5 colors designers say are outdated for bathrooms - and what they're choosing instead for 2024

Design a bathroom to last by picking an on-trend color with real staying power. Here are the shades to avoid according to the designers

A bathroom with a pale pink striped wallpaper
(Image credit: Fabian Martinez. Design: direccion)

Color trends for bathrooms, like in any other room in a home, change over time, and we're noticing a changing tide of opinion on the colors that were once deemed seriously popular.

It's worth noting that what's considered outdated and what's in style can vary depending on the space and design preferences. 'My rule of thumb is to consider the size and use of your bathroom when deciding upon a color,' says Amy Youngblood of Amy Youngblood Interiors. 'Powder rooms are the best spaces in which to utilize darker colors with more impact such as a deep blue. A primary bathroom which is more highly utilized is best painted in a more muted palette as it is more classic and soothing.' So it's worth picking a color that feels right for your room, but always keep mindful of what is falling in and out of fashion too.

To give you a guide as to the colors that aren't so popular at the moment, we've spoken to modern bathroom designers and paint experts.

1. Steer clear of bright whites and try warm whites instead

An off-white bathroom with freestanding bath

(Image credit: Farrow & Ball)

More and more, we're viewing our bathrooms as spaces where we can inject a bit of personality. No longer are they bright, gleaming white bathrooms. These are extensions of our living spaces and we want them to feel welcoming, warming and even cozy.

'Treat bathrooms as a sanctuary space, richly textured with art, furniture and colors that remove any of that clinical aspect so, on that note, avoid clean whites,' says brand ambassador Patrick O'Donnell of Farrow & Ball.

'White was a popular trend eight to 10 years ago and although it can be classic and helpful to attract a wide range of buyers in a sale, its boring,’ agrees Bianca Ecklund, designer and creative director at Bianca Ecklund Design.

‘It's OK to use white, but it’s absolutely necessary to add texture (wood elements), and some element of color (grey doesn’t count!).’

In terms of paint, pick an off-white shade with a warm undertone to avoid that sterile feel.

2. Keep away from red, but try brown

A brown textured bathroom

(Image credit: Fabian Martinez. Design: direccion)

Red is a tricky tone and doesn't work in many rooms, owing to its inherent boldness. It's certainly falling out of favor throughout the home, but in the bathroom, it is especially off-putting as the qualities of the shade mean it's not a particularly relaxing color for a bathroom.

'Red is out for me,’ says Amy Youngblood of Amy Youngblood Interiors.  ‘If you still desire a deep, warm color for your bathroom and love red, go for a more spicy, brownish neutral shade such as cinnamon.' I love this sumptuous shade used by the designers at direccion. It's Sherwin Williams color Virtual Taupe SW7039 and there is something cozy and earthy about it when used in the bathroom - creating a temple for relaxation.

3. Forget grey and warm up with layered neutrals

A bathroom with grey walls warmed up with neutrals

(Image credit:  Nicole Franzen. Design: The 1818 Collective)

Grey bathrooms are also proving less popular with designers and homeowners. The color is going out of style in every room because it's cold, and gloomy and has an air of formality about it. 'Instead of grey, opt for a more warm version of grey, which we commonly refer to as 'greige', says Amy.

Alternatively, if you do go for grey, mix with a palette of warmer hues, as seen here in this bathroom design by The 1818 Collective. Think unlacquered brass, and natural materials like marble or wood, and bring in those trusty neutral tones. This stops the grey from feeling too moody and dark.

4. Avoid yellow and embrace nature with pale green hues

A bathroom in pale green

(Image credit: Katheriner Lu Design: Carter Williamson Architects)

If you want to go for a colorful bathroom, yellow is a reliably joyful shade. It brings a bit of a farmhouse aesthetic to the space, but we're noticing a move away from bright yellows as a go-to shade for bathroom paint.

It's also worth bearing in mind that bathrooms are functional spaces, so it's also about picking a color that works to complement, which yellow does not. 'Steer clear of sharp or cool yellows, they do nothing to flatter the complexion,' advises Patrick.

'Instead, look to rich, verdant greens like Yeabridge Green or Calke Green that create just the right contrast against white sanitary ware. They create warmth without making any strong design statement.'

5. Abstain from tan overload and go for pale pink instead

A bathroom with playful pin stripe bathroom wallpaper

(Image credit:  Nicole Franzen. Design: The 1818 Collective)

While neutrals can be your best friend to help warm up a bathroom, be careful not to go into beige and tan overload. 'While a neutral color scheme can be timeless, an overabundance of beige and tan can make a bathroom look dull and uninspired,' says interior designer Nina Magon.

I also like pale, plaster pink in place of tans. It's a bit more exciting than tan and is flattering too. 'Earthy pinks still rule on the decorating spectrum and enhance the glow of complexion when preening in the mirror,' says Patrick.

I love this candy stripe wallpaper bathroom also from The 1818 Collective that breaks up the monotony of a white wall with playful stripes of pale pink. The antique mirror also encourages that decorative feel.

3 shades for an on-trend bathroom

Oonagh Turner
Livingetc content editor and design expert

Oonagh is a content editor at Livingetc.com and an expert at spotting the interior trends that are making waves in the design world. Writing a mix of everything and everything from home tours to news, long-form features to design idea pieces on the website, as well as frequently featured in the monthly print magazine, she's the go-to for design advice in the home. Previously, she worked on a London property title, producing long-read interiors features, style pages and conducting interviews with a range of famous faces from the UK interiors scene, from Kit Kemp to Robert Kime. In doing so, she has developed a keen interest in London's historical architecture and the city's distinct tastemakers paving the way in the world of interiors.