How To Style Your Powder Room

Just because a powder room is small, it doesn't mean it can't make a big design statement. In fact, if you style it the right way, it could actually be the most statement-making room in your entire home. You may think its small size equates to not a lot of room for decorating, but it's quite the contrary. Because the size is so limited, you can go wild with practically every square inch (if you want to, of course).

Powder rooms and half bathrooms are essentially the same things, though Project Perfect Home explains there occasionally is a difference between the two. A half bathroom is known for having two of the four main components of a full bathroom, meaning it only has a toilet and sink, not a shower or bathtub. Typically a powder room is the same, though sometimes it can only contain a sink and not a toilet.

Whatever your powder room looks like, we suggest you take advantage of the opportunity to make it stylish, festive, and perhaps even a little over-the-top. Our favorite powder rooms are the ones that think outside the box and don't hold back, whether you want to rock a wild wallpaper, unique flooring, or even an entire art wall. From big to small, here are all the ways you can style your powder room.

Go wild with wallpaper

If there is one place to really go wild with wallpaper, it's a powder room. Whereas in a bedroom or living room, you may want a wall covering that's a bit more subtle or neutral, there's no reason to hold back in a powder room. Make this small space a total vibe by going as colorful, funky, or experimental as you'd like!

With so many high-end, gorgeous wallpapers out there, the options are pretty much endless. Whether you're into animal print, florals, or a cityscape, there's most definitely a wallpaper perfectly suited for you. Designer Kate Taylor of Kate Taylor Interiors told Luxe Interiors + Design, "When it comes to choosing wallpaper for a powder room, my philosophy is, the wilder the better. Even with the most conservative clients, the powder bath is consistently a space where they want to have fun with color and patterns."

Director of design firm Mendelson Group, Gideon Mendelson, referred to this fish-themed Cole & Son wallpaper when he told Luxe, "Since the powder room is a smaller space, we encourage our clients to have fun there — it's a moment to try something different and to create something unexpected or surprising for guests. This paper tells you a little something about the people who live in the home: They love animals, so it reflects that fact." As you can see, the sky is the limit when it comes to wall designs. What powder room vibe are you into?

Put down cool tile

Whether on the floor or as a backsplash, a cool title can transform a powder room. Similar to the modern wallpaper of today, tile also has undergone a significant style upgrade, with companies like Fireclay Tile and Zia Tile proving that tile can be its own work of art. There are many ways you can use tile in your powder room. Of course, you can always do a classic tile floor and go for a pattern or color you may not do in a larger space. However, as Why Tile points out, you can also use tile in the powder room for a backsplash, an accent wall, a countertop, or even to cover the lower half of the wall. Ceramic tile is recommended for the bathroom because it's scratch and stain-resistant, easy to clean, and even bacteria-resistant and antimicrobial (meaning you likely won't have to deal with things like mold).

If putting in tile isn't in your budget (or if you simply don't want to commit just yet,) there are ways to upgrade existing tile or create the look of tile. For example, Classy Clutter upgraded existing tile in a powder room by using a stencil and chalk paint. She created the look of black tile with white flowers by first painting the floor black, then going back with white paint and a flower stencil. Another option is vinyl peel-and-stick tile, which you literally attach to a surface like you would a sticker. You can even create the look of a subway tile backsplash — it's pretty convenient.

Go moody

Conventional advice may say that it's best to decorate a small space with light colors to help it appear larger and airier, but we say you should leave convention at the door. A dark and moody color scheme in the powder room will be a total vibe, and one that you're probably less likely to do in any other room of your house.

As Neatntiny noted about her powder room makeover, she originally set out to combat the fact that the room was small until she completely flipped the script and decided to lean into it instead by painting the walls black. She kept the existing white tile for some contrast and added some vintage art on the wall in gold frames. In fact, pairing gold with black is the move, as seen on FoxieOxie. Though moody, it's also elegant and refined. Also, if black walls are a little too dark for you, you can still pull off a moody aesthetic by using deep shades of green or blue. Black isn't the only way to achieve this look!

Update the mirror

After the toilet and sink, another bathroom staple is the mirror. It's a focal point, and not just because you can see your reflection. Any old mirror gets the job done, but a unique and stylish mirror helps to level up the entire powder room. As Utah Style & Design points out, the right mirror can add drama and flair to even the most boring powder rooms. But the "right" mirror will be different for different people. For some, a geometric-shaped mirror can add a modern touch to a more traditional bathroom, whereas a wide-frame ornate mirror can add some vintage charm to a more sterile space. The mirror's frame can also complement the bathroom color, as we saw in the example of a black-walled powder room with gold accents. Or, the mirror can work as a pop of color!

Though style should be a massive consideration, Beth Dotolo, principal designer at Pulp Design Studios, says you should also consider functionality and your needs (via Forbes). For example, if you're short on space, you can pick a mirror with a built-in medicine cabinet, or if the lighting isn't great in your powder room, you can get a light-up vanity mirror.

Add wall molding

A sure-fire way to elevate your powder room is to add wall molding. As John of Young House Love notes when discussing his bathroom makeover, wall molding adds dimension and an element of architecture to any room — especially one that's on the bit of the dull side. There are various looks and styles of wall molding to choose from, and pretty much all of them you can install yourself. On Young House Love, they did a combination of a chair rail mold (about ⅓ way up from the floor) with vertical slats and an additional horizontal slat near the ceiling to create a second, larger "box" on the upper ⅔ of the wall. They note that, while tedious, caulking is essential as it helps soften shadows and make everything look seamless.

In another bathroom makeover, Kristen McGowan walks us through adding picture frame molding to the wall. She then painted both the wall and the molding the same pretty muted green, which is a great example of how molding can be more subtle and modern.

Update the faucet and finishes

Like updating the mirror, replacing existing faucets and finishes with something new is a simple way to give your powder room a fresh dose of style. It's easy to focus on larger things like the walls or flooring when wanting to give your bathroom a makeover, but these features should not be overlooked. Check out your powder room — are your faucets and finishes dated? If so, a quick upgrade will probably be much more beneficial than you'd think.

Whether you want something elegant like gold, trendy like copper, or edgy like matte black, there's a faucet perfect for you. Delta Faucet breaks down some things to weigh when deciding on a new faucet, including some style "rules" that you may want to reconsider. For example, Delta's director of industrial design, Judd Lord, says to not be afraid to mix and match faucet style and finishes, "A big trend is applying old-world finishes to modern faucet shapes." Also, without going overboard, you can use more than one finish in your powder room — just make sure they work together.

Opt for chrome, nickel, or stainless steel for a faucet that's guaranteed to look good with anything (which is great if you think you'll further makeover your powder room in the future). Lastly, if you're concerned about fingerprints and water spots, go for a brushed finish because it's not as reflective.

Put up art

A powder room may not be the first place you think of when it comes to hanging artwork, but don't let that hold you back. There are truly endless ways to approach adding art to this unsuspecting room, because why shouldn't a bathroom have something pretty to look at? Let's discuss some options for incorporating art: You can always go for a more classic look with a pair or a trio of prints neatly lined up as a set, or you can mix and match sizes and orientation for a more gallery wall feel. 

As for the art itself, you can try to target one cohesive vibe, or you can forget that altogether and put up any pieces of art you like, even if one is a painting of a coastal town and the other is a graphic design of a piece of fruit. Lastly, you can either focus on sourcing interesting and statement-making frames or ditch the frames and use washi tape, as seen on HonestlyWTF. What makes washi tape a great option is that it's easy to remove and both paint and paper-friendly, so you don't have to worry about big blunders. Plus, it comes in various colors and patterns and is incredibly inexpensive.

You can't go wrong with whatever route you choose. One bonus point we want to remind you of is that because this is a powder room and not a full bathroom, you don't have to deal with steam from a shower, so you're not restricted to only using framed and enclosed art.

Commit to a theme

Go all out with your powder room design and commit to a theme — yes, even if it's a little kitschy. In our opinion, the most challenging part of this approach will be deciding on a theme because the options are literally endless. Whether you're into all things nautical, a specific sport, or even your favorite holiday destination, hone in on whatever makes you tick by decorating with colors, artwork, and accessories related to that theme. If you're not particularly into a specific topic, another version of a theme is a particular color or colors in general. (How fun does an all-pink powder room sound?)

Eliza Darlings went the theme route and decorated her powder room with all things tropical jungle-inspired. She covered the walls with tropical palm wallpaper, which she accented with wood, black fixtures, and pops of mustard yellow. Her powder room makeover also shows how you can still add accessories even in a tiny room. In addition to a map of the world on the wall, she has a few fun prints and trinkets on a narrow floating shelf above the toilet.

Don't be afraid to mix and match

From all one theme to essentially no theme at all — consider a mix and match powder room style. What do we mean by this? Basically, check all notions of a cohesive style at the door, and fill the room with various aesthetics, colors, and patterns. Of course, you want to do this in a way that looks good and doesn't make the room feel too busy or cluttered. The goal is to have it feel exciting and interesting, but still comfortable at the same time.

Check out this powder room redesign from PMQ for Two. She first put in a white and black hexagonal tile, then covered the walls with a red and pink tropical-inspired modern floral print. Then came a white console sink with clear acrylic legs and brass finishes. Add in a gothic antique wall mirror, white sconces, pink hand towels, a woven basket, and even bright blue figurines on the back of the toilet, and — despite how crazy it all sounds — it looks gorgeous. It sounds like a fun way to decorate, doesn't it?

Go retro with the decor

If you're stumped on how to decorate your powder room, look to the past for inspiration and consider a vintage or retro theme. What's great about this approach is that vintage can mean many different things — for some, their powder room may nod to the Victorian era, while others may lean towards the '50s. A retro powder room can also work for a variety of styles. For example, play up a rustic cottage bathroom by equipping it with antique finishes and possibly even an old wooden chair or stool (if room size permits). Or, if you have one of those colorful-tiled bathrooms, add some retro lighting and perhaps even a few more pops of color.

In this powder room "makeunder" by Follow the Yellow Brick Home, they wanted to restore their '20s bathroom to play off its original charm, which they first did by removing the vinyl flooring to reveal hexagonal tile (who would cover that up?). After replacing a boxy vanity sink and cabinet with a pedestal sink, it was time to accessorize, which they did by hanging a vintage-sourced mirror, an old tin tile piece, and a towel holder.

Have fun with lighting

Lighting does wonders for any space — but you already knew that. From the light fixture itself to the type of light it casts, even a small change can make a big difference. Beyond the style of the light, there are a few things Mr. Electric notes to keep in mind when deciding on lighting for your bathroom. Though a powder room is small, you still have to consider the purpose of the light. For example, do not put recessed ceiling fixtures directly over the mirror, as it'll cause a shadow on your face and might retain moisture from the shower. Instead, check out vertical fixtures or sconces mounted on either side of the mirror, somewhere between 36 to 40 inches apart and about 66 inches up from the floor. 

Another thing to consider is accent lighting, such as a small recessed spotlight pointed directly at an art piece or decorative furnishing, which could be cool for anyone who wants to play up art in their powder room. Alternatively, if this light upgrade is purely just for aesthetic purposes, you can hang string lights, a neon sign, or even prop up a neon tube light in the corner.

Add a pop of color

A pop of color is all you need to give your bathroom a guaranteed fresh feel, and it can be achieved in various ways and across all budgets. Of course, one of the easiest ways to add a pop of color is with paint. Cover a single wall (or all the walls) in a bold color, paint the cabinetry, or even paint the inside of the door — all of these are solid options that are pretty budget-friendly.

Interior Design Info offers more suggestions, including swapping out knobs and pulls for more colorful versions and turning to accessories like towels, artwork, a rug, or any other decorative piece to bring in a bright color. If bold color is not really your vibe, you can still accomplish the same effect by using metallics or even certain wood tones. For example, you can include a gold or copper faucet or a wood-framed mirror.