Many supposed rules are thrown out the window when designing powder rooms. For instance, the old adage that color makes a room look smaller doesn’t necessarily matter when it comes to these spaces.
“If you design a family room with a lot of heavy color, you have to be concerned about seeing it from other rooms,” says Monica Miller, CKD, CBD, CR, J.S. Brown & Co., in Columbus, OH. “You have to worry about tying it all together. But in a powder room, you can go off the board a little. You can push color and style because you’re getting it in small doses.”
Homeowners often worry, too, that a particular style may not match the rest of the home. But since these spaces are oftentimes disconnected from other rooms, they can be the perfect opportunity to go a little crazy. “While I specialize in design that stands the test of time, powder rooms are great places for people to go a little wild,” says Diane Plesset, CMKBD, NCIDQ, CAPS, D.P. Design, in Oregon City, OR.
These spaces also give homeowners a chance to choose materials that are more delicate and more costly because they don’t get used as often (so durability is less critical), and you don’t need as much of them (which keeps the price down).
The following powder room projects offer a few examples of how several kitchen and bath designers have packed a powerful punch into the tiniest of spaces.
Designer: Diane Plesset, CMKBD, NCIDQ, CAPS; D.P. Design; Oregon City, OR
Design highlights: Handmade glass vessel sink atop an undulating glass countertop with artisan faux finish walls
Inspiration: Timeless design with pizzazz
Achieving the look: The transformation began with the sink and evolved with a Hawaiian focus based on the clients’ vacations to the island state. “The sink was a perfect representation of Mauna Kea, with a fiery red center that resembled molten lava, surrounded by varying shades of green, just like the tropical rainforests in Hawaii,” she says.
The ¾" sculptural countertop made the sink look like a floating island. It also made the room more accessible since the previous design required the user to scrunch between the door swing and toilet in order to close the door. Low-voltage step lights, aimed up at the bottom of the bowl from the wall below, emphasize the sink, which is accented by an off-set faucet that gained valuable space on the countertop. Low-voltage sidelights with metallic copper diffusers remind the client of tiki torches, while slate tile on the floor resembles hardened lava.
A faux finish artist completed the look with a special wall treatment done in four stages that included gluing leaves to the wall, then covering them with torn tissue paper that was covered by several coats of green paint and glazes topped with a protective urethane topcoat.
Powder room design views: “Timeless design doesn’t have to be ultraconservative and stodgy,” says Plesset. “If the budget allows, many elements can also provide drama…the pizzazz or ‘wow’ that makes people’s hearts sing. Cultural design artistry is more than a timeless treasure. It is a personal legacy.”
The pizzazz pieces in this particular design gave the homeowners a competitive advantage in the bad housing market and helped them sell their home for the listed price. “It does pay to incorporate time-proven elements in a redesign,” she says.
Top design tip: Listen to homeowners. “This bathroom would not have been as successful if the subject of my clients loving Hawaii had been glossed over,” she says. “I also ask questions that evoke feelings and show genuine interest in homeowners and their needs. The first time I met these clients (at a home show), I made a comment about how beautiful the lavatory was, then followed it with, ‘How does this appeal to you? Why are you attracted to it? If you could have this lavatory in your home, where would you put it?’”