Does your home have a powder room? Often referred to as a half-bath these days, a powder room is a quaint term for a bathroom that contains only a toilet and a sink. It’s not intended for use by family members as they get ready for their day but is usually the bathroom that your guests will use.
Since it’s in essence a public space, you want it looking its best, don’t you? The powder room is often an afterthought in home design, however. It’s not the master bath or even the family bath, so it tends to get stuck with barebones, basic and blah fixtures — a basic sink and toilet and not much else.
But the powder room can be so much more — it certainly used to be! I’m convinced that it can be again at no great expense.
History of the Powder Room
Powder rooms first came into fashion in the 18th century. They served a practical purpose — as small rooms that guests could use to add powder to their wigs! Later, the term came back into fashion as a space for guests to “powder their noses” — either literally or figuratively. Personally, I love the term. It’s so much classier than “half-bath” or “guest bathroom.”
Powder Room Design Ideas that Yield Big Impact
Powder rooms are small, but they can leave a big impression on guests. “I liked being shocked by details in a little space, especially if it’s not going to be used much,” says Jamie Gibbs, a New York City designer who transforms incredibly small bathrooms into beautiful spaces.
Beyond cleanliness, powder rooms should provide for the basic necessities. That means at a minimum a toilet, sink, hand towels and a mirror. Great lighting is important too. The fact that these rooms are small actually works to your advantage when it comes to decorating on a budget. Not only do small rooms require smaller and fewer décor items, but the items that you do include can deliver a big impact.
Go Bold With Color
Even though it’s a small space, it’s okay to go bold with color. The impact will be immediate and undeniable. If four walls of color are too much for you, consider painting just one wall. You could paint the one behind the vanity/mirror an accent color and stick with lighter shades on the other walls. Or you could use muted hues on the walls but go bold with towels and accessories. If you really love the idea of bold color, paint all four walls and the ceiling the same color to create a cozy feel.
Get Creative with Mirrors
Your guests will use the mirror, so make it big enough to be functional but not so large that it overwhelms the room. Mirrors come in all shapes and sizes. Take your time to find one that is interesting and can serve as a functional item and a neat décor piece. You can even paint frames and add a mirror to them.
Splurge on Lighting
Good lighting is a must in the powder room, especially if you entertain frequently. Depending on the size of the room, you may want an overhead light as well as accent lighting on the wall. You have so many choices in lighting. Glam it up with mini chandeliers, soften the room with romantic sconces or create a focal point with pendant lighting.
Consider the Vanity
Be courteous to your guests and include a vanity, if you have the space for it. Not only can you stash extra towels and toilet paper under there, but the counter also gives guests a space for a handbag, make-up or brush while they freshen up. You can repurpose furniture and use it as a vanity by adding a vessel-style sink instead of a drop-in sink. Floating ledge countertops are sleek and modern, but you can always go with a classic vanity painted in an attractive finish.
Dress Up the Walls
Walls have so much potential and encompass the most square footage in the room. Don’t ignore them! Dress them up with textured wallpaper, stylish tiles, wainscoting or paneling.
Highlight Unique Accents
Accents and accessories help pull a room together, small powder rooms included. Consider functional items like wastepaper baskets, soaps and tissue holders as well as fun items like diffusers, vases, candles or even rugs. “The vintage rug trend is going strong, especially in bathrooms,” says Annabel Joy, interior designer and co-founder of Trim Design Co. in Boston. “The best type of rugs for these spaces are really worn ones with extremely low pile, and wool-cotton blends like the hand-knotted Oushak rugs from Turkey.”
There you have it! Several ideas you can use to renovate your powder room without breaking the bank. No one says you have to tackle this entire list. Pick one or two items that will make the biggest impact on your powder room and keep your focus there. That will keep your costs down and prevent you from becoming overwhelmed. Not sure where to start? Think about what you’d appreciate as a guest and start with that.
Liyya Hassanali is a Project Manager and Content Strategist for Kinship Design Marketing, a boutique agency that provides marketing strategies and content for architects, interior designers, and landscape designers. She is a 15+ year veteran of the marketing and advertising industry, working closely with her clients to provide written content that meets their marketing goals and gets results.
Liyya is passionate about home design and décor and is a confessed HGTV and Pinterest addict. When not providing content writing services for her clients, she can be found browsing home décor sites or spending time with her family.