I love designing powder rooms. They’re small rooms that can make a big impact. This room is often the bathroom that guests see and use, so it’s a great room to give a little extra design attention. In the Whitney House, the powder bathroom is the only bathroom on the main level, so it’s bound to get a lot of use by everyone.
I want this bath to get noticed, for the right reasons.
Reasons such as beautiful floor tile. Pretty wallpaper.
I love antique cast iron sinks. Originally intended as service or utility sinks, they make an excellent fixture for powder rooms.
Other bathrooms in the house need storage, but there’s little to store in a powder room, so why eat up precious floor space with a cabinet?
You might spend a bit more on a wall-mount sink, but you’ll save on cabinetry and countertops and you’ll have a timeless piece that can last a hundred years. Cast iron fixtures are very durable (and heavy) and their porcelain enamel coating means you can have fun with color. A cast iron sink may not be the most suitable fixture for a kitchen because scrubbing with chemicals can hurt the enamel, but it should stay gleaming and scratch-free in a powder bath for a long time. Other options are coated steel or fireclay.
Since the typical powder room doesn’t have a bathtub or shower, just about anything goes in terms of finishes and materials. When there is a shower, like you would see in a standard bathroom, the finishes in the room need to handle the moisture. Therefore wallpaper, wood floors, and exposed artwork are not recommended, and you are also limited to wet-location type lighting. But since a powder room normally has just a toilet and sink, all sorts of selection options open up.
Meaning, you can mount this beautiful sink to tile, wood, glass, or wallpapered walls. There are lots of possibilities.
I decided for the powder bath in this house, I’d go all in and do all the things you can’t easily do in a standard bathroom: wallpaper, paneled wood walls, exposed Edison lightbulbs, a wool rug, and of course, a wall-mount sink.
Here’s my concept for this room.
1. Art: “Early Dwelling” Stephanie Clark. | 2. Mirror: “Linfield Articulating Scissor Mirror” Rejuvenation. | 3. Wallpaper: “Bumble Bee” Farrow & Ball. | 4. Floor Tile: “Hand-painted Terracotta 6×6 Tile in Brushed Colonial Blue” Tabarka Studio. | 5. Antique Cast Iron Sink. | 6. Pendant: “Skidmore.” Rejuvenation. | 7. Sconce: “Fords Mill” Rejuvenation. | 8. Rug: “Laurette” Anthropologie.
This is the floor plan. Not that exciting in plan view…
a. 24″w x 20″d Antique Wall-mount Sink. | b. 2×3 Rug. | c. Toilet.
My thought is to do wood wainscot around the bathroom, like in the hearth room, with wallpaper above (like at the stairs in the kitchen). At the sink wall though, I thought it could be interesting to have a heavily aged mirror glass panel framed in the wall, perhaps a lot like mercury glass so that the light from the pendant gets reflected and one’s reflection is a bit obscured….I mean, it’s right across from the potty. A side-mounted vanity mirror would also be available.
The sink faucet on the antique fixture I found has a great little spot for a bar of soap, but I still felt a shelf was in order, so I designed a shallow wood ledge supported by metal brackets along the window wall.
Pocket doors are great for powder rooms because you can eliminate the awkward door swing. I designed this bath with a 2×6 wall so that a pocket door could be used.
And that’s the powder bath. 24 lovely square feet.
I’ll leave you with some wall sink sources. My favorite wall-mount sinks are the salvaged kind from a 1909 house, but there are some good ones still being made today. These are some of my top picks.