In addition to working in seasonal scents and timely greens, be sure to display the essentials beautifully.
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Credit: Jeremy Frechette

Whether you have a teeny-tiny powder room or full first-floor bathroom, guests will retreat here during your get-togethers to recharge or freshen up. A well-equipped guest bathroom also boosts convenience, ensuring your visitors don't need to wander off too far from your event (or resort to another floor). When attending cocktail parties, interior designer Philip Gorrivan escapes "to the powder room for a moment of solitude", so he emphasizes how essential it is to create an inviting environment. And since these go-to spaces tend to be on the smaller side, it's the perfect opportunity to step up your decorating game (without breaking the bank), especially come winter, a season filled with signature scents and motifs.

Fill Your Space with Seasonal Scents

When entertaining guests, bring in a "nice, serene ambience to your space without consuming or overwhelming it," says Kathy Kuo, founder of the online boutique Kathy Kuo Home. Kuo, who often uses Baobab's Feather's Toureg ($120, neimanmarcus.com) or Stone Lazuli (from $125, onekingslane.com) fragrances, encourages hosts to keep their bathroom smelling party-ready. Gorrivan agrees, favoring winter-inspired candles with rich scents of "delicious chocolate and leather undertones," curated by French designer Amanda de Montal.

To give your bathroom countertop a polished look, place your candles on a metal tray, suggests interior designer Avery Frank who uses "Le Labo Santal 26 ($78, nordstrom.com) for a rich, warm scent, or Antica Farmacista Lemon, Verbena, and Cedar ($48, anticafarmacista.com)" for a fresh aroma. If using candles in an unsupervised area (especially with children) causes worry, try diffusers or faux options like Pottery Barn's flameless oil diffuser pillar candles ($99, potterybarn.com) instead.

Keep Littles Ones in Mind

As you prepare your guest bathroom, focus on scale. "Consider the size of the mirror and the height of the vanity," Kuo says; a chic stool might be necessary to help little attendees reach the sink and faucet. Another tip: Choose liquid hand soaps wisely (and preferably in a seasonal scent). "Though it may seem minimal, make sure the soap for your soap pump is the appropriate consistency. If it's a liquid soap that's not too thick, it may splash and make a mess on your vanity," Kuo says. We recommend Grown Alchemist's Sweet Orange, Cedarwood, and Sage Hand Wash ($35, net-a-porter.com), a gentle, seasonal gel that dispenses evenly.

Showcase Your Style

Add bathroom décor that cocoons your guests in winter-wonderland luxury and comfort while spotlighting your signature style. "I love anything monogrammed," Gorrivan says, "or something written that helps contribute to the atmosphere of the event and relates to the theme of the gathering." Gorrivan adds, "It's nice to have high-quality paper towels, which feel like cotton and can be nicely stacked on a tray or in a basket." Vintage or patterned towels are another nice way to add a pop of timely color in a way thats equal parts functional and beautiful.

A guest bathroom is also an ideal spot for an accent rug—consider a water resistant, dark-hued iteration that will hold up to spills and leftover winter slush.

Let Function Meet Form

Keep essentials (namely, toilet paper, guest lotion, and soap) in plain sight, nestled in a decorative basket; galvanized metal options with leather handles works well for cold-weather celebrations. Of course, adding a few extras won't hurt either. Travel size mouthwashes, disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer, bandaids, ibuprofen, anti-acids, hairspray, and bandages will all show your guests you went the extra mile to help them feel at ease.

Bring the Outdoors In

Adding fresh winter greenery or flowers that don't feel holiday centric is a nice touch. Paperwhites, hellebores, and amaryllis are wonderful choices, and you can place them on the toilet or one side of the vanity. Or, use a tray to gather a bud vase that holds a single stem, candle, diffuser set, and room spray. Frank relies on "double white tulips or white hypericum berries" nestled in a "small Lalique vase" for a pleasing display. "[Adding] a little greenery over the powder room mirror is always lovely and smells so good as well!" she says. "I typically use leftovers from my exterior porch garland. All you need is about four feet."

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