Close this search box.



This time last year I took you on a video tour of the house I bought. That was the “Before.” Now I’m going to show you some of the “After.” Even though the house had been “flipped” before I bought it, the bathrooms were a disaster. On my first walk thru, the instant I saw the master bath and the powder room, I visualized what I wanted to change, and that’s never wavered.

Except for things like flooring, most of the pieces in my new bathrooms, I already owned, and each piece has a special story.


BEFORE: The plumbing all leaked; there was no good way to close in the shower; there were too many sizes, colors and directions of tile, and the counter height was too short for anyone but small children.

The contractor tore everything down to concrete and studs. Plumbing was replaced, and the floor was leveled with more concrete.

AFTER: The floor and the entire shower were tiled with travertine marble. Instead of a traditional bathroom sink/cabinet, I wanted an old Italian or French console. For months I looked online and found a couple of “museum quality” consoles that were too $$$$$. Then I found this 19th Century one in Round Top, a fabulous, twice-yearly antique fair between Austin and Houston. It had the original marble top (I had it cut later for the sink); I loved the patina, and the price was right, so I hauled it home in the back of my SUV.

Much of the gilt is missing, plus there are centuries of worm holes. I LOVE the patina on old pieces! It makes me wonder who owned them and how they were used?

The sconces flanked the fireplace in our Little House at the ranch. They were 19th Century candle sconces I had electrified and shades made from old Fortuny fabric. The Victorian, iron plant stand I bought for the house James and I never got to build, and the Oushak rug was in my dressing room in the Spy House on the Hill. The wooden rosary, hanging from the iron curtain rod–made by a craftsman in the Texas Hill Country–was given to me 20 years ago by an interior designer in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

The fish on my shower window are some of my most treasured pieces. My grandmother gave me the big fish after she came for a visit and saw the live goldfish in our giant bathtub. While sitting on the edge of the tub, trolling for those fish, my cat, Blanch Dubois, knocked it over and broke its tail and lips, but I’ll never get rid of it. The little Lalique fish was a Christmas gift from dear friends, because they knew I had other Lalique pieces. Everyday I see these fish and know how loved I am.

While the contractor worked on the master bath, I disassembled the big chandelier, cleaned and polished it–careful not to take all the patina away–and put it back together. My first husband bought it when we were in a small antique store in Austin after we were married. It hung over the butcher block in our kitchen until I sold the Spy House, and James and I moved to the ranch.

The mirror frame over the sink is old and crusty–I like the patina–but the mirror itself is new with an “old” look. Not sure I’m crazy about that, but haven’t gotten around to changing it. The lighted, Art Deco bronze on the marble counter I bought in my 20’s. At one point I wrote a new will and left it to a friend, who was a Harlem Globetrotter, along with a note: “She’s black, beautiful, has cornrows and a great butt! What more could you want?”

The big, gilt antique mirror on the wall is 5’7″ by 3’6″. I love this mirror! It’s great for getting dressed because I can see all of me. The little seat in front of the mirror I bought for mother’s dressing table when she was in the dementia facility. One day she told me “her mother” had bought it for her… It made me sad she didn’t remember the day James and I brought this seat and a fabulous Art Nouveau dressing table and mirror to her room, but then perhaps she was right… Because we role reversed when I was 12, and never went back, maybe I was like a mother.


BEFORE: The powder room was a tiny, uninteresting room. Like the master bath, when the faucet was on, water ran all over the floor. You can’t tell from this photo, but the toilet was four inches from the wall and had an elongated bowl.

There wasn’t enough room for a tall person to sit down without scraping their face and knees on the wall. No basketball players in this room!

The rear wall slanted back at a 45 degree angle and had a laundry hamper. Too much for this little room! My biggest challenge was finding a sink small enough so you could close the bathroom door.

AFTER: Once again the contractor gutted the room down to concrete floor and wood studs. I had him remove the cabinets, square the rear wall and move the toilet back two inches… which required a special flange. I also bought a smaller, round toilet. Those two things gave me almost four more inches, so tall people don’t have to worry now when they sit down.

This floor is also travertine marble. Because the room was too small for a sink/cabinet, and I didn’t like the sink that was there, I found a hand chiseled, travertine, wall mount sink online that left just enough room to close the door.

You can’t get the full effect of the gorgeous shimmer of this wallpaper. It’s pearlescent with tiny glass beads. I saw it online from a company in Germany that first sent me a sample before I purchased it.

The sconce shades are done in gold and silver threads. Each shade has an angel wing on it. (Perhaps I should name them Brunello.) The sconces and the small, three-light chandelier are on dimmers. Most of my lights have dimmers.

I bought photographer, David Bailey’s, poster at his exhibit in London the day John Lennon was murdered, December 8, 1980. I remember it because when a London cabbie heard my accent and asked if I was American, he pulled the cab over to talk to me about the killing. The television show, Dynasty, was also a hit in England, and the season had just ended with “Who Shot JR?” Heartbroken and confused, the cabbie wanted to know why Americans were so violent? It’s still not an easy answer.

Whether it’s the way we dress or decorate our home, style is the way we mix the old and the new with a flair that tells the world something about us. Like my wardrobe style, with my decorating style, I’m still using good pieces I’ve bought over the years.

Most of my things have been in storage since 2007. Because each one tells a story and holds a memory, unpacking them has been a bittersweet experience. They’re like old friends who’ve been there for the best and the worst of times, and now, like great friends, they’re still here with me.


Share this Story

Hi Girlfriends,

I’m proud to say that 1010ParkPlace™ has been voted one of the Top Ten Blogs for women over 50: the best-educated, wealthiest, most powerful demographic in history.

Here you will get a glimpse into the lives of other women, learn how they handled things life put in their path like divorce, the death of a spouse, serious health issues, low self-esteem, addiction and how to reinvent yourself after a major life change. You will find like-minded women and relevant conversations about finances, fashion, sex, books, music, films and food. We feature interviews with inspiring women along with straight-talk and bold conversations to reawaken your passions and make life count.

Brenda’s Blog has between a 58.4% and a 68.7% click thru rate, which is unheard of. My readers tell me it’s because I’m sassy and transparent, they trust me and no topic is off limits.

Tell your girlfriends, sisters and coworkers about 1010ParkPlace. We have lots of exciting interviews planned and stay tuned for updates about my memoir! 

#WhereStyleIsAgeless   #MakeLifeCount   #WhatAreYouWaitingFor


  1. The bathrooms are beautiful! We owe it to ourselves to live/use beautiful spaces. Thank you for sharing and I look forward to seeing the rest if your home when finished.

  2. Beautifully done, Brenda. Exquisite, tasteful, and elegant. If Heaven isn’t this lovely, I will be sorely disappointed!

  3. You know how much I love this post! The well-styled photos are great but it’s all the juicy details from your past that make this so enjoyable to read.

    Also, the comment you made about knowing exactly how you would change the bathrooms told me something else: you’ve always understood yourself so well, haven’t you. Most of us take a lifetime to figure out our identities but perhaps you’re one of those rare creatures who was born knowing her unique gift.

    • You give me way too much credit, Mithra, but thank you for the kind words. I’ve always had a good eye and artistic talent, but it was honed when I had an epiphany in my early 20’s. My first husband–who appreciated good design–introduced me to the works of Mies van der Rohe (Barcelona Chairs) and the minimalist, clean lines of the Bauhaus period. At the same time I discovered European Art Deco, which as you know is nothing like American Deco/pink flamingos, round mirrors and Fred Astaire movies. The combination changed the way I saw everything. The pieces from this era were at once new, and yet like I’d known them my entire life.

      When I was about 23, I subscribed to Sotheby’s and Christie’s Art Deco catalogs and would buy a piece under $500 and sell it, then buy another and sell that, until I started selling more expensive pieces to designers (you, especially, will LOVE the story about the chandelier in my dining room… when I get there), by appointment only, out of my home. I didn’t have a lot of things, but they were show stoppers! When my first husband died and left me with a balloon note due on our house, three years back taxes, penalty and interest, his cancer bills and no insurance, I sold almost everything to keep the lights on, pay the property taxes and keep my house. I also traded things like his Uzi for a year’s worth of haircuts and color and to get my car fixed. I hung on to six of my favorite pieces. (subsequently sold one to my Antique’s Roadshow friend about 10 years ago.) The bronze Egyptian Dancer in my bathroom is one of the pieces I kept.

      I’m glad you liked the stories behind the pieces. I cut out a couple of stories because the post was so long, plus I wasn’t sure anyone would be interested… Now I know:) I hope you know how much I appreciate you! xoxox, Brenda

    But I knew that ALREADY Before the TOUR!!!!!!!
    Glad to know I can visit the LOU when I VIST YOU!!!!!!!!!
    5 foot 11 inches HERE!

  5. This is my favorite post ever! Love love love! So beautiful, and I love that your environment is a picture of your life and the love you’ve been given. Beautiful! Gorgeous! Wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing with us the lovely results of your hard work (and lovely gift of decorating!) Rejoicing with you!

  6. I think I must be partial to small spaces, because I think I could live happily in your powder room! The wallpaper…sigh! The sink…wow! Every single detail attended to. Lovely bathrooms, Brenda, for a lovely lady!

    • Thank you, Val, although the powder room isn’t even long enough to stretch out in… Should have shown you what it looks like underneath the sink… The contractor and I paid a lot of attention to the details about whether the pipes would show and how they were positioned, plus it’s interesting to see how the sink appears to be suspended when actually it was an architectural feat by the contractor. We brainstormed all of that for a week and brought in a plumber and a welder. xoxo, Brenda

  7. Hi Brenda, I have been waiting for your “after” posts ever since seeing your “before” video of your new home! And was definitely not disappointed! I agree that so many people overlook the beauty of a master bath and/or powder room by taking beautiful pieces and repurposing them. What a fabulous job you have done. It makes me want to redo mine right now! Thanks for sharing–and I especially loved the story that went with each piece. Can’t wait to see the rest of the house and the courtyard! Hopefully soon. Best, Michaele

    • How wonderful! I sometimes wonder if anyone remembers what I write. I hoped someone wanted to see the “after,” so thank you for telling me, Michaele. I’d give anything about now to have a yard and the courtyard finished. Because my puppies were finding harmful things in the yard and swallowing them, I had four inches of my yard removed and most of the overgrown plants. Now when it rains, all I have is mud… EVERYWHERE!! But I have happy puppies who love to dig and make mud puddles! They’re so funny! Brenda

  8. Brenda, the transformation is a delight for the eyes! Such beautiful pieces and I love all the stories behind them. I especially love the sentimental meaning of the glass fish! The David Bailey print is the cool factor and is a gorgeous contrast to that beautiful wallpaper! It’s all such a great mix that give it an elegant feel!

    • Thank you, Jill. I was disappointed when I found the David Bailey poster in one of my storage boxes because it had yellowed over the last 10 years. It used to be a true black & white. But when I held it up against the soft creams and the golden cast from the sconce shades, it was perfect. I think a true white background would have been too jarring. This way it’s modern, but more in keeping with the bathroom. As a former professional photographer, I have a thing for photographs of all kinds. One of my favorites of all time is hanging in my living room!! LOVE IT!! xoxox, Brenda

Comments are closed.


Sign up to our list and we’ll send you our sought-after guide “50 Ways To Change Your Life”
I'm happy you've joined us! If you like what you read, I'd love for you to stay and subscribe to our updates by email. We have a great community of like-minded women, and your presence can only make it stronger.