6 Key Elements to Create the Exciting & Fun Portland Powder Bath


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An (underrated) luxury of the Portland house was the presence of a powder bathroom. It’s the only bathroom on the main level (there used to be two full baths, but once we added the top floor, we shuffled things around), meaning no running up and down stairs. So appreciated, so functional. But powder baths can become only that…a functional luxury…or it can be a place to play with elements that might be “too much” in larger, more frequently used spaces. Go bold. Play around. Have some fun. It only takes a few statement details to make a delightful impact—goodbye “potty dance,” hello “happy dance.” Today, we’re rolling out the reveal of the small but mighty Portland powder bath, and on top of some really pretty photos courtesy of Sara’s lens, we’re walking you through the six features that we ran with during the Portland powder bath renovation—all elements that you can follow in your own space to create a bold yet elegant, traditional meets modern, exciting yet tame petite two-piece loo for yourself! Let’s dive in…

Go Bold With Paint & Wallpaper

Some might wonder why we would choose such a dark color for a small, windowless room. In fact, Sara did, actually (she’s in the middle of juggling the renovation of her new home and curious about some of the “whys” recently). Her exact question was “um, why would you pick such a dark paint for a room with zero natural light?” After all, doesn’t white make a small space feel airier and more open and dark colors soak up all the light? Well, if you’ve been paying attention (Sara!! 😉 you’ll know from Design Mistake #3 that white in a small, dark/windowless room feels sad and boring. Two things a powder bath shouldn’t be. A room that’s geared toward guests’ comfort and is only occasionally used, it’s a perfect place to do something bold and exciting. So, save the “sad and boring” for that in-law suite (should you live in a mansion and hate your in-laws).

Rebecca Atwood’s Dashes wallpaper brought the “excitement” and Waterloo by Sherwin-Williams brought the “bold,” but the tones are consistent throughout the space. It’s a good balance. Sure, had the whole space been painted this dark color, it might have risked feeling cave-like (which, if that’s the look you’re going for, rock it, we just wanted something a little less heavy than that). It’s also arguable that such a high contrast, small-patterned wallpaper could have been dizzying floor-to-ceiling in a tiny room. But the combo makes me so happy. It’s drama I can’t turn away from…like the season finale of Bachelor in Paradise.

Speaking of drama, because the finishes were going to be such protagonists in this space, we stayed a little more classic (with a twist) with the fixtures. Kohler’s Artifacts flume faucet is in the same polished nickel that we used for the faucet and pot filler in the kitchen (which is just outside this bathroom). The cross handles feel both vintage yet updated, which felt like just the right mix for this space. I’ll get into the sink in just a bit, but this little detail on the left (with the bud vase and towel ring—also Kohler, from their Artifacts line) makes me happy. The modern detailing on that toilet top (there’s a sentence I don’t say often) is so good and really plays off the lines in the millwork.

Add in Architectural Detail

The drama-filled marriage of Waterloo and the Dashes wallpaper would have never worked out without a little help establishing some boundaries. Enter some architectural detail (which really takes a simple box of a room like this one and levels it up). The millwork by Metrie established a natural line to divide the painted and papered portions of the wall. Without it, it would have been an odd transition from paint to that fun wallpaper…which, of course, you likely wouldn’t have done, so RIP cool wallpaper + paint combo. In a room like a powder bath, with very few fixtures and limited space for furnishing/styling, architectural detail can have a high impact, quickly ramping up visual interest.

Carry Your Floors Through

I love wood flooring in a lavatory. It provides so much warmth in a space that can be prone to running cold…water…(that one’s for the faucet-joke fans). Wood is sometimes considered a ‘no-no’ for a bathroom, and the practical part of me totally gets it. A tub or shower can wage a wet war against this rot-prone material. But the “let’s make things pretty” side of me jumps for joy when I can find a way to use it. A powder bath side-steps this concern, providing a perfect excuse to break the “no wood floors in bathrooms” rule. Since there was already gorgeous flooring (Hallmark’s Mangrove Ventura runs throughout the house) in the adjoining living spaces and no reason to visually section off this little area, the use of wood in this room was a no-brainer. In general, carrying the same flooring as that of connected rooms into a powder bath usually helps the space flow more seamlessly and feel bigger. The flooring decision was probably the easiest one made in this little loo.

See…it basically welcomes you right in from the kitchen and family room (reveal for this space coming soon, promise). Had the floor stopped right at the threshold of the bathroom and switched to something else, it would feel much more like a totally separate space than one that’s part of the larger rooms just outside of it.

Get the Mirror & Lighting Mix Right

As thought-provoking as mirrors are known to be, I’d never so intently considered one prior to working with millwork in this house. The wood architrave along the walls created a projection that had to be creatively worked around or carefully placed…actually both. A pivot mirror was our solution, since it projected from the wall, allowing space behind it for that wood trim. After a lot of searching, we fell for Rejuvenation’s West Slope Pivot mirror. We didn’t want the mirror’s hardware drilled directly into the architrave and we cared about both short and tall visitors’ ability to gaze on their lovely faces (not truly an issue w/ a pivoting mirror, but I like to give myself reasons to lose sleep), so the heights of the millwork and mirror were carefully considered. It was drawn, measured, taped out on walls, re-drawn and re-measured.

We were micro-focused, but one of the perks of a pivot mirror is flexibility. Tilting means more viewing area, which is great for a small space. Not many vanity mirrors reveal a whole outfit, but this guy can. And beyond being flexible, pivot mirrors create dimension and added depth, good for both design aesthetics and backsplash visibility.

Since the mirror projected, we didn’t want a sconce doing the same. If everything is flush to the wall OR everything projects, a space can lack enough movement to be visually interesting. We considered an articulating sconce at first, but ended up picking the Willamette from Rejuvenation (we used the same line for the chandelier in the master bathroom) and like it so much. It’s a flush mount and we got it in a (polished nickel) finish to match all others in the the room, staying safe of visual clutter of trying to mix finishes in the smallest room of the house.

Before we move on, let’s take a moment to talk about this art. It’s another piece by MaryAnn Puls, who’s an AMAZING artist from Portland that we used throughout the house. I LOVE HER WORK (and you will, too). What a talent she is. It’s exactly what this powder bath needed to balance the traditional millwork, and in the same color palette, it feels quiet and purposeful.

Okay, we’re back. On to lighting…

Lighting in a bathroom can be tricky, especially a windowless one. While a traditional vanity light with those track-home famous bulbs would have given us A TON of light, but this was NOT a standard track home. To do this investment property justice, we had to go with something a little more special that ALSO provided enough light, so the answer was to go the diffused route, which this sconce does. Diffused light is also more flattering than something overhead and directional…so bonus for you, my pretty guests! No dark eye circles. Save the concealer for when you see your actual face in bright daylight after a sleepless night and you’re a shell of a person…that’s when the real fun begins.

Pick a Pedestal to Keep Things Open (Literally)

I already hear one or two of you yelling at me, no medicine cabinet and A PEDESTAL SINK….Aaaghhh, where’s the storage!? Settle. Breathe. The extra toilet paper already has a place to live (in the mudroom just around the corner) and we promise to keep plenty within reach.

But this is a powder room, just a tiny place to potty. If you need too many products and accessories on hand, you’re definitely doing it wrong. So, instead of choosing storage, we opted to not crowd the space and decided to use a pedestal sink. And this one (the Tresham by Kohler) was beautifully simple, perfectly traditional but with strong modern lines. Pedestal sinks are excellent in tiny rooms, where larger vanities might crowd (and therefore) shrink the space. Cabinet bases, while functional, can be boxy and a bit overbearing in a powder room. Pedestals, a classic, have stuck around for a reason…and I believe that reason is the powder bath.

And there she is. Petite but potent. We put together a Get the Look for anyone scrolling through and screaming “WHERE IS THAT TOILET PAPER HOLDER FROM?!?”. We got you…find the links below the image, or make your life even easier and click right on the product (magic!) to take you to the shopping source.

1. Wallpaper by Rebecca Atwood | 2. Sconce by Rejuvenation | 3. Mirror by Rejuvenation | 4. Abstract Art by MaryAnn Puls | 5. Towel Ring by Kohler | 6. Flume Faucet and Cross Handles by Kohler | 7. Pedestal Sink by Kohler | 8. Door and Window Casing by Metrie | 9. Baseboard by Metrie | 10. Architrave by Metrie | 11. Tongue and Groove by Metrie | 12. Toilet Paper Holder by Kohler | 13. Hand Soap | 14. Toilet Lever by Kohler | 15. Toilet by Kohler | 16. Towels (similar) | 17. Millwork Color by Sherwin-Williams (Waterloo) | 18. Bud Vase | 19. Wood Flooring by Hallmark Floors | 20. Angle Supply by Kohler

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