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Design Expert: The WOW Factor


Celebrity designer, Glen Peloso discusses designing a powder room with “pow” factor.

The smallest space in the home is the perfect place to unleash your most daring design desires

When I design a powder room, I think of the “pow” factor. Homeowners often are worried it is going to be “too much!” Fortunately, it is the one place in the house that you are allowed to take your design ideas to the edge, and then go a little farther, with complete success.

powder room


The term powder room, apparently was coined in the 18th century, and described a small interior closet where people would go to have their wigs and faces re-powdered. The term survived through the Victorian period and ultimately became a euphemism for using the toilet, as the English frowned upon anything related to healthy bodily functions. The term has survived through to the present.


There is no question that adding a powder room during a renovation adds value to a home. Located on the main floor, powder rooms are often mentioned on real estate listing sheets as one of the benefits of the house. It’s possible to squeeze them into a three-foot by five-foot space with room for only the toilet and a small sink. Ideally you want to keep them close to existing sewage and water source. In very tight spaces, you may have to use a corner sink or something very narrow. If you have ever gone to the “powder room” in a restaurant in Europe, you will recall that sinks can be incredibly small while still being functional. You may need specialty plumbing shops like Watermarks or Porcelanosa to pull it off, but it is completely doable.

powder room


Now you get to create a room that is fun and interesting. You have to remember that unlike any other room in the house, the powder room is intended to be used completely alone every time. It’s great when the design is unlike any other part of the house. Think of it as a break from everything and everyone in the house where you have your own experience before returning to the group. Push the envelope in terms of colour, pattern and details.

Don’t be afraid of a deep colour or complex pattern in the powder room. It’s visually interesting and the darker or more complex patterns actually make the room seem larger. The drama makes it difficult to perceive the dimensions of the room. Wallpaper is a great choice for the powder room, then use the darkest colour in the wallpaper to paint out the other details of the room, such as the trim mouldings, ceiling and doors. The final experience of the room will be magical.

powder room


You also want to layer the lighting in the room. Overhead lighting like a chandelier or pot lights combined with a wall sconce is perfect. As a general rule, flank the mirror with a sconce on each side, but if you’re tight on space, a single light fixture above the mirror will suffice. Use a large-sized, detailed mirror if possible. Besides enlarging the space, the added details like bevels and mirror-on-mirror layers reflect and refract the light like a jewel. And if it’s one thing I insist on: install a dimmer! Guests can decide on light intensity on their own. I typically pre-set the light level before a party so that guests don’t have to fumble for the light switch. Also, add a candle for a little romance along with a pleasing scent.

Even if you don’t need to powder your nose in the powder room, there isn’t any reason why the room can’t pack a Pow.


  • Can be created in a 3’x5’ space, 5’x7’ is better!
  • If you’re adding one, keep it close to existing plumbing to save costs
  • Specialty plumbing stores can help you find spacesaving sinks and toilets
  • Use dark colours and complex patterns on the wall to enlarge the look of the space
  • Layer the lighting in the room for visual interest
  • Sconces around a mirror offer the best light
  • Choose a mirror that has an interesting frame or shape
  • Boldly use large art work

glen pelosoGlen Peloso has worked in the design industry for 20 years. He is co-founder of Peloso Alexander Interiors, and is a regular design expert on The Marilyn Denis Show and Morning Live. Contact him at and/or follow him on social media. Twitter: glenpeloso Instagram: glenpelosodesigner

Photography By LARRY ARNAL

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