Bathroom Paint Colors to Soothe or Awaken You
How to Choose Paint Colors For Bathrooms
Painting your bathroom a new color can make a huge difference in how the room feels. In this page I'll help you choose the bathroom paint colors which will make your bathroom feel cheery or soothing, cozy or expansive, to fit your wishes and needs.
Your first job is to identify what's wrong with your existing bathroom color scheme. Is it simply old and boring, or does it make the room feel closed in, depressing or dingy? If you still like the basic colors but the room needs a paint job, just changing the shade or tone of color may make everything feel new and fresh again.
Intro image used under license from sxc.hu. All other images by kevinw1.
White Fixtures with Light Bathroom Wall Colors
The traditional bathroom colors
Many bathrooms are small, and because of that most people paint them a light color to open them up. Since white is the most common fixture color, light walls with white fixtures can seem ordinary or boring unless you take steps to prevent that happening.
First of all, avoid pastel bathroom colors which have unpleasant connections for you - like the institutional green color that used to be used so much in hospitals. A fresh mint green, apple green, spring green or turquoise green can look great and very crisp. White trim always looks smart, but the modern "brilliant white" can look too stark, especially in older homes. Try a subtle off white which tones with your wall color. A third accent color is a nice addition but, if your bathroom is small, may look better if it's another tone of the wall color rather than a big contrast. One very easy way to bring in accent colors is with towels and shower curtains. If you have several sets in different colors which work with your wall color, you can have a different decorative feel every time you change the towels!
Other color ranges for walls can include:
- Whites: either go monochromatic with white accessories as well, or use accessories to inject bright or subtle color
- Cream, beige, taupe shades: Work nicely with pastel or deep accessory colors
- Sandy or yellowy colors: green and blue accessories go especially well with these
- Blues like ice blue, robin's egg blue, light sky blue, grey-blue or pale turquoise: white, green yellow or lavender/purple accessories work very well
- Pinks and peaches are not very trendy right now as pale colors, but if you like them, go for it - they can feel very warm and comforting. Great with purples, reds, browns and greens as accessory colors.
How to Work With Colored Fixtures
What were the previous owners thinking?
Maybe you've inherited a trend from the past, with colored fixtures which you can't afford to replace. Dark blue? Bright pink? Avocado Green? Never fear, you can make a welcoming room even with these bathroom colors.
First decision: do you want your bathroom paint colors to contrast with the fixtures so they pop out, or blend with them to minimise their effect?
If you decide to contrast, you can go with white walls (plus accessories which match or contrast with the fixtures), light walls against dark fixtures, or dark walls against light fixtures. The wall color can be a lighter or darker shade of the fixture color, or one which contrasts with or complements it.
To blend with the fixture color, you might try matching the fixture color exactly. Paint stores can computer match colors if you bring in a sample. Bringing the bathtub into the store doesn't seem practical, but you might be able to take the toilet tank lid in with you. With matching fixture and wall colors, you can use brightly contrasting towels and accessories to draw attention away from the fixtures. Another option would be to use a toning or complementary color to blend with the fixture color but not match it exactly. Again, contrasting accessories draw attention away from the fixtures.
Consider though, that colored fixtures may grow on you. There's a whole subculture dedicated to saving and revamping older bathrooms, from arts and crafts to mid-century modern: check out the "Save the Pink Bathrooms" site for an example!
Bathroom Color Scheme books
White Fixtures With Dark Bathroom Wall Colors
Inject some drama into your bath!
Dark walls with white fixtures can look smart and dramatic. People are often concerned about using dark colors in a small room but it can work very well, feeling like a cozy den or cocoon. If the room really is small, it's not going to look big no matter how light your wall colors, so why not go with it and emphasize the smallness? This can work especially well in bathrooms which don't get heavy use, like powder rooms or guest baths.
Some wonderful dark bathroom wall colors which work well with white or light fixtures are chocolate, black, deep purple, navy blue, hunter green, burgundy, crimson, and terracotta. Light colored or white accessories and towels will pop and look very sharp against the dark walls, or you can use contrasting or toning dark colors for a more subtle effect.
Depending on the effect you want, including a lot of white trim will break up dark walls and reduce the "cocoon" effect.
Ceiling, Floor, Tile and Trim Colors
Don't forget the ceiling color! It doesn't always have to be white. You can use a darker or lighter shade of the wall color, or a contrasting color. Dark colors are good if you have a high ceiling which is out of proportion to the room size: this sometimes happens where a bathroom has been squeezed in to an older house with high ceilings. Dark colors can also disguise stray pipes, wiring and structural oddities up near the ceiling.
Trim colors: white is always safe but if you have a lot of trim and a dark or medium wall color, it can get rather busy looking. A trim color closer to the wall color might look better in those circumstances.
Existing tile colors, like fixture colors, are often regarded as a given, although ceramic tile can be painted or tiled over if you're willing to take the trouble. You can work with existing tile colors in the same way as colored fixtures. If you have historic tile or really wild tile colors and designs, though, it may work best to feature them and build the whole color scheme around them.
Where to find more decorating and remodeling Ideas
What's your bathroom color scheme? - Paint colors for bathrooms cover the rainbow
What's the main color in your bath?
See How to Pick Bathroom Paint Colors on Video
What bathroom paint colors have you used? Do you like them, hate them, wish they were different?