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Powder rooms are called the jewel box of the home and I think it’s because of the old “good things in small packages” cliché. True, a water closet is no diamond ring, but it does represent a chance to indulge a craving for sparkle. With a footprint that’s usually around 20 square feet, the risk is low and the reward is high – there’s a lot you can do to advance the room’s style while its two key pieces, the toilet and vanity, stay put.

If you asked 10 designers this question, I’d guess you’d get 10 of the same one-word answers: wallpaper. That’s because you can play with pattern at a fraction of the price since you’ll likely need only two to three rolls. Go bold with an abstract print or pick something pretty and botanical; the goal is to try something you wouldn’t install on a bigger scale. Bonus: The room is self-contained so you don’t have to worry about the wallpaper being cohesive with the rest of the house. I once opened the door to a powder room swathed in gold metallic wallpaper and gasped in surprise (the pleasant kind).

If you’re not ready to commit to wallpaper, paint the walls a colour you’ve been dying to use, such as peacock blue, olive green or bubblegum pink, then install a gallery wall to break up the solid colour. Art is a brilliant addition to a bathroom and there’s no need to be matchy-matchy about it. Flea market oil paintings love to mingle with black and white photography and quirky line drawings or illustrations. The more eclectic the mix, the better.

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To give your vanity a revived look, get a new piece of stone cut for the counter. If you’re a marblephile, here’s your chance to find an off-cut or remnant from a stone fabricator at a lower cost. But before you have a counter fabricated, know what faucet you’ll be using. Do you want a single lever or spout with two separate taps? The faucet will determine whether one or three holes need to be drilled at the deck, or top, of the counter. Wall-mounted taps are another wow-factor option but going this route could add 15 to 30 per cent to your budget.

Installing a new floor is another way to transform the space. The same rules apply as for wallpaper: Experiment and choose something special. This is the perfect spot for those patterned encaustic tiles you’ve been seeing all over the internet. I was recently blown away by a photo of green Moroccan-style floor tile installed halfway up the wall and capped by a slim walnut shelf. It felt like a fresh new twist on a trend.

A few finishing touches are in order, too. Swap your towel bars for discreet, space-saving hooks and hang a new mirror – something oversized or with an unusual frame works best. Now you’re ready to dress the space with a few key items for guests: a wastebasket, scented votive candle and fancy soap. I guarantee these small changes in a tiny space have big – and lasting – impact.

Need some advice about interior design and decor? Send your questions to personaldesigner@globeandmail.com.

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