Interior designers are practically unanimous in their enthusiasm for the powder room as one of the most enjoyable spaces to conceive of for a home. “The powder room is often among the first things that guests see upon arriving into one's home, so it is a great place to make a statement,” says Julia Edelmann of Buckingham Interiors & Design in Chicago, echoing the sentiments of many of her peers. “Because powder rooms are typically small, you can get away with design elements that may not work in other parts of the home.”
“This small but public space is a great room to ramp up your style,” agree Tracy Huff and Kelcey Schlegel of Bethesda, MD-based Waterlily Interiors. “For the most part, the door is always closed, so you can really have some fun”—with bold wallpaper, bright paint colors, luxe fixtures, and a number of other design elements you may love but dare not try elsewhere.
However, no matter how much fun you have with the powder room, its design should connect to the overall aesthetic of a home. And while this jewel of a room dazzles your guests with a glimpse of your creative vision, it should also provide them with the necessities—great lighting, a big mirror, the softest hand towels—that make them feel at home in your home.
Here, top tips for designing a powder room, along with a handful of images guaranteed to inspire.
Designers’ Top Tips for a Peerless Powder Room
“Invest in the most stylish and pretty faucet set you can afford. This gives the biggest bang. Everyone touches this. It should feel heavy and solid and substantial to the touch.”—Sally Wilson, Wilson Kelsey Design, Boston
“Don’t forget a beautiful fingertip towel, preferably monogrammed to give it a personal touch, a luxurious hand soap, and a soft-scented (seasonal) votive candle.”—Priscilla Fenlin, Priscilla Fenlin Interiors, Villanova, PA
“Make sure to edit. This space is a display of your organizational skills, so keep it clutter-free. It’s not the place for family photos, potpourri, etc.”—Nina Freudenberger, Haus Interior, New York
“Have fun with it. Use a color or some fanciful wallpaper that you might not be brave enough to try in a larger space. Hang a fun mirror or chandelier that might not be practical in a bathroom that serves as a wet space.”—Nicki Bongiorno, Spaces, Kennebunkport, ME
“Sconces and a good mirror are a must.”—Chandos Dodson, Chandos Interiors, Houston.
“Wallpaper can add texture with woven grasses or can add height with vertical elements. It's also more affordable to wallpaper smaller rooms.”—Tracy Huff and Kelcey Schlegel, Waterlily Interiors, Bethesda, MD
“Try including a more saturated version of something else that’s going on in the house. For instance, if the house is relatively neutral but a consistent accent color is green, then I would envelop the powered room in a green paper or paint or put up an outrageous green mirror on a neutral wall.”—Liz Caan, Liz Caan Interiors, Newton, MA
“People don't often think of displaying art in a powder room but it's the perfect venue for appreciating a wonderful piece of art within a close range.”—Darron Andress, FW INTERIORS DESIGN, Wappingers Falls, NY
Be Our Guest—Peek Behind the Doors of Six Pleasing Powder Rooms
“The focal point as you enter is key. Watch your view. If you are planning a new powder room, create your view. You don't want to look into a toilet, for instance. It can be nice to look into a pretty vanity and mirror. This is is a pretty little power room that just needed new lighting and some great wallpaper and corrected proportions.”—Sally Wilson, Wilson Kelsey Design.
“The homeowner fell in love with this Flowering Quince paper from Clarence House. We kept the architectural details to a minimum so that the paper could cover the ceiling and really envelope the space. It's an unexpected surprise that makes you feel as though you've entered a little garden”— Priscilla Fenlin, Priscilla Fenlin Interiors.
“The powder room we designed for this modern farmhouse has a rope-themed wallpaper by Cole & Sons covering the walls. We actually have a fun rope theme happening in other areas of this house (photos, artwork, etc.), so it made sense to play this element up in the powder room and make this tiny piece of real estate complete the story.”—Liz Caan, Liz Caan Interiors.
“Our client for this powder room was an NBA basketball player, who wanted a whimsical, ‘slam dunk’ approach to the design.”—Darron Andress, FW INTERIORS DESIGN.
"These homeowners are very traditional, so using this bold red Farrow and Ball wallpaper was a big step for them! Incorporating the very traditional mirror and vanity, while also using wall-mounted fixtures, was a great way to satisfy their traditional taste while also keeping the space fresh and modern."—Julia Edelmann, Buckingham Interiors & Design.
Located inside of a Spanish Mediterranean home, this space was just what a powder room should be—seriously high drama. We found the bronze sink first, and then the client fell in love with an 18th century gilt console, but was not crazy about having the plumbing exposed. We used a rich silk fabric in a paprika color, which added warmth and highlighted the gilt finish.—Chandos Dodson, Chandos Interiors.
“The old library card file that is used as the vanity served as the inspiration for this powder room. The books-themed wallpaper followed.”—Buffi Robbins, TMS Architects, (photo by Greg West).
Check out our Perfect Powder Rooms Pinterest board for hundreds more inspiring ideas.