Decorating a powder room

Editor Mary Jane Harris discovers that the smallest room in the house offers the ideal opportunity to show off your creativity and add a touch of glamour

A couple of weeks ago I was a guest in an exceptionally pretty house. Every room was a delight including the powder room which, although tiny, was wallpapered in a beautiful floral pattern and lit with lovely wall-mounted light fittings. There were fresh flowers, soft hand towels, a scented candle, perfume and even lipsticks. Just by visiting it you felt more glamorous.

As powder rooms are small you can go to town on luxury finishes such as imported wallpaper, mirror, marble and crystal light fittings. You can also indulge in bold, dramatic effects such as an overscaled wallpaper or a deep rich colour that might be too OTT for the rest of the house.

Wall-mounted basins and taps are a good idea if space is tight. But if you have the room use a piece of furniture as a vanity and have a basin either mounted on top or set into the surface. Making the vanity the focal point (with the addition of a glamorous mirror) is a great way to draw attention away from the toilet which is never the most attractive no matter what style you choose.

As far as window treatments are concerned, in a confined space blinds and shutters are a better option than curtains or keep it simple with frosted glass in the windows. And when choosing lighting, keep in mind that lighting on either side of the mirror is best for checking make up.

Then make your guests feel extra special by introducing fresh flowers (all you need are one or two blooms), hand towels, lovely soaps and hand creams.

Here are some great ideas I’ve spotted:

Powder room 1
I thought this was a brilliant solution. As there was no place for a mirror in her guest loo, Anne Hartmann hung one from the ceiling in front of the window.

Powder room 2
Small spaces like these are ideal for going dark and dramatic. A deep charcoal wall offsets a crystal chandelier and a series of vases placed on the unit designed and made by Benton Furniture.

Powder room 3
Look how stunning this dramatic Cole & Sons wallpaper looks in this tiny powder room. Décor by Barbara Russell Paint Techniques.

Powder room 4
As it was the first thing that visitors saw as they entered her home, Karen Stewart of Durban made her powder room look as glam as possible with a Chinese style wallpaper, a custom made vanity and a beautiful bevelled mirror.

Powder room 5
Always include a touch of glamour like a collection of perfume bottles and an orchid (real or faux).

Powder room 6
Make the vanity the star of the show by sinking a basin into a piece of furniture as decorator Lisa Walters did with this French-style chest of drawers.