A (Very) Blah Powder Room Transforms Into a Jewel Box



The last several months I’ve been working on a job very close by. Lovely client. Gorgeous home which they’ve been fixing up.

One of our projects was the downstairs powder room.

dum dum dum

powder room makeover

Clearly could use a massive update and upgrade! A little foreshadowing with the two wallpaper samples.

My client M, had visions of a fantastic jewel box. I love it when clients have a vision.

She wanted it to be smokey and enigmatic. She shared this showstopper with me.


karen Aston Design powder room renovation chinoiserie wallpaperKaren Aston

We couldn’t do it exactly like this because of the wonky wall to the left. And the wall was really bizarre so first piece of business was to address that. The contractor added a lovely curve. (the stair case is there and the curve follows that line.)

We knew that we had to have the black wainscoting.

Next, came the wallpaper.

I got a sample of the Romo paper and it left us not very enthused.

romo chinoiserie wallpaper

romos sansara wallpaper green black powder room

Nor did the green and black colorway. It’s not that they are bad. They aren’t right.

We both really wanted to see more black. So, I looked for some more inspiration photos.

powder room-with-chinoiserie walls Scott SnyderScott Snyder

Yes, that’s the idea!

I also picked up a mess of other wallpaper samples. (two are in the first shot of the old powder room)

Several were lovely.

thibaut wallpaper


Cool, from Thibaut, but too busy.

chinoiserie wallpaperAbove and below from Cole and Son.

cole and son gondola

All nice but not quite right.

birdcage walk nina campbell powder room wallpaper

That’s the one!


9003 currey and co dream pendant powder room pendant light with crystals

M had already purchased this way cool pendant from Currey & Co. We loved how it looks rather nest-like. Perfect!


Then, the sink. I’ve never done a console sink before and was excited about that because I think that they are way cool.

water works console sink powder room

This is a sleek one from Waterworks.

cass bros console sink powder room 3Cass Brothers

I found several nice console sinks and one from Kohler but it was too large by only about an inch! So, we did the Memoirs sink and toilet which I’ve always loved.

We chose a soft coral color for the ceiling which picks up the same shade in the paper and selected the perfect black for the wainscoting. It’s one of the blacks in the Laurel Home Essential Paint Collection coming out on May 10th.



We uhhh.. selected new shades for the sconces. (this is the old one. I guess that’s obvious)

I suggested a new glass shade from Rujuvenation. They have a large selection of plain and art glass shades.

And here it is!

black powder room kohler sink toilet benjamin moore black panther wainscoting

Yes, this is the SAME powder room!

powder room ceiling crystal pendant currey and co. benjamin moore habanero pepper

Over the toilet is a hidden medicine cabinet. We painted the inside of that the coral too.

mary new wall

Sorry, these are so grainy. I’ll take better shots later with my good camera. I wanted to show a better shot of the curve. It looks like it was always there! It really is like being inside of a jewel box! It’s actually quite serene to be in there. And the lighting is magical! M already had the mirror and we love how it mimics the curve of the vines.

Here are some more black bathrooms. Black or a deep rich color is great for a powder room or small bathroom. It’s a great place to experiment with something dramatic. The payoff is huge!

mark-sikes-via-habitually-chic4-tom scheererMark D Sikes


black-bathroom-artwork pinterest addict powder roomPinterest Addict

abigail-ahern-black-bathroom-lonnyAbigail Ahern via Lonny

Black+shiplap+walls,+cement+tile+and+wood+vanity+||+Studio+McGeeStudio McGee


via Mad About The House – it’s actually an ad from Corian Dupont.

This one is not quite black but have to say that I rather love it!

Would you do a black powder room now that you’ve seen these?

I will still “see” you on Sunday, but I won’t be “here.” haha.

I’ll be in Italy in case you didn’t see that!

Can’t believe I’m finally getting to go!

ciao, ciao,


7th edition rolodex-post-graphic - November 2020 - A unique shopping guide with hundreds of sources created by Laurel Bern

  • Daryl - September 3, 2016 - 4:39 PM

    Hi Laurel,

    Found your blog this mornin and been reading it beachside all day long.

    Can you tell us more about the medicine cabinet? Was it custom to accommodate the mirror or was it a kit that you affixed the mirror to in the field?


    • Laurel Bern - September 3, 2016 - 4:59 PM

      Hi Daryl,

      haha. Good question. I have no idea. Perhaps try googling it? ReplyCancel

  • Megan McKinney - May 1, 2016 - 1:11 PM

    Hi Laurel,

    Love the choices for the bathroom! The wallpaper is fabulous!

    In the near future we will be giving our powder room a makeover and plan to put a dark color on the walls. You have definitely given me some inspirations!

    And, have a lovely time in Italy!ReplyCancel

  • Carol - April 29, 2016 - 12:56 PM

    Love what you created. Truly a showstopper.

  • Lauren - April 28, 2016 - 10:24 PM

    Hi, Laurel- This is just beautiful! I’m a big fan of bird motifs (and I also love the dog portraits in one of the sample rooms!). While all black wouldn’t suit my bathroom (and I have no powder room), I’m thinking seriously about doing white subway tile or board and batten with the fabulous http://www.hyggeandwest.com/collections/wallpaper/products/daydream-gray wallpaper in my 1929 house. Not quite black but I love it!

    I would like to DIY a similar hidden medicine cabinet. Would you be willing to share how it was built?ReplyCancel

  • Susan Silverman - April 28, 2016 - 11:36 AM

    Beautiful transformation! This is so funny. I have the exact same toilet and sink from Kohler and my chandelier is very similar. I am just racking my brains out as to what to do with my powder room and you’ve given me some great ideas. Have a wonderful time in Italy, one of my favourite places!ReplyCancel

  • Sue - April 28, 2016 - 10:42 AM

    There are a lot of things in decorating that I can admire in other people’s homes that I would not put in mine. Black bathrooms qualify. Not my personal taste for my home. But I can still see how, in the right hands, this style of decorating can be astonishingly beautiful. Great job Laurel, that room is stunning!ReplyCancel

  • Debbie - April 28, 2016 - 9:28 AM

    I love what you did in her bathroom – the coral on the ceiling absolutely makes it for me. From the pics it’s hard to see what’s on the floor – is that black tile? I’ve pinned all the black bath pics they’re beautiful. ThanksReplyCancel

  • Val - April 28, 2016 - 9:23 AM

    Laurel, do you know how the contractor (or whoever did the work) put wainscoting on the curved wall? Did they used some special flexible mouldings? Or perhaps there are some tricks allowing to curve ordinary timber mouldings?ReplyCancel

  • Lynn Byrne - April 28, 2016 - 9:15 AM

    And adore the wallpaper pick!!ReplyCancel

  • Libby - April 28, 2016 - 2:27 AM

    The powder room is spectacular. The paper really makes it and the coral ceiling, fixtures and black wainscoting are perfect. A wonderful jewel box, Laurel!

    The bathroom with all the artwork reminds me of a recent incident. My gift of artwork was hung in the giftee’s powder room. Haha! It was to commemorate a special occasion for her and I spent a long time selecting it and having it custom framed. A tiny cosmic lesson. My earnest, sincere gesture was swiftly countered with a casual decorative gesture. A la a Diana Vreeland (I think) moment, “why not – cover the walls of your powder room in art!”

    Have a wonderful time in Itally, Laurel!ReplyCancel

  • joanna pearson - April 28, 2016 - 1:08 AM



    Let’s all take the smallest room to Town.

    Arriverdverci laurel.

    Looking forward to being transported to Italy with your next blog.

    Stay safe.ReplyCancel

  • Maryanne - April 27, 2016 - 9:14 PM

    So…here’s what’s funny… I’m not really a “jewelbox” powder room type. I’m more of a clean, airy, old-fashioned hexagon tile floor with maybe beadboard or white wainscoting and chrome bathroom type. But I love Laurel’s designs (she’s taught me so much!) so I always, always look. So I’m scrolling through the wallpapers…nah…nuh-uh…oh, I like that one. Yup that’s the one she chose. So pretty: love the birds and the tiny bit of coral. Not sure how I feel about the sinks. I grew up with an authentic old pedestal sink in our NY apt when I was a kid and when I moved into our first house in the ‘burbs there was an old 1960’s “console” sink” (didn’t know that’s what they’re called.)
    I’m a need some shelves or a cabinet kind of girl, even in the powder room. Loved the light fixture. All very pretty, but I’m not sure I’ll ever do a black bathroom.
    But here’s the biggest thing that jumped out at me about the other photos: are folks really putting that much art on the walls in the bathroom NEAR THE TOILET? I’m even thinking that the few pieces I want to hang will get….splashed from flushing if folks don’t close the lid when flushing. In my own bathroom I can be sure I’ll close the lid and will nag my husband to remember but you can’t count on guests to do the same. Grosses me out thinking about it…ugh!
    (Thanks for another lovely look, Laurel. Enjoy Italy!)ReplyCancel

  • mollie - April 27, 2016 - 8:10 PM

    LOL! Your post looks *exactly* like my Powder Room Pinterest board. I have a lot of black as accents in my home and have been planning the perfect black jewel box of my own. I love the room you designed. Thanks for the inspiration and validation.ReplyCancel

  • Beverly Shatzen - April 27, 2016 - 8:03 PM

    Simply divine!! I’m getting ready to do a black bathroom myself. This is so timely and perfect. Do you mind saying what toilet you used?

    • Libby - April 28, 2016 - 12:15 PM

      From above, near the photo, Laurel wrote, “So, we did the Memoirs sink and toilet…”. I took it to mean that the toilet was Kohler Memoirs, too. And it is. The sink is available in black! I just had a new toilet installed and am looking at sink options.ReplyCancel

  • gayle jolluck - April 27, 2016 - 6:21 PM

    very pretty.ReplyCancel

    • Ann Richie - April 28, 2016 - 9:21 PM

      Elegant bathroom!ReplyCancel

  • E - April 27, 2016 - 6:05 PM

    This is beautiful, just loved the post.
    Enjoy Italy.

  • Nataliya Antolich - April 27, 2016 - 5:12 PM

    Dear Lauren, I had goose bumps when I ve seen this powder room. My first though was that I had to do something like this with mine, but with my 6 and 3 yo. Daughters I guess it’s not a good idea to use wallpaper in the sink area. It would be always wet 🙁ReplyCancel

  • Karan Anton - April 27, 2016 - 4:56 PM

    nice change! I love cozy powder rooms. I noticed in the “before” shot that you’d have to have a ladder to see in the mirror. Very bizarre.ReplyCancel

  • Dolores - April 27, 2016 - 4:32 PM

    The bathroom is truly perfect- a little gem, for sure, but to showcase a bathroom such as this, I think you’d have to have a sophisticated, elegant house.I am not sure that my house could carry it off, but I would be game.
    My mother would have loved it..she was all about elegance and sophistication and she was fearless in decorating..ReplyCancel

  • Lori Tourish - April 27, 2016 - 4:29 PM

    OH MY Goodness – it turned out fantastic ! What a transformation ! I am speechless ! This is why I follow your blog – it gives me ammunition to jump out of the ordinary and go bold !!

    I think I would go in there and never want to leave.ReplyCancel

  • nancy keyes - April 27, 2016 - 4:24 PM

    Hi Laurel,
    It looks beautiful! And, yes, I did a black powder room a few years ago. I shamelessly copied it from a bath you showed by Mark Sikes…right down to the Circa sconces, marble floor, tortoise bamboo blinds and bead board. I used the Memoirs sink and toilet, too.ReplyCancel

  • Eliesa @ Pinterest Addict - April 27, 2016 - 4:04 PM

    The bathroom is gorgeous!! Love the wainscoting. Thanks for sharing my bathroom – it’s my favorite spot in the house 🙂ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 27, 2016 - 4:10 PM

      Hi Eilesa! It would be my favorite room too! Love all the art and how beautifully you put it all together. That is not easy to do! xoReplyCancel

  • Marcie - April 27, 2016 - 3:46 PM

    Brava! You have outdone yourself!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 27, 2016 - 3:59 PM

      Thanks so much Marcie. It’s fun when one has an adventurous client!ReplyCancel