Powder rooms are one of my favourite rooms to design and decorate. I love them because they are small and easy to make fabulous. They cost much less than a regular bathroom to renovate because there’s generally only a basin and loo, so you can get more bang for your buck spending your money on fabulous decorative features. You can also afford to be bold and adventurous with your decorating style because it’s a space that you are only in fleetingly. I think it’s the perfect room to express yourself and have fun.
The powder is in the downstairs hallway between the entry foyer and the kitchen. It has no windows and is only 1.8m wide. As with most other rooms in this house when we moved in, it had a rather dreary dated English country house look with beige and red wallpaper and ragged painted timber vanity, with brass fixtures and beige tiles. All perfectly fashionable and no doubt on-trend for a design done 25 years ago for an older couple, but in desperate need of an update for our young family. I much prefer crisp white woodwork and trim, rather than cream.
The American Federal style mirror had potential but I ended up selling it on Ebay. I thought about repainting the vanity, but for the money it would cost to replace the bench top and have it repainted, it was a much cheaper option repeating the pedestal basin I used in our Sydney house, which I loved.
I knew I wanted to use the Schumacher wallpaper, which again I had dreamt of using for some years. I am also mad for paneling of any sort in a powder room or bathroom, and this was the perfect place. It also means you use less wallpaper. I added wainscoting to most of the walls in the downstairs entry and living rooms, so it made sense to continue it in here.
The walls were patched and prepared, although part of the floor had to be replaced because we had to relocate some of the plumbing. Luckily there’s plenty of space beneath the house for trades to get access, so it’s not too tricky to rework these things in our house. The paneling is simply MDF profile and I drew the pattern on the walls, then added painters tape and worked it out with the carpenter as we went. It’s a relatively quick and simple way of adding architectural detail to a space, and the materials are pretty inexpensive, so it’s more the labour that’s the main cost.
I toyed with a million different tile options, and even imported a selection of beautiful marble mosaic samples in the most stunning patterns and colours from China. But got cold feet in the end and left my run too late to have time to get them here. I also would have had to order a pallet from China, and didn’t know if I wanted the same thing everywhere. In the end I opted for a simple honed marble hexagon tile which I found online from a Brisbane tile shop. I used the same one in the girls’ shower, which made sense for cost efficiency.
I thought about having a tiled border around the edge, but as much as I love the look the cost of doing it was prohibitive for this room and I was pressed for time. It’s very labour intensive, and labour costs money. I just adore this wallpaper and seeing it without the mirror and lights installed, I think you actually appreciate the beautiful design more. I’d love to use it in a bigger room.
Our last powder room you may recall was also blue and white, very similar but using a gorgeous Thibaut wallpaper. So to make it a bit different I opted for the same black mirror but with oil-rubbed bronze tapware and accessories which I think add great impact and contrast. I wish I’d used them in more rooms now. They were hard to come by though, as there aren’t a lot available in Australia and at an affordable price.
The gold ceiling light you see reflected in the mirror I bought online from the US. It’s by Suzanne Kasler and picks up the gold in the starburst mirror.
The pedestal basin is the same one I used in our last house as well. It’s so well priced, and I think looks fabulous. It’s just as good as any you would get from an expensive designer bathroom shop, and looks almost identical to the many I have seen in gorgeous American bathrooms. I like having a pedestal basin in a small powder room as it makes the room feel more open and spacious than a solid vanity would.
I like that the basin has plenty of room around it for candles, flowers, soap, towel and a ladies’ handbag, for visitors. Nothing worse than having no place to rest your bag in a guest loo when you touch up your lippie I think.
Remember you can use your blue and white jars and pots as vases. They look lovely, hide the stems and add something extra to the room that glass can’t. Instead of leaving them on the shelf, put them to work!
The trick with the wainscoting in this room was making it high enough so that it sat above the spout and you could get your hand around taps to turn them.
The bathroom wall sconces and all the bathroom accessories, except the taps, I found from Pottery Barn US. They do a beautiful finish in black or oil rubbed bronze. The lights weren’t converted, but installed as is. I added the blue ribbon to the lampshade.
The bathroom looks nice at night too, but has a much warmer glow. The lampshades although they look white have a cream linen on them which is much more apparent when the lights are on, and the gold ceiling light adds to that as well.
The black mirror was something I found by accident at Early Settler some years ago. It was a tarnished gold, but I painted it gloss black.
Hope you have found this post inspiring and helpful. Remember be a bit bold with the decorating in your powder room. It’s the one place you can afford to be a little adventurous and express your creativity and decorating talents.