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April 01, 2018

Powder room power

Bring your designs full measure on half-baths

Christina Loc

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Occupying so little space yet having some of the biggest aesthetic impact in the home, the powder room is definitely a favourite for the design imagination. With a bit of thought, inspiration and attention to detail, this space that your guests tend to see the most has plenty of potential to wow.


If you are building new or are thinking of renovating, consider these key elements for the half-bath/powder room:

Select plumbing fixtures to impress. With so many options available, it is imperative to make your selection in the early stages of the build process, as this will dictate where the plumbing rough-ins need to be. From tankless toilets to pedestal sinks, wall faucets and vessel sinks, your plumber will need to run the proper lines.

High tech toilets are making their way to the North American market stronger than ever so look out for toilets with heated seating, built-in bidets and dryer options.

Matte gold finishes and mixing metals continue to be strong in 2018 with matte black faucets gaining traction too.

Vanity with style. Floating vanities with or without storage will be strong this year. They make a space light, airy and are simply cool-looking and impressive.

Pedestals remain great choices for smaller areas and come in a wide range of traditional to modern pieces. A word of caution on pedestal sinks: though they are sleek and stylish, they don’t offer storage space, so you will need accompanying pieces like baskets and bins to provide the functionality.

On the other hand, the furniture-like vanity will continue to appeal as it’s practical for storage and is timeless.

It’s thick or thin with countertops. If your vanity style requires a counter top, you have a plethora of choices from granite, marble, man-made stone popularly known as quartz, concrete and glass to name a few. Play with the thickness of your countertop to draw attention; go three inches thick or 3/4 inches thin.

Another trending countertop material is a live-edge slab of wood. Pair it with a concrete vessel bowl and the result will be stunning. Organic looking materials in warm neutral tones are so welcoming.

Or, play with colour on your countertops. Glass can be custom painted to any colour and there are a lot of neutral and vibrant colours to select from with quartz by Caesarstone.

Light it up. Lighting can really change the look and feel of a powder room. Sticking to where the electrical box is traditionally wired above the sink on the wall, there are many beautiful vanity lights to choose from. But, if you want to take it up a notch, hang a chandelier in the middle of the room, use trendy wall sconces, drop one or two pendants over your sink area or add LED strip lighting behind a floating mirror and under a vanity, an instant ambience changer. Use multi-colour LED strips to instantly change the hue of your room. When planning for lighting, ensure proper wiring is roughed-in.

Mirror, mirror on a wall. Mirrors are available in all shapes and sizes with options of having them framed, frameless, floating and lit.

If on a budget but in need of that extra bit of detail, carrying a frameless mirror all the way to the ceiling will make your powder room feel fuller, taller and bigger.

Banjo arms have been a faux-pas in recent years, but they’re a great way to have that extra bit of counter space while allowing you to carry the mirror across the full width of the wall, making your space appear larger. I know, designers reading this are cringing, but just hear me out: imagine a full wall of decorative cement tile with a floating back-lit mirror running across the width of it with a simple clean line rift oak floating vanity, and bam! A beautiful banjo armed slab of marble on top!

If you’re not sold on the banjo arm, ask your contractor not to install the standard mirror so you can purchase a decorative one. Think of your mirror as an extension of your wall art.

Treat your walls with the attention they deserve. Wall treatments are a wonderful way to add interest and express taste. Tile, wallpaper, accent paint, wainscoting, wall paneling and moulding are all fantastic ways to add an extra layer of pattern, colour and texture. Make a bold statement with a fully tiled wall behind the vanity. Textured, pattern and geometric wall tiles and wallpapers, both floral and modern, can be stunning. Combine and mix different wall treatments like wallpaper and wainscoting to create intensity. Take these treatments all the way up to the ceiling for an even greater statement.

Add finishing touches with bathroom hardware and accessories. Invest in a solid good quality towel bar and toilet paper holder. Just like everything else, there are lots of styles and finishes to select from. Change up your decor every now and then for a fresh look. Purchase neutral plush towels or pull out accent colours from your artwork. Keep the counters clutter free and simple. Group together a few decor pieces like vases, a candle or diffuser, a luxurious hand soap and voila, you have everything you need for the perfect powder room for you and your guests to enjoy.

If there is one room that needs to be impeccable, it is the powder room. I always say to my trades, people will judge your work based on what they see in the powder room. Cleanliness, attention to detail and craftsmanship are on full and quick scrutiny so make sure to dust those baseboards!

While you may end up splurging more on upgrades, (relatively to the rest of your home price per square foot) your powder room footprint is typically smaller, requiring less material and cost.

Have fun with this room. Don’t be afraid to make it stand out and design it in stark contrast to the rest of your home. If you are hesitating because your house is modern, white and fresh and are thinking of making the powder room eclectic, dark and moody, I say do it! Black is back. It makes walking in to that bathroom just that much more dramatic, fun and exciting!

If unsure whether your vision will work, hire an interior designer to help you pull it all together. Don’t follow trends because you feel pressured. Be inspired by them, select timeless pieces that you love and the end result will be amazing!

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