Planning the Perfect Powder Room

Planning the Perfect Powder Room

Unlike other rooms of the home, the powder room can break every rule of conventional design and still look great. Compared to the kitchen or master bath, it’s inexpensive to redo and fun to experiment with, making it an ideal statement room. Below are some ideas and tips to help you plan your perfect powder room.


Usually tucked under a stairwell or hidden in a hallway, the powder room is generally a small space. Its size doesn’t leave room for layout creativity—or much of anything else—so you have to be very meticulous in your planning. All bathrooms require piping in the floors and walls. Changing the layout if you have an existing powder room can be costly. If you’re planning a new powder room, think about how to make the space as functional as possible. If staying within budget is your first priority, reduce plumbing costs by placing plumbing fixtures along a single wall. This allows fixtures to share the same line. Here are some examples of a typical powder room layout:

Consider adding a small closet to your layout. If you have the space, a closet can be a great place to store extra towels and guest toiletries. It will also allow you to be more flexible with your sink choice, because you won’t have to worry about choosing a vanity over a pedestal just because of storage. Here are some examples of a powder room layout with a closet:


You probably won’t need as much storage space as you would with a master or full bath, but it is still an important aspect of powder room planning. Console tables, bath furniture, shelves, and custom vanity cabinets are all great storage spaces if you are unable to add a narrow closet to your floor plan. Remember, the powder room is considered formal therefore toothbrushes, hair dryers, and other family items shouldn’t be stored here. Keep toilet paper, extra towels, and plenty of soap stored in your powder room for guests.


Though moisture and condensation are generally not a concern in the powder room, adequate ventilation is always important. Because sounds seem louder in a small room, choose an exhaust fan with a low sone rating.


As a rule, light colors make a room feel larger. However, in the powder room, wall color and design come down to personal preference. Dark colors can work well in a powder room, as can bold patterns. You may want to consult an interior designer or decorator if you’re unsure what will look best.

Floors, on the other hand, can be tricky. In magazines and online inspiration boards there are often hardwood floors photographed in powder rooms. We advise against using hardwood floors in areas with water. Installing wood floors in a bathroom may void the flooring’s warranty. Ceramic and marble tile are beautiful alternatives to hardwood. However, if you’re set on the idea of wood, you may want to consider flooring that only appears like wood. We have some installed in our showroom:


Now our favorite part—fixture selection!


Choosing a toilet can seem easy at first. A toilet is a toilet, right? WRONG. There are several things to consider when purchasing a commode:

  1. Height—Toilets vary in height from 10” to 18”. A standard toilet is 14 ½” to 16” high without the seat. A comfort height toilet, many of which are ADA compliant, is 17” to 19” from the floor to the top of the seat.
  2. Shape—Though you can choose some square models, most toilet bowls are round or oval (elongated). While the extra space of an elongated toilet can make it easier to use, this toilet shape can be too big for smaller spaces. It’s important to have accurate measurements of the locations before making your purchase.
  3. Mount—If your style is more contemporary, you may want to consider a wall mount toilet. They can be set at almost any height, and usually have the tank hidden behind the wall. This creates a clean, minimalistic space. A floor mount is the most common type in the US. Floor mounted toilets are set on the ground and have a short pedestal base below the bowl. This kind of toilet can fit in with any design scheme.
  4. Color—Most people choose white toilets because they’re easier to decorate around, and less likely to go out of style. However, if you’re planning to stay in your home for several years, you might choose something more colorful. Toilets come in all colors, depending on the model and manufacturer, and some distributors even offer painted toilets.

We like the Kohler Santa Rosa pictured left. It’s a compact, elongated, one-piece toilet. It is small enough for almost any powder room, yet it maintains the powerful, high-capacity performance you would expect from Kohler.


When selecting a sink for your powder room, remember that this room is intended for use by a single person—no need for double bowls or trough-style sinks here! It is also a formal designed space so appearance matters! The best options for your powder room are pedestals, vessel bowls, console tables, and furniture vanities. Console tables and pedestals leave more open space, which can make a small room appear larger. However, storage is limited with these options. You’ll have to install a shelf or small closet to store toilet paper, towels, cups, etc. Furniture-style pieces and vessel bowls make great statements. These two options are definitely trending. The best part is that they have many design applications. You can find contemporary furniture pieces and Victorian vessels and everything in between.

There are infinite options when it comes to bathroom faucets. Start with the style you like (contemporary, traditional, transitional, etc. and then select the finish. This will narrow down your options—though only slightly! If you’re replacing an old fixture, be sure you know whether the faucet is a four inch or eight inch spread. If you’re upgrading, consider installing an eight inch spread faucet to allow for easier cleaning.

If you have selected a vessel sink, you’ll probably want to have a wall-mounted faucet. Most bathroom faucets aren’t tall enough to accommodate the height of a vessel bowl.


When decorating a powder room, it’s important to keep things simple. The powder room is small, and overwhelming it with décor can make it feel tight or cramped. Clear countertops of clutter and decorations so guests may use the space to set down handbags, keys, etc. Adding a mirror is a great way to make the room appear larger. Because this is an informal space, the mirror does not have to have a cabinet attached to it for storage. Mirrors can also convey a particular style. Click here to view our selection of mirrors.


Like clothing, powder rooms look better when properly accessorized. Select soap dishes/dispensers, towel bars, and robe/coat hooks that match the finish of your faucet. This makes the room appear cohesive.


Ideally, there should be at least 10% natural light in any bathroom. However, this isn’t always possible. If you cannot add natural light to your space, make sure to add plenty of artificial light. It’s always better to over-light an area than under-light it. If necessary, add a dimmer to control the lighting. Avoid placing a single light fixture in the middle of the room as this can create shadows. Instead, consider installing recessed spot lighting for your powder room’s ambient lighting. Recessed lights are both visually appealing and have a low profile that works well in the smaller space. Adding wall sconces on either side of the mirror will help eliminate harsh shadows, and undercabinet lighting can be used as a nightlight or as general mood lighting when entertaining.

The powder room may be one of the smallest rooms in a house, but if designed properly, it can make the biggest statement!