Solutions: Create guest bath that makes a statement

Jeanine Matlow
Special to The Detroit News

People are bound to see your powder room at some point, and for overnight visitors, the same goes for the guest bath. Here are some tips from local pros for making both more practical and presentable.

For a powder room, Richard Laney, owner of Royal Oak-based R.J. Laney Design, believes in taking risks, “You’re only in there for five minutes, so you should pull out all the stops and make it amazing.”

In fact, he says, the space doesn’t have to resemble the rest of your home. Whether you select a dark, bright or light palette, do something daring with the decor.

“Dark walls can make a space seem larger,” says Laney. “Since you don’t have to tile the walls, you can cover them in vinyl that looks like leather, wrapping them in something unexpected that looks like ostrich or alligator skin.”

The 54 inch wide rolls are affordable and durable.

Introduce a special piece of art, like a sculpture on a pedestal or in a wall niche.

A vessel sink adds a lovely touch, while under-vanity LED lighting draws attention to the flooring. Laney prefers a floating vanity which offers storage, unlike a pedestal sink.

In fact, Niki Serras, owner of Scavolini Store Detroit in Birmingham and Chicago that offers upscale kitchen and bath remodeling, says a floating vanity can take up the same amount of space as a pedestal sink with the added benefit of drawers.

“We’re doing a lot of the modern suspended look,” she says.

Curved shapes are popular and so is contrast. “People either do dark walls and a light vanity or the opposite,” she says.

Those who don’t do a major renovation may choose a bold wallpaper or paint to freshen up their space. “Light fixtures are another easy update,” says Serras, who suggests a unique fixture like a modern copper chandelier.

Powder rooms have become a priority. “When we redo a kitchen, people often tack on a powder room to the existing construction process,” says Serras. “They like them to blend together and people want them to feel like a boutique hotel experience.”

Guest baths should be as low maintenance as possible. “You should keep them clean and concise with features like wall-mounted faucets, so it’s more of a spa-like retreat and there’s not a lot of clutter,” she says.

Keeping costs down in a guest bath remodel might mean ceramic or porcelain tile instead of marble.

Laney says your guest bathroom should be functional and comfortable. He likes to add sconces on either side of the mirror for proper lighting and provide plush towels for visitors.

It’s important to keep your guest bath well-stocked with supplies like toothbrushes and shampoos. A small table by the tub offers a spot to prop a book or a beverage, while a vintage ladder can hold towels. “It’s all about them having the quality and conveniences they need,” Laney says.

For Scavolini Store Detroit, go to or call (248) 792-2285. For R.J. Laney Design, go to or call (248) 549-8080.

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at