The half bath may be humble, but its petite proportions can make it one of the most exciting and inspiring rooms to decorate. Sometimes called a powder room, these tiny spaces are defined as a bathroom without the ‘bathing’ elements, typically featuring only a toilet and sink. Nevertheless, the best powder room ideas will pack in a ton of design interest to impress your household and guests alike.
What this smaller bathroom space may lack in square footage, it will make up for in function. They’re great as a guest bath and, because they’re smaller and potentially used more sporadically, there’s less to do on the cleaning front also – a welcome bonus we think you'll agree...
Perhaps surprisingly, half baths and powder rooms are often referred to as the ‘jewel boxes’ of the home. ‘They offer a manageable space to have fun and be a bit adventurous with your design scheme; you can afford to make statements with color and pattern without worrying about how it will coincide with the rest of your home’s interior’, says Megan Dufresne, Principal Designer at MC Design.
What’s more, smaller spaces mean you can go big on material choices without breaking the bank – less walls to cover and smaller fittings required mean you can splurge on more expensive papers, finishes and accessories. Plus, if you decide your bold choices aren’t working for you, there’s less to cover up at the end. It’s win win, really!
Yep, that jewel box analogy is starting to make sense now, right?
Powder room ideas that are here to stay
These tiny extra bathrooms are traditionally found on the first floor of a property and they are coming around again since the 1920s as a total essential in modern homes.
'Bathrooms, in particular small powder rooms, are the perfect places to be a little bit bolder and braver with your interior design choices. Homeowners aren’t scared anymore to make a statement and a vibrant, large-scale or bold dark wallpaper is definitely a great way to do this!' explains Rebecca Drury, Co-Founder of MissPrint.
We’re all about the funky bathroom wallpapers, bright basins and quirky accessories, and these powder room ideas show that one should never underestimate the impact of a half bath… No matter how tiny it might be.
1. Draw the eye down
The trend for patterned flooring is as strong as ever and it can be just as show-stopping even in the smallest of rooms. Give your powder room some punch with an eye-catching tiled design as done here by Mindy Gayer. Despite being a neutral shade of gray, the floor becomes the star amidst all-white color scheme from Mindy Gayer. We love its understated elegance.
Photography by Southern California based Vanessa Lentine.
2. Choose clashing colors
Even the most basic standard-issue vanity can be made to look glam with a fresh lick of paint in a funky shade. On its own it looks great, but against a contrasting bright wallpaper, it looks even better. We’re all about the color clash, as is Interior designer Kim Armstrong; ‘a half bath is the perfect place to experiment with bright shades; even a little color packs a big statement anyway in a small space, so you might as well go all out – it’s win-win!’.
Add to the look by dangling a glitzy light fixture (or two) either side of your mirror, or hang one in the centre of your space; as long as it’s as practical as it is pretty – i.e. not blocking your view in the mirror and providing good lighting for make-up – you’re all set.
3. Opt for a solo statement
Because a half bath is small by nature, even a single statement accent can make a big impact, even more-so amid an otherwise neutral scheme. Designer Lindye Galloway shows how it’s done by incorporating this wow-factor vanity unit into her scheme. We love the combination of classic marble with a bold contemporary paint shade – the perfect mix of traditional and modern bathroom elements. The floating design also helps create the illusion of space.
4. Go to the dark side
It’s true, dark colors can make a room feel smaller. But half baths don’t need to feel large, so they’re a great place to run with your inner dark side. When used properly, heavier hues can bring a sleek, sophisticated feel. Fixtures and fittings play a part too; keep it modern with chrome and bright white or introduce a touch of vintage glam with brushed finishes and metallic tones. If painting all four bathroom walls feels a step too far, combine with white metro tiles and playful paint shades, or opt for a single dark feature wall, instead.
5. Run with a theme
We tend to shy away from themed rooms, but a half bath is the perfect place to let your personality and preferences shine through. Whether it’s animal prints, peacock shades or tropical touches, we all have an ‘out-there’ scheme we’d love to try. Half baths are the perfect place to take a décor risk, so don’t be afraid to experiment your weirdest and wildest ideas. Dreaming of palm tree wallpaper, pink tiles and gold accessories? Go for it.
6. Paint pockets of color
A half bath is the perfect place to have some fun on your walls. From graphic patterns and bright color blocking to painted borders and chair rail effects, it’s time to whip out the painter's tape. Don’t worry about having to buy huge pots of brightly colored paint, the beauty of a small room is that a few tester pots will usually do the job. You can carry the colors through in accessories, too – a colorful toilet seat is an instant mood-lifter.
7. Think practically
It's no secret that a mirror can make a small bathroom space feel larger. What else? Clever lighting. So why not combine the two, like Ashton Woods have done here. ‘Having an electrician backlight the mirror is an easy way to add style and impact to the room, plus it’s handy for guests who many need to touch up make up etc’, says Leigh Spicher, National Director of Design Studios for Ashton Woods.
Leigh is also an advocate of using bathroom tile ideas cleverly in a powder room. ‘Absolutely, both on the floor and on the wall’, she says. I love using oversized or patterned tiles; small spaces are a great way to feature a pattern that might feel like too big of an investment otherwise. As well as having aesthetic benefits, they’re super practical, too.’
8. Check out the small print
A small wallpaper pattern tends to get lost in a bigger room. But in a smaller space, it makes its presence known without overpowering, making it a great choice for a half bath.
‘Our client didn’t want a ton of pattern and color, but when we showed her this wallpaper, she found the smaller scale print soothing’, says Lauren Lerner, Founder & Principal Designer of Living with Lolo. Continue the calming vibes with natural wood and woven tones.
9. Trick the eye
There are design tricks you can use to make your half bath feel bigger. Using the same material on your floor and walls not only creates a cool design feature, but visually expands the space, as demonstrated in this rustic design by Nar Design Group. ‘The wood plank tile floor was carried up the wall in a ‘barn-door’ pattern, a nod to the rural farmhouse it’s situated in’, says Chief Design Officer Ashlee Richardson. ‘A leather strapped mirror and powder blue walls complement its warm tones, giving a sense of balance and harmony to the space’.
10. Accentuate existing features
Lucky enough to have paneling in your half bath? Painting it in a dark shade will ground your scheme and add a touch of opulence. Leaving the top half white will help to visually raise the ceiling height, making the room feel larger. But they don’t call powder rooms ‘jewel boxes’ for nothing… So, why not get creative with a lavish wallpaper print like designer Mindy Gayer has done here?
By compensating for the darker scheme with a large mirror and overhead task lighting, Gayer creates a cozy space in keeping with the style of the house.
Want to recreate a paneled look? DIY shiplap panelling is easy to install in a bathroom; most feature tongue and groove edges, so they fit together easily. It’s a great way of disguising secondary pipework, too.
11. Consider built-in storage
If you’re remodeling a bathroom, consider setting storage back into the wall to save on floor space. Open shelving not only creates an airy feel, it also offers an opportunity to show off your personality with beautiful accessories and decorative touches. We recommend including cupboards too to hide away unavoidable clutter – you can’t be expected to keep things tidy all the time!
Space created by Lindye Galloway with photographer: Chad Mellon.
12. Paint the door
A statement bathroom door can be a great way to signal that something super-stylish lies beyond. As perfectly demonstrated by this super-cool design from Maestri Studio. ‘This home was originally built in 1970 and the cabinet is original to the home, ‘says Eddie Maestri, Principal Architect and owner of Maestri Studio. ‘We wanted to preserve it but give it a new existence in brilliant cilantro green, ultimately creating a bold, fashion forward space’.
13. Nod to natural materials
There’s been a lot of talk about going big on pattern in your powder room, but a more pared-back approach can make an equally striking statement. Whether you’re after modern hotel-luxe or a rustic log-cabin look, a wood-clad wall can transform the space. ‘This powder room design is modern at its core’, says designer Lindye Galloway. ‘The teak wood backsplash spans the entire wall from floor to ceiling, while a statement stone sink with brass hardware accents creates visual interest. Using natural materials means all elements work cohesively and make for a simple yet stylish scheme’.
While there may not be much wall to clad in a dinky half bath, it can still be a pricey – and permanent – décor decision, so a realistic wood-effect wallpaper is a great alternative.
14. Focus on textured fittings
If you’re a fan of your existing half-bath, don’t feel like you have to change up everything to create a stylish new scheme. Simply updating your fixtures and fittings can make a massive difference – plus it’s a lot cheaper than a complete reno. We love black for a fresh, industrial vibe. It looks great here paired with bright white and inky blue hues.
15. Make it guest friendly
We don’t often think of a half bath as needing to be particularly cozy, but as one of the rooms most often seen by guests, it seems appropriate that it offer a warm, homely vibe. Opt for warm tones, copper finishes and soft textures, then finish off the room with a few warm touches; plush towels and scented soaps go a long way, as do candles, plants, wall art and other decorative accents.
16. Pick a statement sink
Dreamed of a marble sink? Or maybe a colorful sink was on your wish list but you thought it might be too bold in your family bathroom? Well, a powder room is the place to be brave with your sanitaryware.
Let your sink be the focus of the space and keep the rest of the room minimal – this also means you can splurge the majority of your budget on that dream sink.
'To design a wow factor cloakroom, a focal point is a must, and – due to the lack of space – this has to be either the basin, a vanity or both. Try a sculptural basin, a vanity in a bold color or different finishes for the brassware. A mirror with separate wall lights or pendants will also create drama in a cloakroom,' explains Yousef Mansuri, Head of Design at C.P. Hart.
17. Go for a style that's out of your comfort zone
If you love a certain style but you know it won't work throughout your whole home, experiment with that style in your powder room.
For example, love that quirky, traditional, cottagecore look that's everywhere right now? But don't want it to interrupt the modern vibe going on in your other rooms? Bring that style into the powder room.
18. Expand space with a large mirror
It's interior design 101 that mirrors make rooms feel bigger. They are also an essential in a powder room, so go as big as your space can handle.
If you are really squeezed for space, be sure to pick a mirror that has a thin or non-existent frame, so you're not adding any unnecessary fuss to the space.
19. Paint with your favorite color
Plaster-like, blush, pale pinks have been the color for well, years now, and are still among our shades colors to decorate with. Pink is the perfect color for a smaller space, too, as it's still light and isn't going to overwhelm the room, but is also way more exciting than white or grey.
Our fave pink? It has to be the classic Calamine from Farrow & Ball.
20. Or go for a classic all-white
If color isn't your thing, you can't go wrong with an all-white color scheme in a powder room.
Add some interest by layering up different tones of white – try a cooler tone on the walls and warmer for the woodwork. Plus you could add a rustic touch by painting floorboards white too, plus this works to seamlessly blend the powder room with the adjoining room.
21. Add texture with a rug
It can be tricky to add warmth and texture into a powder room, but a cute rug can be the easiest way to do just that. A rug in your main bathroom might not be all that practical, but in a smaller powder room, they aren't going to get wet and will just bring in some color.
We love how this vintage Persian rug works with the more contemporary vibe of the rest of the space. it's a look that's all over Pinterest right now.
22. Mix in vintage pieces for a traditional powder room
Got your eye on a gorgeous antique cabinet but can't find a place to make it work in your home? Try and see if you could repurpose it as a vanity or under-mount for your sink in a powder room.
Using vintage pieces will bring in character to the space, plus look fab even super modern rooms.
23. Add prints for a simple powder room idea
Not sure how to bring your style into such a small space? You can always squeeze in some of your fave prints, or even create a gallery wall for a more eclectic feel.
Also note this gorgeous sage green – the perfect backdrop for prints, posters and artwork, and a bang on trend hue for 2021.
24. Go for a monochrome scheme
Monochrome is such a timeless look for a powder room, and is a color scheme that works no matter what your style. Plus, it's an easy pallet to change up as your styles change, too.
For example, this gorgeous powder room has been given a boho feel with the jute rug and the texture pouf, but you could quickly switch it to be a more minimalist space by making a few changes. Versatile – our ever-changing minds are here for it.
25. Add in some greenery
Houseplants are a quick and easy way to literally bring life into the smallest of spaces – if you can't squeeze in any other decor, a bit of greenery is a must. You could go for a big palm for a bougie, hotel bathroom feel or keep it subtle with a couple of hanging plants.
If your powder room doesn't get any natural light you might want to go with faux plants to increase their chance of survival.
26. Go for a two-tone color palette
How dreamy is this powder room? That color combo of the palest pink and the blues is perfect for this small space, keeping it light and airy but far from boring.
The other top tip we are taking from this room is to paint the ceiling. Why leave it boring white when you can use it to add color?
27. Be bold with a statement wallpaper
There is a tendency in small rooms to keep the walls fuss-free, for fear that anything too busy will make the space feel even smaller. BUT, choose the right wallpaper and it can actually expand the room.
Picking something statement and in a darker color like this fab print from Cole & Son almost blurs the edges of the room, the corners become unclear and make the space feel bigger.
28. Squeeze in some storage
Finding space for storage in a powder room can be tricky, but it is an essential if you want to create a stylish, clutter-free space.
This powder room just proves how much storage you can squeeze in and still looking lovely. Add a wicker basket under the sink for loo rolls, prop some ladder storage against the wall for towels and introduce a teeny cabinet for toiletries and a bit of extra surface space.
29. Choose a floating sink
A floating sink is the perfect choice in a powder room as it will take up much less space physically and visually and won't prevent light from flowing around the space. They also look super stylish and minimalist – this simple compact design looks perfect with the gold hardware and there's still enough room to keep the essential Aesop products which are a must in our opinion!
30. Think pink
Nod a little to the history behind powder rooms by choosing a feminin color scheme. Light and airy, powder pink combined with the chic black sink and typical marble diamond flooring keeps this space glamorous and with lots of 1920s vibes.
Does adding a half bath or powder room add value?
Thought it doesn’t add as much value as a full bathroom, a half bath or powder room can make a difference to your property’s worth. ‘Installing a brand-new half bath or powder room into your home can increase value by 20 or 23% at best, but it can also be as low as 10%, depending on the space, design and quality of finish’, says realtor and owner of Sims Real Estate Group, Jason Simard.
As well as financial value, it’s also worth considering the effect it might have on your home’s saleability; ‘half baths and powder rooms are a desirable addition to home buyers – hosting guests becomes an all-round more comfortable experience for everyone if you have one in your home’, says Maria Juvakka, Founder of Chic Pursuit. For this reason, they can make for a more likely – and potentially quicker – sale.
How do you make a powder room cozy?
Obviously this comes down to your personal style – beyond having to include the essentials (a toilet and wash basin) how you dress your space is totally up to you. As you have probably sussed however, we are very much up for going bold in a powder room since they are small spaces that can feel quite separate from the rest of your home so you needn't worry about matching styles. For added warmth and a sense of coziness, nod to texture and calm colors. Then be sure to include ambient bathroom lighting for small spaces, and plush towels, of course.
Should I wallpaper my powder room?
'You can afford to be more creative and playful with your decorating choices in a powder room. You can also inject pattern and color with wallpaper for a really impactful effect,' says Yousef Mansuri, Head of Design at C.P. Hart.
'A powder room isn’t as steamy or wet as the main bathroom, so wallpaper is a safe option to truly personalize your space and create something a little different from the rest of the house.'
How to do you light a powder room?
'Whether you have your own powder room or a smaller bathroom think about how you can replicate the tone and feel of natural light as best as possible. Start off with considering where your light sources are located.
In most cases we have an overhead pendant or spotlights. Although great for creating practical or mood lighting, they are less than ideal for a powder room style setting as overhead light casts shadows.' explains Rohan Blacker, founder of Pooky.
'Wall lights are an especially good option in a powder room, not only stylish but you can install them at a desired eye level, perhaps on either side of your mirror which will then diffuse your light effectively. Alternatively, look for adjustable fixtures which can tilt so you can bounce the light against a wall to avoid direct light shining on you as again, this would create shadows.;