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Powder Room Power


Published: 11/08/2014

by Kimberley Seldon

It’s probably the smallest room in your house, but its potential for impact is huge. Frequented by family and friends, the powder room enjoys a central location and a significant role in many floor plans.


Thanks to its diminutive scale and precise purpose, even do-it-yourself decorators feel confident outfitting this busy room. For many professional designers, myself included, the powder room provides a unique opportunity to create an experience – providing those who visit with submersion into something divine.


Consider the mood and go bold 

As with every decorating project, begin with a mood or atmosphere in mind. However, feel free to be bolder than you might be normally, as the powder room is a transition space. People enter and exit relatively quickly, so its impact needs to be immediate rather than subtle.


For that reason, the powder room is an ideal location for a playful or dramatic wallpaper. A pattern you might grow tired of in the family room, where you linger, may create an impactful impression in the powder room. I prefer to paper all the walls (and sometimes the ceiling) in a small space and I would never consider a feature wall in the powder room, as it typically throws off visual balance, or worse – makes a feature of the toilet.


Unless you are a skilled paper hanger, it’s best to hire a professional installer who can align patterns and address difficult-to-reach places such as the area behind the toilet.


Enhance the mood with lighting

To provide guests and family members with the most flattering light in the powder room, make sure to include sconces on either side of a mirror (assuming you have one over the sink). Placing light fixtures at eye level helps eliminate harsh shadows, which appear when lights are placed overhead.


Paint or paper any back plates of light fixtures with the same treatment as the wall so the plates visually disappear. You can also include an overhead light fixture for general ambiance, but make sure it’s on a dimmer switch so it doesn’t overpower any decorative lighting.



An attractive display of artwork completes the decorating. Choose images that are easy to see up close, as this room is most often small in scale. A delicate watercolour or a fine photograph are good choices. The powder room’s final touches typically include attractive soap and hand lotion dispensers, and a scented candle.


In addition, a stylish towel holder makes the right impression.


Kimberley Seldon Design Group offers consultations and full design-build services to meet specific needs. For details, visit


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