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Bathroom Paint Colors to Soothe or Awaken You

Updated on October 21, 2013

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.

More small bathroom designs and ideas...

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!

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.

Kitchen remodel featuring glass fronted cabinets
Kitchen remodel featuring glass fronted cabinets

Where to find more decorating and remodeling Ideas

Find more ideas for your bathroom at Small Bathroom Designs.

Choosing the best kitchen cabinets

Custom Kitchen Islands at http://www.floorplanskitchen.com for lots of tips for creating a custom kitchen island, plus potential gotchas and difficulties to avoid as you plan.

Pantry Designs

What's your bathroom color scheme? - Paint colors for bathrooms cover the rainbow

What's the main color in your bath?

See results

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?

Share your bathroom color scheme.

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    • garagerob profile image

      garagerob 4 years ago

      Great ideas. Thanks for sharing!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      Love these ideas.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I think it's all too easy to go with a plain white bathroom, by far the safest options but you've shown that no one should be afraid to experiment with colour in the bathroom.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I have painted every room in my house a different color, and each room provides me with a different sense of warmth. My guest bathroom is Autumn Gourd and my master bath is Teal Mosaicâboth colors make each room so much more than bathrooms. Thank you for this inspiring lens. I truly enjoyed it.

    • Frischy profile image

      Frischy 5 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      I inherited peach tile walls, and pale peach paint. I got bored with it very quickly & decided I wanted pattern on the walls. I couldn't afford wallpaper at the time, so I did some collage on the walls. I have enjoyed it over the years, and it has gotten a lot of complements from guests. After 7 years the colors in the decoupage is fading & I am ready for a change. Looking for some fresh ideas!

    • profile image

      BestLaminateInc1 5 years ago

      Great lens. Thanks for sharing!

    • profile image

      momsfunny 5 years ago

      Great lens, lots of good ideas here.

    • NellyNi profile image

      NellyNi 5 years ago

      Cool lens. Colors are very important for bathrooms. Check out my lense on what colors can turn a bathroom into a spa

    • JJNW profile image

      JJNW 5 years ago from USA

      I want to learn to be bolder! My friend told me she picks a color and then uses on shade darker than that. It works!

    • KateHonebrink profile image

      KateHonebrink 5 years ago

      I used Behr's "Classic Taupe" in the last bathroom I did - it's very neutral and goes with everything! Perfect!

    • MelonyVaughan profile image

      MelonyVaughan 5 years ago

      What a beautiful lens and great ideas! Thanks for sharing!

    • InteriorDesignI profile image

      InteriorDesignI 5 years ago

      I really liked the lens, thanks Kevin

    • profile image

      frugal123 5 years ago

      Our bathroom is very small. We feel light colors help a lot. Nice lens, learned a lot. Thanks

    • parmaggie profile image

      parmaggie 5 years ago

      really like this lens. I want to make my bathroom into a sanctuary for me wherfe I can run off to. I have a jacuzzi tub. I want to add plants, candles and unique things that say relax. Any ideas of good plants for the bathroom?

    • bbathrooms profile image

      bbathrooms 5 years ago

      Some great ideas here! I remember when we moved into our current home and the bathroom was completely pink. Not only did it look tacky but it never felt overly relaxing, so it wasn't long before we completely stripped it out and started again.

    • profile image

      jenjen1018 5 years ago

      I have a small bathroom, so I try to stick with lighter colors on the walls because this helps open up my bathroom space.

    • waldenthreenet profile image

      waldenthreenet 5 years ago

      Valuable topic. Congrads on reaching Squidoo level 59. Am going for next. Conversations helps with new topics, new ideas related to same topic. Thanks.

    • profile image

      BestLaminateInc1 5 years ago

      Isn't it amazing what a little color can do?! Nice Lens.

    • profile image

      barrysummers 5 years ago

      great lens

    • profile image

      cgb2000 5 years ago

      Kevin, well written piece on bathroom color schemes. The personal nature of bathrooms make the decorating side more important than most rooms in the house. You have brought out the idea that the bathroom can be a show piece of the home. After all one of the highest ROI's in remodeling is bathrooms. Good stuff. Thanks.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Cool lenses lots of ideas here

    • Jimmy Gavin profile image

      Jimmy Gavin 5 years ago

      I've just completed my bathroom today, took me acouple of days to repaint ceiling, walls and doors etc. Better half is now cleaning for new blinds and towels etc

    • profile image

      anonquid99 5 years ago

      Once saw a bathroom that was painted black - it made it seem bigger somehow and was quite interesting

    • sarahrk lm profile image

      sarahrk lm 5 years ago

      Nice colors for a bath.

    • JackieSonia profile image

      JackieSonia 5 years ago

      My bathroom is retro. Pink tile overlaid with burgundy border tiles. Hate it. I didn't do it. Person who built or lived here before.

    • mihgasper profile image

      Miha Gasper 5 years ago from Ljubljana, Slovenia, EU

      Tho different shades of blue and some details in bronze. I like it, but it is not my choice, it stays from previous owner.

    • profile image

      Buchamar 6 years ago

      Great ideas!!

    • profile image

      jimmyworldstar 6 years ago

      I like a classic cream color or a dark blue, it makes me feel like I'm staying in a high end hotel bathroom.

    • profile image

      anjan1 6 years ago

      what a bathroom colors, now i am thinking to get such colors to my bathroom

    • profile image

      seosmm 6 years ago

      Very nice lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Awesome! Super love it. Thanks for sharing. Squid-liked!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      enjoyed your tribute to the bathroom, you sure earned a 'thumbs up' from this reader tonight.

    • profile image

      mikeguerro221 6 years ago

      very interesting! i love your bathroom paint colors suggestions.

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 6 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      I think any color can work if it's in the right combination. I have sworn off vinyl wallpapers -- even the ones made for bathrooms have a problem sticking.

    • profile image

      moonlitta 6 years ago

      I am mostly curious about the way colors make you feel. I love dark tones, and the dark blue bahtroom gives me a feel of quiet and peaceful time alone... Angel Blessed!

    • profile image

      crudeoilsystems 6 years ago

      I like pastel colors because it gives a soothing and pleasant look.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Just liked your Facebook page. A link to your lens shows up at my lens about the art of feng shui under the section for EXPLORE RELATED PAGES. FYI.

    • profile image

      crudeoilsystems 6 years ago

      I like pastel colors and they are all beautiful for bathrooms

    • CherylsArt profile image

      Cheryl Paton 6 years ago from West Virginia

      Best advice yet! I love that you said if you like a color, go with it. : )

    • miacarter profile image

      Mia Carter 6 years ago from SW Florida

      A pretty bathroom is essential! They're so often overlooked in terms of décor and design.

    • e-xplorations profile image

      e-xplorations 6 years ago

      The bathroom is one of my favorite spots in the house. Your bathroom concepts are fantastic.

    • profile image

      louvilejames 6 years ago

      great bathroom designs and interior you have there...

    • MamaBelle profile image

      Francis Luxford 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Very nice bathroom ideas!

    • Lenskeeper profile image

      Lenskeeper 6 years ago

      Those pictures look so relaxing. It's amazing what effect colors can have.

    • profile image

      CustomShowerEnclosures 6 years ago

      Those bathroom pictures have a fantastic comfortable atmosphere!

    • profile image

      KarenCookieJar 6 years ago

      I've got a green and a brown bathroom. I prefer the brown and I'm thinking of repainting the green bathroom in blue. Bathrooms are the only rooms that are painted anything other then white in my house because they are small enough that I don't get discouraged halfway through.

    • DailySkin profile image

      DailySkin 6 years ago

      nice lens! im gonna repaint my bathroom using light colours ;)

    • passionatehouse profile image

      passionatehouse 6 years ago

      I have used a pale sage green combined with a pale dusty blue, with white sink and toilet, medium dark wood cabinets. The tile is a light travertine with glass mosaic tile accents in pale green and blue. I have a set of sage towels that I change out with pale blue towels. It's a nice spa effect that I love!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Fantastic and great lens.

    • pimbels lm profile image

      pimbels lm 6 years ago

      I hate our bathroom colors. It's a dirty green and a funny white/grey.

    • javr profile image

      javr 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      We use light colors. Not white, though.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I like all colors, I've used every color but yellow and green

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      My color scheme is a ceramic floor with earth tones of tan,light brown and beige, shower c

      curtain a golden brown and chocolate. towels chocolate and beige rug golden brown. fixtures

      white, wall tan or maple syrup. I need a nice wall color and maybe I can go from there.

    • mikerbowman profile image

      mikerbowman 6 years ago

      Very useful lens! I never considered breaking up the dreary "cocoon effect" of my dark walls with brightly-colored mid-wall trim... what a nice idea! I love the pictures in this lens, too. They really give a good sense of the depth and overall appearance of each room.

    • profile image

      Wilkes-Barre_Painter 6 years ago

      Great info. I can't wait till I get more time to finish my bathroom. I got some good ideas from your lens.Thanks!

    • WendyArts profile image

      WendyArts 7 years ago

      We just picked a couple of colors that looked beautiful on the painting swatch but once they were on the wall they looked like a 3 year old picked them out. I brought the paints back to the paint store and they added some gray. We now have colors that come across as more "mature."

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Wow so many good ideas, it's got me thinking of redoing my bathroom.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Our master bath is a dark green with shades of deep purple, yellow, and white in the wallpaper. The woodwork is walnut and the carpet is a lighter shade of green picked from the colors in the paper. It is warm and inviting. Love your ideas. Ringing my Squid Angel bell with a blessing.

    • lasertek lm profile image

      lasertek lm 7 years ago

      Blue is our bathroom color. It is pleasing to the eyes and lightens ones mood.

    • profile image

      totalhealth 7 years ago

      i like greens because its calming ang relaxing but i just love the color blue in the picture.

    • profile image

      SupernemiXX 7 years ago

      i prefer light colors as my bathroom paint but i kinda like the blue just like on the pic! i think i'll just use white and blue! LOL

    • sciencefictionn profile image

      sciencefictionn 8 years ago

      Well done lens full of soft colors. A good idea to start better one's day! 5 stars

    • spunkyduckling profile image

      spunkyduckling 8 years ago

      Got some nice tips thanks for sharing!

    • profile image

      myraggededge 8 years ago

      We've had a new white bathroom installed with slate laminate flooring and I painted the walls an olive-y green with a subtle gold sparkle in it. It looks awful! I'm hoping that adding some heavy dark framed pictures might help. Otherwise I need to think again!

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      My bathroom has old very pale blue ceramic tile with white fixtures (thank God). When I moved into the house this bathroom was also painted pale blue. It was really gross. I had cream colored wallpaper hung that had medium blue figures in it. When I tired of that I took the wallpaper down and painted it midnight blue. My son said it looked like the beach, so I added a shower curtain with fish and other fish items. I am now tired of the midnight blue and think I will try a medium blue.