Each week Mansion Global tackles a topic with an elite group of designers from around the world who work on luxury properties. This week we look at how to create a chic powder room .
Powder rooms may be small, but they are one of the first places where guests form an impression of your home. They’re also the perfect spaces in which to get creative.
“Small powder rooms are lovely spaces to design because you can have a bit of freedom with them,” said Brooklyn-based designer Gita Nandan, principal at thread collective, an architecture and design firm. “With expanses of mirrors, windows with planted views and warm finishes the room can feel more expansive,” she said.
And, if you want to experiment with décor, “powder rooms provide the perfect opportunity to try out a bold style that a homeowner might not be comfortable trying in a larger, more central room in the home,” said Julie Fisher, co-founder and principal of fcSTUDIO inc architecture and interior design firm in Chicago.
For tips on designing a powder room that packs a punch, follow our tips from the pros.
Consider Wall Colors and Patterns
“Even if your powder room is tiny, using light, airy shades will make the room feel more spacious. You can amplify this further by adding tall mirrors to create an illusion of more space. Painting the ceilings and walls the same light color will make ceilings feel taller because there is no distinct contrast that ends the wall’s extension upward. Pale grays and soft whites evoke feelings of serenity and comfort; a pink-peach shade makes for a cheerful space.
“If you are lucky enough to have lots of natural light in your powder room, you can feel free to be bolder. Deep shades of navy or dark, earthy greens help create an ambiance that is both sophisticated and refreshing, trendy yet tranquil.
“We see so many homeowners and designers using wall covering in their powder rooms. Because the space is small and there are only a few permanent fixtures in a powder room, you can be bigger and bolder with color and patterns. Whether it's flamingo-patterned paper or palm leaves to give a powder room an island vibe, or something brighter and bubblier, make the most of a small space.
—Kristen Chuber, senior director of marketing and brand for Paintzen in New York City
“We typically try to add a little pop into the design by having fun with the powder room. A patterned, decorative wallpaper or wood finish can work well as an accent to the space. Or a palette that emphasizes bold patterns with wood accents and pops of color—a bit of jewel-box within a home.
“Wood floors or a patterned marble floor help brighten the atmosphere.
“The lighting should be soft and elegant. As a powder room, the vanity lighting does not need to be as direct, so a decorative pendant or other accent lighting can be incorporated.”
“Accessories and hardware should be an accent and can play against the wall surfaces. Because space is tight, having towel bars be integrated into the millwork is useful.”
“We minimize shelving in the powder room. Shelves get cluttered and can be intrusive. Integrating a ledge with the backsplash or window sill is more streamlined.”
—Brooklyn-based Gita Nandan, principal at thread collective
“Wallpaper is an easy way to wow guests and offers a world of possibilities combining rich colorway options and textures. ... Elaborate patterns that have an elegant air to them feel right for these spaces, as do darker animal prints and artfully painted landscapes. Patterned wallpaper is an effective way of making a powder room seem bigger. The pattern offers visual interest across multiple planes, drawing the eye to the textures and hues of the wallpaper, as opposed to the exact scale of the space.
Mirrors also can be used to make a space seem larger, as they create depth by refracting lighting distributed by adjacent sconces.
“Given the constraints of the space, the easier the floor is to clean the better. Lighter tiles with dark grout allow for durability and seamless maintenance. Mixing and matching patterns using a soft palette is also an effective design option that won’t overwhelm the space.
“Select ambient lighting—but not so bright that it appears harsh. Softer, more elegant lighting is best in these spaces and pairs well with a bold wallpaper.”
“Get creative and source knobs and pulls that offer shapes. Brass adds a touch of glam; so do mixed metals. It’s also important to think about who is using the space and how much access you want to give guest to personal cabinets.
“Color and pattern are something I highly encourage for a powder room. Try pairing an expressive wallpaper with a painted ceiling for two impactful pops that stand out. A darker-hued palette makes a powder room feel cozy, yet upscale, as do animal prints or textured wallpapers. Pattern can be busy, but it can also create a cohesive space with a minimal footprint.”
— Julie Fisher, co-founder and principal of fcSTUDIO inc, an architecture and interior design firm in Chicago
Make a Statement
“We did a fabulous herringbone in four different stones at GALERIE, a new project in Long Island City, New York, and then calmed the idea down with handsome wood paneling on the walls. We like paneling or a special paint finish rather than all tiles on the walls, as that can get a bit cold in a small room. We’ve also done beautiful patterns with wood on the floor, too.
“Hardware is yet another opportunity for a statement. We like using brass and have found vintage and statement towel rails and hooks to add a layer to the room.
“When it comes to the color palette, the sky is the limit. We’ve used wild wallpaper patterns, calm painted wood panels, light and elegant schemes, as well as dark and moody. Think of the mood you want to create and go for it.
“Niche shelving works well. Or, a simpler solution is to purchase one that drills into the walls. Make sure the style of the shelf you buy reflects the style and mood of the room you are creating.”
—Paris Forino of Paris Forino Interior Design in New York