White bathroom ideas can be a minefield.
Get white wrong and your bathroom will feel cold and impersonal. But get it right – with the help of our expert bathroom color ideas – and white can feel elegant, timeless, inspiringly light-reflective and space-enhancing.
White bathroom ideas
There are so many ways to decorate with white in the bathroom and many of them are quite surprising. These techniques will help you get your white bathroom scheme just right.
1. Channel Scandinavian elegance in a white bathroom
If you're looking for bathroom ideas, white is still the biggest selling 'color' in the bathroom market place, and there's no denying that choosing a white scheme does make it considerably easier to adapt and tweak at a later date.
Avoid the 'clinical' look by making sure that there are some elements of natural materials in the room – perhaps a wooden vanity unit, table top and chairs.
You can also team up white with gray bathroom ideas for a truly modern appearance.
2. Use texture and pattern to create a modern country aesthetic
If there’s one thing that works beautifully with white bathroom paint ideas, it’s warm wood and plenty of texture.
Keep accessories neutral and minimal, with patterned towels and mats, rustic wooden stools and dried flowers.
This is a look that’ll work in modern bathrooms, as well as bathrooms with a country or traditional interior scheme, too.
3. Introduce an artistic flourish
The popularity of white walls in art galleries speaks volumes, with the Tate revealing that white was introduced ‘in response to the increasing abstraction of modern art’, while also acting ‘as a frame, rather like the borders of a photograph'.
White walls channel attention towards artwork on display as opposed to architectural detail, practically obliterating the building in which the paintings hang, enabling maximum artistic impact for the audience.
They perform this same role in the home, directing attention to home accessories and furniture, and cleverly hiding blemishes.
This effect can be seen above, as the bathroom art chosen stands out against the white wall.
4. Create a modern coastal scheme
A fresh blue and white scheme may be a classic seaside combo but its popular appeal has spread far from the shore.
However, it is important to know your hues.
The warm and cool hues of blue can stir-up varying moods. Light blues can evoke the freshness of sea, sky and summer air and can encourage stillness, making it a great color to use in a bathroom. But watch out for dramatic, darker shades, as they can dampen your mood.
5. Focus on the decoration in a white bathroom
Choosing a white bathroom could be the best decision you’ll ever make, bathroom-wise.
White spaces are always a bestseller, and although white is sometimes considered to be the safe option where wall color (or lack of it) is concerned, white bathrooms are a stylish and fashion-forward option.
The usual design rules apply though, particularly where white is concerned. It’s generally acknowledged that a totally white color scheme can look clinical, reminding us of an operating theatre rather than a warm, welcoming room.
Incorporate decorative bathroom lighting ideas, like the one shown above, and contrasting finishes, such as natural stone or hardwood cabinets and vanity units, which also have textural qualities to warm up a predominantly white space.
6. Go for an all-white scheme in a small bathroom
If you are looking for small bathroom ideas, then a tonal white 'color' is the way to go.
There are myriad ways to work white into your bathroom, so it’s no surprise that there are more shades of white than any other color.
Paint experts choose specific whites according to desired effect, with lighter whites enhancing space in small rooms, while darker shades are better suited to bigger rooms, as they maintain the appearance of consistency in room sizes across the home.
7. Keep it minimal with a variety of whites
Associated with the emergence of modernism in the early 20th-century, white walls were popularised by architects such as Le Corbusier, whose white cubic buildings were the epitome of changing modern design.
Symbolic of cleanliness and purity, white walls are key to a minimalist look with their light-reflecting quality cleverly increasing the appearance of space in the bathroom.
8. Warm up a white bathroom
A white bathroom is the ultimate in cool, laid-back chic. The design needs to be perfect, accessories need to be stylish and the result will be a bathroom with a slick, sophisticated edge.
Practicality has to reign, though, which means picking white paint colors that can be wiped down so that your space remains consistently sparkling.
Introduce elements of color through greenery. A humid and moist environment means that bathrooms can be the ideal place for a plant as the conditions resemble those of a rainforest.
'When choosing plants for your bathroom, look for the type that like to tolerate shade or low/medium light, higher humidity and warm temperatures,' advises Kiera Kay, Plant Expert at Bloom and Wild.
9. Introduce a statement color as an accent
Many homeowners choose a white bathroom due to its timeless appeal. A new built-in bathroom is a huge part of any renovation budget, and so it’s no surprise that many people tend to play it safe when it comes to this important family room.
However, that doesn't mean we should shy away from color entirely. Bright colors make us happy.
Start with a white backdrop and think bold to bring life and energy to any space. For example, bright bathroom tile ideas can add color to a white scheme, as shown above.
This simple yet impactful scheme can be easily transformed, and won't dramatically eat into your remodel budget.
10. Add visual interest to a white bathroom with mirrors
The magic of mirrors is not lost on us. Decorating with mirrors is easy to master but you can really only make the most of their effects if you know the tricks of the trade.
‘Adding antiqued mirrors in a small bathroom or powder room creates a subtle reflective surface and a gentle, diffused light within the space,’ shares London-based interior designer, Henry Prideaux (opens in new tab).
What color goes with a white bathroom?
The beauty of white is that it will go with virtually any other color.
One of our favorite color pairings is blue and white. The blue and white color match dates back centuries, and was often seen on Chinese pottery, and is still popular with ceramicists like Wedgwood today.
In the home, it evokes an easy-breezy aesthetic with a laidback beachside lifestyle at its core, although you don't need to have ocean views to incorporate the scheme into your own home.
How do you modernize a white bathroom?
The best way to modernize a white bathroom is to introduce plenty of texture and pattern. Texture in bathroom design is vital, and layering textures will help to add depth and dimension to your space.
'The layering of materials, colors and shapes all amount to give your interiors an overall texture which can define the look and feel of a space,' says Martin Waller, co-founder of Andrew Martin (opens in new tab).
'Glossy surfaces like polished chrome, shiny marble and rustic wood – all in tonal shades – give a bathroom a sleek, modern aesthetic.'
Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.
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