Powder rooms can be a powder keg of design challenges.

With confined areas, constant mirrors, unusual light sources, and the presence of not-so visually appealing toilet bowls, powder rooms are a constant challenge to photograph, especially with a tripod and a flash. On occasions when I am struggling to avoid getting myself and my gear reflected in the mirror and still achieving a good composition, designers and builders have told me, “If you think they are hard to photograph, you should try designing and building them.” 

Point taken. Powder rooms are essentially very small private spaces located within the public wing of the home. Aware of the awkwardness presented by, “May I use your powder room,” the spaces must be highly hospitable and welcoming. They are also situated in a portion of the home with the highest level of attention to design and materials, and with the door open, the design and material must be compatible with the entertaining spaces. 

Both the opening shot and the one above are designed by K Rocke Design (Kristen Rocke). The bunnies on the wallpaper are attributed to artist Hunt Slonem.

Powder rooms are defined as bathrooms intended for guests which do not have a bathtub or shower, so I will immediately contradict this norm. The powder room above is a shower, much like the bathrooms/showers I have experienced in the bedroom cars of the train or the staterooms of the public ferry traveling the Inland Passage. There is a floor drain and all the fixtures can easily be wiped down after the shower. The shower in the powder room adds flexibility to the home for guests staying on the main floor. [Renovation Design Group, Annie Schemmer, architect]

Similarly, the powder room for this downtown Salt Lake condominium serves guests and visitors to the home office, but if the office is ever converted to a bedroom or a murphy bed or some other overnight guest sleeping arrangement is added, it serves as a full bathroom. The bold black and white bands of stone and the curved vanity have the dramatic elegance that is signature to veteran Newport designer Karen Butera

A hand-made ceramic bowl sits atop a stone slab supported by a white-washed tree root to create an organic statement compatible with the natural elements elsewhere in the living spaces of this Promontory home. [Upland Development, Ryan and Jesica Taylor]

The design approach for this modern home in Midway is direct simplicity. The sink drain is the only visible plumbing: the taps are mounted on the wall, as is the toilet. [Hobble Creek Construction, Bryan Bird and Spencer Johnson]

In this sleek, contemporary home with flowing lines and spaces, the mirror reflects the white ceiling and same wood in the vanity, paneling, and doors as in the hallway. The veined white marble follows the same contour as the wooden vanity. The powder room very much has a feeling of continuation of the design elements. [Otto-Walker Architects; Don Craig Construction]

This Park City home is purposeful, direct, and masculine in its selections, and the design approach extends to the powder room with the simple black frame surrounding the mirror, the clean lines of the scones, the charcoal wall coverings. [Upwall Design, Michael Upwall, Architect]

Interior designer Cody Beal updated Salt Lake City’s Skagg’s Mansion with vibrant playful colors and tactile surfaces. The florals against a black background on the wall coverings set an intense color palette furthered by the red rug on the floor and turquoise light fixture. 

Old Town Park City’s small narrow lots presents challenges to achieve a feeling of spaciousness and to bring in natural light, but the coordination of simple elements achieves it. [Think Architecture]

The social area of this Park City home has high ceilings, and the design of the vanity celebrates the height and adds an architectural presence to the nook. [Otto-Walker Architects; Aerie Construction]

Hopefully, you didn’t see me reflected in any of the mirrors, see my flash, or find my shadow. There isn’t any overall tip I can offer to aspiring photographers; every situation is different. Just manage the best you can. In general, I try to avoid the toilet bowls and paper rolls, and as a heads up, there are magazines I have worked with that have policies against publishing images where they can be seen. 

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