We love a lavishly appointed and dramatic powder room, which is a small bathroom that contains only a sink and a toilet.
We simply abhor beige and boring in this space —we think it’s a design crime to waste a glorious opportunity to make a bold statement. And what’s more, you are allowed — even encouraged — to decorate in a way that attracts attention. Why on earth wouldn’t you grab the opportunity?
This can be a place where you can take your first tentative steps toward uninhibited artistic expression. Go ahead — consider painting your ceiling lipstick red, install wallpaper featuring large and exuberant blooms, or install a dramatic glass vessel sink — here’s the place to take a chance. Here is also the place where you can experiment with expensive finishes as well, since furnishing a small place is going to cost you far less than it would cost to furnish a larger space. You have a lot of latitude — just be careful to use colours that are complementary to the colours in your house.
Remember that a powder room is also a room that guests see, and it should contain a few splurges, since it is a room that reflects on your hospitality and is also a great place to show off your own unique sense of style.
The biggest design impact can often come from the walls and ceiling in such a space. Walls and sometimes ceilings can be painted with decorative treatments, such as glazing or other paint effects. Many people also choose bright, jewel-like tones, or deep, regal colours such as wine red, deep purple or chocolate brown. These saturated tones can be stunning.
Dramatic wallpaper is also making a big comeback in powder rooms. Since this room does not get wet in the same way as a steamy bathroom with a shower or bath, powder rooms can use finishes that would not normally be recommended for wet rooms, such as fabric finish wallpaper, for example. Consider using it on the ceiling as well. Since this room should be impressive, do plan to spend a little more for an attractive appearance — a great sink and faucet are important because these features tend to be the focal point in a powder room. A countertop, if there is one, should be elegant — look for shiny finishes. And the cabinet, if there is one, should look decorative rather than strictly utilitarian-looking. Consider an antique dresser or a buffet that spans a wall — this more formal look is simply smashing. Also consider crown moulding of between three and five inches, and a thick baseboard of up to eight inches — they will add weight and an air of formality. A beautiful mirror and gorgeous lighting is also a worthwhile investment in a powder room — again, the scale is small, so exquisite finishes become possible.
Most of all, don’t crowd an already small space with objects that stick out such as shelving, racks or baskets. If possible, recess these into the wall. Keep personal objects to a minimum. If the space is really tight, consider a pedestal or a small wall-hung sink to keep things architecturally clean. To add a touch of softness, add thick, luxurious towels, and fragrant hand cream alongside attractive hard soaps. And don’t forget a hook for a guest’s sweater, and a tiny counter space — if possible — for a purse.
Tammy Schnurr and Jeffrey Fisher are hosts of Arresting Design on W Network. Tammy is an interior decorator. Jeffrey designs home furnishings and bedding through his company Jeffrey Fisher Home.