You would think that Kim Culmone’s pink bathroom is directly inspired by her work. Because if you were senior vice president of Mattel and global head of design for Barbie, you would feel contractually obligated to embrace the color, law? But Culmone’s decision to paint the walls of her space in Farrow & Ball’s Setting Plaster and frame the shower with blush tiles surprisingly had nothing to do with the iconic doll, despite her looks. “We just wanted it to feel really sexy,” says the Culmone interior designer who, ironically, goes by the name Barbie Palomino. “I’m sure those shades were on her mind subconsciously, but she asked for something monochromatic and elegant.”
The early phase of the renovation was anything but glamorous. Culmone’s two-bedroom house in Los Angeles is in a condominium building, so Palomino’s plans were limited by the location’s strict HOA policies and the fact that many walls have steel framing, which makes them irremovable. “We even had to have the floor X-rayed to make sure we would add the plumbing for the new tub in the right place,” says the designer. “It was a big hurdle.” After many back and forths with the contractor to figure out what was possible, Palomino basically took part of the old guest bathroom and joined it to the main bathroom to make the bathroom go of his client from 45 to 85 (!) square feet.
The shower trifecta
While the wet area remained the same width and depth, Palomino ditched the tub combo and designated the spot as a standalone shower. Next, she upped the drama volume by cladding the side walls in zellige tiles from Zia Tile (a riff on the peach-pink mural) and wrapping the back wall and partition in a quartzite called Alpine from Arizona Tile. “It looks like there are crystals inside,” Palomino says of the stone’s rich flecks and subtle sheen. To keep the room from looking too glamorous, the designer opted for weathered concrete floors.
Brass’ cooler cousin
Having zero windows in a bathroom isn’t ideal if putting on makeup is part of your daily routine, so to compensate for the lack of natural light, Palomino made sure to go beyond simple ceiling cans. Visual Comfort wall sconces illuminate either side of the vanity, while choosing polished nickel finishes for all Phylrich plumbing fixtures over the popular brass was a strategic choice: “It helps to bounce the light,” says- she.
A moment from the 50s
While the space was still too small in the end to accommodate a double-sink vanity, Palomino was able to give Culmone some extra laundry space by opting for an extra-long version that blends seamlessly with the quartz countertop. White. The custom cabinets are crafted from walnut, giving them a mid-century inspired feel with the extended Nest Hardware pulls.
With the remodeling of the condo’s floor plan, the designer gained a corner to place a new freestanding tub. She stayed true to the nickel theme and hung an ultra-reflective Mirror Ball pendant light (a DWR find) above the dipping area and, in a nod to Culmone’s grandmother’s house at the New Orleans, added molding details to the niche. “It dresses him up,” Palomino says. “It’s a bit of lipstick.” Barbie’s Dream House has nothing on this.