Public Restrooms Should Be a Facility’s Highlight, Not An Afterthought

Porcelain tiles, such as the Boardwalk Series in the Coney Island color from Mediterranea, allow restroom designers to integrate the look of wood in a water-friendly and easily cleanable surface. PHOTO: MediterraneaPorcelain tiles, such as the Boardwalk Series in the Coney Island color from Mediterranea, allow restroom designers to integrate the look of wood in a water-friendly and easily cleanable surface. PHOTO: Mediterranea

The public powder, as I have come to affectionately call the public loo, shouldn’t take a backseat to the main design aspects of a facility. Be it a saucy nightclub, splashy diner, elegant restaurant or the local airport, the public restroom deserves some attention to design detail.

One of the most critical mistakes made in designing a public place is that the restrooms are often left as an afterthought with little to no budget put in place for better detailing or fixture selection. Because patrons often visit the restroom if they remain in the public space for more than an hour, their time in the restroom could leave a lasting impression—good or bad. Fortunately, there are several trends that will help jazz up a public powder that has been previously overlooked.

Vanity Nightclub at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, features a 2,000-square-foot women’s restroom with a private makeup area and backlit mirrors for soft lighting. PHOTO: Jeff Dow

Vanity Nightclub at the Hard Rock Hotel and
Casino, Las Vegas, features a 2,000-square-foot women’s
restroom with a private makeup area and backlit mirrors for soft lighting. PHOTO: Jeff Dow

Sink Trends

Traditional sink installations are best under-mounted and provide many options other than just white. For example, in public restrooms of boutique-style restaurants, hotels and other spaces, there has been a trend toward troughstyle sinks for both sexes. I believe this communal-style wash basin is a trend because it allows interaction between the patrons. It is, in a sense, a conversation piece rather than the traditional single-sink-to-each-person approach.

Another trendy sink is a single-basin sink manufactured out of solid surfaces, stone or concrete, with the sink base angled toward the mirror away from the guest to an elongated drain and wall-mounted faucets. This is very sleek. If soap and water are automatic, then there is nothing to touch, water conservation is addressed and you get a very cool look with all water flowing away from a patron with no visible drains.

Although I like these looks very much, sinks are often located outside of the actual commode/urinal space, which means unwashed hands are opening doors to get to sinks. No matter the approach to hand washing, create a restroom entrance that has no door or view to private commode/urinal spaces. This will help eliminate the chance of unwashed hands touching door handles.

About the Author

Leslie G. Parraguirre
Leslie G. Parraguirre is principal of Las Vegas-based Colours Inc., an interior design firm that specializes in luxury residential, model home merchandising, hospitality, and retail and office spaces.

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