The powder room—typically a main-floor half-bath with a sink, a toilet, and a mirror—is often the home’s smallest room, averaging just 4 feet by 5 feet. Yet, if you measure its worth by the amount of traffic a room gets per square foot, the powder room could be the most valuable space in your house.
Thanks to its petite size, a half-bath can often be one of the least expensive rooms in the house to renovate. In such a small space, it’s possible to make a big impact with only a few small changes like a new sink or faucet, or an updated countertop.
If it’s been a while since you remodeled your powder room, you might want to investigate some of the more popular design trends. Seattle designer Pat Bermudez, NKBA, CBD and ASID, and Kohler Store marketing manager Lynn Schrage offer a few tips to help you freshen up your powder room.
“Select a deep, dramatic hue for the walls,” says Schrage. “Don’t be concerned about closing in this small space. An intense wall or ceiling color can make a dramatic impact in the room and add an element of surprise off the hallway.”
Texture can also play an important role. Consider a reflective material to help lighten up the space. If you’re not into bold hues, earth tones and light-colored natural materials can also help keep the space feeling open and fresh.
The faucet is an important element in powder room design, as it can really help solidify the room’s style. “You can use a traditional-style faucet, or a very streamlined, modern faucet to pull out the concept or the theme of your powder room,” says Bermudez.
Selecting the right finish is as important as the faucet; just make sure it blends with the overall design. A touch of sparkle is a great way to make a small space feel elegant.
Vessel-type sinks are particularly popular, and they come in a variety of styles that complement all periods of design. They’re also available in a wide range of materials, from marble and glass to stainless steel, bronze and textured ceramics.
Consider a one-piece toilet that lends your bath a furnished–rather than a utilitarian–look. Some models have built-in water efficiency; another popular feature is sound modulation for more discreet flushing.
Hardwood floors are popular right now, as are rich materials such as granite and marble, which offer an upscale look. You may also consider running the same floor material from the hallway into the powder room to create a natural flow.
If you want the look and feel of a hardwood floor that’s both durable and eco-friendly, consider bamboo. Ceramic tile or slate with radiant heating may let you eliminate the need for a second heat source in the room.
Thick crown molding (3-5 inches) around the room’s perimeter and up to 8 inches of baseboarding are popular ways to add detail. “People like to see the wood and architectural elements emphasized,” Bermudez says.
If your home style is contemporary, use modern materials such as laminate or designer woods. If you live in a period home, select fixtures and décor that match the rest of the house.
First impressions count
Consider this a showcase for your home and give it as much attention as your other public spaces. “A powder room, if it’s well designed, tells a lot about the owners of the home,” says Bermudez. “You want to use impressive…materials.”
For powder room countertops, consider using bright or reflective materials such as granite or quartz. Slate, which is warmer than ceramic tile, can be combined with granite or quartz countertops to give a calm, not overly decorated, look. All manufacturers use the same patented process to produce quartz countertops, which are famous for their durability.
“It’s a manmade material that is always glossy, very shiny,” says Bermudez. “So homeowners will spend little time taking care of it, but it always looks good.”
If you’re looking for a green alternative but still want shine and durability, consider recycled glass.
Refinishing the walls in the smallest room in the house is much less time consuming than changing the wallpaper or paint in a great room, so this is a great place to let your inner decorator run wild.
“A well-placed mirror can make any room look larger and more appealing,” says Schrage. “If you are considering a console table or pedestal, a decorative mirrored storage solution will offer the much-needed additional storage for toiletries and paper.”
Consider your guests
Because the powder room is for visitors, think about providing the extra courtesy of providing a place for women to set their bags – an empty countertop or shelf, for example.
Don’t overlook lighting, which can contribute to the overall effect or theme of your powder room. It’s better to over-light than under-light, and you can always use a dimmer switch.
“Dimmers help set the mood in the room when you’re entertaining,” says Schrage. “Undercounter lighting will help to create a visual expanse in a smaller space and enhance the space.”
Guide the way
Under-cabinet lights can function as nightlights or mood lighting when the room is unoccupied, and can help guide guests who are unfamiliar with your home’s layout.
Keep it clean
Keep the room architecturally clean and avoid over decorating or inundating the room with personal objects. Leave counters empty so guests can set down purses or car keys, and take care in choosing accessories like towel bars, towel rings, and soap dispensers.
The powder room, while small, makes a big statement about you and your home. With a little thought and imagination, you can make sure it’s speaking with your distinct voice.