You’re ready to renovate your Dream Home and costing starts to roll in. In any economy, renovations are expensive at best and experiencing sticker shock and overwhelm is normal for the average homeowner planning their Dream Home. Instead of feeling hopeless, we recommend breaking down your Dream Home goals into a room-by-room list which can help make that big renovation seem more achievable through smaller bite-size steps.
One of our favourite digestible bite-size renos to start with are Powder Rooms (PR). PRs pack a lot of punch in many ways and this blog is going to break down why they're a great investment to start with and how to best design for one.
Why a Powder Room?
This is a personal choice to make, and of course you have to balance everything else that might need to be addressed in your home, but we have three top reasons why our clients add or renovate PRs first.
Supports Family Living
Creates Ideal Gathering Space
1. High Return On Investment.
Any realtor will tell you that having a PR will increase the value on your property, a tempting improvement to take if you’re ever considering a resale. Every single house we saw with a PR had an immediate higher price tag than those without.
2. Supports Family Living
Whether you have littles running around, or you’re making a bathroom schedule with teenagers, or making things more comfortable for aging family, having a PR just makes daily living easier all around.
3. Creates the ideal gathering place
We love powder rooms because of the added comfort and ease it adds for any host. There will be less objection around hosting at your home because the added simple comfort of PR is there. You get to share your home with the ones you loves and create those special memories together.
We are about to add a Powder Room in our home, and I thought I’d sneak in our own reasons why we chose to start with this smaller project:
We love to host, and having a powder room makes our guests that much more comfortable which will enable us to host even more!
We are a growing family, and an extra main toilet with a toddler is a luxury!
This is a digestible bite-size step in getting our Dream Home while still living our lives of fun and travel
The scale of this project is more manageable in our life right now and will actually reveal more about what to expect when we tackle other bigger areas of the house!
With lots of future reno plans, this is something we will absolutely take advantage the most making it a huge ROI for us financially and emotionally!
How to Design + What to consider for a Powder Room.
Though these rooms are small, there is a lot of detail that goes into them and we wanted to breakdown some critical areas to consider when designing a PR:
2. Sound Isolation
3. Layout, Sight lines, + Clearances
4. Space Saving Fixtures
5. Finishes + Lighting
Location is the first determination of your PR. When real estate is at a premium in your house, this can be tricky to keep this completely separate from other main spaces like a living room or kitchens. Try as best as you can to position the PR opening into a corridor, under your staircase, or within the entryway of your house (ie. not right into your dining room...).
That said, from experience you can’t always avoid this kind of proximity, which means you have to take other key design factors into account to make it less obvious...
2. Sound Isolation
Bathrooms are private spaces, and the last thing you want is to hear everything or have yourself or guests feel stage fright or embarrassment. For any PR build we always recommend integrating sound isolation. This typically carries a higher cost but we think it’s well worth it.
Sound isolation for a small space can be achieved in a few ways:
- Installing higher STC rated insulation within the PR walls
- Wrapping mechanical/plumbing pipes to help dampen noise
- Using a solid door, instead of a more economical hollow-core door
- Integrating speakers or white noise to help mask sounds within
- Having the new PR walls be framed and insulated to the underside of the subfloor instead of just to underside of the joists - you want to close in the room entirely and make a fully contained box
- Install smart toilets that have a flushing sound function that you can press during those more audible moments
- Install acoustical wall panels that absorb sound
3. Layout, Sight Lines + Clearances
The overall layout, sight lines and clearances in a PR are equally important to evaluate with #1 + #2 (no pun intended). These three elements need to work together to make the experience of a PR comfortable and functional.
Layout can differ based on the location footprint you have to work with, but an average size PR is +/- 30 sq ft. They can be long and narrow (think under a staircase) or more of a square shape. Whatever the footprint, sight lines and clearances around the door, toilet approach and vanity cannot be overlooked in how they all interact with one another.
Toilet wall clearance refers to the wall width you have for your toilet to sit against. We try to always have 36” clear as this gives someone sitting down ample room for comfort on either side of their body. The last thing you want to feel is crammed between a vanity and a wall which can be spatially awkward and uncomfortable. Sometimes you can’t get this kind of space (think European PRs), but I wouldn’t recommend less than 30” in total for this kind of scenario.
Toilet Approach clearance refers to the amount of room you have in front of the lip of the toilet bowl. Think about the room you need approach, undress/dress, and sit down on a toilet and be comfortable. We recommend to always have 24” clear in front of the toilet for maximum comfort, and in those tighter cases no less than 18".
Door swing + size
If you have a door that swings into the PR, consider its size and how much swing space it needs. You want to make sure there is no conflict here and have your door graze your vanity or toilet.
Also consider how much standing room a person has to walk inside and actually close the door. For example, think of public bathroom stalls where you sometimes have to squeeze against the toilet before being able to close the door behind you.
Also consider any guests you might have use this space who might need assistance or additional aid. This may encourage you to change the door swing outwards if you have the space to do so.
Pocket doors are also a great alternative solution that don’t involve any swing interference at all.
Finally – consider the sight line into the PR. Ideally you DO NOT see the toilet so try to position this fixture out of sight as much as possible.
4. Space Saving Fixtures
This small room is already pretty demanding isn’t it?
While planning the layout and clearances, you will have to consider what fixtures you are planning to install, starting with the toilet and the vanity/faucet.
Wall-hung products are our favourite types of plumbing fixtures to integrate into a small space, because, well they help save space!
Wall-mount faucets can save at least 4-5” in vanity space, and wall-mounted toilets can do the exact same. You will need to know if you are installing wall-mounted fixtures ahead of time as the rough-in valves and wall-tanks need to be installed as soon as the wall-framing is complete - unlike deck-mount faucets and floor-mount toilets that can be installed well after the finishing is complete.
There are endless options for vanities – wall-hung sinks, standing vanities with storage, or our favourite, custom to make them whatever look, shape and size makes the most sense for your space! Don’t forget, it’s a PR not a main bathroom so your sink is really meant to have ample space for hand-washing and not much else.
We love a PR that offers hidden storage for towels, toilet paper or extra toiletries, and integrating concealed storage within the walls of your PR is one way to achieve this.
Consider medicine cabinets that can be recessed into the wall, or artwork on a piano hinge that hides a wall-recessed niche behind.
5. Finishes, Accessories + Lighting
Now that you have the function and layout figured out, you can dive into the fun part of the finishes, accessories and lighting. PRs are naturally small and we think they should carry a lot of punch! This means being more playful with all of your selections within. With such a small square foot footprint, you can really make this space stand out and ‘splurge’ with wallcovering or textured walls, a unique floor and luxe finishes for accessories.
While you can make this moody, consider to levels of lighting for user comfort. We love integrated a show-stopping wall sconce that can be dimmed, with an strong and bright dimmable overhead light.
Don’t be afraid to be more bold in this small space – it is contained after all and though small should absolutely be mighty!
It's easy to see the Power of a Powder Room - it carries a high return on investment, is something you will absolutely use through your day-to-day and for special occasions, and is one small reno closer to getting that full Dream Home.
Even with the smallest of spaces, there is so much to consider when designing a Powder Room. As one of our favourite rooms to design in a house, we are always here to help. Reach out to chat about our services to get you that much closer to you PR too!
Make sure you are following along as we share the APD Home Powder Room Project!