Active Home: The Powder Room

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Active Home: The Powder Room

Dramatic tones for the secondary throne

By Jane Lockhart

The powder room is the one place that many of your guests get up close and personal with. And because it’s generally set apart from the rest of the home, it’s the perfect room to experiment with the latest in design and decor.


For a dramatic palette, choose rich, dark shades like charcoal grey, navy blue, chocolate brown or black. The contrast of the room’s edges almost disappear, when you cover the ceilings, walls, doors and door frames in the same colour. What you’re left with is the perfect jewel box ready for its gems.

Since it’s a small room, consider splurging on some expensive wallpaper, also in a dark shade, to complement the trim. You can find patterns that have a subtle reflective quality – it just needs the right light to make it shine.


I’m a firm believer in layered lighting, especially in the powder room. Lighting has the ability to take a room from functional to glamorous. The installation of pot lights (even just one) immediately upgrades the room, as the crisp downlight lights up the surfaces.

Avoid the flycatchers – those upside down shades that light up the ceiling, instead of what’s below. Chandeliers add sophistication and the light dances off the reflective surfaces.

Cross-illumination can be created by adding side lights that hang on either side of the mirror, or choose show-stopping sconces.

“Lighting has the ability to take a room from functional to glamorous.”

Some bathroom vanities feature under-cabinet lighting that reflects on the floor – a wonderful night light option for safety and navigation.

This is your chance to select the most glamorous lighting that you can handle – the blingier, the better.


Cover a whole wall with a mirror, or with smoky subway tiles. Mirrors augment the lighting, and add style and shine. Consider mirrored vanities to double up on the drama. Not only do mirrors reflect your personality, but they heighten the intensity of the fixtures and the artwork.


Tiled floors are the way to go in the powder room, and because the space is limited, consider it your canvas. From simple ceramics to patterned mosaics, the available choices are endless. Surfaces also vary dramatically, including matt, glossy or reflective.


Choosing the finishes and upgrades for your powder room is all in the details. The dresser-as-vanity trend continues, and we’re seeing more custom-made cabinetry that looks like stand-alone furniture pieces.

If you’re not into a complete makeover, changing out the faucets, cabinet pulls and knobs can give the room an updated lift. It’s completely acceptable, and oh-so trendy, to mix metals. Stainless, silver, nickle, copper, gold and rose gold are available in a variety of finishes.

And don’t forget to accessorize. Something as simple as a new soap dish can add vitality to the room.

The powder room is where you can unleash your inner boldness, and try out rich colours, shiny surfaces and spectacular lighting. And, it just might end up being the nicest room in the house.

Jane Lockhart, B.A.A.I.D., is a multi-award winning designer, author and television personality. Jane Lockhart Interior Design


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