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Add Some Pizzazz to Your Powder Room!
by: ARA
It's a room with a toilet and a sink. Maybe a window, if you're lucky. The average size is a tiny four feet by five feet. And if it can't get any worse, it's probably the most frequently used room in your house -- especially for guests and visitors.

Yes, it's the powder room... also known as the half-bath or guest bath. While for years this has been a miniscule room, often forgotten when decorating, today's builders are actually allocating more space to the powder room. In addition, powder rooms in many newer homes offer such upscale features as high-end cabinetry, pedestal sinks, ornate accessories and sophisticated lighting.

Whether your powder room is big or small, this is a space where you can let your expression show. Because its size is typically smaller than other rooms in your home, it allows you the opportunity to be a bit more creative and daring. Plus, you can make a significant decorating impact with little time and expense, and change the look often to keep it fresh.

A Little Room That Makes a Big Impact

The name "powder room" actually descends from Victorian times. Bathrooms were often called powder rooms because it was the place where ladies retired to powder their noses. These spaces were tastefully decorated and full of charm.

Today, the powder room is equally as significant to a home's decor, if not more so. In fact, its design has become so important that the National Kitchen & Bath Association has added a powder room category to its annual design competition which provides a barometer for what's hot in the design industry.

But, sprucing up the powder room with a stylish flair isn't a challenge left only to interior designers. Thanks to the popularity of numerous do-it-yourself decorating television shows, more Americans than ever before are trying their hand at stylish decorating themselves. In fact, a recent survey conducted by Creative Specialties Int. and Rooms of America, a consumer research organization, found that more than 75 percent of respondents said that decorating themes are "important" in the powder room.

What does that mean to manufacturers of bath-related products? According to Mark Savan, vice president and general manager of CSI, "Consumer style preferences are our number one consideration when designing new bath accessory collections. We take these survey results seriously and even conduct our own focus groups to further substantiate consumer preferences."

Take a Walk on the Wild Side

As homeowners experiment with different decorating trends, it's important to remember that a powder room is a great area to try more dramatic decorating ideas and come out of your shell a bit. Just because your family room is decorated in a contemporary theme doesn't mean your bathroom has to reflect that same style. Perhaps you're an attorney by day but enjoy gardening on the side. Why not paint the walls in a sage green and use accent pieces such as colorful flower pots filled with live or silk flowers. Or hang a beautiful wreath made of dried flowers as a focal point, and surround it with framed water-color paintings of vibrant gardens.

If you're thinking of something a little more dramatic, the following are a few other decorating ideas to give your powder room some extra pizzazz:

Viva Italia!

Add a bit of Tuscan style to your powder room -- and you'll be ahead of the curve -- using a trend that many interior designers predict will be one of the most popular decorating themes next year. Personified by items that are rustic, warm and inviting, a Tuscan room typically features items that look like they have been there forever, used by countless generations.

To achieve this look in your guest bath, use warm, golden colors such as yellows, oranges and browns. Faux finishing techniques are ideal when painting in a Tuscan theme, as they duplicate the sun-washed walls and crumbled porticos seen in Italy. Since Tuscan homes often have tile roofs, accessorize the walls in your powder room with mosaic tiles, or add a detailed tile backsplash behind the sink.

Providing the perfect finishing touch to the bath, add Italian-made ceramics to the powder room by placing plates or decorative vases on a decorative glass shelf. Or, add a feeling of casual comfort with pewter or copper picture frames and candlestick holders. If you're looking to add a signature piece with old world appeal, install a towel ring -- it adds classic style to a traditional accessory.

Finally, we all know that Italians love to eat and entertain -- so why not place a bowl of fresh lemons or homemade biscotti next to the hand towels. It's a small touch that your guests will be sure to remember.

Retreat to the Spa

We all love to be pampered, especially when we're far from home. Why not give your guests the "spa treatment" when they are visiting your powder room? Start with cool colors, such as light blues, greens and purples on the walls. White accents are the perfect addition to provide a calming effect.

Complete the spa look with small items that make a big impact -- such as aromatherapy candles in coordinating colors. Or, place a small CD player in a corner of the powder room and play mood relaxing or nature-inspired music. Finally, place a basket of lotions, scented hand soaps and a small hand massager in the corner of the counter top.

A Touch of Sophistication

Who says a powder room can't have a sophisticated style? An elegant decor is a perfect way to spruce up a half-bath -- especially if it is located off a formal living or dining room. Start with rich, deep colors on your walls, such as red, burgundy or navy. Another popular choice is chocolate brown, which many designers are calling "the new black."

Next, put an extra emphasis on lighting, as it can have a major impact on the overall feel of the room. And just because it's a powder room doesn't mean you have to be limited to a boring overhead ceiling fixture. Instead, be a bit daring and use spot or track lighting, wall sconces or even small table lamps set on the countertop or the back of the commode. Or, why not hang a small chandelier as the primary light source -- perhaps in a coordinating style of another fixture in your home? Whatever lighting you choose, increasing the number and variety will add drama to its appearance.

To add a sophisticated touch to the sink area, many homeowners are turning to the past for inspiration by installing pedestal sinks. Another dramatic option used by top designers includes mounting the sink bowl on top of the counter as if it were a large bowl on a table. Furthermore, granite, marble and Corian countertops aren't just for the kitchen anymore -- they make the perfect addition to a powder room, thanks to their intricate designs and rich color options.

Finally, don't forget about the accessories and small details. Mirrors don't have to be limited to simple squares on the wall -- add a bit of drama by framing them with beautiful molding or draping them in rich fabrics. Carry on the elegant theme by installing a Stockton double towel bar filled with thick, luxurious hand towels. And bring a touch of warmth to the room with a beautiful rug. But instead of traditional bathroom rugs, try a small oriental rug, which can bring all of the colors of the room together with one piece.

Final Words of Wisdom

When it comes to sprucing up your powder room, it doesn't matter whether you decorate in a country, contemporary or traditional style. Just remember to have fun and try new things. Your powder room can be an extension of your personality, expressing your special interests. Create a statement and if things don't pan out, try again.


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