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Los Angles renovation

Celestin McGlynn and Lisa Nakamura, co-founders of Spec + Sage, an interior design and event styling firm based in Los Angeles, love helping clients refresh their space. The pair, who met in design school, were recently hired for a primary bathroom renovation for a family who just welcomed a baby. The brief? Gut the space without moving the plumbing and keep the small footprint both functional and stylish, all while staying on a tight budget

“We had done their kitchen previously, which was one of our first projects,” McGlynn says.

The ‘90s bathroom had a salmon hue, “fake Venetian feel, and everything needed” a re-do, Nakamura recalls. When it came to the inspiration for the palette, the husband knew he wanted black tile. “We did a previous bathroom with a black shower which he had seen,” she adds. But in lieu of a dark shower, they opted for black Floor & Decor 2-by-8 subway tile, on the back wall, plus black-and-white patterned floor tile from Bedrosian, a tile they had loved and were glad to finally get to use in a project. Additionally, classic white 2-by-8 subway tile completes the space.

As this is the family’s primary bathroom, McGlynn and Nakamura knew they would need to make sure there was as much usable square footage as possible. “They had considered using some of the hallway space, but decided against it as they have another bathroom renovation to do in the future,” McGlynn says. Two doors, one from the hallway and one from the primary bedroom, take up further wall space in this bathroom, a unique challenge for the duo.

When it came to storage, they chose Semihandmade’s Impression Tahoe fronts to fit a Godmorgon vanity, which they estimate saved them $2,000 rather than going for custom cabinetry. The natural wood aesthetic, light oak look, simple design, and wood grain made the doors a no-brainer. Accents of rusty red pop against the black-and-white palette, as seen in the vintage-style rug and shower curtain, which add more dimension to the room. 

“Because we had gone so neutral, we wanted to bring in color, but something that would not draw the eye,” McGlynn says. 

Pottery Barn brass hardware, twin brass recessed medicine cabinets from West Elm, a Target print of a landscape, and Brizo faucets (a splurge made possible thanks to saving with Semihandmade) complete the simple, yet effective design. 


We don’t believe that renovations should be daunting. The key is to arm yourself with the right knowledge, people, and products to achieve your goals. It also helps to ask the right questions: How much does it cost to renovate a kitchen? How do I find the right general contractor in my area? Where do I even start if I’ve never remodeled before? This is where we come in. Through hard-to-believe before and afters, first-person renovation accounts, and step-by-step DIY projects, we demystify every aspect of remodeling and give you a ton of full-house, bathroom, and kitchen renovation ideas. Semihandmade was built on a strong make-it-yourself spirit and we’re carrying that legacy beyond DIY kitchen cabinets (though we’ll certainly touch on those too) by bringing you a ton of weekend projects for novices (have you ever tried making your own planter?) and experts (try your hand at a full-wall media center). What do people really mean when they say a house has “good bones”? Before and after projects show first-hand what’s possible in a transformative remodel. How do you make the most of a narrow galley? Should you swap your upper cabinets for floating shelves? What would it look like if you opened up your small kitchen? Renovation ideas abound in our spotlighted projects. A lot goes into a kitchen renovation, but it’s usually hard to tell from a beautiful “after” shot. Our monthly series “Island Hopping” is about getting a behind-the-scenes account of what the process is like through honest conversations—you know, the kind that typically take place around a kitchen island. We’ll chat with designers, homeowners, and architects about their projects, hoping to peel back the curtain on picture-perfect spaces.