Q: I want to install something other than all-white fixtures in a powder room being planned for our new home. But I wonder whether colorful fixtures will rule out the use of wallpaper and decorative tiles, since the small room might appear too busy with more than a couple of colors or patterns. What's your advice?
A: First, it's important not to plan a powder room, even if it has a bathtub, as though it were the same sort of space as a bathroom. Because powder rooms are generally small in size and limited in amenities, their design cannot afford to be boring. With bathrooms, on the other hand, a traditional look, while predictable, is usually appropriate for the size and function of such a space.
I encourage you to indulge your desire for something other than all-white fixtures. That would indeed be a welcome and sprightly change. And don't worry about a potential clash with wallpaper -- you have plenty of other options for covering the powder room's walls. An exciting possibility would involve a combination of mirrors and paint that has been applied in one of the faux textures that are so in vogue today. Alternately, how about painting the walls in a deep, rich color bordered by a stencil or wallpaper design below the ceiling and around the window frames? That choice will give your powder room a custom-finished look.
Most rooms of this type aren't interesting enough because people are so often afraid to express their sense of humor and imagination in their decorating. A powder room is the perfect place to be a little frivolous. For example, one of the most tttractive powder rooms I've ever seen was decorated with a collage of travel postcards from all over the world. Another good idea, in the same vein, is to use funny family photos.
As for the fixtures themselves, consider a decorative basin with coordinated accessories and a scattering of similarly styled wall tiles to turn an inexpensively designed setting into a festive experience.
A decorative sink and tile display can work well in conjunction with an expanse of plain-colored tiles and with either marble or plastic laminate counter tops. The surfacing selection will, of course, depend on your budget.
Careful attention to detail will make a difference in your powder room. A relatively small space can end up looking forlorn and forgotten unless every element is treated as important.