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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

Vanity baseLxRossi custom Tavalo Canestro base in mahogany
BasinPE Guerin oval hammered bowl in brushed brass
FaucetsPE Guerin Gear basin set in polished brass
Tile flooringFrench Quarter pavers in Gold Sand from Materials Marketing
ToiletDuravit 1930 Series from Waterware Luxury Plumbing
Hand towel bar, tissue holder, hookPE Guerin Gear Group in brushed brass
SconcesChapelle by Jonathan Browning in polished nickel from Holly Hunt
Wall mirrorCustom design by Handman Associates; manufactured by Glassworks
Interior designerShelly Handman, Chris Eskra, Shu-Yi Tsou and Yevgeniy Veller, Handman Associates (Chicago)
BuilderOrren Pickell Designers & Builders
Vanity topSt Laurent marble

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