The modern powder room: design ideas for your new build

3rd August 2023

Design Tips & Tricks

It is one of the smallest spaces in a house but lands the biggest of punches — the powder room.

There's a good reason why powder rooms have become must-haves for new homes. And if you get the styling right, it may just become one of your favourite spots in the house!

Henley Design Manager, Vicki Gillingham, talks us through how you can create a beautiful and bespoke powder room that ticks all the boxes.

What is a powder room?

As you may guess, powder rooms originated in the Victorian era when women would excuse themselves to powder their noses or check their appearance. Traditionally, the term “powder room” referred to a women’s toilet in a public building.

Today, a powder room is all about practicality, a place for family members or guests to wash their hands and freshen up without needing a full bathroom. In some areas, it's also known as a "half bath".

A powder room is typically located on the first floor or main level of a house in close proximity to living areas. The powder room hosts a vanity, toilet, sink, mirror and usually some storage space.

"Having a powder room means there's no need for guests to wander through your house or make a trek upstairs just to use the facilities. It safeguards your privacy and an added bonus is you won't have to share your main bathroom," says Vicki.

Regularly have guests coming to stay? Your powder room can double as a guest bathroom.

Why are powder rooms so popular?

Looking for a surefire way to manage traffic chaos in your home? If you have a bustling household or frequently have guests over, a powder room ensures that important business can be done quickly. Say hello to reduced congestion and waiting times, especially on busy mornings.

Keep your main bathroom pristine, reducing cleaning time and maximising leisure time. A powder room provides a designated area for guests or residents to use, which helps your main bathroom stay hygienic and clean.

A powder room on the ground floor is particularly beneficial for people with mobility challenges. It provides easy access to facilities without the need to navigate stairs or long hallways.

When it comes to selling or renting your home, a powder room is a desirable feature that can make your home more appealing and increase its market value.

Favourite powder room ideas

Apart from its obvious function, the powder room is your go-to room for a freshen-up as you head out to dinner or arrive home after a long day at work.

As powder rooms are smaller in size compared to full bathrooms, they provide an opportunity to experiment with unique design choices and showcase your personal style.

The modern powder room can ooze charm and sophistication with eye-catching elements such as statement wallpapers, unique lighting fixtures, or elegant vanity options.

Spotlight your favourite colours

Choosing the perfect colours has the power to completely transform the ambience and appearance of your powder room. This is your chance to have a little fun with colour!

For a clean and sophisticated atmosphere that's instantly calming, opt for lighter-coloured shades or neutral tones.

A monochromatic colour scheme can lend a sense of sophistication and cohesion. Blues or greys can be especially effective when paired with texture and pattern variations.

Deep, rich and moody colours have gained popularity in powder rooms, adding drama and elegance. Think navy blue, charcoal, emerald green and plum for a striking and luxurious effect.

If a memorable statement is more your style, select bold and energetic colours like teal, coral, mustard yellow or even a punchy pink.

Palace_38_MA_powder_2500px resize

Be bold with wallpaper

Modern powder rooms are the perfect playground for creative design. Being self-contained, you don't have to worry about bright, bold patterns clashing with the rest of your space.

Wallpaper offers a great option for daring homeowners to show their style and personality. Retro, stripes, floral, geometric, textured or nature-inspired prints are just some of the options.

If you're keen to glam up your powder room, you can't go past wallpaper with metallic accents. Look for designs that incorporate gold, silver or copper metallic finishes for a luxurious and shimmering effect.

However, there's one important thing to note: above the sink, it's sensible to have a splashback. While wallpaper adds charm, it's not waterproof. If you're set on using wallpaper anywhere in your powder room, choose a durable, washable vinyl.

The royal throne

Selecting the perfect toilet is not a decision to make lightly. Henley's choice suppliers have some sleek options that are comfortable, functional and complement our powder room designs.

Consider a wall-hung toilet with a hidden cistern to best make use of the small space. They're also much easier to clean!

Dark and bold colours in a powder room design by Henley Homes

The powder room basin

Your choice of vanity and basin is key to keeping things organised and minimising clutter.

Opting for a vanity that's too large can make a small powder room feel cramped.

A wall-hung vanity is perfect for saving space and creating a sense of openness. Maximise storage space while saying goodbye to chaos! Install some strip lighting underneath for that extra moody vibe.

On-trend fittings and tapware

Henley suppliers have all the modern powder room ideas and accessories you need, from fixtures and fittings to basins, tapware, lighting and towel rails.

With black and brushed metal tapware still making a noise in the design world, Phoenix Tapwares is your go-to location for on-trend inspo.

“I am a big fan of the brushed Nickel tapware and accessories that we are seeing a massive spike in now," says Vicki. "Brushed Nickel is not only sleek and sophisticated but also lends itself to many interior design ideas and trends. From Hamptons to industrial and everything in between.”

Statement pieces

A feature mirror can serve as a captivating focal point in the powder room. When shopping for a statement mirror, look for intricate carvings, gilded frames or decorative details for maximum impact.

For a more minimalist or contemporary look with a wow factor, choose a round mirror with an LED backlight.

Lavish powder room lights such as pendant lights or wall sconces are ideal statement pieces that influence the mood of your powder room without taking up space.


Things to consider with your powder room design

Space optimisation

"Powder rooms are typically small spaces, so efficient use of space is crucial," says Vicki. "Consider the layout and placement of fixtures to maximise functionality and visual appeal."

Ensure there is enough room for comfortable movement and access to essential elements like the toilet, sink and vanity. If space is limited, explore space-saving options such as wall-mounted fixtures or compact vanities.

Light, air and ventilation

Powder rooms are generally located internally, which means they don't have windows for airflow, ventilation or natural light.

Proper ventilation is essential for eliminating moisture and maintaining air quality in such a small space. Install an exhaust fan or consider architectural elements that promote air circulation while maintaining privacy.

When it comes to powder room lights, Vicki suggests incorporating a combination of task and accent lighting to ensure proper illumination. Consider natural lighting options like windows or skylights if available.

An LED mirror light might be moody and match your design style but more vibrant lighting may be needed for family members with poor vision. Make smart lighting decisions for both you and your guests.

Less is more

Less is more when it comes to the powder room.

“It's a small space, so an oversized vase with some fresh foliage or a small succulent on the benchtop with a candle and soap dispenser is more than enough styling for this room," explains Vicki.

And avoid piling up the toilet rolls or leaving cleaning agents in the space – keep the clean lines of it sparse and minimalist – it's easier to clean and looks more presentable.”

Discover your perfect powder room with Henley Homes

Whether you know exactly what you’re after or need expert guidance, the team at Henley Homes is here to help you design your perfect powder room.

Check out the Henley Homes Visualiser Tool or talk to us about creating your signature look.

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