Homepolish designer Barbie Palomino’s 96-year old Los Angeles bungalow is an exercise in chic compromise. See how she and her husband renovated the space to be entertaining (and infant) friendly.
Photos by Madeline Tolle
For a designer, creating your own space means balancing a coterie of inspiration with actually making time for yourself. Couple that with a new baby and a renovation-happy husband and Barbie Palamino was presented with a wide swath of options for her 1922 California bungalow/craftsman home. It was up to her to infuse her two-bedroom, one-and-a-quarter-bath with punches of personality while not isolating the rest of her family.
“Our home doesn’t feel super ‘designed’ to me,” Barbie explains. “Jason is pretty good about letting me do whatever I want, but he leans towards contemporary in his tastes. Compromise = eclectic.”
That compromise meant reigning in some of the luxury finishes and features she’d use for client and ensuring that everything was family and party friendly. She achieved the look by blending modern pieces, a neutral foundation, vintage finds, and the right hues here and there.
“We obviously like color enough to commit to a teal kitchen,” Barbie laughs.
Commitment doesn’t seem to be the problem for Barbie and her husband. The couple made bold renovation choices from the get-go. Barbie’s husband Jason had torn down the wall that separated the living room from the dining room before Barbie was around, added recessed lighting and in the living/dining room and replaced the beyond-repair hardwood floors with practical and inexpensive laminate wood-look flooring.
“We entertain a fair bit (or used to, before baby) and everyone always congregated in the closed off kitchen,” Barbie explains. “By knocking out the wall we not only made it flow so we had one large space to hang out in, but now Jason can interact with Sloane and me while he cooks and family time is all the time.”
But Barbie was quick to let him know his work wasn’t done.
“I’ve replaced/repainted/remodeled everything possible since then,” she admits.
Back to that kitchen. The perfectly blue hue of Semihandmade cabinets is complemented by JennAir appliances, brass fixtures, clé tile, a stunning still life picked up in Cuba, and a magically perfectly sized runner from Barbie’s former home. And one other piece managed to hang on.
“I let him keep his dining table partly because it weighs a literal ton,” Barbie admits.
To perk up the piece, she added on wasabi hued seating and swathed the space in white.
“I loved the chartreuse (Wasabi) color of the new dining seating and wanted those colors to dominate—blue, yellow, green hence the bluish green cabinets and brass hardware that came next,” Barbie explains. “I’m really feeling a complementary color scheme in my projects right now.”
In the adjoining living room a dark gray sofa sets a modern and neutral base for piles of pillows and the couple’s collection of masks and vintage finds.
“I’m really attracted to UK and Australian shelter blogs—spaces that are playful and just don’t take themselves too seriously,” Barbie explains. “We adult hard, so I think we both need to feel young when we’re home. I’m sure there’s a more serious home in our future or at least a room in our next home that feels polished and grown up.”
Along with the youthful feelings, the space is also geared towards its tiniest tenant.
“Nothing is too precious here. We avoided the obvious danger zones i.e. sharp glass corners and all the fabrics and rugs are cleanable or replaceable,” Barbie says. “No priceless family heirlooms in our house. Other than that, we decorated for ourselves and hopefully she develops similar tastes to ours.”
And Barbie’s tastes shine throughout the space. In the bedroom she layers light linens and fabrics against a moody charcoal backdrop. The baby’s room features a bold brass crib, velvet curtains, a swagged pendant, and punchy pattern wallpaper. And the garage is far from the standard fare: she converted it into a functional office thanks to warm sisal rugs, a rustic screen, and sofa worth sneaking a nap on (work can be hard).
Of course, Barbie did have to do some designer-level indulging when it came to the bathroom.
“I’m all about balance,” she explains. “For example, I needed Brizo fixtures in my bathroom so I went with the lowest priced (and in-stock) black floor tile that didn’t feel like a basic builder option. I could have made the retro vintage bath tile work but the layout was just dumb. We couldn’t really access the drawers in the vanity and it felt dark. By switching the plumbing location and moving the shower up to the window and getting rid of the ridiculously deep storage above it, the room instantly felt bigger. Now he has his vanity and I have a whole separate ‘station’ at the entrance with storage galore and a mirror and outlet so I can do all my girl stuff at the other end.”
Compromise—sometimes it’s all works out for the best.