Charlotte and Kip Smith always knew a proud beauty lay hidden within their homely guest bathroom. It just took them a couple of decades to figure out how to set it free from garish wallpaper, drab tile, and a cracked marble sink.
"Everything worked; it was just terribly dated," Charlotte says. "And one reason why it lasted so long is that I didn't know what I wanted to do with it. It took me a long time to get that vision."
Her vision clicked when she came across a black-and-cream toile fabric that expressed an old-fashioned grace and grandeur-qualities, she realized, that would make the bath more alluring. The toile appears in a custom-made shower curtain.
With that idea planted, she recruited Houston stylist Joetta Moulden for guidance about refurbishing the bath on a modest $4,000 budget. Charlotte had seen one of Moulden's projects in a local publication and liked her penchant for working around existing pieces.
During the course of the bath redo, Moulden acted as a sounding board, helping Charlotte refine her desired look and steering her toward clever design solutions.
Among the first things to go: a 6-foot sink vanity with clunky white cabinets. "I needed something to fill up that long wall. I could have put double sinks there, but it was going to mean major plumbing." The solution hit when she spied a turned-leg porcelain sink at a home center, just the right size and with the vintage flavor she wanted.
The openness beneath the new porcelain sink makes the guest bath seem larger than it really is. White plantation shutters on the room's one window enhance the New Orleans feel that Charlotte wanted.
Moulden suggested the Smiths rip out a built-in dressing table and bulky soffit to make the bath feel larger. A closet next to the dressing table -- the only cabinet that stayed -- was updated with new doors and hardware.
To save the cost of replacing the pink-beige tub and shower tile, Moulden advised having them resurfaced in creamy white. New white octagonal tiles dress the floor; the wallpaper was stripped and the walls painted ivory.
A purchased black buffet chest, which stands in for the old dressing table, boosts the bath's limited storage.
Stylist Joetta Moulden saw the chest in a furnishings catalog and was delighted to find that it would fit the space perfectly. Mirrors sport frames in the same distressed black finish.
New crown molding and baseboards, which hint at the architectural character of older New Orleans houses, were painted black and distressed to tie in with the chest and mirrors.
Antique engravings on the rear wall play off the shower curtain's black-and-white botanical toile. The frames echo the brushed-pewter finish of the sink fixtures.
Not only are guests drawn in by the bath's new charm, so are their hosts. "I didn't ever go in there before," says Charlotte, who's developed a fondness for candlelit soaks in the refinished tub. "I love the well-planned look the room has now. It's really fresh and has character."
Produced by Joetta Moulden