Grey bathroom ideas are classic and have been up there with all the most popular bathroom trends for decades. And it makes sense, grey is so versatile and comes in so many different forms it’s a shade that can suit all styles and all sizes of bathroom. Love light and airy modern bathroom ideas? Pick a barely-there grey and pair it with crisp whites. After something more moody and dramatic? Charcoal walls in a contemporary space works a treat.
Chic grey bathroom ideas for a classic look
As with any room, there is the potential for the wrong shade of grey to totally wash out a bathroom, making it feel dull and grey is known for being a particular cool shade that can make more practical spaces like bathrooms feel slightly clinical. But it’s all easily avoided if you just choose the right shade for your space and pair it with other colors and plenty of lovely texture to warm up the space and give it depth. Tiles, wallpapers, flooring, hardware and of course decor can all work towards ensuring a grey bathroom remains chic and elegant, without appearing stark and cold.
We’ll cover all that here, from how to choose the right tones for your space (there are some really simple rules to follow to ensure it always works) and bringing in a second shade or tone that’s going to work with a grey scheme to choosing the finishing touches to reflect your personal style.
1. Pick the right grey tones for your space
For anyone who has had the pleasure of searching for ‘grey paint’ you’ll be aware that greys come in many forms, hundreds, thousands even, all with different tones and finishes. In theory grey is a really versatile shade that can work with so many looks and it's an easy shade to decorate with, but there are so rules to getting it right, especially, as mentioned it can look stark when used in a space that isn't going to be filled with lots of soft layers and textures.
Helen Shaw, director of Benjamin Moore says, 'Timeless and neutral, grey bathroom schemes can offer longevity as well as being a relaxing sanctuary. Understanding how the light works in your bathroom will help to ensure you opt for the right shade of grey, it’s important to remember that pale greys can feel cold in north-facing bathrooms.'
'Also consider the right lighting for a grey bathroom, these cool tones can make everything and everyone look a little pale, so the right lighting, especially round a mirror, is key to avoid reaching for more bronzer!'
A general rule of thumb is to go for greys with warmer undertones like pinks and yellows in spaces that lack natural light or only get cooler light as is the case with north and east-facing rooms. In rooms with copious amounts of light you can be less picky, but we'd always recommend ordering plenty of swatches and samples, whether that be for tiles, paint or flooring, so you can see what different greys look like in your space.
2. Layer grey shades for a tonal look
To prevent a grey bathroom feeling flat, don't just stick to one shade, layer different grey shades for a beautiful tonal effect. The hexagonal tiles in this bathroom designed by Marie Flanigan combined with the polished plaster wall add so much texture to the space, creating interest despite the monochrome grey scheme.
'I love incorporating grey into designs because of its extreme versatility. With plenty of warm and cool grey tones, it can serve as both a primary color and accent color across an entire home.' says Marie. 'And there are plenty of ways to include grey, especially when it comes to adding texture. Instead of flat paint, consider a plaster in grey, a bold wallpaper with grey accents, a statement stone with veining or grey undertones and even concrete for added interest.'
3. Soften a grey bathroom scheme with wooden tones
In this bathroom designed by Caz Myers the steely grey cabinet stands out against the crisp white walls, proving that to create a grey bathroom scheme not everything surfaces need to be covered in grey, sometimes just a standout piece like a vanity can be all that's needed.
It's lovely how in this space that cool-toned grey has been balanced out with the warmer tones of the wooden floor too. A grey floor in this space, with the white walls, would definitely risk feeling very cold but the ashy wooden toned balance it out. As Caz says, 'always consider using a wood style tiled floor rather than a generic grey floor tile. We recently created a bathroom and used tiled flooring in this way in a herringbone pattern which made the space feel more interesting. Also using a patterned floor black and white for example is really effective in a bathroom of any size and works well with a grey backdrop.'
4. Bring in tactile fabrics
Well who knew a shower curtain could look so chic? Now it might not be the most practical thing to drape your bath in a Designer's Guild jacquard velvet fabric but it does look so luxurious in this simple light grey bathroom, and you could always ditch the shower and create a similar look around a freestanding bath to create almost a canopy that looks lovely and adds privacy too (just make sure your bathroom is well ventilated).
You could also bring fabrics into a bathroom with your window treatments. When it comes to window treatments, roller blinds or shutters are usually the go-to. However, bathroom curtains and blousy fabric blinds and a big bathroom trend this year and can work wonderfully in grey bathrooms where you want to add that softness.
5. Add texture with raw concrete walls
Thought these grey bathroom ideas would be all about paint? While paint is a really simple option, we are all about concrete walls, bringing in loads more texture and interest. Plus adding an industrial vibe to whatever space you throw at it.
'Try and combine as much texture as possible into a grey bathroom,' continues Caz. 'The use of different materials, tiles, stone, metal, brass all can work in areas like splashbacks, back of niches, cistern tops for instance. These areas are a good way to bring in a material you may not always expect to be in a bathroom to give the space a unique feel.'
6. Or fake the look with painted plaster
In fact, you can recreate a very similar look with paint if cladding a wall with concrete isn't an option for your space. Done right, you can barely tell the difference. It's a look you can DIY too, just use different shades of matte grey, applying the paint with a mix of brushes, damp sponges and crumpled newspapers – remember it's meant to look rustic and unfinished so don't be too neat with it.
7. Add panelling for a classic feel
Paneling can look great with any style of bathroom modern or traditional, it just adds some nice texture and is an alternative to bathroom tiles. If you like a more traditional look, copy this grey bathroom idea and opt for a soft light shade, paired with off whites and weathered copper.
For something more dramatic we'd go really dark, almost black with the wall panels and pair with some equally bold patterned floor tiles.
8. Go classic with grey metro tiles
Grey metro tiles are a classic, and one of the most relaxing colors for bathrooms. You can go floor to ceiling with them and they never look too fussy or overbearing. If you are concerned about them looking too flat, pick a gloss option that will give them more texture and they just feel more luxurious. Think about your grouting color too, it's something that often doesn't get much thought but makes a huge difference. If you want the tiles to pop individually, opt for a contrasting grout like white or even black, for a more minimalist look, match the grout to the tiles.
And if you are wondering what colors go with grey – note how well the bright pink goes with the cool greys in this bathroom.
9. Layer shades and textures
Loving the layers of grey going on in this bathroom, it feels so simple and serene. If you are sticking to solely grey, make sure you add interest not only by bringing in a few different shades but by adding plenty of texture too. Easiest way to do that? A lovely natural grey toned stone floor.
'To create a serene, relaxing atmosphere which echoes a spa-like setting, opt for a neutral palette. Cool or warm greys mixed with other neutrals such as off-white and taupe can help create this.' explains Katie Thomas, interior designer and founder of KTM Design. 'Black can be used sparingly for details such as a window frame or shelf. A neutral palette is perfect for accentuating different textures, such as stone with grey marble veins, or light wood grain. You can also mix with chrome or black taps, monochromatic patterned tiles, terrazzo or trendy fluted tiles to create visual interest.'
10. Create a grey scheme with mismatching tiles
When choosing tiles for a grey bathroom a lovely way to make the space feel exciting, despite it being monochrome, is to mismatch patterns and textures. Case in point with this gorgeous space.
The color scheme is really simple, just whites, light greys and charcoals, but there are lots of lovely textures going on with the marble tiles in a chevron pattern, the concrete sink, the geometric floor tiles, even the terracotta pot and wooden stool throw in extra depth – lots of really inspiring grey bathroom ideas going on here.
11. Choose a darker grey for dramatic feel
Loving all the soft hues, but after some grey bathroom ideas that offer something more... dramatic? Be inspired by this stunning space. Deep, velvety grey walls match the statement bathtub, the true white used of the ceiling and fireplace keep it feel cool-toned, even the wooden bathroom flooring has a tinge of dark grey. It all feels very cocooning, in an oh-so-glamourous way.
Word of warning though, these bold dark shades won't work in every bathroom. In the wrong space they can come off gloomy and shrink a room. What you ideally want is a room that gets a lot of natural light, so south-facing. The cool light of a north-facing room might just tip this over into dull grey territory. Just be sure to order swatches, test out your colors in your space before you commit.
12. Go halfies with grey wall tiles
This is a great little hack if you are after grey bathroom ideas for a small space. Tiling halfway up the walls with a deeper grey, and painting the rest with a lighter shade really adds height to a small bathroom. Plus, it's of course a practical choice in any size of bathroom.
13. Warm things up with warm metallics
There's a reason grey and gold are everyone's favorite color duo. They obviously look so elegant together, but gold or brass is perfect for warming up an all-grey space, preventing it from becoming cold and un-inviting, which is always a risk with grey rooms. See in this marble bathroom, adding accents of gold brings out the warmer tones of the grey walls and looks beautiful with the grey veined marble.
'In terms of hardware, we are using a lot of antique brass finishes in many of our designs. This helps to soften the space and to create an eclectic combination so the bathroom does not feel too contemporary.' explains Caz Myers. 'We also often add in a small one-off stool, chair or small furniture piece were possible to break up the color palette as well as the overall feel of the bathroom space. Black hardware is also something we are using in many of our projects to create a striking bathroom space.'
14. Create a modern look with poured floors
Poured concrete flooring is a huge bathroom trend right now. Simple, chic, and more often than not, grey, this new alternative to tiles gives a bathroom an industrial edge. It works perfectly with the simple white sanitaryware and black details in the grey bathroom. And we love how all the clean lines going on here are contrasting with the fabulous, towering banana tree.
15. Pair grey walls with blues
Another match made in interior design heaven, blue and grey go together in pretty much every shade. It's usually quite a cool combination and blue normally instantly brings out the coolest of any grey shade you pair it with, but this bathroom is breaking the rules. The deep petrol blue of the skirting and the soft light blue in the tiles, paired with the light grey in fact creates an overall warmth to this space.
16. Pick out a statement grey bath tub
If you want to add a darker shade of grey to a lighter scheme to create some depth, rather than go with the obvious feature wall, opt for a deep grey freestanding bath. It really grounds all the softer hues going on in this grey bathroom and adds a focal point too. When layering greys like this, just be sure to pick shades that have a similar undertone so they work harmoniously together.
'You can also use grey to create a modern and vintage mix in bathrooms.' advises Katie Thomas. 'Combine a dominating mid-tone and light grey with muted olive greens, yellows, blues and reds. For your accessories, add mid-century pieces together with vintage pieces, such as a Victorian basin with a modern mirror that has a sleek metallic trim. Gold and brass accessories also work nicely. The modern and vintage mix style can also be showcased through opting for a mix of tile types for wall paneling.'
17. Paint the bathroom ceiling
It's a bold look, but it definitely works in this grey bathroom. Painted ceilings are an emerging trend and they work particularly well in bathrooms if you don't want to add bold color on the walls. Plus bathroom walls are usually at least partially tiled so taking paint to the ceiling makes sense.
Be brave and opt for a velvety dark shade like the blue-grey going on here. It creates a really cocooning feeling, especially when paired with matching floor tiles and lots of greenery.
18. Go for a monochrome scheme
Create a very modern, minimalist look by going for a monochrome scheme – one tone of grey all over. That needn't mean something as boring as just painting your whole bathroom the same shade of grey, take notes from this grey bathroom idea and instead match a grey paint to the grey of marble tiles. Stop the room from looking too flat by adding plenty of well-curated decor, as can be seen with all the dreamy pottery here, a gorgeous contrast with the modernity of the bathroom.
What colors go with a grey bathroom?
Grey is such an easy color to pair with other shades, they work with soft neutral hues, bold warm colors like pinks and reds and bright greens and blues too. Really what color you pair with grey will depend on the shade of grey you have chosen and the look to want to create. As a general rule, look to the undertones to help you decide, if a grey has a warmer undertone pair it with warmer colors (pinks, reds, oranges, corals) if it's a cooler grey go for the opposite side of the color wheel (blues, greens, lime yellows).
What will work best will come down to the aspect of your bathroom and what light it gets, but if in doubt go for warmer shades to balance out the coolest of a grey which can be enhanced in a bathroom. 'It’s good to soften the greys and bring in some warmth.' explains Caz Myers. 'Dusky pinks/gold tones / warm greens are all colors for instance which you can introduce. However, it's best not to introduce too many other colors but perhaps consider one other accent. Even in small areas like a splashback, using accessories, artwork or a tiled feature at the back of a niche for instance is a good way to bring in another color palette and varied textures.'
Are grey bathrooms still in style?
Grey bathrooms, as with any grey room, are always going to be in style. Trends for bolder colors and decorating with pastels will come and go and while these colors can be fun to experiment with, if you are after a design that has longevity, grey is a safe choice. And it's a neutral color too that you can switch up with different styles and color palettes as your tastes and trends change.
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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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