We call it a powder room, but you might also refer to it as a half bath or guest bathroom. Either way, it’s a smaller space that typically houses only a sink and toilet on the first floor of a home —no shower and no bathtub—and often has little to no natural light. It’s the one bathroom that most visitors to your home are going to use, and since it’s a space anyone who comes over is likely to see, it should be as special and stylish as it is convenient and functional.

The Powder Room has an interesting history. In Europe in the 1700s the most fashionable thing you could possess, aside from your wardrobe, was a nicely powdered wig. Because of the importance of fashion, in high society wigs became one of the most important parts not only your daily dress, but also of your social life. They were so important that separate rooms were devoted to the act of powdering one’s wig. These powder rooms then became an important part of maintaining one’s social standing. Later, when indoor plumbing later became common, the name stuck and thus, today’s Powder Room.

Being a small space, the Powder Room lends itself to be a great area to take a design risk – be bold and make a statement; It’s an area in your home where you can get out of your comfort zone and do something you’d never imagine yourself doing.

wig+image 18th Century Powder Room

While wallpaper is a great option to add that splash of color or a more wild design element, adding tile to the mix can make it even more special. Let’s take a look at ways to use tile in your powder room to make it your own unique space.

One area to focus on in this small space is the floor. A Powder Room floor can be more complex or bold in design without it being overwhelming, as is often the case in larger floor spaces. Whether it’s a pattern tile or a color you might not normally use, your Powder floor can become a focal point of the room.


You’ve also got a limited amount of wall space in your Powder Room, so use it wisely. You can tile the walls of a Powder using colored tiles you may be afraid to use in your main bathrooms. Or you may want to take a risk and use a bold or interesting pattern that you’d never consider in other spaces. Laying the tile on a single wall as a feature, most commonly the vanity or toilet wall is also a great way to make the space feel special and bring a focus to a certain area of the room.


Using tile as a wainscot on the bottom half of the walls is also a great way to bring in an interesting feature to the room. A traditional subway wainscot is always beautiful, or there are fun large formats, florals or pattern tile that almost make it feel like a wallpaper.

Feeling Moody? The Powder Room is a great place to play into a dramatic design element – it’s small enough that it won’t matter if it’s dark – it suits the space well – and who doesn’t love a moody Powder Room?


If moody isn’t right for you, what about color – there is nothing more fun than a cheery, bright Powder Room for your guests to enjoy. Again, using a mix of tile and wallpaper in these types of rooms works great – or just let the tile speak for itself.

No matter what route you take, just remember that it’s likely the one space in your entire house that you can step out of your comfort zone, and do something really different from your typical design style. Everytime you walk into your Powder Room you’ll be so happy you took a risk and trusted yourself to try something new.