Be it ever so humble, there's no place without decor possibilities


August 28, 1994|By Rita St. Clair | Rita St. Clair,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

Q: The powder room in my home is large enough only to accommodate a commode and sink. What can I do to make this space feel bigger, more comfortable and welcoming? I'd also like your suggestions on making the room look different from others of its kind.

A: First, forget about making it feel "welcoming." A powder room isn't a place for greeting guests or even for lingering. Your other aims, however, can easily be achieved through a variety of means. In fact, depending on your taste and budget, the possibilities are practically limitless, so I've selected photos showing how a single space can be designed in two different ways.

This study in contrasts is taken from Carol Soucek King's "At Home and Work: Architects' and Designers' Empowered Spaces," published by PBC International of Glen Cove, N.Y.

Both versions meet all your requirements. Each visually enhances its dimensions; each accommodates the user's needs and can thus be considered comfortable; and each exhibits a design that, while not radical, isn't predictable, either.

Noel Jeffrey, a New York interior designer, took a Bauhaus-inspired approach to the room with the large circular mirror. Though minimal in its decorative aspects, this highly functional space maximizes the available square footage.

Because the sink is wall-hung, the open area is large enough to accommodate a wheelchair.

All the fixtures here are white, which goes easily with the pale walls and the stone-colored flooring. The sheen of the highly polished chrome faucets and railing adds some sparkle, while the art deco framed mirror strikes a stylish note.

This option nicely exemplifies the Bauhaus belief that form should follow function or, put another way, that good design results from attention to a room's uses.

The other, more traditionally styled room, also designed by Noel Jeffrey, makes more or less the same space allocations while following the same general principles in visually enhancing the dimensions. Here, instead of relying on the effect produced by a large mirror, the space is made to seem bigger through the application of vertically striped wallpaper.

The overhead lighting, along with the sconces above the sink, provide plenty of illumination for the precision procedure of nose-powdering. The design further caters to the user's comfort by the inclusion of a shelf.

Note how the details reinforce the classical look of this model. The decorative mirror, the framed architectural print, the wallpaper pattern and even the wastepaper basket all combine to create a sense of symmetry, order and proper scale. While this setting may not depart dramatically from the look of a typical powder room, I think it's unusually tasteful and not at all ordinary.

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