Remodeling Your Powder Room
Ah, the powder room. That whimsical, showoff of a bathroom. Unless of course, its fixtures are frumpy, its style lost in the last century. Here's how to remodel your powder room so you're never afraid to say, "Yes!" when someone asks, "Do you have a restroom I can use?"
A powder room, because of its small size, is a great place to take chances with design. You might try an intense color or unusual materials, ones that might overpower a larger room. "You can go really crazy," says Sara Ann Busby, president-elect of the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) and owner of Sara Busby Designs, Elk Rapids, Mich.
Before contacting a bath design professional, give some thought to what style of powder room you prefer. Unsure of your personal style? Yes/No Design: Discover Your Decorating Style With Taste-Revealing Exercises and Examples by Diane Love (Rizzoli International Publications) can help you get a handle on it.
Once you've pinpointed your style, check out some beautiful bathrooms in person. Decorator show houses, kitchen and bath showrooms, and plumbing showrooms provide places to see styles in 3-D, says Jessica Clock, a designer with Carmel Kitchen Specialists Inc. of Carmel, Ind.
When auditioning colors for your powder room, beige, tan and sand need not apply. Bold hues like merlot, navy, chocolate and even black work well in this small space. Although conventional decorating wisdom suggests that lighter colors make a small room feel bigger, there's no need for visual tricks here. Embrace the room's small size and go for drama instead. "I love the idea of creating a jewel box. A bathroom doesn't have to be big to be effective," says Randall Whitehead, lighting designer and owner of Randall Whitehead Lighting Designs.
Despite the room's small size, many mechanicals must be included. "You've got big drain lines to get in and obviously the water supply lines," Sara Ann says. "You've got to get ventilation in there and possibly a window and some very specific products that aren't really flexible in size," like a toilet and sink. A professional designer can look at the overall size of the room, take the mechanicals into account, and create a floor plan that maximizes space.
Powder rooms are the perfect place to dabble in materials that are more costly, delicate or require more maintenance because the room needs considerably less material than other bathrooms and receives less traffic. Sara Ann Busby also suggests using materials in unusual ways. For example, she likes to add a twist to stone countertops by creating a jagged edge. The effect is unexpected and gives a natural feel to the bathroom.
To make a powder room hospitable, accessorize. Add art to walls, arrange small vignettes on the countertops, and provide little luxuries like finely milled soaps and rich lotion for guests to use. The one thing a powder room doesn't need much of is storage. Anything a visitor needs from hand towels to extra toilet tissue should be in plain sight. So put the lights on a dimmer, light a wonderful candle, and the next time someone asks to use the bathroom tell them yes, without hesitation.
Sara Ann Busby
NKBA President-Elect, 2007
Sara Busby Design
Elk Rapids, Mich.
Randall Whitehead Lighting Solutions
San Francisco, Calif.