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April 5, 2016

By definition, the half bath may be small physically, but it can pack quite a creative punch. With a little planning, this tiny space can be a jewel in the home; showcasing your distinct personality.

The half bath, or as it is sometimes referred to, the powder room, is a relatively recent home design idea; first making its appearance during the mid-20th century. Usually it is planned to be adjacent to the main living area, ensuring easy accessibility and convenience for guests. The average size of a half bath measures a mere four feet by seven feet, with a sink, mirror, and toilet as the three key elements. Of course, more items can be added to the room, but they should be limited to avoid overcrowding.

Design and content of the half bath depends on whether the room will be used regularly by the family, or reserved for the occasional guest. Either way, the meager space allows for little storage, so proper use of it is pivotal. Guests can become uncomfortable if toiletries are exposed; feeling that they are invading the host's domain. So, the use of concealing storage options like cabinets with doors and drawers is advised. Entry doors, which swing into the room, remove the space they sweep over from having any other function. If feasible, consider installing a sliding, pocket door to free up this area. A vanity can be a great storage vehicle while also making an impressive design statement, but be aware that it too takes up space and will give the room a fuller feeling. If you can get by without the extra storage, one alternative to the vanity is a pedestal sink, which will be much less imposing, and leaves more air in the room.

Of course beyond the big fixtures a number of other significant items need to be in place. Towel racks, soap dispensers, waste containers and window coverings are available in almost any conceivable style, and will compete for attention in the room. Because there can be so much going on in such a small space, a conscious decision needs to determine that one element will become the focal point of the room.

Almost any item can be designed as this major attraction, but it is most likely to be one of the three main fixtures. Toilets have some variability of style, but more than likely any artistic statement made by them might only be through a creative seat or covering. The mirror could certainly draw the needed attention. An elegant frame will make a statement whether it's a classical or contemporary design. And strategic placement of lighting will draw even more attention to it. The mirror also creates an illusion of depth which is direly needed in a small half bath. And finally the sink is often made the focal point. By its size alone a vanity base will have a presence that is impossible to ignore, and the sink it supports can draw the eye. A recent style development, the vessel sink, is available in a number of stunning materials: bronze, copper, stone and brilliant glass patterns. For a definitive attraction and mood-setter, a vessel sink will do the trick.

There are many other means to creating a focal point. For example, it might be the window. If the room has one, imagine it being turned into a dramatic work of stained glass art. Or, maybe the curtains provide a dynamic pattern with an ornate weave. Many light fixtures can make their own design statement whether as an glamorous chandelier, or avant garde pendant. Even the strategic placement of a small spotlight could instantly draw attention to a wall hanging as you enter the room.

The largest features to work with in the room are of course the floor and walls. Because of the small space, this is a room where you might splurge on materials that are normally too expensive for large rooms. Perhaps it is porcelain tile on the floor, a gold foil wallpaper, or a one-of-a-kind mural. The general rule is that light colors enlarge a room and dark ones will close it in. Wise advice, especially in a very small half bath. But, rules are made to be broken; and if you want to put a dark pattern on one wall to contrast with the remaining light ones, it just might provide the excitement the room needs. One subtle trick is to paint broad horizontal stripes around the room which tends to create an illusion of spaciousness.

Often it is left to the little accessories to create the excitement and charm of a room. For example, an engaging painting can steal the show. The portrait, landscape or abstract of your liking can captivate the visitor. Likewise, a vibrant rug and towel-set could be the simple splash of color that creates the perfect accent to the room. The space can be enlivened with a touch of nature by suspending a flowing leafy plant from the ceiling. You might even leave your creative mark in the room through a small backsplash of alluring tiles behind the sink.

One more thing to keep in mind is that designing an inviting half bath is not strictly a visual endeavor. One practical consideration, often overlooked because there is no shower, is the installation of an exhaust fan. Since the room is usually near the living area, the muffling of sounds and venting may be appreciated by you're guests. Candles always add comfort to a room. Set the mood and the scent with one of the many options in the marketplace. And, a bowl of assorted mini soaps or a pot of potpourri can offer both a visual and aromatic invitation.

Now you decide to design your half bath is up to your taste and needs. Weigh the suggestions presented here, do more research, and turn your half bath into a mini oasis of comfort that suits you.