Decorating a Powder Room

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Nov 07, 2011 | Kass Wilson

Chad Jones/FlickrPlace a mint on the pillow, fresh linens on the bed and a basket of luxury toiletries.  These are ways that we say "you are special" to our overnight guests.  But not every visitor spends the night or even sees that lovely guest room with all of the inviting features.  However, chances are they will visit the powder room.

Powder rooms are small spaces capable of making a big statement.  They are private and intimate settings that reflect the style of your home.  I think of them as the great equalizers.  No matter how large or small your home is or even where it is located, they are all approximately the same size. They serve the same purpose and therefore, all send a message about your home and your attention to detail.  Adding the right embellishments is another way to say, "Welcome to our home."

The same design principles apply in this small space as to any other room in your home, just on a smaller scale.  Here are some specific considerations.

Create a focal point in your powder room

This space is initially viewed at a distance.  From outside of the room, it appears as a large piece of artwork framed by the door trim.  It should be intriguing enough to capture your attention and invite you in.  Once inside, your guest will spend private time to view the details from a very up-close-and-personal perspective.  Therefore, it needs to appear as exquisite from 10 feet away as it does from only 10 inches away. 

First, determine your main focal point.  That is rarely the commode!  Instead, your goal is to draw attention toward the sink area.

One option is to apply an interesting decorative finish to the existing cabinetry.  This is usually more cost effective and less complicated than changing out the whole vanity, sink and fixtures.  No construction is required.  Then, with the addition of complimentary door hardware, standard cabinets are easily transformed to look like a custom vanity.

If budget allows, a lovely countertop, pretty plumbing fixtures or even a vessel sink can be just the design elements that are needed.

Embellishing your powder room

A decorative framed mirror can serve to further embellish the vanity.  If your mirror is mounted directly to the wall, consider removing it.  If that is not possible, a frame can be built using trim molding placed around the edges.  In the event you decide to do this, make sure that you also finish the back side of the frame that you use.  Anything that is placed directly against the mirror will reflect what is flat against the reflective surface. The easiest thing to do is just paint the back side of the frame black.

Just like any other space, lighting is critical.  In powder rooms, your light fixtures also serve a decorative purpose.  Merely changing out the fixture can add both style and mood to this intimate space.  In cases where the only light source is on the ceiling, consider a stylish little chandelier.

A magnificent decorative finish on the walls with texture and dimension is a way to add interest. It can be pure candy for the eye.  Be sure any treatment you choose is durable.  Behind closed doors, guests cannot resist the urge to touch the finish!

Little amenities make a big impact in powder rooms

Powder rooms are rarely a place where people spend a lot of time.  But on occasion, reading materials become part of the décor via a table or decorative stand.  In the past, a Sears catalog was considered a staple in a restroom!  I am fascinated by what people offer as reading materials for their guests.  I have seen everything from comic books to car or hi-tech magazines.  Whatever you decide to incorporate, make sure it is relevant for your guests.

Toilet tissue does not need to be hung on the wall!  If you choose to have a wall dispenser, make it a pretty one.  Another option is to place some rolls in a pretty container (like a basket) near the commode.  Make sure there is always plenty available.  Put a couple of extra rolls inside the vanity or somewhere that is easy to find.

Most people would prefer to use hand cleanser out of a dispenser.  A decorative dispenser is more sanitary and eliminates the mess of a slippery bar of wet soap. Luxurious hand towels on a towel ring or decorative paper napkins are a gracious addition.  The waste basket should be in a convenient place but not the center of attention.

Toilet bowl brushes or plungers are not decorative accessories!  Keep this little room clean and the plumbing in working condition.  If it is prone to problems, store the necessary tools in a readily accessible location such as behind closed doors inside the vanity.

Pay attention to the final details.  A pretty rug in front of the vanity, beautiful bath accessories and a special piece of artwork is all that is needed to complete the picture and provide a lasting impression.

Because a powder room is a small space, it is easy to make a departure from the traditional or expected.  Have fun.  Don't be afraid to be bold with your design.  A powder room should be a memorable experience for all who enter.  Create something that makes your guests smile. 

Award-winning painter Kass Wilson is a Hometalk - - writer. Get decor ideas like this - - on Hometalk.

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