Weekend Warrior: Upgrade Your Powder Room | ParkRecord.com

Weekend Warrior: Upgrade Your Powder Room

Bob Payne

In such a small space, a sculptural sink makes a major design statement. (Shutterstock)

Besides its convenience for guests or for family members in too much of a hurry to make their way up the stairs, a powder room is a place for homeowners to go bold with design ideas; perhaps revealing a wild side. And because of its diminutive scale, powder room projects can be done relatively inexpensively, often in a weekend. Or they can be redone, should the appeal of a particular boldness fade more quickly than anticipated.

Go bold with wallpaper

 One sure way to create a powder room that will have guests whispering for others to go take a look is with bold wallpaper. Geometric patterns are favorites, but designs that depict birch forests, flamingos in flight, slices of polished rock, zebra stripes, and even weathered brick are also among the endless possibilities. The secret to making a successful wallpaper statement, though, is keeping everything else simple. Mirrors, vanities, and light fixtures should not be competing for attention. Homeowners can hang wallpaper in a powder room themselves, although a perfect job, especially when working around toilets and pedestal sinks, may require a professional.

Hang a new mirror

When wallpaper isn’t the focus, other powder room elements can create their own bold statements. The mirror is a prime opportunity. In addition to more utilitarian functions, such as making a small space feel bigger, mirrors can become pieces of art simply by being set in a striking frame, whether it be vintage or modern. Or replace a larger mirror with a group of smaller ones, arranged strategically for collar straighteners and lipstick appliers, as if they were hanging in a gallery. 

Pendant lights, framed mirrors and bold wall treatments give powder rooms plenty of punch. (Shutterstock)

Update the hardware

With powder room hardware and fixtures, it’s difficult to keep track of which finish is having its moment — matte gold, aged brass, brushed copper, polished chrome?  But in settings that range from traditional to modern, matte black, especially when installed against a white background, is a contemporary choice that appears to have staying power. Any weekend warrior with a screwdriver and an electric drill can install matte black cabinet pulls, towel bars, and a toilet paper holder, although if your project includes replacing a faucet (and it should), the services of a plumber might prove helpful. 

Change the lighting

For many people, a visit to the powder room is an opportunity to get an update on how they are presenting themselves to the rest of the world. So good lighting matters. Provide it by mounting sconces on either side of the mirror at about eye level. How bold the sconces are depends on how well they work with other powder room elements, especially the mirror and wallpaper. You’ll want the help of an electrician for this project; if you are doing anything more complicated than replacing existing sconces, you may need a handyman to cut a couple of holes in the wall. If you aren’t already using LED lights, this would also be an opportune time to switch.

Think about artwork

It’s easy to be dismissive, and rightly so, of the allegedly funny kind of powder room art that might consist of a framed photo of a toilet paper holder captioned, “That’s how I roll.” But there’s a case to be made that powder rooms, because they aren’t exposed to the kind of moisture that a tub or shower can create, are a better place than a full bath to display serious wall art. To make the biggest statement, don’t hang the art against a distracting wallpaper design, and position it so that it will catch someone’s attention before they become otherwise occupied. 

Splurge on accessories

Hanging artwork is a good way to make a bold powder room statement. But even better is by adding beautifully designed accessories such as hand towels and soap dispensers. Because there are so few distractions in this small space, a sculptural soap dispenser, a frosted acrylic wastebasket, an alabaster tissue cover, and linen hand towels make a strong impact and also serve a practical purpose.

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