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French boudoir

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The powder room may be small, but you can still pamper your guests with exquisite furnishings

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What could be more welcoming to guests than a powder room designed exclusively for their use and furnished with beautiful antiques, flowers and the softest linen?

High-end restaurants and hotels may have set the standard as they vie to outdo each other with increasingly luxurious powder rooms, but there's no reason why the idea can't be similarly effective at home.

Stepping into this powder room, designed by Shelly Handman and his staff at Handman Associates, is like entering a private boudoir in a 17th-century French chateau. An antique Biedermeier secretary, which functions as a dressing table, sits just inside the door and is adorned by two antique French lamps.

The vanity is set within another furniture piece – a custom mahogany cabinet with a polished St Laurent marble top, brushed brass bowl and matching faucets. The cabinet sits on curved legs and features open sides linked by crisscrossed wood strips.

"The freestanding vanity is a graceful piece of furniture that almost floats in the space," says Handman. "With its open sides, it is quite a quirky piece – it adds a light-hearted touch and doesn't take itself too seriously."

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The sense of romance that pervades the room is enhanced by six large antiqued mirror panels with matching metal trim. These tinted panels cover the entire rear wall, creating slightly discolored and distorted reflections reminiscent of the antique mirrors of a bygone era.

Other key period features include two Chapelle sconces by Jonathan Browning and an antique Art Deco light pendant with an alabaster diffuser.

French Quarter pavers laid on the diagonal help to make the room appear more spacious.

Credit List

Interior designer Shelly Handman, Chris Eskra, Shu-Yi Tsou and Yevgeniy Veller, Handman Associates (Chicago)
Builder Orren Pickell Designers & Builders
Vanity top St Laurent marble
Vanity base LxRossi custom Tavalo Canestro base in mahogany
Basin PE Guerin oval hammered bowl in brushed brass
Faucets PE Guerin Gear basin set in polished brass
Tile flooring French Quarter pavers in Gold Sand from Materials Marketing
Toilet Duravit 1930 Series from Waterware Luxury Plumbing
Hand towel bar, tissue holder, hook PE Guerin Gear Group in brushed brass
Sconces Chapelle by Jonathan Browning in polished nickel from Holly Hunt
Wall mirror Custom design by Handman Associates; manufactured by Glassworks

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