Monday, May 23, 2011

Simple Tune-up Creates Warm Simplicity in Bathroom

Warm and Cozy - a more inviting space for guests (after)
My recent clients were looking to bring their existing bathroom out of the 80’s. They had originally thought about removing everything and starting from scratch. But as our conversations evolved, I discovered that the only thing they were unhappy about was the dated vanity. The tub was in good condition; the tile on the walls was neutral; and the floor had only been down a short time. All this room really needed was a little warmth without much fuss.

Since we had completed their kitchen remodeling project just a year or two ago, I already had an idea of their tastes. Since this guest bath was just off of the family room (and in view of the kitchen), it made sense to continue the warm and simple feel of the kitchen into this space.

As you can see, honey colored maple cabinetry coupled with the brown and gold tones of the granite countertop play into the inviting cheerfulness of the existing shower tile. The fact that the perfect granite ended up being an inexpensive remnant was just a bonus!

Since it is a guest bath, a little visual interest was in order. Frosted glass softens the additional storage area and allows the upper cabinet to double as a medicine cabinet without displaying all of the homeowner’s personal details. Removing a door in the base and adding a couple of wicker baskets make towel storage both convenient and eye-catching.

Changing the faucets and light fixtures to an oil-rubbed bronze brings a feeling of completeness to the room that other metallic finishes might lack. And in a practical step, we decided it was a shame to dispose of a perfectly good mirror - so it was chopped in two, polished up, and reinstalled above each sink.

The cold, austere look of the 80's (before)
The big, cold emptiness of the original bathroom is now gone. By varying the heights of the vanity and bringing in warmer tones, we have been able to transform this space into a cozier, more inviting guest bath without breaking the bank. (If you’ll notice, we even kept the same paint on the walls). I think the only problem these homeowners will have now is convincing their guests to go home.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

6 Elements of a Pretty Powder Room

How to Go Whole-Hog When Designing Your Half-Bath  

by vanessa_brunner at

The term "powder room" makes me giggle a bit. There's something so old-fashioned sounding about it, you know? In reality, the modern day powder room is nothing more than a small half-bath, usually on the main floor of a home, with a toilet, sink, and mirror. Although it's usually the smallest room in the house, it also tends to be one of the most-used rooms, so every bit of its space is extremely valuable. But a smaller size means easier and less expensive renovations, so have fun with it! Stay aware of each individual feature in the room, and how it works with every other aspect—little changes can have an immense impact. Here are six elements to consider when vamping up your powder room:
1. Organization. Since you're working with a small space, you want to make sure that each and every square foot is used in the best possible way. This powder room is extremely long and narrow, but it totally works. It may not have originally meant for a bathroom, but the slim vanity set fills up the wall enough so the length doesn't feel awkward, and each bit of space is used efficiently. And the way the floor mirrors the stained glass window adds a unique polish to the room.
Observe the shape and dimensions of your powder room when you walk in. What is going to make the most sense, spatially and practically? If your powder room is rectangular (like most), consider using one of the longer walls for the sink set — or two if you can make it work! The symmetry and added functionality of the double sinks in this powder room is absolutely perfect.
This hidden powder room is adorable and functional. Since it's right next to the kitchen and living areas of the home, it's ideal that design flows well with the rest of the house. And I like how it manages to make use of the slanted ceiling by placing the toilet in the far corner, and putting a compact vanity towards the front of the space, leaving plenty of room to move around.

2. Fresh and bold walls. Modern powder rooms are all about drama. Vivid wallpapers, strong colors, and bright tiles all help mold the room into something exciting that won't be missed, despite its size. This graphic floral wallpaper is striking but clean in black and white, and it provides a great contrast with the polished wood vanity.

A darker paint or wallpaper combination can make a powder room feel intimate and cozy — it's the ideal place to experiment with the way darker colors reflect light. This gray and green combination creates a flattering glow when combined with the ceiling light and natural light from the window.

Tile is another great option for a powder room wall. It's easy to clean, lasts forever, and adds a surprising touch of flair when used in a bright color. It's definitely an investment — of both time and money — so it might not be the best idea if you're looking for a cheap and quick fix. (Side note: this vanity is amazing.)

3. A space-conservative sink. When it comes to your sink, you want to choose something that's chic, functional, and is the same style as the rest of the room — as well as the rest of your house. But because powder rooms are usually so small, space should be your primary concern. Choosing a wall-mounted or pedestal sink provides more space, but can be difficult because it doesn't provide the same amount of storage as a standard vanity.

This powder room has a wall mounted sink that is classic in structure — which works well with the wallpaper and mirror — with simple metal towel racks underneath for a bit of added storage. Shelving hidden behind a mirror would be another great option here.

This pedestal sink is an excellent in this tiled powder room, but offers very little counter space for soap, towels, and other guest amenities. The simple metal side table is the perfect solution. Its height makes it feel tucked out of the way, but still convenient for guests to access towels, soaps and lotion.

Vessel sinks (sinks that sit on top of a counter) are a design element unto themselves — even the most basic designs stand out. Sinks that are so strong in design tend to work well in powder rooms that are a bit more muted in style. They can restrict counter space though, so a shelving element hidden behind a mirror, or even a small rolling caddy might be necessary.

4. Lighting that flatters. Let's be honest, there's a reason they call it the powder room: It's where we ladies (and gents) go to powder our noses, check for food in our teeth, and fluff up our hair. You want guests to feel beautiful after coming out of your powder room, and lighting is a huge part of that. While you want it to be flattering and not fluorescent, you also don't want the room to be under-lit. Choosing a light fixture that gives off a lot of light and installing a dimmer on it can be a good compromise. A fixture placed over the mirror is great for touching up makeup, but unless you want guests to get a good look at every pore on their noses, try to implement a softer glow.

A lot of designers and homeowners opt for sconces in powder rooms. It's a bit more of a traditional approach, but it allows you to play around with different styles of lighting fixtures. This shell chandelier sconce has the same touch of eclectic femininity as the wallpaper.

These metal hanging lights are definitely dramatic, and the patterns of light they give off actually are a wonderful design element in the room. If you want to go for a similar look, just keep in mind that these types of lights don't usually work well when you're re-applying eyeliner, so adding an additional ceiling light could be helpful.

5. A fun mirror. Like every other element in this room, you want the mirror to be strong and stand out. Be careful of placement too! The mirror in this room is beautiful, but it might be a bit high for shorter folks to give themselves a once-over.

The frame of this mirror is so fun — it contrasts well with the wallpaper, but still matches the sink and towel color. I would prefer it a little bigger. As-is, it makes the room feel a bit smaller, and isn't really practical for someone who needs to get a good look at herself.

If used right, a mirror can actually help a powder room feel larger. Having an entire wall of mirrors behind the sink not only allows for a close-up and a full-length look, but it gives the illusion that the room has much more space and light than a smaller framed mirror.

If you want to avoid a potentially messy and more expensive installation, then stick with a framed mirror, but try to get one that allows for a full upper body view. This mirror is just right! It's not too small in size, and placed at a good height for short and tall guests. It also has an adorable frame that adds to the quirky cottage style of this powder room.
6. Distinct hardware. Hardware is the jewelry of the powder room. You want to pick hardware that's consistent with your style, but don't be afraid to choose something that will stand out. This sink fixture is relatively simple and modern; its placement is what catches the eye.

The mosaic lining this sink is a great touch. It maintains the same neutral tones as the granite counter, but also has a bit of copper reflecting in it to match the sink fixtures. The combination of these elements is one of those unique accents that make a powder room fun.

Want that little extra something to really pull your powder room together? Match all your hardware: sink fixtures, toilet paper roll holder, and yup, even the toilet handle. It's one of those easy touches that makes a surprising difference in the room.