A new design trend is starting to make a splash in bathrooms, and it's a bold color we've not seen used this way before. Orange is suddenly cropping up in some of the most beautiful spaces, adding a daring dash of zesty brilliance. But fear not, it's less neon and more a warming palette that spans soft tones of apricot, coral and peach through to earthy terracotta, burnt orange and rust. This offers multiple ways to use orange in a bathroom.
Bathroom color palettes have generally become less and less clinical, less and less all-white. So it makes sense that warmer hues are having their moment in the sun. And orange is pretty easy to incorporate. Of course, you can clad the walls in terracotta tiles or Tadelakt to bring beautiful sun-soaked Mediterranean vibes to your bathroom.
'A bathroom is somewhere you are able to be more playful with the decor and have some fun with color,' says Jo Littlefair, co-founder of design studio Goddard Littlefair. 'Orange is a tremendously uplifting color, one that is imbedded in nature, especially specific tones of it.'
Here's how to use it to its best.
10 ways to use orange in a bathroom
1. Color block dark and light tones
Offsetting a statement tub in a cool metallic finish against a warm terracotta backdrop makes for a sumptuous setting. To prevent the color of your bathroom paint from overpowering the space, cover only the lower part of the wall in a darker rust tone and team it with a paler shade of peach within the same palette across the upper section.
'A rich and warm shade of terracotta orange is surprisingly versatile and it’s calming effect makes it perfect for use in a bathroom,' says James Lentaigne, Creative Director, of the New York and London-based bathroom brand Drummonds.
'Suitable for a range of design styles including classical or contemporary, this shade works with a wide variety of colours and creates a particularly sophisticated look when paired with the polished ‘silver’ finish of our freestanding baths.'
2. Transform the tub exterior
Bathroom trends brought the freestanding bath back into our homes and its popularity has subsequently soared. A tub exterior is also surface where you can have fun with color.
In a neutral bathroom, a painted tub is a charming way to introduce soft, on-trend orange tones, such as clay or coral. Picking up the hue in the drapes too totally transforms this bathroom without having to commit to the color for the long haul.
Most freestanding bath manufacturers offer a choice in finishes but painting a bath is also something you could do yourself.
'Painting a bath is an easy task, even for inexperienced painters, but it should be done with time and care,' says Dominic Myland, CEO of the paint brand Mylands, stocked in various places along the East Coast. 'We always recommend sanding and washing the surface to ensure it is smooth, bump and dirt free before applying your primer and color. Including preparation and drying time, we recommend allowing a few hours for painting your bath.' Find more advice in our article on how to paint a bath tub.
3. Accent terrazzo with orange tiles
In this scheme by Michaelis Boyd for The Moxy Lower East Side Hotel in New York, the design team has selected orange as a striking accent color in the shower.
Wrapping a band of vertically laid orange bathroom tiles around the shower wall highlights the terracotta orange flecks in the terrazzo flooring and contrasts beautifully against the neutral wall tiles in the cubicle.
'We immersed ourselves in a number of evocative stories and activities that happened in the past on the Lower East Side and found ways to bring them to life in the hotel,' says Rina Kukaj, director of Michaelis Boyd New York.
'The vivid patterns and colors of the circus and old-time menageries found in the neighborhood were a source of inspiration. The bathrooms are models of achieving maximum design impact from an efficient space.'
4. Clad the shower with terracotta tiles
A sophisticated way to bring orange tones into your modern bathroom is to completely clad a shower room in terracotta tiles, as interior designer, Kirsten Blazek at design studio 1000XBetter has done here. Choose tiles with a graphic shape and team with contrasting grey grout and slick brassware for a look that's thoroughly modern.
5. Ground blousy florals with earthy rust tones
Earthy rust tones pair easily with blue and green, as they're often found together in nature - for example iron ore rock surrounded with shrubbery and flora. Selecting these shades in a blousy floral bathroom wallpaper and painted surfaces will soften a bathroom creating a more soothing space.
'Bathrooms can often feel cold and uninviting as there are so many hard surfaces,' says James Greenwood, color expert at Graham & Brown. 'The warming orange tones of rust are perfect for opening the space, making it more inviting and cocooning. Whilst still delivering an on trend industrial look.'
6. Make the vanity centre stage
Could this bathroom by Michealis Boyd be any cooler? Combining a number of the the latest interior design trends, it marries geometric shapes, fluted finishes and the hottest hues for a bathroom that's beautiful and bold.
The David Hicks-style tangerine and blue flooring hints at the 70s revival and provides an eye-catching foundation for the sensational burnt orange vanity unit in this sophisticated scheme.
'Set in the eaves, this bathroom feels both snug and playful - a retro, complimentary color palette of blues and oranges creates warmth and a nod to the client's eclectic style,' says Alex Michaelis, architect and co-founder at Michaelis Boyd.
'The tessellated pattern of the colorful encaustic tiles makes a real feature of the flooring, whilst dark blue glazed handmade ceramic tiles bring depth and a contrasting texture to the polished plaster walls. Michaelis Boyd custom designed the bespoke fluted vanity, in a complimentary shade of burnt orange.'
'There are a few ways to play with orange, but one to note is how well it works with blue schemes to add some warmth,' says Jo Littlefair, co-founder, Goddard Littlefair. 'The foundations of orange tones will always help to add warmth to areas with otherwise cool colors.'
7. Combine hot shades with cool surfaces
Juxtaposing warm and cool shades is always a winning formula and it works particularly well in this bathroom. The color drenched coral walls allow this pale grey vanity topped with natural stone to really stand out, while the black accent tones ground the scheme with a sophisticated touch.
'It's warming in its ambience, with the potential for creating a soft pink light, which is very uplifting,' says Jo Littlefair.
8. Choose a bold basin in clay hues
Introduce earthy orange tones to your bathroom with a bold clay colored basin for sun-kissed style. Set against the terrazzo splashback and accented with black brassware, this beautiful basin adds warmth and style to this bathroom.
'Ember was one of our top 5 best-selling colours in 2022 and we expect to see orange tones continue trending in 2023,' says Amy Bartlett, Head of Creative at Kast Concrete Basins.
'Although highly saturated, Ember is surprisingly versatile and can be used in a variety of ways to add energy and warmth to bathrooms. Pairing it with contrasting colors such as blue and green can enhance the vibrancy to create a fun, bold statement. Ember also works well with warm, earthy hues and raw, natural textures such as wood, stone or terrazzo, which can ground the color and soften the space.'
9. Mix plain and patterned terracotta tones
Choosing natural earthy tones such as clay, terracotta and rust will ensure your bathroom looks fresh, modern and stylish without dating too quickly.
If your aesthetic is more slick than rustic, consider the muted terracotta tones in the smart new Grazie collection from Ann Sacks.
The sun scorched shades create a comforting mood, while the plaid print provides an eye-catching foundation for sleek sanitaryware.
10. Envelope the room with Tadelakt
Popular in Morocco, Tadelakt is a natural, lime-based plaster that can be tinted to almost any color. In a terracotta hue it evokes feelings of warmth and comfort, as shown in this project from Gunter & Co.
'In bathrooms that are designed for people to linger for longer, a rich, earthy orange like terracotta is a no-brainer,' says Irene Gunter, founder of design studio Gunter & Co. 'Bathrooms are home to many hard materials. Tadelakt is the perfect way to soften the overall look. First and foremost, it has a raw, earthy aesthetic that adds texture to a space. It also boasts a warming glow thanks to its subtle sheen.
'On the practical side, it creates a hardwearing and waterproof surface that is seamless – therefore no grout lines – and resistant to mould. Tadelakt is also free of nasty chemicals, so it’s better for your health too.'
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Jacky Parker is a London-based freelance journalist and content creator, specialising in interiors, travel and food. From buying guides and real home case studies to shopping and news pages, she produces a wide range of features for national magazines and SEO content for websites
A long-time contributor to Livingetc, as a member of the team, she regularly reports on the latest trends, speaking to experts and discovering the latest tips. Jacky has also written for other publications such as Homes and Gardens, Ideal Home, Red, Grand Designs, Sunday Times Style and AD, Country Homes and Interiors and ELLE Decoration.
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