Lake Oswego designer Tina Barclay provides expert advice on renovations

by: REVIEW, TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Tina Barclay of Barclay Interior Design Group had the mirror custom made for her powder room. Some bathrooms contain porcelain thrones. Some washrooms contain commodes. Some powder rooms contain stone reclaimed from Jerusalem, limestone base molding, handmade wallpaper and antique English hatboxes. Lake Oswego designer Tina Barclay is reclaiming and reinventing the powder room.

A powder room is the bathroom on the main floor of the house. It’s a space — aside from the kitchen — that is most commonly used by guests. It’s also a space that is largely ignored by homeowners.

“Guests are going to come into the house and be wowed by the decorations and architecture,” Barclay said. “But the powder room is where all your guests are going to end up. Yet it’s the most under-decorated space.”

Barclay draws inspiration from designer Victoria Hagan, architect Robert Stern and most notably her grandmother, who was a designer, and her grandfather, who was an architect.

“My mom said I used to look at Architectural Digest pictures when I was 5,” she said.

Barclay and her design firm, Barclay Interior Design Group, have been in Lake Oswego since 1991. Her designs blend genres to create spaces that are all at once classic, modern, comfortable, textural and sophisticated. These design elements, she said, transfer well into the powder room.

by: REVIEW, TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - The glamarous alcove features an English-style handheld shower, ancient stone from Jerusalem and limestone. “The powder room should be very beautiful and comfortable,” Barclay said. “Think outside the box. Maybe add exotic wallpaper, beautiful cabinetry, unique hardware, stones or material.”

The devil is in the details. Hand-painted walls, Venetian mirrors, antique sideboards turned into sink cabinets, ornate cloth shower curtains and bold tiles can help customize a traditionally small space.

“It’s fun to add some unexpected things into a powder room,” she said. “You can take as much risk as you like because changing it is not that expensive.”

Barclay advises against dark walls and dim lighting. Instead, she encourages using low-voltage lighting. Good lighting is crucial to making sure everything you put in that space is illuminated properly, she said. In addition to adding decorative elements, Barclay recommends providing a basket or box with intimate amenities for guests.

“You want to provide your guest with everything they wouldn’t think of,” she said. “This is a simple thing to accomplish. Just put everything in a pretty basket.”

Barclay recommends providing a basket of atomizers, blotting tissues, hand towels, hand lotion, soap, mints, floss and more. Barclay uses her own powder room as a showroom.

The room is a luxurious swirl of yellows and russets. Ancient stone mosaics from Ann Sacks Tile and Stone — up to 500 years old — hug the shower alcove and skirt the powder room walls.

by: REVIEW, TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Limestone tile and bath salts add an intimate touch to the powder room.French limestone covers the floor and limestone tiles wrap around the shower. The ceiling is made of a Venetian plaster application and the handmade wallpaper panels designed by Cannon & Bullock have been custom tea-stained by decorative painters.

“I just really wanted it to be kind of glamorous,” she said. “It became this piece of art from the Venetian plasters on the ceiling, down to the limestone on the floor.”

Inside an antique English hatbox, Barclay has hidden tissue paper, an atomizer, extra hand towels, bath soap and salts. A custom drapery panel with decorative tape, tasseled trim and large tieback ads drama to the shower and bathtub, Kohler Memoirs pedestal sink and commode.

The details and rich texture in Barclay’s powder room prove that regardless of what space you’re working with — a simple home for your porcelain throne or an ornate space for the glamorous washroom — the powder room should not be ignored.

“It’s often a room that’s thought of last but it does have impact,” Barclay said. “I would say I have a love for every room in the house. I like to treat them all with the same special attention, but I want guests to look back and go, ‘That’s a really beautiful powder room.’”

For more information about Barclay Interior Design Group, call 503-635-1278 or visit

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