What Is A Powder Room?

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What is a powder room? A powder room is a half bathroom on the ground level of a home.

It seems strange that you may not even know the “correct” name for one of the rooms in your house!

Half bathrooms on the ground floor of a house are called powder rooms because visitors frequently use this room to touch up their appearance in the mirror rather than, or in addition to, other common bathroom activities.

Why do We call It A Powder Room?

Although the phrase “powder room” is no longer as prevalent as it once was, it is still somewhat relevant.

Referring to women using the toilet for personal needs was considered improper during the 1920s. Instead, a lady might say that she was going to the powder room.

The word “powder” was used because a lot of makeup is in powder form, and women often touched up their makeup in the powder room. Because of this, the phrase powder room is typically used by women.

A Powder Room Sink
Powder Room

“Powder room” is a standard phrase that is still in use, although often not with its original meaning of a half bathroom on the ground floor of a house.

Now, it is often used in social settings, even in restaurants and bars, instead of referring to the bathroom. Also, two or more ladies may excuse themselves to go to the powder room, ostensibly to fix or reapply their makeup, but possibly for a chance at a bit of private conversation away from the others in the group or at the table.

Other Names For Small Bathrooms

The powder room is a usually a tiny bathroom at home that is generally used as a second bathroom when visitors are over. The powder room does not have a bathtub or shower.

Guest Bath

A guest bath is the exact same thing as a powder room. It is referred to as a guest bath because when only the primary occupants of the house are present, it is typically not in use.

Half Bathroom

As noted above, half bathroom is synonymous with a powder room in the context of a small bathroom, with no shower or bathtub, on the ground floor of a home. Of course, half bathrooms can be located in any area and on any floor of a house.

Half Bath

Half bath is simply shorthand for half bathroom. Otherwise, they are identical.

Compact Bathroom

A compact bathroom is quite different than a powder room. While compact bathrooms are small, they do include a bathtub and/or a shower.

The tub and shower may themselves be quite small, or oddly shaped to fit into the compact bathroom.

Interior Designer Lisa Holt Official Video

Award winning interior designer Lisa Holt shares her favorite tricks for making the perfect powder room in this excellent video. Jump to 4:45 to learn how having oversized mirrors makes your tiny powder room feel more spacious:

Is It Necessary To Have A Powder Room?

If you are house shopping or remodeling, you may be wondering just how important having a powder room is.

Adding a toilet to a house often increases the value of a house.

Also, additional toilets may make a house more appealing to larger families or homeowner that entertain quite a bit.

Powder rooms do take up space and add extra plumbing to your house.

In general, the benefits of having a powder room usually outweigh the additional costs. But you need to decide based on your specific needs and preferences.