Jewel Box Powder Rooms

Elisa approaches tiny toilettes as jewel boxes—small spaces containing enormous potential for expressive style.

Public facing yet free in spirit (untethered design-wise to other rooms), powder rooms present an opportunity to have fun and be bold.

Elisa ensures her clients see such spaces as outlets for expressions. In initial budget conversations, she often begins by outlining her allocation hierarchy by room:  she always advises spending the most on the places where you spend the most time, like the primary suite and the kitchen. Perhaps surprisingly, the powder room rates high for her for high impact. Every other bathroom in a house carries the potential for significant wear and tear (i.e. bathtubs overflowing in kids’ en suites). In contrast, powder rooms often exist in proximity to the highest traffic yet removed from rugged use. As such, spectacular pieces can take centerstage, safely. “The lighting can be drop-dead. You can have fun with wallpaper. You can play with a statement sink,” Elisa says. “Powder rooms are a public space that you want to be beautiful.”

As such, she shares her favorite moments from powder rooms she has designed over the years:

Sculptural pendant lights, threading together stone and glass, add drama to this otherwise classically sophisticated powder. Chrome fixtures provide a clean contrast to the textured drops.

To celebrate the joie de vivre of a family farm, Elisa picked a fun wallpaper for the powder room, aptly (and quite literally) toasting chickens and cocktails. The color play continues with the orange sconce from Urban Electric. Perched beside the laundry room and garage, this riotous nook sets a fun tone for all.  

Epitomizing the style spectrum made possible by an expressive approach to powder rooms, a second small loo in the same family farm as above channels a more moody, masculine vibe in keeping with its location off of the husband’s bar. A vanity with gravitas—made of Taj Mahal quartzite—anchors the space, with a cluster of handblown glass pendants as lighting.

Texture sets the tone in this powder room: grass cloth wallpaper complements the antique sink made of carved stone (atop a custom black metal base) and the classic punctuation of black fixtures.

Crystalline pendants from Christopher Boots add an ethereal element amid the elegance set by the lustrous walnut vanity and the subtle grass cloth walls. 

Devil in the Details—Hardware as Crucial, Careful Punctuation

Like punctuation, hardware clarifies the statements made within an interior design story. Like a period at the end of the sentence, cabinet pulls and door knobs represent one of the last decisions made, and yet their presence is fundamental. For Elisa, a kitchen without hardware feels lacking—a missed opportunity to make a tactile connection between people and place. Over the course of a day, everyone in a home interacts with its hardware: grabbing the closet handle at dawn, pulling open a drawer for a coffee spoon, pushing in the front door after a full day. These countless interactions accumulate into a real—if overlooked—relationship with design: the pieces we reach for constantly—their feel, their visual comfort—serve as quiet reminders of care. For instance, the frosted glass door leading into Elisa’s office in the back of Twenty Two Home features a 4-foot-long, 2-inch-round blackened metal handle. A statement piece, its heft lends character and strength to the door, contrasting the soft lightness of the frosted glass. Pushing open the door becomes an affirmation of empowerment, a threshold of layered confidence.

When sourcing hardware for a home, Elisa considers her clients’ preferences and style. Would they rather open a cabinet with a push latch or a pull? What finishes are featured throughout the home? Should flourishes made elsewhere—in the form of statement lighting or decorative accents—be considered in contrast? Or can the hardware act like jewelry, a decorative turn unto itself? Often, Elisa gravitates toward timeless silhouettes, clean in profile yet substantial to touch. Though fundamental, hardware need not be boring; approached as jewelry, the presence of hardware can convey play and personality.

A client’s call for a clean, contemporary kitchen directed the use of push latches in lieu of pulls. Mirroring the modern faucet, angular brushed nickel handles on the paneled refrigerator complement the sleek millwork of the custom cabinetry.

Channeling the layered story made by the Shaker cabinetry within such a modern setting, the drawer pulls strike a traditional note while still embracing sophistication.

Having chosen brass as the color accent within the white kitchen remodel, rounded brass pulls bridge the distance between the glossy white and natural warmth of the walnut shelving.

Within the richness of the mahogany cabinetry, the brushed-stainless pulls set a light tone in keeping with the accenting stonework.

The visual statement made by the logs becomes softened by the flat planes of the millwork and modern style of the expansive stainless steel sink and the industrial pendant lights. As such, oil-rubbed bronze pulls marry the warmth of the wood with the edginess of the accents.

Before and After: 80s Time Capsule Transformed

“Before and after” comparisons can feel like exercises in time travel; with vision, dated rooms, dripping with period details, can metamorphosize into completely different spaces. Such is the case with our freshly-finished project outside Cleveland, Ohio—a project that may be Elisa’s most dramatic transformation in collaboration with architects Charles Fazio and Associates.

The original entry, cloying with its floral wallpaper, mahogany molding a drop ceiling, lacked gravitas. So Elisa lifted the ceiling to the soaring second floor, reworked the stairway and front door, and added a sculptural chandelier for impact. Now, the foyer conveys light and serenity.

A young family—keen to cultivate an exuberant enclave in a leafy suburb—initially considered building their dream home, but soaring prices drove them to refocus on a renovation. Months of scouting, with their team advising, found them considering a country estate replete with a 13,000sq.ft. main house, attached guest house, pool and pool house, tennis court and multiple garages. The site plan of the property and the architectural bones of the buildings appealed to the couple: extraordinary craftsmanship pervaded the built amenities, and the spacious interiors spoke to the couple’s instinct for entertaining. And yet! The finishes felt overwhelming out-dated: no detail was spared en route to achieving the height of late-80s style, from the fully-floral, fully-matching bedroom sets to the heavy mahogany molding framing every room. The setting didn’t match the aesthetic. “It’s a beautiful piece of property but the house felt like a time capsule,” Elisa says.

A pass through should provide a quiet, reflective transition between spaces; to achieve this, Elisa distilled the elements to core components and allowed light and select statement pieces to take center stage.

Rising to the challenge with her clients, the team recognized the potential for transformation and set about redesigning the interior architecture to better integrate the forested environs. This mission meant opening up the layout, lifting drop ceilings, sidelining grand staircases, adding more windows, removing walls and connecting spaces. The drastically revised floor plan is now defined by rooms that work together while still maintaining their individual identities: for instance, the revamped bar, centrally-located, conveys a vibe all its own with navy plaster on the walls and a lit quartzite countertop celebrating the owner’s extensive tequila collection. A sophisticated man cave in an otherwise family-friendly refuge.

The bar, a dark affair bounded by wood, now conveys sophisticate with its navy plaster wall treatment, underlit bar, and Roll and Hill light fixture. Welcoming club chairs encourage conversation over samples of the owner’s extensive tequila collection.

True to the original entertaining ethos of the estate, a sense of joyful hospitality now pervades the property with every space designed to accommodate the young family with their relatives and friends, all in happy communion amid furnishings as functional as they are stylish. Every arrangement balances wow factor and durability. Most days end with the family and their fur babies flopped on the custom Verellen sectional in the living room, casually ensconced in their new sophisticated home.