Credit: Lawrence Sykes/Arch11
Credit: Lawrence Sykes/Arch11
 

Often no larger than a closet, a powder room has to use every square foot of available space, and smartly. This one, in a townhome in Boulder, Colo., was almost too wide to be a powder room, according to architect E.J. Meade, principal at Arch 11. To negotiate the awkward 4-foot-3-inch by 7-foot room and to maximize storage space, Meade added cabinetry flush with the length of wall adjacent to the toilet. "It's like a ship," he said. "Wherever we could find storage space, we would add it."

A singular stainless steel door front sits comfortably with the rest of the ash cabinetry, meeting the client's request for a mix of modern and primitive. What's behind that stainless steel door? A gentle tug with the crook of a finger reveals space to hide extra rolls of toilet paper—essential in any bathroom.

What you won't find are door pulls to open the cabinet's sections. Meade, who tends to be a minimalist, was intent on practicality and lush function while avoiding cabinet pulls. In the past, he had to convince cabinet makers to ditch the hardware, but now he says subs expect these kinds of requests from him.

The client asked for something striking that guests would comment on upon entering the room, Meade recalls. The tip-out toilet paper cabinet does the trick, with stealth and cleverness. "What I think was most successful is that it is formally very rigorous," the architect says of the streamlined detail. But balancing that rigor is a sense of the unexpected.