The belief that sprucing up a bathroom requires a full remodel couldn’t be further from the truth. According to designer Julia Dempster, “the most transformative tool in your decorating arsenal is a paintbrush.”
That’s right, whether DIY or professionally done, a fresh coat of paint does wonders for an old or outdated bathroom, and has the ability to transform a boring space into one where you can really express yourself.
We created a guide to the best bathroom paint color ideas, some of our favorite paint choices, and styling ideas from professional interior designers, so that you can give your bathroom the refresh it deserves.
Blush and Pinks
According to Karen Rohr, pinks create an atmosphere that is both “fresh and elegant,” as it evokes “a serene and spa-like atmosphere paired with a clean white and other light neutrals.”
While many think of pink as a feminine shade, pairing it with charcoal or black accents avoids an overly-feminine feel.
For those looking to put a unique spin on pink, Rohr recommends pairing blush, a pale pink shade, with metallics like gold or silver. “This compilation is unexpected but oh-so-chic,” says Rohr.
Blush and Pink Color Picks
Clare’s Wing It has impressed many with its pale pink hue that is light enough to serve as a neutral, while remaining bold enough to make an impression.
While Templeton Pink by Farrow & Ball is described as “historic-feeling,” the shade welcomes all in contemporary environments as well. The shade appears deep in low-light settings, thus pairing well with light neutrals.
Rose Quartz, by Backdrop Home, is cheekily described as a shade with the ability to “dissolve emotional wounds” with its soft, pink-meets-gray hue.
Blue is known widely for its ability to evoke feelings of calm and relaxation. According to Karen Rohr, however, different shades of blue evoke different feelings. “When choosing a color scheme for a blue bathroom, it’s essential to consider the overall design of the room and the desired mood you wish to create, as blues range from darker hues to lighter ones.”
While each shade of blue is unique, dark hues (think: navy) can evoke a more formal, bold, feeling, while light blues can evoke feelings of cheer or whimsy.
Rohr recommends pairing blues with neutral lighter tones to evoke feelings of cleanliness and freshness, unique looks that can help create the perfect oasis in your home.
When designing a blue bathroom, Katie Simpson recommends considering a blue vanity, rather than painting the bathroom walls blue. “This gives off a soft and elegant aesthetic,” says Simpson.
Pamela O’Brien and her team chose to design the above bathroom with a classic, elegant design aesthetic in mind. The blue wall color paired with gray marble feels soft and relaxing.
Blue Color Picks
Frozen, by Clare, is a shade of blue that carries some energy with it. The cool hue is both fresh and invigorating, and pairs well with light neutrals.
On Tour, a light blue by Backdrop Home, is easy on the eyes and pairs well with both neutrals and bold shades, depending on the vibe you’re looking to create.
A clean, cool blue with a relaxed feel, Kittiwake by Farrow & Ball is serene but bold enough to make a statement.
According to Karen Rohr, “green is a great color scheme for bathrooms because it has a refreshing quality that can help to wake you up in the morning.”
Rohr advises those interested in using shades of green in their bathroom to “opt for a light green like mint or sage if you want to keep things light and airy, or go with a darker shade like olive or forest green for a more dramatic look.”
Many choose to incorporate green into their bathroom because it has a natural quality to it regardless of the shade, bringing the outside in.
For Katie Simpson, “green in bathrooms always evokes the feeling of being in a spa.” Simpson suggests incorporating sage green, as it’s “very versatile in that it works with almost any wood and material finish.”
Green Color Picks
Saged, by Backdrop Home, is a muted-olive tone that makes a statement while remaining a calm color choice.
Teresa’s Green, named after a member of Farrow & Ball’s creative team, is a shade of green that owes its freshness to its blue base.
Views, a green-blue by Clare, is described as “tranquil blue with a hint of green.” The shade brightens up any interior, especially when paired with white.
When picking a color scheme for your bathroom, consider natural shades. Karen Rohr describes “terracotta, terrazzo, and concrete” as classic examples of naturals, and recommends pairing them with other shades to create a unique look.
Naturals work great on their own, or can serve as a canvas to add a pop of color. When using terrazzo tiling, for example, picking one shade from the bathroom tile mix to use as wall paint can bring the whole space together.
Many choose to incorporate natural tones into their bathroom because it creates a soothing feeling. The earthy hues are quiet, perfect for those who are looking to use their space as a relaxing place to unwind at the end of the day.
Naturals Color Picks
Sulking Room Pink
Sulking Room Pink, by Farrow & Ball, is a reference to the color so often used in boudoirs, a room named after the French “bouder,” meaning “to sulk.” This romantic, muted shade of rose is warm and inviting, especially when paired with white.
A warm taupe-gray by Backdrop Home, Sentimental Reasons is a neutral that pairs well will with both light and dark shades.
Ghost Ranch, by Backdrop Home, is an earthy neutral that evokes desert views reminiscent of the southwest.
For a color palette that can be both striking and elegant, try using black. “When used in small doses, black can add depth and drama to a space,” says Karen Rohr. “But black is also a versatile color that can be used to create a range of looks, from traditional to contemporary.”
For a classic look, pair black with white or cream, or for a more modern feel, try using silver, brass or chrome accents.
The above black bathroom by Billman Designs uses black matte tile in the shower, gray flooring, and gray patterned wallpaper behind the vanity. The silver faucet serves as an accent when meshed between white and black.
Designer Karen Billman says that to not create overwhelm, her team “kept the ceiling and doors white, and the window shade a light cream color… we also included ceiling lights above the sink and a shower with a dimmer switch.”
For those who have dreamt of a black bathroom, but hesitated, Billman says that, “you can definitely use black in a bathroom if you know the tricks.”
Black Color Picks
Tricorn Black by Sherwin Williams, is a true black that works with any undertone. Pair with white or cream for a classic contrast, or earth tones like brown, forest green, or sage for a cozy interior.
A classic charcoal by Farrow & Ball, Hopper Head is commonly used as an accent wall color, or when traditional black feels too harsh.
Blackest, by Clare, is a dramatic black that has the power to make any space pop.
For many, there’s nothing like a classic white interior in a bathroom.
But for those that are concerned white will appear “boring,” Katie Simpson advises “going with a classic white wall and introducing color and texture through other elements, like your shower curtain or lighting fixtures,” as “this ensures that you won’t get tired of colored walls and can always switch up your accessories when you want a refresh.”
Pamela O’Brien agrees, as “white bathrooms are always such a classic, and offer a variety of options for accent colors, too. O’Brien suggests utilizing accents such as green, which works well with off-whites and creamier whites to provide a hint of a natural feel. Blue, on the other hand, works well in homes that favor cooler tones and often impart a coastal feel.”
White bathrooms are always such a classic, and offer a variety of options for accent colors, too.
Many choose to add a pop of color to a white interior through accessories, including bath mats, hardware, or even a tile backsplash.
In the above bathroom, designer Megan Pisano incorporates black and white wallpaper that “stands out and makes the room super special.”
White Color Picks
Snow Day, by Clare, is a cool white, perfect for subtle trim to stand-out accents to white walls.
White with a hint of gray, Wevet by Farrow & Ball is a relaxed neutral that’s clean and subtle, described as having a “transparent quality” to it.
Sanctuary, by Sherwin-Williams, is a “beautiful gray-white with warm tones that bring out the neutral hue of the space,” according to Meredith Huck. Huck and her team use the color as their “go-to when we’re not working with any natural light in a bathroom,” she says. The shade is featured in the small bathroom above.
Snowbound, by Sherwin-Wiliams, is “a bright white that pulls blues and grays from the space, and is perfect for bathrooms with great natural light,” says Huck.
Designer Julia Dempster says, “sometimes, you need a calm neutral to make the space cozy, and make it about the room instead of the walls stealing the show.”
In cases like these, such as the bathroom shown above, Dempster recommends gray walls. Gray can serve as a canvas for a bright accent color to shine, or can be paired with neutrals like white or black for a homey feel. Many choose to complement gray walls with natural wood accessories, silver hardware, or white accents. In the bathroom above, a matte silver tub aids in carrying the gray theme throughout the room.
Similar to using natural hues in a bathroom, a gray interior is quiet, making it a great space to unwind once the day is complete.
In the gray bathroom of the Georgian Townhouse featured above, Dempster “decided to paint both the walls and the ceiling the same gray to blur the edges of the room, making it more difficult to see where the walls end and the ceiling begins,” according to Dempster.
The moodiness of the color combination, mixed with a distressed wood vanity and polished chrome accent finishes, add drama to the space.
Gray Color Picks:
Farrow & Ball’s Mizzle “is a timeless shade sure to add depth and dimension to your bathroom,” according to Julia Dempster. The color is versatile across design styles, whether it be traditional, retro, modern, or eclectic, and helps make any bathroom a peaceful respite.
Dovetail, by Sherwin-Williams, “is a medium gray earth tone that serves as a neutral color for bathrooms, with plenty of natural light,” says Jenn Smith, Founder of Jenn Smith Architect. The shade pairs well with white cabinets and compliments nickel, chrome, and even black fixtures.
West Coast Ghost
Backdrop’s West Coast Ghost is a light gray with blue undertones that serves as a complementary neutral to any room with a cooler feel.
What should you consider when choosing a bathroom color scheme?
Your desired mood
When deciding on your bathroom’s color scheme, think about the mood you’re looking to create in your bathroom. With so many factors to consider, understanding the space and your priorities will help you make smart decisions.
According to Karen Rohr, “if you want a tranquil space for relaxing, choose calming and refreshing colors like blue or green hues.” However, Rohr advises going with bolder colors if you want a brighter space that feels energized.
Type of bathroom and style
The type of bathroom and style of both the architecture and the rest of your house will surely play into which color scheme you choose.
Thus, Katie Simpson recommends first thinking about the type of bathroom you’re designing. “Is it a master bathroom, a place you want to feel total relaxation? Or is it a powder bathroom, a place where you can have a bit more fun and be daring in your design choices?”
Next, Simpson suggests taking the materials and color in the rest of the house into consideration, so that “you can choose an appropriate color that works with what is existing.”
A surprising fact to many, the lighting elements you choose for your bathroom have a large influence on the color scheme. According to Karen Billman, “using the correct lighting in a small or large bathroom can change the color that’s in the paint as well as your vanity, countertop, and cabinets.” Thus, it’s very important to know what light fixtures you’ll be using when working with color.
Jenn Smith agrees, adding that taking lighting into consideration is also important because “it’s the space where you get ready and prepare for big events.”
Lastly, consider accessories you’d like to incorporate in the bathroom, such as hardware, towels, and bath mats. If there are specific home decor items you’d like to feature in the bathroom, take these into account when deciding on the color scheme.
For those looking to use accessories to transform a space, particularly a small space, Annaliesse Kelly suggests “utilizing the wall space, and considering mirroring a whole wall of your small washroom,” as “the reflection of light will create an open feel.
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