The powder room, perhaps the smallest space in a house, presents the most possibilities.
"By nature, it is a small space, which is liberating," said Sara Baldwin, founder and creative director of www.newravenna.com/">New Ravenna Mosaics, a custom mosaic tile and stone company. "This is the perfect room to experiment with patterns and materials that you love. It is also the perfect room to use extra luxe materials because a little goes a very long way."
Too often the powder room is dismissed as that obligatory first-floor closet that houses the toilet. Even those who bother to dress it up sometimes rely on a towel ensemble and bland wall art as decor.
Instead, Baldwin recommends creating a floor-to-ceiling show space. "Using mosaic or marble to cover the walls is a beautiful way to create an unexpected cocoon of color and texture," she said. "Tile surfaces do not have to be limited to the floor. If you tile the ceiling, you will create a treasure box."
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Even the sink can provide impact in the design of the powder room, if homeowners see it as a piece of sculpture that adds function and creativity to the room. And there is no need to worry about whether the decor clashes with the rest of the house; the beauty about a powder room is that it is a private space, an environment unto itself.
"You can do whatever you want in a powder room," said Stuart Nordin, an Alexandria-based interior designer. "You can make it special, a different space. When I'm designing a powder room I'm thinking of how to create a space that will knock somebody's socks off."
Baldwin said bolder is better as almost anything can be done without being "too much of a good thing" if the patterns, colors and textures are harmonious and done with intention.
Powder room walls make the perfect canvas for luxurious wall coverings. "My favorite thing to do is something really fun," Nordin said. "One of the ways I accomplish that is with a really fun wallpaper. That way your guest walks into a powder room, and it's an unexpected surprise to see something totally amazing and different in such a small space."
Because the space is small, Nordin said it is OK to splurge on expensive wallpaper because so little is used.
Nordin selected a wallpaper pattern with brilliant red poppies for the powder room of a Chevy Chase client who painted the ceiling red and hung a small chandelier.
"It made such a statement. My client said it's everybody's favorite room, the powder room," Nordin said. "Whether you're having a party and you have guests just touching up their makeup, it creates a neat space for them to experience something special and different."