation serves as the perfect example.
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Jeran McConnel is a designer who’s collaborated with West Elm and The Land of Nod. She’s also the founder and creator of Oleander and Palm, a lifestyle blog based on the principle of Simple California Living. After 14 years as a resident of California’s central coast, McConnel and her family purchased a 2400-square foot, 1920s California Craftsman in one of Bakersfield’s historic districts with the goal of turning the house into their forever home. 


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With the purchase, McConnel also inherited a 265-square foot guesthouse built in 1918 that had been boarded up for nearly 50 years. This winter, she pulled the planks that covered the little house’s exterior off and set out to make it the ultimate guest space. 


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 "As all our family lives out of town, we really wanted to create a guest room where anyone, especially our Grandparents, could stay comfortably," said McConnel. "When they’re here, I want them to feel like they are staying in a tiny, modern boutique hotel." 

The guesthouse's design centered around a mid-century inspired, 50-square foot bathroom. The bathroom’s renovation began with huge challenges as previous owners had ripped out all of the plumbing and poured cement the drains. Enlisting the help of her brother, the pair redid the plumbing, removed the old fixtures and and original tiling. 

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For the new design, McConnel chose to use a neutral color palette of white, gray and black, and warmed up it by incorporating wood tones and brass finishes. Through a current partnership with AllModern, she sourced the bathroom’s materials, fixtures and accessories. 

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The Fitto Kube Bath Vanity and Kohler faucet and shower fixtures give the space the luxurious feel she was seeking. She then used Elite geometric and white subway tiles on the floor, the walls and in the shower to create a dramatic effect without making the space feel too claustrophobic. The entire redesign totaled less than $3,000. With the plumbing the space totaled less than $5,000. 

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For homeowners working with small bathrooms, McConnel offers three pieces of advice on how to create big impact with limited square footage: 

  1. Use tile to introduce patterns and color palettes, this allows you to create visual interest. 
  2.  Choose high-end faucets and fixtures to the make space feel opulent and open. 
  3.  Don’t get stuck in a theme or style, pairing a few great pieces that compliment one another is what modern is now about. 
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 Any modern space should be livable and functional. Be extremely picky on the elements you bring in. - J.M. 

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Photos Courtesy of Jeran McConnel.