A lot of style in a little space Design: The proper fixtures, textures, colors and materials can create a look of elegance in a powder room.

November 02, 1997|By Rita St. Clair | Rita St. Clair,LOS ANGELES TIMES SYNDICATE

How can I make an ordinary powder room look more luxurious? I don't have any particular style in mind.

It's actually good that you don't state a stylistic preference, since "luxurious" doesn't qualify as a style in itself. Luxury depends on one's personal standards and is, in any event, difficult to achieve in small spaces.

"Elegance" might be a better term to describe the look you're seeking, and it is indeed possible to make a small powder room elegant.

The possibilities are limited only by the kinds of styles you don't like. So let me sketch two different design directions, which may or may not conform with your own tastes.

How about starting with a mirrored cabinet that houses an oval sink? This type of "Hollywood Moderne" fixture might have to be fabricated by a professional cabinetmaker, since not many commercial showrooms are going to feature such a piece. It can be built fairly easily, however, with the mirror being applied to the face of the cabinet. I'd recommend including an opaque glass or marble top to produce a truly glamorous look.

Should you prefer something more traditional, a wood cabinet with a sink might be a good choice. What's elegant about that? Not much -- unless the cabinet has a striking shape, and until you add the proper brass fittings and maybe a marble top.

The accompanying photo, supplied by the Hardwood Manufacturers Association, shows a bow-front sink cabinet with a wooden top. One advantage of this option is that you may already have inherited such a cabinet or might be able to find one at a second-hand furniture store. It does, however, have to be appropriately sized for the space and should not include high shelving or drawers.

This particular cabinet was outfitted by the Kohler Co. It's made of oak that has been treated and finished to resist water marks and the effects of high humidity.

As you plan your redesign, please keep in mind that the cabinet and fixtures -- no matter how elegant in themselves -- will not alone give your powder room a luxurious look. The materials chosen for the walls and floors will make a great deal of difference, especially in a small space. Lighting, too, is absolutely crucial in such a space -- not only for its functional quality but also in regard to the design of the lighting fixtures.

Consider medium to dark tones for both the walls and floor. They should subtly contrast and enrich whatever wood or mirrored cabinets you select. Go for sparkle in the hardware finishes and in the lighting fixtures.

From a designer's perspective, a powder room is a jewel box of a space, which, with the proper combinations of textures, patterns and colors, can be made very elegant indeed.

Pub Date: 11/02/97

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