ABOVE: The bathtub recess features a magnificent “sharkfin” opening.All photographs by Jaimee Itagaki
This brilliant bathroom, original to the 1933 Spanish-style California bungalow, features green tiles and butter-yellow fixtures. It’s a period piece that delights the home’s owners and their guests.
We were lured here by the tile. In 2009, we left our beloved 1912 Craftsman home for this 1933 casita or Spanish Bungalow, as we were smitten by its gorgeous, over-the-top, green-tiled Art Deco bathroom, an exclamation point on an exceptional house.
The bathroom is a marvel of color and a time capsule of design—and, we’ve learned, it’s also a love-it or hate-it kind of room. It's been interesting to see visitors' reactions: They either shriek in delight, or they just smile politely. I imagine the second group is thinking, “Only one sink? Such a small mirror? A combination tub–shower?” We love it; the bathroom takes us back to flappers and Art Deco opulence, to the advent of modern design and convenience, to a domain unique in design history.
Like many bathrooms of the day, ours is a riotous tile showcase: tile on the floor, walls, countertops, and inside the shower. Alternating seafoam- and jadeite-green hexagonal tiles form a honeycomb pattern on the floor. Wall tiles are squares set on the diagonal, which produces the geometric zigzag pattern so common in this era. The accent border offers a yellow-and-black tulip design. Narrow bullnose tile trim throughout the room rounds the corners. Original fixtures are butter yellow. (Other popular colors of the time included salmon pink, orchid purple, and black.)
Our floor plan is not large. The bathroom room is 7-1/2' x 9' with an additional 3' x 3' toilet niche. It’s relatively simple—no fancy elevated tub deck or enclosed water closet here. We've been told the shape of our unusual shower portal is called a “shark fin.” At over 7 feet tall, it does suggest prowess. A built-in wall heater labeled “Markel Heetaire” remains, no longer operable but offering a decorative grate.
The treatment may appear garish to some 21st century eyes, but these candy-colored rooms beg for preservation. Our bathroom is not what you’d call timeless; in fact, it is an undeniable period piece. But it’s sure not fuddy-duddy. In our eyes, no amount of modernizing, no steam shower or his-and-hers vanity could improve upon its brilliance.