Renovation & Design

Most small rooms can handle high drama

What can you say about today's feature photograph except... wow! This small Kohler bathroom is teeming with drama and style. The wide horizontal bands of vivid colour make this small space feel larger but also give it tons of personality. You have to be pretty colour brave to try a design like this but a small space is the right place to make the attempt.

Most small rooms can handle high drama, pattern and large scale. A powder room, for instance, where you only spend a few moments at a time, is a perfect place to go bold and make a design statement. One of the loveliest powder rooms I've ever seen was covered in black wallpaper (ceiling too) with a gold leaf pattern. The small room was really dramatic and elegant.

Other areas in which a bold décor can work are places like an entryway, stair landing, a small craft or sewing room, inside of a walk-in closet, in a dormer or any other nook that suits a bold statement.

Achieving drama

Oversized mirrors or artwork can work wonders in a small room. Mirrors definitely add a feeling of space so use them to your advantage. One large mirror or a wall of small mirrors will open up a small space and provide some glam. I saw a really neat idea on the internet where a homeowner hung a collection of hand mirrors of varying sizes, shapes and colours on the wall over a sink instead of one bathroom mirror. Great idea!

Forgo hanging one small painting on the wall and go floor to ceiling with a collection of paintings, photographs or a collage of both. Opulent lighting, like a chandelier, can work wonders in a small powder room. Opt for something dramatic versus a standard ceiling fixture.

Use bold patterns in wallpaper or fabric to make a statement. I used the fabric from some clearance draperies I found to cover my small dormer bathroom walls and ceiling years ago and it was stunning. The fabric was dark green, rust and brown with hints of gold. When I was done it looked like a bathroom in an exclusive men's club. All it took was some great fabric and a hot glue gun.

Consider covering all four walls (and perhaps the ceiling) instead of playing it safe with only a focal wall. As you can see from our feature photograph, bright or dramatic paint colours and painted designs can all work to make a small space stunning. Use pattern to your advantage like horizontal stripes to visually widen a room or horizontal stripes to give a room height.

Go for the glam

Highly ornate mirrors or picture frames can work wonders in a small space. Consider ornamental wall sconces, elaborate window fashions, tassels, beading and architectural molding to give a small space a sense of grandeur.

Small spaces offer the advantage of affordability of high-end finishes because you only need a little to make a huge statement. Consider installing finishes on floor and vanities like marble, granite or decorative tile. Install a stone feature wall, wall-mount fireplace or a mirrored wall fountain. Consider an art niche, decorative column or ceiling medallion. A small powder room or ensuite bathroom is a great place to splurge on a designer sink, faucets and vanity if the budget allows.

Get crafty. Consider updating current accessories with finishes like gold leaf or textured paint. You might want to upcycle a dated light fixture with glass paint. Consider using frosted glass paint or film to add interest to a plain mirror or to create decorative privacy on a bathroom window. Wall murals and wall decals are very popular right now and might offer the drama that your small space needs.

Where to begin

If you have an ensuite bathroom off the master bedroom, this would be a good place to start your daring drama adventure. Take your inspiration from something that you love, like an exotic destination, favourite colours, historical periods, nature, hobbies or other interests.

Maybe you've always love the Victorian Era style and have an ornate mirror in the attic that you need to reconsider for your new space. Perhaps you love the colour red and have been brave enough to purchase a few small red accessories. Now might be the right time to dive in and paint your new space in that daring colour.

Start with something that needs replacing and go from there. New light fixture? New vanity perhaps? Maybe just a new colour. Whatever inspires you at this point is where you want to begin.


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