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10 Steps to Building & Designing a Powder Room

Last modified: 2022-06-07 | Approximate reading time 7 mins

Cynthia Pigeon

Like bathrooms, powder rooms are designed with a sole purpose: for people to attend to their personal hygiene.

The main distinction between these two rooms is that a powder room does not feature a bath, but will sometimes have a shower. Certain powder rooms are essentially lavatories: they only have a toilet and a sink.

Typically, a powder room is a small room with a space-efficient layout. It is especially convenient in apartments, single-story homes, basements, and any space where square footage is limited.

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Planning a Powder Room

Note: The step-by-step instructions are not absolute and may vary depending on your priorities. A number of factors will influence the process, such as whether you already have walls in place or whether they need to be built. If you are working in an existing room, the walls will most likely need to be opened up to install plumbing and electricity.

1) Design the layout of the room

Prior to undertaking any work, it is essential to carefully plan the layout of the room to avoid potential problems and errors. Ideally, plans should be made by an architect or engineer who can logically position the various features and measure the dimensions accurately.

A powder room has a number of features that require a great deal of precision work, like plumbing and electrical wiring, which are done in a limited space, so there is literally no room for error!

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Photo: Maxi Pixel

2) Plan the plumbing installation

Bear in mind that building a powder room implies plumbing installations, therefore a qualified plumber will ultimately need to be involved, as it is mandatory in Quebec, and in many other provinces, to retain the services of a certified plumber to perform this type of work. Thus, should you opt to do the work yourself, at the very least, you will need to hire a plumber.

Unfortunately, when lacking the necessary skills to undertake this type of project, one will tend to take unnecessary shortcuts with plumbing, perform shoddy installations, or choose substandard plumbing fixtures. Hence, the need for an expert’s assistance is rendered essential in such a situation. 

Check out these related articles on plumbing: 

3) Select a vanity, shower, toilet and sink

This step can be carried out in tandem with step one as it is important to consider the room’s dimensions when choosing furnishings. As mentioned, powder rooms are most often small areas centred around functionality. Therefore, the furniture selected should reflect the size of the room, combined with efficiency.

Here are the main elements included in a powder room:

  • Toilet
  • Shower
  • Sink
  • Vanity

Occasionally included:

  • Washer/dryer
  • Storage cabinet
  • Shelves

Are you struggling to find your bathroom furniture in-store? Consider having them custom-made! Contractors can build furniture that is perfectly adapted to your needs and the dimensions of the room in question.

Check out these related articles:

white bathroom_10 Steps to Building & Designing a Powder Room_Reno Quotes

Photo: Maxi Pixel

4) Plan the light fixtures

Most powder rooms do not have windows or, if they do, they are very small. Therefore, lighting fixtures play a major role in making the room inviting and functional. Lighting can also be an integral part of the overall safety of the room. Most people have experienced that heart-stopping moment of slipping when stepping out of the shower. If the lighting is not adequate, there is a greater chance of this happening.

Basic powder room light fixtures:

  • Ceiling light
  • Vanity light

This is the bare minimum. Then, depending on the layout of the room, additional light fixtures can be installed near the toilet and shower, over or around the mirror, etc.

Here is a useful article about light fixtures:

5) Choose the right colour scheme and paint supplies

The powder room, like the bathroom, is a very particular room in terms of elements. It can be humid, rather restricted in space, and can be subject to a lot of wear and tear. Therefore, building materials should be chosen accordingly. This will be a recurring topic throughout the article, however, in this instance, it pertains to selecting paint supplies that are best suitable for this type of room.

Here is a useful article:

When it comes to a colour scheme, it is a matter of taste and aesthetic, but powder rooms tend to be on the smaller side, so lighter shades are recommended to avoid making the room appear even smaller. 

Once you have selected your paint colours, consider creating a colour scheme for the room's overall decor, further allowing you to create a decor that reflects your style.

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Photo: Wikimedia commons

6) Select flooring and/or decorative wall panels

Looking to switch things up a bit? There are several types of decorative wall cladding that can serve as alternatives to paint, like ceramic, concrete, stone, or decorative panels. Wallpaper can also be used, although it is not the most suitable material for humid spaces.

Also, selecting flooring material should be a well-thought-out step. As mentioned, powder rooms are humid spaces that can be exposed to a lot of premature wear and tear, therefore choosing the right type of flooring is a must. Here is an article about bathroom flooring options that can be practical when building a powder room as well:

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7) Consider sealing and waterproofing the room

In order to facilitate maintenance, one thing you will need to do is ensure the room is waterproof. To do so, choose materials that allow for sealing and waterproofing. Next, caulking is a key factor.

It is imperative to caulk the gaps between different components such as the shower and the floor, the sink and the wall, or the window frame and the shower wall to avoid premature wear and tear and water damage.

Check out this related article on caulking:

8) Incorporate storage

We said it once, and we will say it again: In general, the powder room is small and it is an area we usually use for a quick touch-up or a personal hygiene check. It is not known for its storage space. Rarely will a powder room be adorned with shelves, closet space, or a storage unit. However, in order to avoid creating a cluttered environment, having dedicated storage space for various items should not be overlooked. 

Powder room storage can be as simple as a medicine cabinet above the sink, a small built-in shelf or a custom-made cabinet built above the toilet or under the sink. Having a bit of ingenuity comes a long way when storing items with limited space available, therefore keeping this in mind from the moment you design the room will simplify the process.

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9) Start building

Having gone through the major steps of designing a powder room, now we can get down to the nitty-gritty of it all! Are you up for it? As previously stated, you will (most likely) need to have an expert come in, especially for plumbing installations. It really all depends on the law and regulations established in your province of residence.

It should also be noted that building or renovating a powder room is not as easy as it might seem. This type of project involves numerous steps, costly installations, and a certain skillset. As such, the expertise of a specialized contractor can prove to be indispensable. 

Carefully consider attempting a cost-saving DIY project, as your possible lack of skills may unfold throughout. This can lead to additional expenses, which can really add up in the end!

10) Decorate the powder room

Last but not least, it is decorating time! While others prefer to skip this step, it is a personal favourite of mine! Personalize this quaint little space to create an even more appealing environment.

When scrolling through Pinterest, you can find hundreds of powder room decor ideas, ranging from pretty much anything and everything by way of your personal taste. The overall consensus when it comes to small, powder room-type spaces is to go for a minimalist style, with light shades. That said, it is first and foremost a matter of taste and functionality. Go with your mood and have fun with it!

Here are multiple design-related articles:

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