Jewel Box Effect: Why Luxury Guest Bathrooms Are Looking Like More And More Like Faberge Eggs

By March 16, 2018 No Comments



You do know your guests snoop in your bathroom, right? They spend the first 2 minutes doing their business, checking their breath and re-applying lipstick. After that, they snoop. They riffle through all the stuff you have displayed in the powder room. And then, they judge you.

(I freely confess to being invited to a Silicon Valley billionaire’s home once where I riffled in the powder room and unearthed a stolen stash of hotel shampoo sachets in the cabinet. The obscene delight I took in discovering their stinginess soon faded when I learnt that my (ex) husband had found them too! Me, it’s okay to be nosy since I’m a girl, but him???)

I guess all house-proud hostesses subconsciously know how their guests are spending those extra 3 minutes in their powder rooms. Which is why they hang impractically pretty hand towels and lay out beautiful soap and toiletries that the men of the house are warned not to touch.

But 2018 is a year that has declared your sweet, floral Laura Ashley towels and beribboned Eos hand soaps as simply not cool. To be a fashion-forward hostess and pass the Powder Room Test, you have to Jewel up.

Yeah, the trend is called Jewel Box. The Jewel Box Effect. And it’s all about replacing understated elegance with unexpected drama.

If you think about it, the idea of big drama in a small powder room does make sense. First, it’s a place where guests can take a few moments of alone time during a party, and the effort you put in its décor reflects your thoughtfulness as a hostess. Second, a half-bath for guests is a low-traffic area and you don’t have to stay true to the central décor theme you have chosen for the rest of the house. A beautifully `jeweled’ bathroom will hold its separate identity, even if your décor is modern or contemporary.

Personally, I adore the Jewel Box idea for a powder room, and I’m going to use the Faberge Egg as a model to quickly explain the 4 all-important must-haves to create the look.


I suspect whoever coined the `Jewel Box Home Decor’ phrase had the Faberge Egg at the back of his/her mind. What else could be small, opulently embellished, royal and luxurious all at the same time?

Recreating the Faberge Egg, the fancy of Russian Czars Alexander III and Nicholas II, in your powder room isn’t all that hard when you deconstruct the egg into 4 parts:


The Faberge Egg Crown Finial = Chandelier

In décor terms, that would be a chandelier. Yes, you can have a chandelier in a small Jewel Box powder room. It’s totally theme appropriate. Depending on ceiling space, you can choose a suitable size, such as a mini chandelier or a medium-sized one. The brightness of the light fixture is not important in a powder room, as you’re only creating an ambience here.


The Faberge Egg Ornaments = Mirror


In your Jewel Box powder room, egg ornaments will translate as the mirror. Think mirrors in the Venetian style or baroque ones with gilt ornamental flourishes. The modern Starburst mirrors are another option, as the core design inspiration goes way, way back into the opulent history of 18th Century pre-revolution France.


The Faberge Egg Enameled Surface = Wallpaper


You’d think metallic tiles would do the trick, but somehow, the depth of the egg’s enameling is best captured by wallpaper. Rich, luxurious wallpaper with a textured, damask silk fabric finish. It helps to imagine the opulent era in which the Faberge Eggs were made. Google `Grand Kremlin Palace’ if necessary for a handle on the Russian royal interiors. Re-creating that general vibe with wallpapers we have today is not hard. Also, the powder room is a tiny space, so the tedious job of wallpapering should be over quite quickly.


The Faberge Egg Base = Flooring


Spend like an Arab, as the saying goes, on your flooring. Be as extravagant as you can afford because you won’t be needing that much material to cover the floor space. If that’s too much of a project, an easy quick-fix would be an ornate rug to take attention away from whatever’s underneath.

So there you have it. The Jewel Box Effect deconstructed into 4 easy-to-understand parts. Finish off the look with scone lighting, trinkets, wall décor etc. that build on the theme.

Then step back and close the door. And let guests open it at your next dinner party.

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