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Though most tout the kitchen as the heart of the home, Julianna Guill insists her family’s main bathroom takes those honors, and it’s easy to see why. The space is open, airy, and exquisitely designed.

The 1949 ranch-style home, located in Eagle Rock, California, was well-loved when Guill and her family moved in. The rooms, including the bathroom, all had excellent bones and eye-catching design that drew her in, but the palette nd function weren’t quite up to modern expectations. 

As part of a gradual renovation process that Guill likes to think of more like a rehab than an overhaul, the actress worked with designer Jessica D’Itri Marés to breathe new life into the family’s primary bathroom

Though technically the primary bathroom, it’s not connected to the primary bedroom and serves all of the bedrooms in the house. And while the pair considered dividing it into two separate bathrooms—one for the adults; one for the children—Guill said she was ultimately married to the idea of her bathroom being the heart of her home

As parents to two young children, Guill says she and her partner love the way the family meets in the bathroom at the end of a long day. “There’s plenty of space to hang out on the floor, so we visit while the kids play in the bath,” she explains. Or, when friends come over, there’s room to perch and catch up while the kids bathe after playing, she adds. 

The original bathroom layout, though spacious, didn’t allow for quite as much movement. To achieve this, Guill and D’Itri Marés flipped the layout and borrowed a bit of real estate from a hallway built-in to achieve the biggest floorplan they could. 

They also made a series of design choices to help maximize open space, including combining the tub and shower and tucking it into its own alcove. “It makes this magical hideout that’s separate from the rest of the bathroom,” says the designer. It’s also a really nice way to separate wall textures, so there’s clear delineation of where to use different materials,” she adds. 

To further add to the function and create enough storage for a young family, they installed a double vanity complete with Semihandmade Tahoe fronts and a built-in cabinet also with Tahoe fronts, plus shelves below—all of which is easily accessible from the shower/tub alcove. 

And while Guill loved how eclectic the original mix of baby blue and pink tile was, she wanted to modernize the color scheme. The pair settled on a natural-looking, but bright blend of earth tones, which incudes blue-green Zellige tile, sealed terracotta floors, natural wood cabinetry, and brushed brass plates around the light switches. It isn’t too matchy-matchy and goes together effortlessly, says D’Itri Marés. 

But it’s not just a pretty, functional space. Every last detail was thoughtfully designed to play into the fact that the room really is the heart of this family’s home. Take for example, the stained glass window above the bathtub, which is mounted, not built-in, because it was a special wedding gift from Guill’s parents. 

When all tied together, the result is an exceptionally beautiful yet purposeful space that makes you rethink what a bathroom can be.