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How to transform your powder room

While a powder room or guest bathroom may not be the largest or busiest area of your home, it can be one of the most frequented – and when it comes to decorating it, you can be as adventurous and bold as you like. In fact, many Resene colour experts recommend this as a low-risk starting point and a great way to build confidence before moving on to more significant renovations. You can also gain a better understanding of the prep and products, as well as fine-tune the style and aesthetic you’d like for the rest of your home

Powder rooms can be small, narrow and dark, and usually only incorporate a toilet and basin – and a window if you’re lucky! There are many ways you can brighten the space and add pops of fun Resene colour and texture, with a little design inspiration. These changes can also be done on a budget and are able to work with what you already have in place, without any major structural changes. As it is such a small space, it’s also an ideal weekend project anytime of the year.  

Paint the ceiling

It’s amazing how using a deeper colour on the ceiling can create a moody, dramatic atmosphere in a space – plus, it also makes a welcome change from the bright white that many DIYers opt for. Flat or low sheen paints are best for ceilings, as they hide imperfections, so Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen Kitchen & Bathroom or Resene SpaceCote Flat are great options.

If very dark ceilings feel a little too much, one trick often used by interior designers is to use the same colour as the walls, but a shade or two lighter. Since ceilings appear in shadow, using exactly the same shade as you used on the walls will make the ceiling appear darker. For example, if you used on-trend Resene Truffle on the walls, try Resene Quarter Truffle on the ceiling or for a brighter ceiling with more contrast use a white such as Resene Alabaster. 

The Resene Anaglypta Wallpaper Collection is another great choice to add interest to ceilings. These uncoloured, embossed wallpapers bring texture to a room and can be painted over in your choice of Resene colour.  This is also handy to help hide imperfections.

Top tip: If there is any mould present on your ceiling, always treat it with Resene Moss & Mould Killer before you begin. If you paint over mould, it can grow through the new paint.

This ensuite is a fantastic example of how to use bold paint colours to create a major impact in a small bathroom space. Ceiling painted in Resene Ravine, walls in Resene Quarter Tea, arch in Resene Cashmere and wall panels in Resene Vantage Point.
This award-winning powder room is moody and evocative with the use of Resene Fast Forward on the walls, trim and ceiling. Homeowner Mel Spooner, interior designer Clare Kitching, photo by Kate Battersby.

Paint the walls

As powder rooms are often on the darker side, choosing an uplifting Resene paint colour for the walls can optimise and enhance the space. You could also go one step further and create a textured effect, using the Resene FX Paint Effects range. Mixing Resene FX Paint Effects Medium with your favourite Resene paint colour can allow you create a colourwash effect or by choosing different colour combinations you can get a more limewashed look. 

If you are opting for a lighter colour like white or off-white, use Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen Kitchen & Bathroom, which helps provide extra protection against mould and bacteria.

Top tip: If you’re going very bright and bold on the walls, keep the flooring simple. This will stop the room from feeling too enclosed. 

Paint your tiles

If your powder room is partially tiled, there is no need to rip these out when you decide to upgrade – you can simply paint over them. If the tiles are quite glossy, lightly sanding them first will help your paint to adhere better to the surface. If your tiles have a lower sheen, you can skip this step. Apply a coat of Resene Waterborne Sureseal pigmented sealer and wait for it to dry, then apply two coats of Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen in your chosen Resene colour. 

Top tip: If the day you’ve chosen to paint is a particularly chilly one, use Resene Wintergrade Additive in your waterborne Resene paint to help it cure more easily. 

While a little larger than a powder room, this small guest bathroom was totally transformed with the power of wallpaper. This wallpaper is Resene Golden Age Wallpaper Collection 101077036 and the ceiling is painted in Resene Quarter Rice Cake.
This Queenstown powder room uses Resene Utopia Wallpaper Collection 91173 to create an unexpected contrast to the rest of the house. Photo by Gemma Gleeson.

Paper the walls

Wallpaper is making a major comeback, and it’s easy to see why once you take a look at the stunning designs and patterns available. You can go all-out in your powder room and perhaps choose a design that might be too intense in rooms you spend more time in. Resene has thousands of wallpaper options to look through, and new paste-the-wall papers make hanging it yourself easier than ever. Remove any old paper first, and if you’re planning to paint your trims and ceilings, do this first. 

Top tip: Applying wallpaper size is a key step in the process. It adds a barrier between your wall and the wallpaper, and helps the wallpaper stick better. 

Don’t forget the floor

Tiled floors can often emphasise the narrowness of a powder room, but painting over them can make the space feel less enclosed. Timber floors also can be stained in Resene Colorwood and protected with Resene Qristal ClearFloor 1K, or coated in Resene Colorwood Whitewash to make yellowed timber appear less yellow.

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