The vast majority of bathrooms are white, and it's easy to understand why. This clinical space was defined by its function with the preservation of hygiene at its core. Dirt and residue could be easily seen and thus easily dealt with. Many years on, white bathrooms still resonate with homeowners. The calming and soothing hue evokes a spa-like experience at home. It also works well to open up smaller bathrooms and reflect light around the room. But there is still something missing.
For those who love their white modern bathroom but want to introduce a touch of color, it can be a daunting deliberation. Having looked to interior designers and color experts, we’ve outlined how to elevate existing designs and design a white bathroom that isn’t void of color and personality. They encourage you to add colorful but meaningful accents and accessories as well as interesting wall finishes and fixtures. The key, of course, is to choose a hue that works with your white and feels authentic to you. Here are five ways to embrace the color pop.
1. ADD COLOR WITH FUN FIXTURES
This playful bathroom was imagined by Owl Design for their Upminster project and demonstrates how white bathrooms can be filled with joy and reverie. The pink scallop mirror echoes throughout the room and balances the white ceiling, bathtub, and tiling.
The choice of a brick-toned grout also prevents this space from feeling too sterile or sweet. Sophie van Winden and Simone Gordon, founders of the London-based studio encourage you to decorate your space with accessories and coordinating fixtures that speak to your style and personality.
'Introduce color through towels, art, or a colored framed mirror,' they say. 'Select a color scheme that complements the white, adding pops of vibrancy. Hang colorful artwork or prints on the walls to inject personality and visual interest into the space. Consider replacing or updating bathroom fixtures like taps, handles, or cabinet knobs with colored ones for a subtle yet effective change,' say Sophie and Simone.
2. PAINT THE WALLS
Bathroom paint may feel like the most obvious choice, but should be approached with caution. This white bathroom still feels soothing and sophisticated dressed in a crisp blue color.
'Whilst a white bathroom may be a place of serene calm, it can occasionally feel too clinical or too cold. Adding a judicious splash of color can help transform your space, from the simplest accent of color on a vanity unit or claw-foot bath, to saturating the walls in a celebratory color,' says Patrick O’Donnell, global brand ambassador for Farrow & Ball.
O’Donnell also suggests that you take your bathroom lighting into account when planning an accent color, be that natural or artificial as both will impact how your paint is seen as well as the white canvas you pair it with.
'Color choice will depend on your natural light. For brightly lit spaces, you can’t go wrong with a clean mid-blue as it keeps everything fresh whilst adding another level of character (think Lulworth Blue or Kittiwake).
For something a little more dramatic, going dark creates a striking contrast. You can also be selective and paint just your bathtub for a smaller but equally exciting dose of color.
3. COVER YOUR WALLS WITH MICRO-CEMENT
Colorful micro-cement is a durable finish and comes in a variety of colors. It offers a great cover-up for your pale white tiles whilst introducing a bit of texture to the room too.
'There are several ways to add color to a bathroom: painting the walls is the simplest, painting over existing tiles or covering the tiles with colored waxed concrete,' says Marie Ingrid, founder of MIID.
Ingrid’s project advocates for a warm coral tone that contrasts beautifully with the existing white elements in the room. The terrazzo bathroom backsplash brings some pattern into the mix, connecting the two colors.
4. CONSIDER UNEXPECTED BATHROOM DECORATIONS
White bathrooms are also a great foundation for innovative design styles or vintage furniture. French studio, Virajo cleverly blends modernity with mid-century by opting for a stained wooden vanity. The depth and richness of the wood offset the cool white tiles perfectly.
'White bathrooms are inherently cold spaces,' says Sonia Lazowski, interior designer at Virajo. 'To warm a white bathroom and bring colors why not use some unexpected decoration and materials like this vintage Scandinavian sideboard transformed into a stunning vanity unit for the sink?
White subway tiles are a nice mix with wood cabinetry and immediately give a stylish mid-century look to the bathroom says Sonia.
The designer also endorses accessories. Accessories aren't typical of the bathroom, but they can help establish an atmosphere in your white bathroom. 'This is not only a cost-effective and sustainable solution but also a brilliant way to lend spades of personality to your bathroom,' says Sonia. 'You can also install some houseplants for bathrooms to add a pop of color. And finally, why not add a vintage wool rug to give your bathroom a vibrant, eye-catching element and a hip global vibe.'
5. INTRODUCE COLORFUL CERAMICS
Ceramics tiles and bathrooms go hand in hand and you can update your existing bathroom tiles or bring in some charming new additions to add energy to your tired white bathroom design.
The brass fixtures and white tiles in this bathroom design by Camille Hermand Architectures feel that much crisper and cleaner thanks to the color and pattern that the small steel blue tiles bring.
'A white bathroom can be brought to life with striking taps and colored ceramics. The use of a small 5 x 5 format in color adds rhythm to the whole,' says Parisian interior designer, Camille Hermand.
This is a great way to update an existing scheme and can be customized to suit your taste. Whereas larger tiles might feel more striking, small-scale tiling feels more delicate and considered when paired with white.
6. MAKE THINGS METALLIC
Gold or brass fixtures can instantly bring intrigue to schemes thanks to their metallic surface. White bathrooms marry particularly well with gold as the pairing feels elegant and timeless.
'You can also play around with colored or metallic fittings, such as the warming gold, or change a basin or bathtub with colored sanitaryware,' says French interior designer, Marie.
The color combination has been a mainstay in bathroom design. You can elevate your design by choosing a deeper tone of gold, unlacquered brass is a wonderful option to consider. It’s low-maintenance and patinas over time so will also look just as good in the years to come.
Bathroom hardware trends are veering towards polished nickel at the moment. The material has a plated finish and is applied to a base metal and then polished for a warm yellow finish.
7. GO FOR TONAL ACCENTS
For the minimalists, going for tonal accents in your white bathroom is a subtle way of making your space feel less sterile.
White may seem like it's just one color but several shades sit under this umbrella. By blending cool tones of white with off-white hues, you can create a layered and graceful interior.
German interior designer, Constanze Ladner has implemented this approach in her serene minimalist bathroom design. 'I also favor a monochrome color scheme in the bathroom, so paint the ceiling and walls in a color that matches the tiles. And if you can, even paint the tiles. If the bathroom is very bright, I would only use plants as "colorful" touches and keep everything else tone on tone,' says Constanze.
You can introduce accents of deeper tones that sit in the same tone as your bathroom scheme like Constanze has done with a spectrum of shades including off-white, oak, and tan.
8. BRING COLOR IN THROUGH YOUR FLOOR
The bathroom isn't the most obvious home for rugs, but a colorful or patterned rug might be the easiest way to bring in a dash of color.
This contemporary white bathroom design realized by Kati Curtis of Kati Curtis Design utilizes a Persian rug to add comfort and color to the bathroom flooring. It also creates a palette to pull from when choosing complementing accessories.
'Adding color to a white bathroom can be achieved through several creative ways while maintaining the space's clean and serene feel. You can introduce colorful bath linens, rugs, and curtains, or display vibrant artwork on the walls,' says New York-based interior designer, Kati Curtis of Kati Curtis Design.
The importance of looking at your scheme as a whole cannot be understated. 'Remember, the key is to balance color additions with the existing white elements to create a harmonious and inviting bathroom space,' adds Kati.
3 bathroom buys to add color to your white bathroom
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Writer and design expert Faaizah Shah is the founder of The Interiors Consultancy. She has worked with designers such as Staffan Tollgard and design houses such as Sanderson to help them understand and communicate their narratives. She is known for crafting engaging stories and imaginative content, and understanding great decor from her years alongside some of the best creatives in the industry. She is also a contributor to Livingetc.
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