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How to create a powerful powder room design

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

I listened to a podcast one time about a former presidential speechwriter who had decorated his guest powder room with political memorabilia from his career. Decor in the room included copies of presidential speeches, typed up and framed, hung on the walls.

I thought, what an amazing idea for a guest powder room!

Truthfully, powder rooms are a space where a homeowner can make a big statement about themselves, their style, their sense of humor. In a powder room, anything goes. It’s a personal space where self expression can really shine. I love to design powder rooms because they can be that fun, creative room especially that's different from the rest of the house’s decor.


  • A mural painted on the wall.

  • A custom sink made from an unusual material.

  • Art deco tiles on the bathtub surround, or a mosaic on the floor.

Small bathrooms can be bold and unique. In this article, I'm going to show you how. I've got lots of ideas for powder rooms! Before we get started, here are some tips for decorating your powder room:

Go big. Be fearless. I'm a big fan of decorating your powder room in ways that are not at all subtle. I'm thinking: bold and dark colors, unusual accessories, eye-catching materials, or unexpected art on the walls.

Choose a palette you love. Don't fret about choosing colors that are very different from other rooms in your home, even if they’re a bit unexpected for a powder room. Gold and magenta? Yellow and gray? Dark teal and white? It's all possible in a powder room.

Get creative. The powder room is an opportunity to decorate like nowhere else in your house. As you're thinking about ways to decorate your powder room, you may come up with ideas that seem a little too far-fetched to work. Think again! Don't dismiss an idea simply because it seems like too much. Let the creativity flow, then give your ideas a chance.

Make it personal. The best powder room ideas are the ones that you're passionate about, so don't hesitate to choose decor that seems personally meaningful to you. Hollywood celebrities from the 1930's? Turtles? Glitter? Select something that you're personally invested in, even if it seems silly, to decorate your space.

What Makes It a Powder Room?

Really quick, let's talk about the basic rules of a powder room. How is this different from a normal bathroom?

A full bath consists of four parts: shower, bathtub, sink, toilet. A powder room meanwhile consists of only half of these elements: toilet, sink. Powder rooms are usually meant for guests, and may be installed near the general gathering areas of the house or off the guest room. Powder rooms are usually small and boxy, although a larger powder room may have space for a tray where you can set lotions, candles, etc.

Ok, moving along - let's discuss some more specific design ideas for the powder room.

Bold Colors and Patterns

These bathrooms pair well with bold colors and patterns. If you're choosing a theme for your bathroom, then the colors will almost certainly be related to the theme. Get a picture of your theme and select colors from that photo. If you're not going to theme your bathroom, then the colors you choose can be based on aesthetic preference.

That bold wallpaper you’ve been eyeing up? USE it in a powder room! A word to the wise when selecting a wallpaper for a bathroom - vinyl wallpaper is best for rooms with high moisture content like the bathroom. When you're choosing a wallpaper for your bathroom, consider patterns with metallic paints, wallpaper that features a mural, or even wallpaper that tells a story. Give your guests something to look at while they're there!

One of the things about powder rooms that defies the rules of normal interior decor is that you can make the space busy, even though it's a very small space. Powder rooms are spaces where the rules were meant to be broken, so don't tell yourself that you can't fill your space with colors, patterns and images. You can!

Interesting Tiles

That fun tile that may look too busy or overwhelm in a larger bathroom? Use it in a powder room. Powder rooms pack a punch, and the more character you put in your space, the better.

I love selecting interesting tiles for powder rooms. You can use tiles to make a mosaic, protect one wall, or cover the floor. If you're going to install tiles somewhere in the powder room, look for tiles that include interesting patterns, have metallic tones or textures, even ones that are an unusual shape. Or, all of these things at once. Consider: fish-shaped tiles. Checkerboard tiles. Tiles that have an imprint of a sun. Subway-esque tiles that have an up-and-down format, instead of side-to-side. Don't feel limited by the conventional features you would expect to see in a bathroom.

Unique Features

I suggest choosing at least one weird, unique feature for your powder room. What do I mean by that? Here's an example: I went into a powder room once with an antique bird cage suspended from the ceiling, and inside was where the homeowner kept their hand soaps!

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Stunning mirror. Mirrors really make a statement in the bathroom, especially in a room as small as a powder room. Look for a mirror that comes in a unique shape or sports an interesting frame. Antique mirrors, sun-shaped mirrors, mirrors with an artistic metal frame - there are a lot of options here.

  • Strange toilet or sink. As you're shopping for plumbing fixtures, consider a custom-made sink carved from stone, or a fascinating pull-chain toilet (yes, they do still make pull-chain toilets).

  • Unusual materials. White onyx. Wood panels. Marble inlay. Look for materials that make a statement and stand out in your powder room.

Shop for Fun Light Fixtures

When you're searching for interior design ideas in powder rooms, there's nothing more fun than a cool light fixture. I like pendant lighting, side mounted sconces, and behind the mirror lighting in powder rooms. Layers of light are a good idea in all interior spaces, even in a small space like the powder room. When you're shopping for fun light fixtures, I recommend shopping around before settling on the right light fixtures for the space. Again, you can think outside the box here. Even a single pendant to the side of the mirror for an asymmetrical look can bring a lot of interest to this small space.

One thing to keep in mind: a cool light bulb can be just as effective as a beautiful light fixture. Edison light bulbs come in lots of shapes and sizes, and usually have interesting filaments inside. Consider one for your powder room!

A Vanity That Comes Out of Nowhere

Vanities have a lot of character and can make or break a powder room. It's easy to use a vanity to make a statement in your powder room, just look for a vanity that stands out from other pieces. It's not always easy to find a super unique vanity. Setting foot in a standard furniture shop or bathroom supply store, you'll find vanities that look like everything you’ve seen before. Shopping around helps, but I recommend choosing something custom-made, if at all possible. NJ company Trueform Concrete has some awesome vanities that are unique to each project.

Word to the Wise About Interior Design Ideas for Powder Rooms

It's surprisingly difficult to create a powder room design, even when you're given permission to go as wacky as you want. I recommend working with a professional. Thoughtful interior design in powder rooms has a high level of success. If you're running out of ideas for a powder room, your interior designer can help.

Need an interior designer in New Jersey? I can help you! I love designing powder rooms, and I can help with your project too. Contact me today to make an appointment.

Until next time,

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