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Big Style On A Small Budget: Six Trendy Guest Bathroom Ideas

Large scale remodels almost always demand a large budget. The bigger the space and the more elaborate your design choices, the higher the bottom line. That’s why powder rooms and guest bathrooms have become something of a go-to spot to flex your design muscles. Because these bathrooms are typically smaller and less trafficked, you not only save on some big-ticket fixtures, but even if you splurge on really nice materials, you won’t end up spending nearly as much. So if you’re itching for a design project you can go all-in on, here are a few fun, affordable, and trendy starting points to dress up your guest bathroom or powder room.

Nix The Guest Bathroom Vanity – Go For A Wall Mount Surface Or Console

My favorite thing about decorating a small, less-used bath is that practicality and functionality can take a backseat to good, stylish design (Photo by Cynthia Lynn)
When decorating a small, less-used bathroom, practicality and functionality can take a backseat to good, stylish design (Photo by Cynthia Lynn)

Shop Bathroom Faucets:

One of my favorite things about decorating a small, low-traffic bathroom is simply that you don’t have to worry as much about functionality. While in a primary bathroom you need lots of storage, surface space, good lighting, and so on, guest bathrooms are really more for show than practicality, which means you can sacrifice some of those “must-haves” in order to get a little more creative with your design. That means you don’t have to wring your hands over finding the “best” bathroom vanity for your space, and can jump right in and choose the coolest one. “Floating” wall mounted vanities (often with no storage at all) and decorative console vanities (also storage-less) are two popular options right now. They’re both quite visually striking, and can help make a small space feel more open.

Choose A Mirror That Looks Good (Rather Than One That Makes YOU Look Good!)

In a bathroom no one is using to get ready in the morning, choosing a statement mirror instead of something a little more practical can be a great way to make a statement (by Swan Architecture)
In a bathroom no one is using to get ready in the morning, choosing a statement mirror instead of something a little more practical can be a great way to make a statement (by Swan Architecture)

Shop Mirrors:

In a similar vein, while in your master bathroom you probably want the biggest, most seamless, best-lit mirror you can find hanging over your bathroom vanity, in a powder room or guest bathroom, you don’t really need a 100% clear, well-lit reflection. That means instead of standard frameless mirrors, you can use decorative mirrors in interesting shapes, with fun frames, or even with cool built-in lighting that otherwise you’d only see as accent pieces.

Hang The Art You Wouldn’t Dare Put In Your Master Bath

In a low-traffic bathroom where you don't have to worry about damage from water or steam, you have a lot more freedom to decorate with fine art (photo by Jess Blackwell)
In a low-traffic bathroom where you don’t have to worry about damage from water or steam, you have a lot more freedom to decorate with fine art (photo by Jess Blackwell)

Shop Bathroom Vanities:

Another great advantage of decorating in a low-traffic bathroom is that you have to worry a whole lot less about moisture. Anything you’d be too afraid of water damage to use in your master bathroom can work in a half bath just fine. Wood floors are the obvious first thing that springs to mind, but think bigger: if you’re not worried about steam, you can even hang fine art in your guest bathroom. It’s a simple thing, but if you want to showcase fine art, powder rooms are actually a fantastic place to do it. It’s art-safe real estate in a place your guests are basically guaranteed to see. If you have a favorite painting that doesn’t quite fit the rest of your decor, you can even build the design of your powder room around it relatively easily.

Splurge On Expensive Stone (In The Smallest Room In Your Home)

Natural stone makes for a fantastic, eye-catching accent, whether it's stone mosaic tile, a solid slab for your vanity or backsplash, or even a stone vessel sink (by Denise Morrison Interiors)
Natural stone makes for a fantastic, eye-catching accent, whether it’s stone mosaic tile, a solid slab for your vanity or backsplash, or even a stone vessel sink (by Denise Morrison Interiors)

Shop Mosaic Tiles:

Building whole bathrooms head to toe in precious stone is one of the hottest design trends right now – and far and away one of the most expensive. Even if you’re opting for marble or granite tile rather than the (oh-so-popular) seamless stone slabs, decorating with real stone can get very expensive very fast. But the look is popular for a reason: natural stone with distinctive veining creates an incredibly dramatic, striking look that you really can’t replicate with man-made materials. The upside? In a small half bath, you have a fraction of the space to cover to get the look, which means it’ll end up costing a fraction what it would to give the same treatment to a larger bathroom. Bonus: accent walls and statement walls are also really trendy right now in smaller bathrooms, which means you can even pare the stone down to the smallest wall in your smallest bathroom and still be pulling off a sharp, on-trend renovation without looking like you’re cutting corners.

Don’t Just Replace Your Hardware – Get Creative With Metal Finishes

If you're on a tight budget, changing out your hardware and fixtures for ones in a matching, bold color is a great way to have a big impact in a small space without breaking the bank (by Shor Home)
If you’re on a tight budget, changing out your hardware and fixtures for ones in a matching, bold color is a great way to have a big impact in a small space without breaking the bank (by Shor Home)

Shop Cabinet Knobs and Pulls:

Getting creative with distinctive, unusual metal features is also a big trend this year, and personally I think it’s an incredibly fun one to play with in a smaller space. Whether you’re going all in with a single metal finish or experimenting with mixing and matching several, guest bathrooms are small enough that no matter how wild you get, there really isn’t enough real estate for a few metal accents to feel overwhelming (or worse, start clashing). Simply doing all your hardware in a single bold color (whether it’s polished brass, brushed gold, or a dark oil rubbed bronze) is enough to set a master bathroom’s color scheme all by itself, but in a small powder room it’s just enough to feel distinctive.

Paint (Your Guest Bathroom) Black

Starting with black paint and adding a few striking - but affordable - accents is an easy and affordable way to turn your half bath into a statement bath (by Patrick Ahearn Architect)
Starting with black paint and adding a few striking – but affordable – accents is an easy and affordable way to turn your half bath into a statement bath (by Patrick Ahearn Architect)

My very favorite thing about this new trend of statement bathrooms is that it really empowers people to try out bold, daring, and unusual design choices that feel too risky for a larger space, or that might not even work in them. One of the hottest among these trends are all-black bathrooms. The defiant answer to the long-standing popularity of white cottage style bathrooms, solid black bathrooms pretty much only work in small spaces, where you can use low, dramatic lighting, and dark walls and small mirrors won’t interfere with your morning routine. That said, if you’re itching to do something really outside the box, starting with black paint (or black granite or wallpaper) right off the bat will give you the drama you’re looking for. And mix in some of these other tips, and your small half bath, powder room, or guest bathroom will truly make a statement.

Shop Bathroom Lighting:

If you want a low-stakes, high-reward design project, it might be time to take another look at the smallest bathroom in your house. Whether you invest as little as a new set of hardware, or as much as wall-to-wall stone, you’ll be able to get a brilliant, unconventional look without breaking the bank.