8 neutral bathroom ideas to create a calming and cocooning space

Neutrals just make sense in a bathroom, they are calming, zen-inducing and work with any style

White bathroom with voile blinds behind tub and rattan rug and plant
(Image credit: Janis Nicolay for PURE Design)

When you think of neutral bathroom ideas, comforting design notes, and relaxation spring to mind. Bathrooms are spaces that we want to feel cocooned in, calmed, and comforted and despite them having to perform many practical tasks, they need to also feel like rooms we can escape to for some R&R.

We needn't highlight how a neutral bathroom color scheme will imbue spa-like delight, but what you may not have realized is that neutrals have come a long way since their plainer days of magnolia shades. Though we are not opposed to this core hue, much like beige bathrooms have made a return to the latest interior design trends, there is more to decorating with neutrals than you might expect. Trust us, the inspiration speaks for itself.

8 classic neutral bathroom ideas to inspire

A neutral bathroom color scheme can bring balance and serenity to a home, making it a wonderful canvas for other bathroom trends. It is no wonder interior designers approve.

'Yes, we love neutrals in a bathroom, and I would say they are timeless!' Designer and founder of PURE Design, Ami McKay says. With fresh takes on this classic, tonal color palette, picking neutrals is an easy way to ensure your bathroom will never date. 

Ami McKay headshot
Ami McKay

Ami McKay founded PURE Design in 2000 on the belief that design is found in the art of giving. The work that she puts into each project reflects her personal life experiences and she believes they are at the heart of her business. Today, she is proud to be named one of Canada’s Top Five Interior Designers.

1. Blend creamy hues with deeper shades

Neutral bathroom with wooden vanity

(Image credit: Janis Nicolay for PURE Design)

A neutral bathroom often needs some deep colors to ground all those creamy hues, and there are plenty of opportunities to do this. Contrasting hardware, a few darker accessories, or an on-trend bathroom rug. Adding in just a few deep hues will give the room depth and something for the eye to focus on. 

'A warm and creamy white paint is fresh and clean and is complemented by beautiful, handcrafted tiles and brushed hardware in bronze as well as natural wood accents, beautiful linens, plants, and art,' shares Ami McKay who designed this neutral bathroom. The use of a few black accents to punctuate a wash of lighter colors, adds depth and creates flow.

2. Bring warmth and lift a neutral scheme with accessories

Neutral bathroom with wooden glass-fronted medicine cabinet

(Image credit: Janis Nicolay for PURE Design)

We cannot deny the function of a bathroom and some accessories are essential. Take the opportunity to add personality to a neutral bathroom color palette with interesting objects that serve a clever and discreet dual purpose. 

'I love using artisanal handmade pieces in a bathroom, like turned wood bowls and I collect neutral handmade pottery from various ceramic artists and use them in various sizes to hold bath salts and jewelry when I take it off in the evening,' suggests Ami.

3. Layer textured tiles and materials for interest and harmony

Double vanity in marble with square tile texture wall and two arch mirrors.jpg

(Image credit: Kathryn MacDonald Photography for Kimberley Harrison Interiors)

Pearlescent tiles will elevate a neutral bathroom scheme with ease. Layer a small format square filled with texture, alongside another sumptuous material like marble for a luxurious bathroom space that exudes harmony. 'A neutral color scheme often relies on a layered composition of subtle and muted color tones to create an open and airy ambiance,' says designer Kimberley Harrison. 'To avoid a sterile or cold feel, incorporating texture is crucial.' 

In this design, Kimberly's expert blend of textured tiles is brought to life with thoughtful additions, including the beautiful custom wood slat vanity. 

Kimberly Harrison, Principal
Kimberley Harrison

Intuitive, timeless, eclectic, and thoughtful, Principal Kimberley Harrison executes projects that are as varied as her clientele. Not one to apply a singular design vision to any of her projects, Kim draws direction and inspiration from her clients and how they live and want to feel in their environment.

4. Add depth with subtle pattern

White bathroom with wooden stool, wall art, round large white tub and black wicker ceiling lamp pendant

(Image credit: Kathryn MacDonald Photography for Kimberley Harrison Interiors)

The chevron floor pattern further enhances the overall aesthetic of this neutral bathroom scheme. 'Textured tile, patterns, warm wood, and finishes are all effective ways to achieve this,' continues Kimberley. 'By introducing these elements, you can add visual interest and depth to the space, making it more inviting and warm.' Look at how subtly bathroom tiles and lighting, like the rattan shade above with its repetitive linear design, can bring distinctive modern bathroom charm to a neutral space.

5. Let caramels stir up charisma

Bathroom with beige square tile and ceiling trim with feature black fireplace

(Image credit: BC Designs/Darren Chung)

Caramel tones carry timeless design detail in this neutral bathroom. It is effortlessly, and apologetically, full of personality. Barrie Cutchie, Design Director at BC Designs, tells us more about how we are falling for these subtly stunning hues once again. 

'Neutral bathrooms have not been on our radar over the last several years, as we have moved towards bolder or pastel colors and patterns.' With the revival of neutrals, designers are once again bubbling with inspiration.

'For most, we’ve associated neutral shades with blandness in comparison to what has been popular, however, neutral shades such as beige, when used in the right way, can create a truly chic bathroom.'

Barrie Cutchie
Barrie Cutchie

Barrie Cutchie founded British bathroom brand, BC Designs in 1999. Barrie is an award-winning designer who has been at the forefront of bathroom design for over 30 years.

6. Anchor a spacious bathroom with natural elements

Neutral bathroom with white tub, matching square floor and shower tile and light drapes with landscape setting beyond window

(Image credit: Photography courtesy of The Studio of Margaret Rajic / Designed by Heffinger Interiors / Styling by Brandi Devers)

Neutrals and natural elements are defining features of Japandi bathrooms, and incorporating raw materials that feel connected to the outdoors is a beautiful way to add texture and interest.

 'To create this calm and serene primary bathroom, we combined a modern clean aesthetic with natural materials and neutral tones,' shares Holly Heffinger, lead designer and founder of Heffinger Interiors design studio. 'We wanted to bring the outside in so we used an organic color pallet allowing the natural light to steal the show,

'Natural stone, soft textures and brass tones balance the space to create a neutral, relaxing space with interest and layers.'

Holly Heffinger founder interior designer
Holly Heffinger

Holly opened Heffinger Interiors Design Studio in 2022 following three successful home remodels and many environmental design projects, all of which have shaped how Holly creates unique looks for clients.

7. Define with select statement details

Neutral bathroom with marble floors, wooden vanity and luxury green shower tile

(Image credit: Margaret Rajic)

A neutral bathroom scheme should by no means not have an impact. Including unique focal points that draw the eye in can bring the color scheme as a whole to life. 'I do love this bathroom so very much,' Kira Obermeier, founder and principal of Kir David Design tells us of this stunning space.

'I think my biggest comment would be that neutral doesn't have to mean boring! Sometimes a softer backdrop can allow for the star players (like the arabescator floor tile or custom glass and steel shower doors) to take center stage. Pairing those statements with the warmth of white oak cabinetry and linen shades means they can pack a greater punch than if everything were competing for the spotlight!'

Kira Founder and principal of Kira David Design
Kira Obermeier

Kira Obermeier is the founder and principal of Kira David Design. Kira studied architecture and interior design and has a unique approach and sensibility to client projects.

8. Mix interesting materials for a cozy but refined finish

Concrete finish shower with black fixtures and wooden stool with plant in corner

(Image credit: Laëtitia Wajnapel of Cinquième Gauche)

'Neutral bathrooms are absolutely timeless... when done just right!' Says Laëtitia Wajnapel of Cinquième Gauche who created this stylish minimal neutral bathroom.

'To keep a large neutral bathroom cozy, make sure you mix materials and textures,' continues Laëtitia. 'For example, if you clad your tub and countertops in marble, balance it out with lime wash or plaster on the walls. Zellige tiles are also a great way to use neutral tones while keeping the room looking inviting. Try to avoid bright white everything and stay away from gray! Smaller tiles also help keep things cozy.'

Laëtitia encourages us to seek out the likes of tadelakt micro-concrete, travertine, and marble in neutral to earthy tones. If the term 'tadelakt' is unfamiliar, it is an ancient plaster finish with Moroccan roots that is popular for bathrooms but can also be found adorning kitchen backsplashes.

Laetitia Wagnapel
Laëtitia Wajnapel

Laëtitia Wajnapel is the creator of Cinquième Gauche, a full-service interior design studio based in LA. Wajnapel who was born and raised in Paris, started her career as a journalist before branching out into styling. Her design practice is led by a love of storytelling, making each project truly unique to the client.

Whether you are dreaming of a neutral scheme in the master bathroom or guest space, keep it full of texture and interesting hues to create a look that is effortlessly soothing.

Camille Dubuis-Welch
Contributing Editor

Camille is the former deputy editor of Real Homes where she covered a broad range of topics, including house tours, small space design, and gardens. She studied English language and Italian at the University of Manchester and during a year abroad studying linguistics and history of art in Bologna, Italy she started documenting her adventures and observations in a blog. Camille is always creating and spends her downtime painting, taking photos, traveling, and writing short stories.