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  • Writer's pictureLily Dittschlag & Dennis Dittschlag


Passive House Toronto

Does a small powder room really deserve any design attention?

We like to think it does. While the space itself is tiny compared to some of the other living areas, it is a room that can have a mighty impact. As we are lucky enough to experience a powder room on the same floor as the main living areas (together with kitchen, dining, and living rooms), this small space is more than just a space for guests. As a matter of fact, it's probably the most used bathroom in the entire house.

The average size of a North American powder room is approximately 20 square feet. In a real estate listing, it is often counted as a half bath. Our future powder room will be falling into this size as well and the footprint is shaped almost like a square.

Since this is a small space that is mostly hidden from view with the door closed, it is a space where a bolder design statement can be made. Because of its separation from the main living area, the design can also be different from the open-concept spaces around it.

From a design perspective, there are clear advantages that a powder room has over other rooms in the house:

  • There is less moisture compared to a full bathroom because there is no bath or shower. This means more choices for using materials that cannot typically be used in a bathroom.

  • The smaller wall and floor space allow for using higher-end materials without spending a ton of money. Expensive features are limited to a smaller size.

  • A stronger design statement is possible because the door will be closed and you won't grow tired of a bold design choice as opposed to having a bold choice in a main living area.

With this in mind, let's look at some design impressions...

Our Design Inspiration

The inspiration for our powder comes from the feeling of using the facilities at a nice hotel or a fancy restaurant. It's typically a more moody space with darker color tones and rich materials or textures. It always feels elegant and expensive.

Inspiration Photo #1

Passive House Toronto

We like this room for the bold wall color, the backlit mirror, and the floating vanity. The darker wall color is contrasted by a lighter floor. It looks like a modern design with clean lines. You can also see they tried to make a statement with a chandelier as a central light fixture which is a nice touch for ambiance.

Inspiration Photo #2

Passive House Toronto

This bathroom has quite a lot going on. Again, we see a dark wall color, but here it is complemented with a darker floor tile in the same color tone. This appears almost industrial and cold, but it's broken up nicely with the organic rounder forms of the mirrors and the sink and the vanity's wood finish. A bolder choice is the wallpaper on the opposite wall with the writing on it. This is not so much ours but the contrasts and the lighting work great in this design.

Inspiration Photo #3

Passive House Toronto

This powder room features what is probably our favorite vanity of the whole set of images on this post. But the main design feature here is obviously the darker wall tile, which combines a geometric hexagon shape with a three-dimensional effect. The lighter grout between the wall tiles is then complemented with similar color on the floor tile. Our preference for the faucet is a single-handle style for more convenience and a simpler look. Overall, this is a very cool powder room and while the design makes a statement, it is not overbearing or loud.

Inspiration Photo #4

Passive House Toronto

This powder room features a neatly tiled back wall that is also combined with a darker floor tile that mimics a stone finish. You can also see a floating vanity in a darker natural wood tone. Besides the tiled back wall, the main design highlight here is the lighting with a more extravagant chandelier. Lighting is definitely an important point to consider and despite such a small space, a chandelier still feels appropriate to the room overall.

Inspiration Photo #5

Passive House Toronto

We like this powder room for the rich contrast and the back wall. The tile is a classic subway tile shape that is applied in an elegant herringbone pattern. Together with what looks to be a concrete sink and the porcelain toilet, these materials and colors are all very cold. This is then countered nicely with the golden accents of the light fixture, the tray under the mirror, and the faucet.

Looking Ahead

While the form and function of a powder room are pretty straightforward, the design can be a little more tricky. You want to create focused features that work together, otherwise, the design elements become too much to take in and overpowering in the small space.

For our design, we envision something that is bold and elegant and in line with the modern and hopefully timeless design of the rest of the house.

We have picked some of our favorite elements from the impressions above and combined them on somewhat of a mood board below.

Passive House Toronto

We definitely like a floating vanity in a wood tone with some storage and a single-hole single-handle chrome faucet in a rounder shape. This will get combined with an equally sized backlit LED mirror. The feature wall is most likely a tiled wall in a dark blue or charcoal tile with a herringbone pattern. The other walls are most likely going to be painted in the same color. This is then contrasted with a lighter floor tile in a concrete finish. The powder room will not have a window, so having a real plant in there is likely not possible. Instead, we will think about hanging some art with a lighter background showing greenery.

So there you have our design inspiration for the powder room!

Remember that design is personal, and there are endless combinations of fixtures, wall coverings, flooring, mirrors, lighting, and accessories to choose from. Granted, if you are working with a builder, some choices may be limited to the builder's standard selection or else require an update.

The powder room is certainly a room to let your creativity shine and make bolder design choices if you like. It truly can be a tiny room with a mighty impact.

Note: Except title image and mood board, all other photos are credit to

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