A New Take on the Powder Room: 4 Considerations

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Baxter, rendering

What we know as a “Powder Room,” or a half bathroom, was first introduced as a design response similar to the situation we are finding ourselves living now. During the 1918’s influenza, there was a need for residents and visitors to have quick access to a bathroom without having to cut through a house or into more private areas. Living through another pandemic, we acknowledge the initial importance of this room’s intent. Yet we realize there is an opportunity to enhance the user’s experience and elevate the design of the room while allowing the room to serve its original purpose.

When designing or remodeling your Powder Room, there are four topics to consider:

1. Allocating a healthy budget:

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Crescent Drive, Matthew Millman

It’s common for primary bathrooms and kitchens to consume the finish and fixture budget of a house. Often times, Powder Rooms end up being an afterthought and sometimes are stuck with the left-over finishes and fixtures from other bathrooms. However, Powder Rooms tend to be very small, thus the quantity of the finishes is also minimal - so why not invest in your guests’ experience and let the design become more of a surprise statement piece?

2. Don’t be afraid to break the rules:

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Waverley, Matthew Millman

Even though the Powder Room is considered a bathroom, it does not need to follow typical bathroom rules:

  • Consider minimizing or omitting storage in the powder room for a more formal look; locate cleaning and bathroom supplies in a nearby room or storage cabinet instead.
  • Explore unconventional layouts to make the space feel special. Moving the toilet to the opposite wall of the vanity will hide the toilet from entry’s view. This would allow the vanity wall to become a feature wall.
  • Determine if you need counter space. Not having or reducing the counter space is perfectly okay in a Powder Room, since most users will only be using the room to wash their hands or maybe touch up their makeup. Reducing or eliminating counter space will differentiate the room from other typical bathrooms and give the appearance of being cleaner.

3. Be unconventional - with finishes & fixtures

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Remington, Nico Marques

Just because the Powder Room is small doesn’t mean it has to strive for something bigger:

  • Play with dark or heavy textured/patterned finishes. This is an easy way to visually elevate the design and feel of the room.
  • Consider atypical vanities such as a floating vanity, freestanding vanity, or a wall mounted sink. The vanity and sink can easily become the highlight or statement piece of the room.
  • Introduce fun fixtures like a vessel or integral sink, special faucet controls, wall mounted facets or side mounted faucets. Let you visitors know this is not just another conventional room.

4. Be Dramatic with Light.

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Bayview, Matthew Millman

Because of the location of most Powder Rooms, they tend to lack natural light. However, there is no need for this room to be brightly illuminated.

  • Integrate decorative fixtures such as pendant lights, wall washers, sconces, or back lit mirrors instead of typical ceiling light. This is the best way to create drama in an intimately sized room.
  • Recognize the size of the room, thus one or two lights may suffice. Note that at least one fixture needs to work as a face light, and that one fixture may be enough for the room.
  • If natural light and ventilation is a must for you, consider an operable skylight. You can take it one step further by integrating a light within the skylight to enhance illumination during the day or mimic the sun at night.

When you are ready to design or remodel your powder room, acknowledge that this small room can still make a big statement. Elevating the aesthetic and durability of the room to match its usefulness is the perfect balance, as Vitruvius once pointed out.

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Gibran Villalobos

Written by Gibran Villalobos

Gibran joined EYRC in 2017 and has been an integral part of both the residential and commercial studios. He brings his design sensibility to both EYRC’s custom residential projects as well as select hospitality projects. Gibran is an empathetic designer who listens closely to the client’s specific taste, lifestyle and inspiration to translate this into a vision which fits their site and budget. In addition to being a licensed Architect and talented designer, Gibran curates EYRC’s award-winning Instagram account.