The Art of Powder Room

Creating a lasting first impression



Photographs by Olson Photographic

A powder room today is as much about style as it is about function, and it is a formal room, just like a living room or a library. Making sure your guest powder room is in the top shape should be a priority in a well-appointed house.

No other room, maybe with an exception of the foyer, is seen by guests more often than a powder room. Visitors pay a lot of attention to how your powder room is decorated – your style and hospitality are on display.

Originally the anteroom of a women’s toilet, in which makeup and clothing were adjusted, later the expression was extended to a women’s toilet itself and eventually it was used to describe a small first-floor toilet room in a house – a lavatory for guests. But from the beginning a powder room was a special space – nicely decorated, it was a room that revealed home owner’s style and taste.

Olga Adler

Being probably the smallest space in a house, the powder room is easy to decorate on any budget. It is also the easiest space to experiment with color, texture and pattern. Quite often it is the “bravest” room in an otherwise “safe” house. Many homeowners choose to make a big statement and turn their powder room into real “jewel box”. What better time to do that then now?

The quickest fix for a tired powder room is a new wall treatment: whether it is a solid paint in a dramatic color, faux finish or wallpaper – it is the easiest change you can make. Large, dramatic patterns work great in small rooms making them appear larger, opposite to small scale patterns. Any kind of glossy finish will also do the trick – an oversized damask pattern featuring both large scale and sheen variations comes to mind as a perfect solution. Do not be afraid of dark colors – they make for dramatic statements in small spaces. Do not forget about the ceiling, so often overlooked and painted a boring white - try applying a high gloss finish for a unique and stylish look.

A large pedestal sink or antique vanity is great choice for a powder room. Paired with a handsome faucet in a finish that coordinates with the light fixtures are great bones for an elegant powder room. Speaking of lighting, a unique chandelier and/or recessed lighting should be accompanied by vanity sconces to ban harsh shadows and help fulfill the powder room’s original function – applying or correcting makeup.

Olga Adler

A beautiful mirror has an obvious practical function, but it can also create interesting visual effects when it reflects the space’s colors, textures and light to make a small room feel more spacious.

If your powder room has windows, then well designed window treatments are critical for powder room décor – they control the natural light and provide privacy, but first and foremost they are another very important style element in every room. Fabric shades and valances are simple in form, but in dramatic fabrics they’re my personal favorite.

Keep your powder room warm and cozy with dimmed lights, fragrant candles, fresh guest soaps and thick hand towels. In my powder room, guests will also find a bottle of hand lotion, very delicate perfume, q-tips and scented loose powder.


Olga AdlerOlga Adler is a fashion-loving and world-traveling interior designer. Known for her fondness for simple forms, love of color and unique accessories, she has won acclaim for her refreshing approach to classic design. She is the author of “Distinctive Interiors of Fairfield County” and recipient of 2010 Fairfield County “40 UNDER 40” award.

To contact Olga visit her website: www.olgaadlerinteriors.com or call 203-438-4743