Ranch-Style Refresh

A 1950s ranch-style dwelling gets a dramatic master-bathroom makeover using classic finishes, beautiful tile, and multi-functional custom features.

By Jeanne Delathouder

Photography by James Faught/Wild Story Productions


Home renovations are seldom described as fun, but this one seemed to take on a positive vibe from the get-go. When St. Louis homeowners Tom and Alice Nunnelee wanted to breathe new life into their outdated master bathroom, they didn’t hesitate to call on designer Barbara Collins, owner of Barbara Collins Interior Design, and a specialist in bathroom and kitchen remodels. “We knew Barbara as well as her husband, Blake, who is a contractor,” says Tom. “They had designed and renovated for our friends, and they had such a good reputation,” he notes.

The Nunnelees’ rejuvenated 1950s ranch-style dwelling, located in a beautiful St. Louis area neighborhood and nestled under 100-year-old oak trees, embodies a classic traditional style sprinkled with just a few contemporary elements. After living with their original master bathroom for some time, they decided this small and impractical space was next on the list for a complete transformation. “Our old bathroom had a tub, toilet, two sinks, a large linen closet and a shower stall smaller than a phone booth,” laughs Alice. “We never used the tub and we needed to fix the small shower,” she adds.

After meeting with the homeowners, Barbara decided she wanted to create a new energy for their dated master bathroom. Architecturally, she wanted to create a more sophisticated yet traditional space that functioned well. She also wanted to use classic finishes, beautiful tile and custom features that would befit the rest of the house.

“The master bathroom is such a personal space and should be custom to the homeowners’ needs and lifestyle,” says Barbara. “I envisioned the space to be an elegant reflection of this couple, and I really wanted to create a look that felt timeless while addressing their needs. Everything is custom-made for them, and their new bathroom is traditional and classic — just like them,” she notes.

The new bathroom space needed to flow with effortless ease as well, and there wasn’t a quick fix to increase the square footage. So, in order to maximize the space they had to work with, the team decided to remove the concrete shower, the bathtub, the dark storage closet and everything else in the bathroom. The existing door going into the bathroom was not working, so Barbara relocated it and changed the style to a pocket door.  She also designed an 11-foot custom cabinet that provided loads of storage and gave both homeowners their own vanity areas with great lighting. The large shower was custom-constructed to the homeowners’ preferences — Tom wanted a rain shower head and a hand-held, and Alice wanted a regular shower head as well as a large shower bench and storage niches. Barbara and Blake added all new lighting and ventilation and took advantage of the natural light by adding custom shutters for additional light control.

“Barbara and Blake helped with everything — the colors of the walls, the tiles and the countertop, so it was enjoyable working with them on this,” says Alice. “Every idea was brought to us and we liked them all,” she adds.  “This project was so much fun from beginning to end,” says Barbara.  “It is always extra fun when I get to work with my husband because when we team-up on projects together, we usually discuss them morning, noon and night,” she laughs. “But we also really enjoyed getting to know Alice and Tom and creating a custom master bathroom retreat for them that is full of light, gorgeous features and new energy,” she adds. “I envisioned them starting their busy day in an elegant and inspiring space and ending their day feeling relaxed and peaceful.”



Contractor/Remodeler: Collins Construction & Remodeling 

Interior Designer: Barbara Collins Interior Design 

Tile Supplier: Stanis Carpet, Holloway Flooring 

Tile Installer: Collins Construction & Remodeling 

Granite Supplier: Cambria Quartz

Granite Installer: Stone Trends 

Plumbing Supplier and Installer: Plumbers Supply Co. 

Decorative Fixture Supplier: B&B Door Co. 

Lighting: South Fork Lighting 

Painter: Collins Construction & Remodeling 

Shutters/Blinds: KDR Designer Showrooms 

Glass: Davis Glass Co. Inc.

Woodworking/Cabinetry: B&B Door Co. 

Accessories: Home Goods