Caitlin’s First MOTO Reveal – A Vintage Bathroom Gets A Modern Update

FASTEN YOUR SEATBELTS. Today’s reveal has everything you’ve ever dreamed of: creamed corn-colored tile! A 4’ tall leather giraffe! A runner I bought for $40 after drinking too many glasses of wine! An emphatic defense of medicine cabinets! That’s right, pals – after spending 2 years spouting off about all things design on the blog, I figured it was about time to put my money where my mouth is. Welcome to my weird, vintage-heavy, silly, happy home. We’re starting off with my bathroom, but come back this afternoon for a little amuse-bouche. That’s right, friends: IT’S A DOUBLE REVEAL DAY, starting with this fine little space right here.

Here’s the thing: sharing your home on the internet is kind of intimidating – especially when your tastes are as, uh, loud as mine – but today is my 30th birthday, and I am filled with the kind of self-confidence and acceptance that only comes with age…so COME ON IN, BABY. The water’s fine. I’m glad you’re here, even if it’s just for a quick visit. I’ve made a lot of changes since we last saw each other. Let’s take a quick walk down memory lane so we can get this show on the road, yeah?

The background: I live in a 1930s deco apartment in Koreatown, Los Angeles. Pros: Reasonable rent, 1100 square feet, a private garage, timeless architecture, walkable neighborhood. Cons: THIS BUTTER AND SALMON TILE. Look, I’m all for a vintage bathroom, but NOT ONCE has anyone been like, “wow, I hope that one day I, too, will rent a cooked-spaghetti-noodle and melon-colored bathroom where ghastly footprints of tenants of yore have worn themselves into the floor in front of the toilet.” NEVER HAPPENED. Not even one time.

So look, she’s 90 years old, and she kiiiiiinda looks it. My landlord also decided to throw 4 different unchangeable paint colors into the mix right before I moved in, because Caitlin NEEDED A DESIGN CHALLENGE. That’s right – we’re looking at warm white walls, a cream vanity, cool white trim, and a greige door. Finding something – a paint, a wallpaper, anything – that worked with the tile wasn’t enough…of course we had to add some permanent paint in the mix. Got it.

But other than the less-than-ideal paint and tile situation, the bones of this bathroom are kind of dreamy – there’s a vanity with tons of storage and counter space, a separate tub and shower, and a pretty lovely layout. The room is about 9′ long by 8′ wide at its largest point and it’s very private. It didn’t need a ton – just a new light fixture, some cabinet knobs, updated linens…and something to, you know, balance out the whole bottom half of the room. Easy peasy, right?

YUP. Easy peasy. (I know. I was expecting it to be more painful, too.) Sometimes things just click and fall into place, and this was one of those times. I don’t know how or when I stumbled upon this wallpaper by the folks at Work & Sea, but THAT WAS IT. I was sold before I even got the sample – this was the only wallpaper I considered. Like, beyond doing the impossible (complementing the world’s strangest bathroom color palette), I was also just so taken by its illustration and quality – it just felt like a natural fit for the space. Plus, I love the modern take on a classic motif. It makes me smile every. single. day. and I’m just so ridiculously thankful that Work & Sea helped me set the tone to bring this space to life (and they’re nice, to boot!!!).

So this is where we last checked in. I shared this lone BTS shot late last month when I broke down how much I spent on wallpaper installation (to sum it up: a lot). I hired the professional ~wallpaper installer to the stars~, Mark, to sand, prime, prep, and hang everything in here and I swear, he was worth EVERY. FREAKIN. PENNY. Since then, I’ve just been putting the finishing touches on this bad larry…which brings us to today. It’s time to let you into my actual house, where I actually live. Are you ready? (Am I???) Let’s ease in with a similar angle, shall we?

Wallpaper | Runner | Towels

WELL. Here she is, in all her finally finished glory. Lemme start this off with a fun confession – you see that runner? It was purchased on a whim after emailed me a coupon. (Don’t send me discounts once I’ve opened up my $11 Sauv Blanc from Walgreens because I WILL be placing orders.) I had originally planned to return it, but Bowser convinced me to try it out in here and I’m so glad she did. There’s a lot going on up top, so it’s nice to have something really graphic balancing the whole space, you know? It’s also long enough to cover up 90 years of tile damage and thin enough to work with my door frame. WIN/WIN. And let me sing the praises of those Threshold towels real quick, because they’re incredible and SO soft. 2 for $10, too! I grabbed a set in black and a set in mustard and I’m really impressed with both so far.

Light Fixture | Cabinet Knobs

Two more simple but impactful changes: the light fixture and the cabinet knobs. I had originally planned to go brass for both, but I changed my mind after the wallpaper was installed. I grabbed the 1″ cabinet knobs from for about $50 – I really love their modern shape and the way that they ground the vanity a little bit more than their silver predecessors. The light fixture was an absolute score from Walmart, believe it or not. There’s a very high chance that it’s available via ANY lighting retailer of your choice for $190 (just google “Capital Lighting 3 arm bathroom sconce,”) but I was able to grab it on sale for just over $100 bucks with free shipping. It’s simple and clean and traditional and it looks more luxe than its tiny price tag, which is a win in my book.

Black Tray | Peach Tray | Geometric Candle (similar)

Before we get any further, YES, that geometric wall thing is my heating grate. I open that bad boy up in the winter time and it gets SO TOASTY in here! It’s kind of fun to look at, too. You’ve also seen that lamp on the blog before – I grabbed it on a Rose Bowl flea market trip earlier this year with Jess. It’s actually my preferred nighttime light source because it’s so warm and soft and moody and cozy. Doing my skincare routine in here every night is a blast, guys. (And yes, my medicine cabinet is fully utilized – we’ll get there.)

That black marble tray was an Emily hand-me-down when she moved up to Oregon, and it’s also still available via CB2! It’s really weighty and I’m pleasantly surprised by the $35 price tag because it’s one of those pieces that feels like it should be way more expensive. We layered this tiny peach Los Angeles-themed tray on top – you know, in case you forgot where you were – and it’s perfect for storing jewelry or hair clips. Bowser also brought that INSANE geometric candle – it’s so good, right? If you’re in the market for something similar, Forma Studios makes some super cool modern alternatives.

Toothbrush Cup | Art

Two more of my favorite things to talk about!! First up, that toothbrush cup. It’s a Sara Tramp original (not to brag, no big deal) that she made me for Christmas a year or two ago. It may not be her favorite piece (judging by her reaction when I was like “YOU MADE THIS!!!” and she was like, “ugh”), but I love it very much. It’s fun to use things made by your friends. 🙂 For what it’s worth, though, I keep my actual magenta plastic toothbrush in my medicine cabinet and my face-washing tools in the drawer you see on your lower right. It’s nice to pretend I’m the type of person with beautiful wooden toothbrushes and face brushes, but uh, that’s not my reality. (Maybe one day, but not today.)

Next up – I’m in love with that art by Elissa Barber in the back. You can only see one in the reflection right now, but I have two pieces hung like a diptych. Erik actually sourced her work for the book and it’s so cool and minimal and fresh – both of the pieces hung here are single-line drawings of faces and they feel so special and weird (in the good way, always) with this wallpaper as their backdrop.

Art | Boxwood | Bust | Candle

I thiiiink this is tied for my favorite shot of the bunch. Scout Design Studio, my favorite small business for all things home, introduced a line of sculptures earlier this summer and I would be lying if I said that I did not SPRINT to my laptop to purchase this zig-zag bust of Hermes. It wasn’t cheap then and I think the price has gone up a bit since, but I know I’ll love it forever. (Do not click on that website if you don’t have 30 minutes to browse. Their furniture is too good. Their decor is too good. The art is too good. I don’t know anyone over there, but I want to be friends because they all seem to have TIP. TOP. TASTE.)

I’ll also always be a sucker for a preserved boxwood topiary. I grabbed this one from Ballard Designs and it’s a real plant that they soak in something or spray with something (you know, they do some sort of science to it) and then it should last for about three years as long as I take care of it. Boxwoods are really traditional and classic but they’re also pretty graphic and playful, so I think they’re a great way to bring some life and greenery to a space. That candle was an Urban Outfitters find and it is VERY beautiful, but it also smells like an elementary school cafeteria on French Toast Stick day. Would not recommend for scent, but would recommend for styling. (Alternate option: stick your own tassel on a glass jar and call it a day.)

Last but not least – that art on the wall was my Christmas gift from Emily in 2019. Getting a piece of MaryAnn Puls work is an EHD rite of passage – you’ve seen one of her pieces in almost every team MOTO reveal we’ve ever shown on the blog – and I’m glad to be able to share mine today. I love it very, very much. (PS. the bud vase is Hearth & Hand, but it’s no longer sold online.)

The moment you’ve all been waiting for: AN ARGUMENT IN DEFENSE OF MEDICINE CABINETS. In my original design plan, I wanted to remove the front of my medicine cabinet in favor of installing a bigger, more abstract-shaped mirror. Now, as I look back, all I gotta say is WHY WOULD I WANT THAT? You know what’s in this magnificent storage space? SO much skincare. And my toothbrush. And toothbrushes WITH toothbrush holders for guests. And anti-seasickness wristbands. And sunscreen. And hairspray and self-tanner and multiple kinds of lotion. And guys, it’s all RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. There’s no bending or digging or aimlessly searching – I know where everything important is, because it is smack dab in front of my face. The aesthetics of this medicine cabinet never really bothered me, but the frameless front fully disappears into the wallpaper now. ONE MILLION STARS FOR MEDICINE CABINETS. They are the functional heroes of bathrooms nationwide and I’m tired of the slander.

One more note: aren’t vintage bathrooms the best? I have a whole new appreciation for the way this sink echoes this shower shape now that I’m not, you know, glaring at my yukon gold tile and quietly cursing the painter who slapped the beige sampler palette on every other surface in here before I moved in.

Mirror (similar)| Stool

OH BOY. We’re halfway around the room so just as you’re settling in – like “oh, I get this, I think,” – here’s a very disorienting vintage giraffe statue to throw you off your rhythm. (“Now he’s off his rhythm” – John Mulaney, and also me, right now, in this moment.) First up, though – I eschewed a window treatment in here in favor of hanging a mirror. I originally started balancing this mirror in my window frame because the light was better for makeup application (eastern facing, so gets kind of shadowy in here as the day goes on) until then one day I was like, “screw it, this is my window treatment now.” I live on the second floor, the bottom pane of glass is treated with privacy film, and at this point, I just think it looks cool. It’s fun and functional hanging it was way less than an actual window treatment (the mirror is old from Target, the chain was like $2) so we’re rolling with it. Also, peek that little egg in the bottom right of the windowsill – that was another flea market find from my trip with Jess. 🙂

Now, I KNOW. We’ll get to the giraffe. But I also just wanted to hype up this West Elm end table, which was a birthday gift from my mom last year (thanks, Brenda!!!). It’s the perfect height for tub laptop-watching and it’s held up great to a year of heat & humidity in this bathroom, so it gets full passing marks from me. The putty color also coincidentally works super well with the door – they’re a shockingly close color match – which is an unintended bonus that I’m still very happy about.

Art | Frames | Bath Giraffe (vintage)

There’s that second piece of Elissa Barber art I mentioned earlier – isn’t it cool? I wasn’t sure if I could get these framed in time so I grabbed two $30 Target frames on a whim and I’ve been kind of blown away by the quality. I wanted to highlight Elissa’s art with a crisp, white mat so it’d stand out against the wallpaper and I’m really happy with how it turned out. It may be too many faces for some, but it’s just right for me!! 🙂 (Bonus fun fact: I wear slippers 24/7 but those do not belong to me, because apparently, my slippers are “too thick” and “too worn” and “flat in weird places” with “paint all over them.” Or, you know, something like that. So basically, thank you to Bowser for lending her beautiful, luxe, not ugly slippers for the day. My clunky L.L. Bean slippies and I can acknowledge that these do, in fact, look much better in the shots. You’re right, as always.)

And now, the saga of BATH GIRAFFE. Basically, I fell in love with an 8′ tall giraffe statue on Facebook Marketplace (as one does). I’ve long had a thing for vintage leather animals – in 2013, I was moving into my first unfurnished LA apartment and spent all of my money (wasn’t much, TBH) on this instead of, like, actual furniture – so falling in love with impractical things is super in character for me. Tragically, I came to terms with the fact that the 8′ tall giraffe would not fit in a home with extraordinarily average ceilings so I let it go, but MAN, I WAS BUMMED…until a smaller, super affordable version popped up a few days later. I presented it to the EHD team and I mean, COME ON, we all know what happened next…

SO HERE BATH GIRAFFE IS, making his EHD debut. I know it’s kind of weird (read: very weird) to put a statue in your bathroom but it just FELT like he belonged in here, you know? I had the space and visually, he just sort of slid right into place. This is the blog post, boss. This is how and where I have styled it. I hope you approve!!

SEE? We’re really happy together, my Bath Giraffe and I. Here I am, a totally grown and seemingly normal person, reading Dwell out loud to the 4′ tall leather giraffe that I bought from a stranger in a Carl’s Jr. parking lot. I know that it’s silly to have this in here, but it’s also VERY FUN. And honestly…there are worse sights to see when you’re dragging yourself outta bed in the morning. Like, why NOT put something ridiculous in your bathroom so you can start every day thinking that you’re hilarious? The whole room is a little surreal, so I might as well lean into it.

Maybe one day Bath Giraffe will find a new home, but for now, I’m happy to relax beside him once or twice a week. I was also recently informed that the 8′ giraffe I missed out on has been paired with a similar 4′ bath giraffe dupe and that the set are now being sold for eight. thousand. dollars. here in LA so uh, I think I’m kinda on to something here. Like, who needs bitcoin or GME when I can invest in whimsical animals? (PS. I’m still laughing that this is a picture I took ON THE CLOCK. At my job!!!! This was me working!!! I know it’s been over 2 years at EHD, but I still gotta pinch myself once in a while – can’t believe I’m allowed to have this much fun at work, you know?)

SIGH. Somehow, that brings us to the end of our morning tour. I know this space isn’t traditionally super EHD (nary a blue in sight!!) and it may be one of the uh, louder bathrooms we’ve ever run on the blog, but being in here makes me really happy. When I get ready in this space every morning, I feel like I’m headed to a party and even the simple things, like brushing my teeth by the light of the turtle lamp at night, feel extra special. GEEZ. Even I’m making myself cringe with how sentimental I’m getting, SORRY. It’s just fun when your house feels like an actual reflection of you, you know??

With all that said, please come back and spend some more time with me this afternoon. We’ll be exiting right through that door and peeking around some corners. I’d love to have you (if only so you can judge my photos and be like “this girl who’s lecturing me about the rules of window treatments doesn’t even have curtains in her own house?! WHAT A DOOF!”). But before you go, let’s peek at the before and afters…

In the meantime I’ll be here, navel-gazing privately (no more sap from me today, you’re welcome) while staring at the walls that I somehow love more every. dang. day. I’m so excited to have finally dropped the curtain a little bit, so now I’m left with one final question: ANYONE WANNA VISIT? I’m great with a curling wand and I have a stockpile of face masks that are ready to go. Let’s make some plans. We can include Bath Giraffe, if you want. See ya this afternoon for round two. xx

*Design by Caitlin Higgins
**Styled by Emily Bowser
***Photos by Sara Ligorria-Tramp

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Author: diyg

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