Mon. Apr 22nd, 2024

Why is it that the powder room, a tiny bathroom with just a sink and a toilet, is often so many interior designers’ favorite room of the house? Though small, a powder room provides a huge opportunity for bold design. A jewel box of the home, a half bath is often where people let their design fantasies run wild. 

Bold color, playful wallpaper, and unexpected details are among the adventurous ways that people create interest in so little space. Often, these vibrant elements are reserved for the powder bath while the rest of the house is a bit more sensible. Interior designer Ellie Christopher says that the powder room is perfect for this special treatment because it’s so low traffic.

“You’re going to get tired of [the powder room] because you won’t see it multiple times a day. It’s not a space that you wake up and you go to every single day,” she says. “It can be like a little refuge from the usual.”

Christopher’s expert powder room advice? “Wallpaper and wallpaper and wallpaper. Wallpaper everything, even the ceiling.”

Know Where To Spend

Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

Christopher shares that because powder baths are such small rooms, updating them can often be done on a fairly tight budget. There are however, a few elements where investment pieces will be worth it to make a big impression.

“It’s just one little space an it’s not going to break the bank. They’re typically three feet by six feet,” says Christopher. “Spend a little bit more money on the mirror and the faucet.”

Go For Gold

HECTOR MANUEL SANCHEZ STYLING BY: HOLLY SMITH


Choose a stand-out metal to make a statement. Shiny gold is pretty as can be, and for hardware, designers are partial to unlacquered brass and polished nickel.

Promote Flow

Courtesy of Andrea May Interiors

“If the powder room is close to or off of a formal living room, I will typically have some flow or or similar feel,” says Christopher. “I will switch up the powder room by going darker to change the feeling of the other room.”

Try Blue And White

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

If blue and white graces the rest of your home in more subtle ways, decorate and wonderland in the same color scheme in the powder room. For this space, opt for bolder and busier patterns in the same color palette.

Incorporate Scalloping

PHOTOGRAPHY BY LAUREY W. GLENN; STYLING BY KENDRA SURFACE

Southerners love scalloping in interior design. Incorporate a traditional scallop or a less symmetrical take on the same silhouette to make simple elements really stand out in the powder room.

Design Something Soft and Masculine

Courtesy of MBCInteriors, Photographer Lauren Pressey

For many, playful patterns and bold design can often translate to feminine frills. Take a sharp turn by designing a more masculine powder room any Southern gentleman can get behind.

Pay Tribute To History

ALISON GOOTEE; Styling by Dakota Willimon


This powder room was designed to complement a historic house. Old-school elements and patterns with modern twists make this space feel right at home.

Get Fancy On The Floor

Courtesy of Peter Spaulding, Photography by Kelley Kish

While jazzing up the walls, don’t forget to show the floor some love, too. Colorful tiles or an interesting rug can be just the grounding interest the room needs.

Make Windowless Feel Bright

Courtesy of Jennifer Barron Interiors

Many powder rooms don’t have access to natural light so designers will need to make a decision: embrace the moody or bring in new light. For the latter, bright wallpaper, lightweight textures, and lots of ambient lighting can manufacture a light and airy powder room.

Create a Night Garden

Courtesy of Allison Knizek Design, Photographer Erika Bierman

Floral wallpapers are a go-to. Go for this favorite motif with a striking twist by opting for a dark, floral pattern as opposed to a bright or pastel one.

Add Some Whimsy

Courtesy of Nomita Joshi Interior Design, Photographer Alison Gootee

Of any room in the house, this is the one to let your wildest design dreams run free. Play with colors, patters, and unexpected motifs care-free.

Load Up On Texture

Courtesy of Peltier Interiors, Photography by Andrew Bui

The combination of different textures and materials will bring interest into even more simple spaces, especially when incorporated together in small spaces. Here, grasscloth wallpaper contrasts pleasantly with matte hardware, glossy wood, and fluffy florals.

Don’t Shy Away From Unusual Wallpaper

Courtesy of Peltier Interiors, Photography by Bethany Nauert

Florals, grasscloths, and geometric patterns are hardly the only options for pleasing wallpaper. Try something different to adorn the limited walls of the powder bath.

Try Colorful Trim

Brian Bieder Photography; Design by Maggie Griffin Design


“Paint your trim,” Christopher recommends. “Try a high-gloss paint, or go dark. Do something completely different than your usual.”

Create Coastal Charm

PHOTOGRAPHY BY LAUREY W. GLENN; STYLING BY KENDRA SURFACE

Pay homage to your home’s coastal locale with a high theme in the powder bath. If your house isn’t seaside, a coastal bath can be equally delightful as a beach fantasy.

Hang A Gallery

Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Barbara Schmidt

Layer even more interest on top of busy wallpaper. Framed art and mirrors make for a fantastic mini gallery wall.

Bring In Antiques

Hector Manuel Sanchez; Prop Styling: Lizzie Cullen Cox

The powder bath probably isn’t where you’ll be doing makeup in the morning. That’s the primary bathroom’s job. This means that a gorgeously speckled antique mirror can stun in the powder bath without detracting any purpose from the space.

Make The Most Of Monograms

Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Liz Strong

The powder bath is likely the one that party and dinner guests will frequent during their short-term stays. Welcome them to your home with custom, signature towels that show off their host’s monogram.

Turn Up The Volume

Courtesy of Arditi Design, Photography by Sinan Tuncay

Take cues from your favorite style, of design, but dial it up a notch or two—or three.

“I love to go really bold and romantic or, you know, really traditional… whatever the client’s inclination is,” says Christopher. “I love to just dial up the volume and in a powder bath.”

Do It In One Go

Courtesy of Arditi Design, Photography by Claire Esparros

“I have clients who feel daunted by the idea of finishing an entire living room because it’s expensive,” says Christopher. “A powder room, though, is one room that you can finish and feel accomplished. And it’s not going to break the bank.”

Incorporate Unexpected Color Combinations

Courtesy of Arditi Design, Photography by Kyle J. Caldwell

If there’s any place to take a chance, the powder room is it. Experiment with interesting palettes and patterns within the safety of the powder bath.

Let The Wallpaper Do The Talking

Courtesy of Miretta Interiors, Photography by Dustin Peck

As Christopher said: ““Wallpaper and wallpaper and wallpaper.” We couldn’t agree more. Choose an intriguing wallpaper as the focal point then keep the rest of the room simple.

Match Metals

Thomas Guy Interiors/Haylei Smith

For a cohesive look, match the hardware in the bathroom to other metallic additions. Here, the faucet blends seamlessly with the mirror frame, sconces, and even the soap dispenser.

Think Chic

Design: Bria Hammel; Photo: Spacecrafting

Powder rooms can be anything you want them to be. They can be wacky, whimsical, and everything in between. Another route, is to think chic. Here, deep colors, natural stone, and sophisticated wallpaper add up to an elegant retreat.

Go For More Decor

Photo: Alison Gootee; Styling: Suzonne Stirling

Sometimes, more is more. Layer in patterns, nicknacks, and anything else you can fit within the small parameters of your powder room. At the end of the day, it’s much easier to remove odd bits of decor than to add them after the fact.

Make A Statement With Art

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

In a small powder room, you’ll only have a few shots for wall art. Squeeze sufficient interest into just a few pieces by being bold when shopping for art and choosing statement-makers.

Make It Personal

Photo: Annie Schlechter; Styling: Lindsey Ellis Beatty

The powder room is the perfect place to decorate from the heart. Throw in hints to things you love like color, pattern, or even your favorite sea creature, like in this powder room.

Go Sky High

Stoffer Photography Interiors and Jean Stoffer

Walls aren’t the limit when it comes to wallpaper or paint in the powder room. Christopher recommends continuing the decorating all the way up onto the ceilings.

Mix Patterns

Ellie Christopher


In her own home, Christopher expertly plays with multiple patterns. Primarily sticking to a gray scale, she decorated her powder room with scaly wallpaper, a vibrant rug, and dotted tile floors.

Embrace Femininity

Carmel Brantley


This farm cottage powder room is a woman’s wonderland. Embrace popping florals and lots of pink in the powder room to recreate the look.

Get Inspired By The Garden

Photo Courtesy of Instagram/@ amystudebakerdesign

Just as Southerners love hydrangeas in our gardens, we also love hydrangea wallpaper in our powder rooms. Bring in the real thing, too, in a vase.

Bring In The Tropics

Laurey W. Glenn

You don’t have to live somewhere with palm trees and a tropical climate to decorate with this look. The powder room is the ideal place to drop in a hint of tropical charm.

Allure With Lighting

Photo: Laurey W. Glenn; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

The trick to an ideal lighting solution is incorporating light at multiple levels. In this lovely powder room, pretty sconces are complemented by an intriguing bubble chandelier.

Incorporate Rustic Details

Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

A reclaimed wood vanity and mirror hung by wooden beads add subtle, rustic elements to an otherwise modern powder room. Find more rustic home decorating ideas here.

Include Favorite Pieces

Laurey W. Glenn, Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller


In the powder room of this airy Inlet Beach, Florida, cottage, designers Bo Massey and Susan Bohlert Smith enveloped the space with beachy, botanical wallpaper and hung an antique mirror gifted to the homeowner by her great-grandmother.

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