Designer Erica Islas has long been a friend of HGTV.com. She is always willing to share her design secrets and has one of the most extensive resumes on HGTV’s Designers’ Portfolio. She can transform a large, stark space into a personalized and comfortable home or turn a tiny, non-functioning room into the best spot in the house. This month, Erica takes us on a tour of a restored 1920s Spanish bungalow that was in dire need of a makeover because of a previous owner’s complete disregard for what defines this style of house. Erica’s clients reached out to her after they bought it, because they knew they needed a designer who would bring the home into the 21st century while also restoring the integrity and charm of the original design.
All photos by David Young-Wolff.
Erica says: As with any old home, construction codes today will be different from when the house was built. In this renovation, the changes in codes presented us with challenges like making doorways bigger in a house where there wasn’t enough room to begin with!
Space planning in this small home (one of our specialties) was important. Bringing back the 1920’s Spanish bungalow charm did not always mean using original tile or authentic period fixtures. Instead, I carefully acquired tile and fixtures suggestive of the period. Also, we used eco-friendly products wherever possible.
My two goals in the kitchen were to make sure the space functioned properly for the family and to ensure that the kitchen was an appealing mix of modern mixed with 1920′s charm. I consider it a triumph that the space is fresh and contemporary while still being in sync with its roots. The vintage one-of-a-kind pendant over the breakfast table is the perfect compliment to this kitchen and was an incredible find at a local vintage lighting shop. By removing a wall that had been located at the end of the counter, I opened up the kitchen. Now sunlight from the large windows fills the space, and the family can eat in the inviting breakfast nook. The seat cushions for the built-in eating area were tailored for a detailed finish featuring a mattress edge and stitching.
In a Spanish home, it’s important to incorporate pieces that look regal. In this living room, the first thing you see as you enter is the grand, yet understated mirror hanging over a simple plaster fireplace. There’s a delicate pattern detail on the Hinson & Company linen drapes, which you can see faintly in the mirror’s reflection. I love this room because of its restrained sophistication.
The dining room, situated between the kitchen and the living room, has a decidedly Old World feel. It’s a true statement room. The leather work on the chairs is intricate and indicative of Spanish design. I love the juxtaposition of the oh-so-serious chairs and the fun decoration hanging from the chandelier. Never take your home too seriously!
My clients found me through a bathroom remodel I posted on HGTV’s Designers’ Portfolio. They loved that design so much that it inspired the direction for their own master bath. The traditional cobalt blue tile and decorative talavera bring definitive Spanish charm to this space.
The transition from the master bathroom to the master bedroom is achieved through the repeat of the blue, now a more navy tone, in the chair and curtains. I typically like to have colors flow through the house like a thread of color, subtly changing with the movement from room to room. I introduced a pale yellow on the walls in the master bedroom to compliment the navy blue.
The girls’ bathroom was a complete renovation. We borrowed space from the laundry room so the two teenage girls would have their own sinks in this shared space. I fell in love with the hexagon floor tiles — my main inspiration! I knew immediately that pairing these green clay tiles with traditional white subway tile on the wall would give me the nostalgic look I was going for. We scored a yellow custom-designed vanity with bun feet and paired it with used glass knobs for the “bling” in this vintage look. An exposed chrome fixture and glass doors in the shower keep the bathroom fresh.
Soft pale pink sets the scene for this sophisticated preteen’s room. The animal print bedding and custom-designed wardrobe closet with mirrored doors add a touch of glam. Rather than flashy posters and neon pink, this tweenager wanted something grown-up and soothing — with just a pinch of spunk.
This bedroom allowed me to fulfill a childhood fantasy, as this design is what I wanted when I was a teenager! The aubergine headboard is the flirty pop of color in an otherwise monochromatic room. Hanging striped pendant lights over night stands compliments the flower wallpaper. The wall-to-wall cabinetry paired with a built-in desk fills up an entire side of the room. Notice the wardrobe closet has drawers below; it’s reminiscent of the way these built-ins were designed in the 1920s.