There is a world of color to explore in the bathroom that goes above and beyond the gleaming all-white look. Your bathroom is a great space to play with paint. It's a room that can have its own look and feel disconnected to the style and flow of the rest of the home, can surprise guests with exciting pattern or unexpected wallpaper.
When choosing the color scheme of your bathroom, think about the mood of the space. Is it a sleek and modern space, something a little more traditional, are you using the room as a family space or is it your serene temple of relaxation? This can really influence your color scheme.
We think the modern bathroom is a place to go bold and brave and have rounded up our favorite looks, also including the more neutral schemes if color just isn't your thing but you're feeling braver.
Hebe is an experienced homes writer and editor. She has written hundreds of articles helping readers make the best home design choices, and spends her days interviewing interiors industry experts to bring the latest ideas to her readers. For this piece she spoke to the world's best designers who have created colorful bathrooms in the most inspiring ways, ideal for compiling this article.
The best bathroom color ideas
1. Have fun with terrazzo splashback
You might want to introduce color in the form of playful terrazzo, a composite material that is proving popular in every room of the home. Studio Nato helped a small bathroom come to life through color, with white walls allowing for natural light to come spilling in through the windows, bouncing off the walls, while the terrazzo omits effervescent energy.
'The terrazzo tile wraps around the bottom half of the space as wainscotting and clads the surfaces of the sink, bathtub, and floor,' says Nathan Cuttle of Studio Nato. 'The bold terrazzo is juxtaposed by white paint and ceramic tile to visually expand the narrow space and simultaneously soften the boldness of the mosaic pattern.
'Wainscotting is carried into the den and the bedroom with painted blush pink and milky sea glass green colors using the same datum throughout for continuity, lending a nostalgic pastel backdrop that recalls the architecture of the Mediterranean.'
2. Go dark and moody with earth tones
Bathroom color doesn't always mean poppy hues and playful bold shades. We encourage you to create a sumptuous and relaxing space by embracing the darker and cooler side of the color theory. In particular, earth-tones are trending around the home, and used on the walls in the bathroom can create a cocooning feel and the perfect environment for a long soak.
'I wanted a dark color that transported you to a mood of introspection and serenity,' says Mariana Morales de Murga, who designed this guest bathroom in Casa Tres Árboles, with direccion. 'This color reminds us of the deep rich earth,' she says. 'It makes you feel contained, cocooned, meditative.'
3. Rich and sumptuous jewel tones
Jewel tones can look fabulous in the bathroom. Think deep and inky blue, rusty burgundy and deep purples that will transport you to a spa-like retreat. This primary bathroom incapsulates just that, completed by the women-owned, New York City-based interior design firm, Le Whit. The double marble sink is the star of the show, with beautiful veining that epitomises luxury. The archway beyond is a tub nook, surrounded by a striking de Gournay wall mural.
4. Sunshine yellow
Yellow is well-documented as a color that can make you feel happy and energetic, and have a real impact on your mood. The bathroom is often a space we use at the start of the day, so why not put a spring in your step with a dash of bright yellow, like this floor from Harper Design +Build.
5. Opt for soft and serene greens
If you are not quite ready to totally part with a neutral bathroom color scheme, pale greens are the perfect way to dip your toe into slightly bolder hues. Sage greens are a huge color trend right now, and show no sign of falling out of favor. Plus, it's a lovely shade as it has such a calming and serene quality - it's one of the most relaxing colors for bathrooms.
'There’s been a move away from completely white bathrooms. Mostly because they can feel cool and isolated, hardly ideal when you’re in your birthday suit,' explains Aaron Markwell, COAT Paints Lead Colour Consultant.
'Soft green colors in a bathroom can help bring a little more nature into your daily ablutions, which is probably why they’ve become some of the most popular modern bathroom colors.'
Lead Colour Specialist Sam Bramley at Lick Home agrees, 'We are seeing beautiful color contradictions when it comes to color in bathrooms. With two main threads, one gravitating towards nature and the other into playful hues full of personality.'
'Nature has always provided inspiration and in turn knows the best colors to help us relax. Mixing those earthy tones of beige with green and wood accents, send all the right signals for a restful, calm color palette.' Noted.
6. Experiment with unexpected combinations
Who knew yellow and white could be such an... elegant color combination? This bathroom tile idea is certainly brave and yet it works. The mix of the tiny mosaic tiles, the beautiful antique mirror painted in a deep charcoal, and the traditional fixtures and fittings all come together to create a room that feels surprisingly sophisticated.
Lessons learned here – bold hues can be honed in with the right furnishings. If you do want to experiment with sunny shades, consider contrasting the bright colors with classic pieces, create this wondering blend of old and bold.
7. Go for a dark and dramatic color scheme in a small bathroom
Often it's lighter colors that are recommended in smaller spaces, but as this dark bathroom designed by Marie Flanigan proves, deeper colors can have the same space expanding effects. And bold pattern can be a game-changer in a bathroom too – it can be tricky to know how to bring personality and character into a space that has to be so practical, but bathroom wallpaper is a simple way to do just that.
'Creating unexpected moments throughout the home is what makes design so much fun. I love taking a small powder bath, or in this case a pool bath, and doing something interesting in the space.' explains Marie. 'This Pierre Frey Mauritius wall covering was perfect because it added palm trees, appropriate for this specific bathroom, but kept the palette inline with the rest of the home.'
'When choosing colors for a modern bathroom, consider whether it is an ensuite bathroom or a standalone space. For ensuite spaces, keep the décor and design in line with the adjoining room, but in standalone space, you have more opportunity to explore new colors, textures, and finishes.'
8. Layer up warm tonal hues
Loving all the textures going on in this bathroom. The terrazzo flooring, the metallic feature wall, the softness of the sheer curtains, it all feels so un-bathroom-like. And those lovely warm hues help this feel like such an inviting space too – an orange bathroom accent, the pinks, corals, browns, and coppers. And yet thanks to the clean white walls, white sanitaryware and the occasional black accent the room still feels fresh and contemporary.
Sam Bramley recommends, 'For those wanting a bolder approach, mix warm and cool colors together, pattern on pattern with tiles and wallpapers. Your bathroom is a fabulous place to put color and now more than ever, we are giving it the attention it deserves. So venture into soft pink terracotta, peachy pinks with a dab of cool, with a blue, lifted by a vibrant accent to turn heads. Let your colors be a conversation piece.'
9. Keep it classic with monochrome
You just can't go wrong with a black and white bathroom. It's a classic look that works with any style from uber-contemporary to country rustic. However, this simple scheme does risk feeling slightly clinical, so we'd always recommend softening it with some tonal greys, natural textures and soft curves.
In this bathroom, the monochrome palette keeps the room feel contemporary, but note all the shapes going on it here – the curves of the bath and its claw feet, the vintage furnishings, even the penny tiles avoid adding any clean lines. It makes the space feel less stark and far more inviting.
'When you have an older home, embrace the design and architectural elements that make it unique. I love how this bathroom feels authentic to the house though the elements are new!' explains Marie Flanigan.
'The shiplap, wood ceilings, clawfoot tub, and moldings work together to create a clean and storied aesthetic. Further, the black and white hexagon flooring paid homage to the period when the home was built, around the 1900s. When updating a home, research design and architectural trends from when the home was built and incorporate some of these elements as points of interest.'
10. Give retro colored bathroom suits a contemporary twist
Okay we know, think colored bathroom suits, think some hideous avocado bathroom with soggy carpet. But colored sanitaryware is creeping back into the world of bathroom trends, and we are more onboard than we would expect.
And colored bathroom suits can work with any style too. Bathroom designers are constantly coming up with bold, contemporary takes on this retro look. And likewise, you'll find more traditional shapes, as can be found in this blue bathroom, are getting a colorful makeover too, so plenty of options whatever your taste.
'People seem to be experimenting more with pattern and color again in the bathroom which is great to see as the results can be really stunning.' says Phil Etherden, Managing Director of The Albion Bath Company.
'Colored sanitaryware has made a firm comeback and is great for injecting personality into what can often be a clinical space. We are definitely seeing an increase in interest for colored baths and bathroom furniture from our customers, and often in luxuriously bold shades such as navy, emerald green, and deep crimson.'
11. Don't be afraid to choose a rich and luxurious bathroom color scheme
Brown? In a bathroom? On paper, it sounds hideous but just look at it in situ. The result of using high-gloss rich brown tiles in this walk-in shower is an elegant, slightly vintage feeling space that's bang on trend. Rich reds, plummy purples, and deep ochres would have a similar cocooning effect.
'Burgundy is rich and deep and sumptuous, and perfect for a luxurious bathroom.' explains Martin Waller, founder of global design brand Andrew Martin. 'Fantastic with classic black and white tiles on the floor and pairs well with either chrome, brass or crittal. It’s also the perfect backdrop for natural textures, raffia, wood, and tropical house plants.' Very Oscar Wilde-esque.
12. Warm up a white scheme with copper tones
If you'd have asked us a few months back how we'd feel about covering an entire bathroom, sink and all, in white square tiles, we'd have shunned the thought. However, this retro space has proved us wrong and is making a serious case for taking tiles over every surface.
However, two many tiles, especially too many white tiles can often end up looking a bit clinical, so to avoid any abattoir vibes, combine a white scheme with some warmer tones. Orange or copper colors work perfectly as part of a white scheme, even just a touch of warmth with your hardware can make all the difference. Or for more of a two-tone approach, be inspired by this bathroom and combine white floor tiles with warm-toned bathroom wall tiles.
13. Get playful with pinks
'Pink bathrooms complement skin tones really beautifully and work well with natural, restful drab tones like beige and brown. Light pinks look amazing when paired with white tiles, brown hand wash bottles, and Carrera marble.' explains Aaron Markwell of COAT Paints.
And pink comes in so many forms too, from bright fuchsia to a barely-there plaster hue, so it a really versatile color to work with. For a more grown-up and sophisticated take, we'd recommend going with a deep, muted pink as can be seen in this powder room. You get all the warmth and the playful edge of decorating with pink, but it feels more elegant and classic than more saccharine shades.
14. Go all over with a deep navy blue
Navy blue and gold are a combination made in bathroom color heaven. Contemporary yet classic, it's a scheme that works with so many styles and all sizes of space. We think these darker shades work best if you really commit to it, don't just paint one wall or tile a backsplash, go all over every surface with the same moody hue. Then bring in those gold accents in the form of hardware and fixtures to give the space a lift.
When sticking to just one shade, the key to ensuring the bathroom still feels interesting is texture. So ensure to combine different tiles with different shapes and finishes and opt for a soft matte paint or a high-gloss finish so you really notice differences throughout the space, rather than it be just one solid, block color.
15. Keep it simple with an all white color scheme
Ah, clean, simple, sleek, and classic, for all the times we have said be experimental with color in a bathroom, really you just can't go wrong with an all-white scheme. And this bathroom is a lesson in decorating with neutrals. The space feels more like a living room than a bathroom, and that's what makes the lack of color still feel so inviting – the softness, the texture, the lack of anything that feels too bathroomlike. There's not even a tile in sight.
If you do want to go down the totally white scheme, it's these soft details that will prevent it from feeling too stark. Bring in plenty of natural textures like a wooden vanity or a vintage wooden stool. And even if a wooden floor isn't an option in your space, still soften the floor with a large rug.
16. Allude to more space with painted panelling
If you want to dabble on the dark side but not sure if it will overwhelm your bathroom, be inspired by this small bathroom color idea. Keep it light and neutral in the upper section of the space and go for a deeper shade in the lower half of the room. This is a look that really lends itself to paneling, as you already have that clear division, but you could also fake the look using paint.
We like how in this small bathroom, the dark teal is combined with a large print wallpaper so the room doesn't feel too broken up into two clear colors. The wallpaper picks out those deeper blue tones, and takes them into the upper half of the walls, connecting the two for a lovely cohesive look.
What is the best color for bathrooms?
The best color for a bathroom really does come down to personal taste. There are no hard and fast rules. As color expert Annie Sloan advises, 'I’d say you can be pretty bold and experimental in a bathroom! I’d look to your wardrobe for colors that flatter you, and base my color choices around that. We spend a lot of time in bathrooms looking at our reflections so choose a color which suits you.'
However, if you really are a bit stuck, let the dimensions of your room guide you on color. In general, in a small bathroom, you'll want to keep colors light in order to make the space feel bigger. And if your bathroom doesn't get more light, lean into that and go with a darker color palette. Just be sure to order plenty of samples of swatches so you can see what all your color options look like in situ before you make an decision.
What colors are on trend for bathrooms?
The colors that are on-trend for bathrooms right now reflect that desire for bathrooms to feel less like, well, bathrooms. Rather than the white and monochrome color trends we are so used to seeing, there's been a shift towards warmer, softer, more welcoming hues. And they come from both sides of the color spectrum too. Soft sage greens, deep rich navy blues, terracottas, pinks, reds, essentially all the colors that instantly give a room that cozy, cocooning feel.
Rachel Martin of C.P. Hart says that we’re currently seeing a kaleidoscope of colors in bathroom trends. 'This year we’re noticing powerful water-inspired blues and greens revitalizing bathroom schemes, as well as earthy neutrals, muted pastels and pop colors such as pink and yellow. In fact, there’s never been a better time to escape the restraints of minimalism and have a little bit of fun with bathroom design.'
Termed the ‘new neutral’ a few years ago, blush pink is also a modern choice for bathrooms, as Russell Whitehead and Jordan Cluroe of 2LG Studio explains, 'Pink bathrooms are still a stunning and will not go out of fashion because it’s a wonderful base color – it’s calming, warm and soothing. Pair it with bold blues or reds for an energizing space that makes your morning exciting or keep it calm with soft greys and white for a relaxing bath at the end of the day.'
Despite the sway towards color, the heyday of grey is far from over. 'People want to bring more color into bathrooms but they are still using a neutral as a base on say the floor or half of the wall to ensure the room isn’t taken over by color,' says Amanda Telford of CTD Tiles. 'Grey is one of the most versatile choices – you can pair with other neutral tones or you can use it as a neutral base to play with color.'
Black and white bathrooms are also still a perennial favorite, though this year the striking schemes are softened with the addition of tonal shades and texture for depth. 'The monochrome trend has evolved from the high contrast bathrooms seen in previous years and now features a combination of whites, blacks and greys for a warmer feel,' says Helen Jones of Ripples Bathrooms. 'Textures like slate and wood also create this muted undertone.'
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Hebe is the Digital Editor of Livingetc; she has a background in lifestyle and interior journalism and a passion for renovating small spaces. You'll usually find her attempting DIY, whether it's spray painting her whole kitchen, don't try that at home, or ever changing the wallpaper in her hallway. Livingetc has been such a huge inspiration and has influenced Hebe's style since she moved into her first rental and finally had a small amount of control over the decor and now loves being able to help others make decisions when decorating their own homes. Last year she moved from renting to owning her first teeny tiny Edwardian flat in London with her whippet Willow (who yes she chose to match her interiors...) and is already on the lookout for her next project.
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