Creating a Hand Washing Haven in Your Home

Wednesday, August 12, 2020 by Gabrielle Martin

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has placed further emphasis on the importance of frequent and thorough hand-washing habits; it has also heightened the presence of stress in our home’s sanitation spaces. But what if we could make our sinks something sacred? What if these places could be sanctuaries from stress? 

Rushing to the sink upon returning home has become something of a ritual, repeating the motions with each coming and going. In a time when there is so much anxiety and apprehension, one way to ease this burden would be to create a hand washing haven in your home.

I consulted six local interior design experts for their tips and tricks on how to bring peace and positivity to your powder room. Here’s what they have to suggest:

Brooke Kavoogian, of Brooke Anne Interiors

Brooke Kavoogian is a residential interior designer servicing Boston, the South Shore, and Cape Cod through Brooke Anne Interiors, Kavoogian’s business that she launched in 2018. As the owner and lead designer at Brooke Anne Interiors, Kavoogian aims to create inviting spaces while offering her clients custom designs. She has lived in Hingham since 2013, residing here with her husband Chuck and their two children, Chase (age nine) and Cameron (ten).

Kavoogian begins her interview by acknowledging, “It's important now, more than ever, to love your home since we’re all spending so much extra time inside these days! Sink spaces are getting lots of use. The simplest way to turn your sink spaces into hand washing havens would be eliminating all that clutter! She says, “Remove anything you don't need or use regularly! Once that sink space is cleared, choose a pretty soap and hand towel that makes you happy. There are so many good soaps these days in beautiful bottles."

Photo courtesy of Brooke Kavoogian.

Next, she poses this question for our readers: "Do you love your lighting, or does it need a refresh? Lighting is the jewelry of the home, and is so important in a sink space! It should not only be pretty to look at, especially in places that guests use, but also provide good light. Swapping out a sconce or flush mount is a simple to-do that can make a big impact.”

“Lastly,” Kavoogian instructs, “wallpaper those walls! There are so many amazing wallpapers to choose from these days, including vinyl options that are easy to clean. If you are up for a DIY project, many vendors offer 'peel and stick' wallpapers that is more budget-friendly, and can easily be removed if you tire of it.”

Photo courtesy of Brooke Kavoogian, featuring the Schumacher's Queen of Spain in black, the Hicks pendant by Thomas O'Brien in the bronze with an antique brass finish, and two abstract paintings Wendy Callahan.

“My favorite part of my powder room is hands-down my wallpaper,” she shares. “I chose Schumacher's Queen of Spain in the black colorway and it completely transformed my space. I also love my Hicks pendant by Thomas O'Brien in the bronze with antique brass finish. I added a fun pop of color by adding two small hot pink abstract paintings by the very-talented Wendy Callahan. They are the perfect cherry on top!”

For more ideas, visit Kavoogian's Instagram for inspiration.

Christine van der Kieft, of van der Kieft Designs

Photo courtesy of Christine van der Kieft, photography by Jessica Delaney (@jessicadelaneyphotography). 

Christine van der Kieft credits “a passion for interior design, attention to detail, a love of all things fabulous, and an inspiration to keep things bold, fresh, and functional” in the creation of van der Kieft Designs in 2017.

The key to van der Kieft’s craft is timelessness. She says, “I try to avoid things that are trendy, especially in the more permanent fixtures of a home (and save them for things like pillows, accessories or things that can easily be swapped out down the road!), and instead gravitate towards a style that is more classic and traditional.”It’s also all about color: “I find inspiration in color. Once you have a certain color or palette, pairing the other elements such as wallpaper, fabrics, or furniture are where I really start to find direction and get excited about seeing everything come together!”

van der Kieft then offers some excellent advice, suggesting, “When I look at colors or patterns I always think, ‘How is this going to make me feel in July and then in February?’ I want to feel inspired or refreshed by the space all year long. For me, I love blues with pops of either neutrals or something more bold like pink!”

Photo courtesy of Christine van der Kieft.
Photo courtesy of Christine van der Kieft, photography by Jessica Delaney (@jessicadelaneyphotography).

When asked for her input on creating a hand washing haven, van der Kieft confesses, “I’m a big fan of wallpaper in these spaces as it can really customize a space and make it unique to that home.” She then adds, “It’s also a great place to add some fun lighting. Other accessories such as nice fluffy hand towels, soaps, and candles always help to elevate the space into a hand washing haven! La Petite Maison is a great spot to pick up some of these elements and complete the look of a powder room or bathroom!”

Photo courtesy of Christine van der Kieft.
Photo courtesy of Christine van der Kieft, photography by Jessica Delaney (@jessicadelaneyphotography).

In her very own home, van der Kieft says that it’s the little details that she enjoys most, such as the wallpaper (“It’s a neutral, which is a little surprising for my style, but the room is adjacent to our entry which has a much more bold wallpaper.  It’s important to look at the flow from one room to another in a home!”), a “whimsical” Jonathan Adler Rug that was a gift from her mother-in-law, and monogrammed hand towels (“I’m a sucker for anything with a monogram!”). 

Her advice? “Little details like these help to pull everything together and complete the space.” For more ideas, visit van der Kieft’s Instagram account or Pinterest page.

Jaime Moore, of James Studio Interiors

Photo courtesy of Jaime Moore.

Jaime Moore is the founder and lead designer at James Studio Interiors, which she opened in the spring of 2019. Moore, who was raised on Cape Cod, returned to her home state of Massachusetts just over half a decade ago; after living in Charlestown for a period, she now lives in Hingham with her husband and newborn daughter, Cam.

She attended Emmanuel for her undergraduate studies, then took classes at Boston Architectural College, and ended up working for a local design firm. Moore says that this was where she got the experience she needed to start her own business, an experience that she described as “scary, but rewarding!”

Moore’s love for a coastal aesthetic might originate from her Cape Cod roots, though she maintains that her time working on Newbury Street as a postgraduate (she spent five years with Ralph Lauren, then worked at Kate Spade and Barbour) was equally formative in her aesthetic education: “I think these retailers shaped my personal and home style, where they are all so classic and timeless.”

Photo courtesy of Jaime Moore.

We asked Jaime for her tips and tricks to creating a handwashing haven. She says, “Because we are all staying at home more, make it a space that makes you happy!  It can be a super colorful wallpaper, or a simple grasscloth and some great lighting–and a fun mirror is always important!”

She then advises, “When someone wants a space that is peaceful, I try to keep the colors and tones more neutral so there isn’t a lot of energy in the space. Lighting is also key; you want something that gives off good light, but also is a pretty accent to the space.”When asked what was something simple everyone could do to enhance their home's sink space over this upcoming weekend, Jaime suggested, “Add a vase of flowers or a little potted plant to the space.  Flowers or plants always make a room better!”

Photo courtesy of Jaime Moore.

As for her very own powder room? “I love our grasscloth that we just installed. It’s by Phillip Jefferies and it reminds me of an old favorite pair of blue jeans.” For more ideas, visit Moore’s Instagram account or Pinterest page.

Noelle Lynch, of Styled By Noelle

Photo courtesy of Noelle Lynch.

“Interior design is really a second life for me; my first was in education as a classroom teacher,” Noelle Lynch tells me. Her experience with residential design first began in 2006, when she and her husband purchased their first home in his hometown, Hingham. She says, “Like many first-time-buyers, my husband and I had been so excited to finally own a driveway that we failed to look for a few important features in our home that we would come to need. Three children and many renovations later we were well on our way, and I was well on my way to beginning a career in residential interior design.”

Lynch would go on to complete the Certified Decorating Professional Program of the Academy of Design and Decorating. She then began working collaboratively with families looking for beautiful and livable designs. Today, Styled by Noelle delivers colorful, traditional style to families that don’t want to wait to enjoy their home until their children are grown.

Photo courtesy of Noelle Lynch.

When asked for her opinion, Lynch admits, “I think it’s pretty amazing the impact color can have on people. Everyone should surround themselves with their favorites!” She says that while she typically gravitates towards blues and greens,  lately she’s been “obsessed” with soft citrus shades. “I see it in the fresh melons I am serving to my family! I’ve painted my front door Benjamin Moore’s Coral Spice.  I love how it looks with my hydrangeas!”

“Turning your home into a refuge is perhaps more important now than ever before,” Lynch acknowledges, “so don't limit your haven to the powder room! Give careful attention to each of your home’s rooms and make modifications to your spaces as necessary.”

She then suggests: “For example, consider what you can do now and over the next several weeks to create a "learning-haven" in your home for your school-aged child. Do you have a work surface that can serve her as a desk? Does this space have the appropriate task lighting she will need?  Does the space inspire creativity? Take the time now to make each room within your home beautiful and functional so it can nurture you and your family in the months to come.” After all, home is where the heart is!

For more ideas, visit Lynch’s Instagram account or Pinterest page.

Robyn Maguire, of Button Cove Homes

Photo courtesy of Robyn Maguire.

Robyn Maguire is a full-time attorney who started Button Cove Homes as a hobby to fuel her passion for interior design, an interest which developed following a fire in her home in 2013 that required a gut renovation. Robyn proudly shares, “We have since sold that home, I have begun to put my stamp on our new home and have helped family and friends similarly update their spaces. I recently started working with clients on a variety of interior design projects, from full kitchen and bathroom remodels to refreshing bedrooms and family rooms, and anything in between.”

Since Maguire has proven she’s precisely the type of person who can take a bad situation and turn it into an opportunity for improvement, I wanted to consult her for this article on taking a stressful space and making it into a sanctuary! She says, “For me, making a space enjoyable means removing clutter, and making it both functional and pretty. In a powder room, this might mean hanging a beautiful wallpaper, meaningful art, or having a pretty candle or plant on the vanity.”

Photo courtesy of Robyn Maguire.

She describes her style as aligning with “the California casual aesthetic, but with a dose of color. I love the juxtaposition of old and new—especially when it comes to renovating the beautiful historic homes in Hingham.” 

Another essential aspect of Maguire’s design preferences? Advice she received from her grandmother plays a part! “My grandmother taught me that every room needs a bit of rattan, and I live by those words today. I also like to decorate with plants when possible. There’s something about the live element that makes a space happy.” 

For a simple fix, Maguire recommends purchasing a nice-smelling soap; she suggests Stonewall Kitchen’s Herbes de Provence, which you can pair with this same-scented soy candle or fine home keeping set. She also suggests placing some flowers from the garden in a simple bud vase on your vanity. Another tip? Make it your space! Maguire says that she hung her kids’ artwork on the walls of her own personal sink sanctuary: “It brings a smile to my face to remember how small they were when they made their creations!”

Photo courtesy of Robyn Maguire.

For more ideas, visit Maguire’s Instagram account.

Robin Pelissier, of Robin Pelissier Design

Photo courtesy of Robin Pelissier.

Robin Pelissier, owner and operator of Robin Pelissier Designs, describes herself as “an interior designer, lighting lover, mother of four sons, beach bum, and color enthusiast.” She is a nationally-published decorator, featured in publications from Traditional Homes to Better Homes and Gardens, who has made many guest appearances on HGTV as well as Room for Improvement and This Old House, among others.

As a mother to four sons ages 21 to 26, Pelissier jokes, “To turn my sink spaces into a hand washing haven, I would fill it with lots of ice, Bud Lights, and a few Claws…” 

On a more serious note, Pelissier shares, “Your powder room is really a great opportunity to be more courageous and dramatic. Fun wall coverings, window treatments, and mirrors are a great way to bring a little ‘wow’ factor to the space.”

Photo courtesy of Robin Pelissier.

She provides this excellent, easy-to-obtain recommendation for our readers: “I’m a big believer in Bounty Quicker Picker Uppers–white only, for aesthetic reasons. These are such a luxury because I use them constantly and keep them under anywhere there’s a sink.”

In her home, Pelissier particularly loves having her “monogrammed Leontine Linens hand towels, a little bouquet of fresh flowers, and a Rigaud votive"; the designer says these are her go-to tips's for welcoming guests. In addition, Pelissier adds that “accessories like your wastebasket, hand towels, art work, sconces, and soap dish are a great way to layer and add some warmth in an otherwise sterile space.” She specifically mentions Pierre Frey wall coverings, which are present in her very own powder room!

Photo courtesy of Robin Pelissier.

To her, tranquility is: “Uncluttered is, to me, an absolute. To me, tranquility means cleared off, put away, clean, fresh, well-edited rooms.” For more ideas, visit Robin's Nest, Pelissier's charming retail boutique in downtown Hingham, or her Instagram account.

A Few Other Suggestions

Thank you to the input and advice of our six featured interior designers! I suggest visiting their websites, Instagrams, and Facebooks for further inspiration.

Additionally, I recommend investing in an essential oils diffuser! This is the waterless wall plug-in diffuser I have from Guru Nada; it’s a great option because it’s affordable ($14 on, low-maintenance (requires no upkeep), and portable. It’s aromatherapeutic and acts as an air freshener! As for essential oils, I tend to gravitate towards tea tree oil; however, I recently tried this Better Homes & Gardens lavender and cedarwood blend and think it pairs perfectly with the August air. Then again, it all comes down to personal preference!

If you want a more decorative display of your essential oils, check out Eleva Alma’s selection of Home Life Essentials: their teardrop oil warmers are fabulous and functional, and their teapot stove model is elegant and original!

I also advise having antibacterial wet wipes on-site to sanitize your sink! After all, it’s important keep the space you and yours go to get clean, clean.

According to this article, 88% of Americans believe that they’ll continue to be diligent in their hand-washing habits after the pandemic subsides. Part of “The New Normal” will likely be shaped by spending a little more time by your sink, so why not make the most of this space?

What are you going to do this weekend to transform your powder room into a hand washing haven? Drop a comment below and let us know!

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