The latest bathroom paint ideas embrace rich and daring tones – in fact, gone are the days when a serene scheme was limited to neutral colors and plain finishes.
From bold blue to scarlet red, you can be brave with your bathroom paint colors. However, paint ideas for bathrooms need to be chosen with care, since this is the room that is often the smallest in the house. We're here to show you how to pick the best shade for your spa space.
And if you need more inspiration, go to our main bathroom ideas page for many more pictures and bathroom design advice.
What is the best paint color for a small bathroom?
The same basic decorating rules apply here just like in any other room. You’re likely to want to choose soothing, neutral shades and inject a pop of color (a feature wall, vanity unit...) or choose a toning palette with differently weighted notes of the same color, or a harmonizing palette featuring different colors of a similar depth.
'White tends to be the main go-to color for a small bathroom,' says Judy Smith, Crown Paints Color Consultant. 'However some people believe that all-white can be too clinical but having a lighter tone will open up the space and make it feel brighter especially if your bathroom lacks natural light. Bathrooms are often the smallest room in the house and a dark color can make it feel too closed in, unless you are lucky enough to have a large space with plenty of natural light.'
'When choosing the scheme for your en suite, consider creating a sense of flow from your bedroom into the bathroom with a complementary scheme,' advises Helen Shaw, Benjamin Moore UK Director.
'This does not necessarily mean being too matchy, however picking out key colors works particularly well. Your ensuite should feel personal and have the same haven feeling as your bedroom. Soothing pastel shades or off-whites help to ensure the room feels relaxing while also maintaining a feeling of spaciousness due to the lightness of the colors.'
See: Bathroom trends 2021 –inspiring new looks for your bathroom suite
Bathroom paint ideas
These are the most popular bathroom paint ideas – and we've highlighted where they will work and where not.
1. Use color to create contrast
Opt for a daring combination in your bathroom by pairing primary colors from the opposite ends of the color spectrum. Red is often considered a brave choice for interiors, but used creatively it can introduce a welcome burst of energy and flamboyance.
Pale aqua makes a wonderful backdrop for vibrant accents of red that have been given a light-hearted, theatrical note using stripes and checks, and because it's a fresh shade, it will reflect lots of light, perfect in a small or light-starved room.
2. Go dark with shades of grey
Color has a huge impact on mood, and bathrooms have a tendency to sidestep polarizing hues in favor of pale neutrals and whites, which are refreshing and easy to live with. At the opposite end of the spectrum, darker shades of grey including slate, are also popular for creating a cocooning effect. Team this shade with luxurious Carrara marble fittings for a boutique-inspired hotel look.
What to consider? A dark wall color in a bathroom must be accompanied by good natural daylight or artificial lighting – bathrooms can be made cosy with dark colors, but they also need to be practical so that you can see clearly what you're doing.
3. Paint a bathtub
This is one of the easiest bathroom paint ideas – but can have the biggest impact.
'Adding wow factor to the bathroom is all about thinking outside the box.' explains Rob Whitaker, Fired Earth’s Creative Director. Go for bold colors or pattern, inspired by the glamour of Italy’s heyday. The blue of the bath emphasizes its central position in the scheme, bringing in a contrasting note to the stripped wood floor and neutral walls.
'Warm up a rustic country bathroom with bold florals and warm neutral walls. Mismatched prints are a great way to introduce character to a plain scheme.'
4. Think in (pale) pink
Introduce a dash of blush pink to your bathroom for a bold or barely-there effect. If you think pink is best suited to country schemes, you'd be wrong. Used in a subtle way, pink can look equally good in a modern setting.
Perfect for cool-feeling, light starved bathrooms, pale pink with a hint of yellow to it will add warmth without making the space feel enclosed.
A nod to the chevron trend (above) is made with a contrasting zigzag on plain curtains, while sleek fittings ensure that the decoration remains the focus.
Below, pink has been given an Art Deco appeal. Few colors have enjoyed a more dramatic or unexpected reinvention than pink. Soft, versatile and subtle, it is adding a new layer of depth to minimal interiors and modernist furniture. A natural partner to greys and soft whites, this is a shade that look set to stay. Pair pink with accents of green and mirrored finishes for a modern bathroom, that echoes an Art Deco chic interior.
5. Be bold with red bathroom paint
Go for a daring look in your bathroom with strong color and geometric patterns. Claret-red walls are decorated with white hexagon tiles set with red grout for a striking effect.
What to avoid? Red on all four walls will be somewhat overpowering – and on a practical level will cast a red-tone on your skin when you look in the mirror. Good natural daylight and natural-daylight lightbulbs are a must with this color scheme.
The stand-alone, designer basin and mixer tap give the room ultra-cool character, while quirky accessories, such as this wave hand hook and a Moorish mother-of-pearl mirror, take the look East.
6. Take inspiration from nature
On walls and cabinetry, this perennial hue can create a life-enhancing link with nature. The huge variety of eye-catching paints in verdant shades is providing opportunity for strong new looks. In soft shades, green evokes a natural sense of calm and harmony, while bolder and darker tones provide individuality and depth. ‘Try walls of saturated color in paint or tiles,’ says Yousef Mansuri.
Pale greens are a better option for light-starved bathrooms, but avoid pale greens tinged with blue tones, which can feel cold and unwelcoming.
7. Warm up with earthy bathroom paint ideas
Embrace natural pigments to turn up the heat in your bathroom scheme. Alongside the mood for comfort comes the move towards warmer tones, including terracotta, rust, caramel and biscuit. Look out for paints in earthy colors that make the perfect antidote to cold and clinical.
Try contrasting them with brass taps and accessories to add definition. Untreated timber can also work well, this time by echoing the natural, warm mood.
8. Decorate in cool blue
Paint walls blue for a refreshing bathroom scheme. The combination of blue and white might be associated with classic interior but it is increasingly being used to add a crisp feel to contemporary schemes.
An additional en suite bathroom offers an opportunity for more adventurous decorating, as shown here with the strong wall color and chequered flooring. Echoing the palette of the bedroom scheme ensures a unified look. Brilliant azure-blue walls will create a dramatic backdrop for a fresh white bathroom suite.
9. Pick clashing tones for a dramatic effect
Break up a scheme with a stripe of colour in a contrasting tone to make a striking focal point on a large wall. Go for something bright and punchy against a neutral wall to really stand out and bring your room to life.
Clashing colors can be a tricky art to perfect but when it’s done well it can totally transform your space. Choosing the colors within your décor is what gives a room character and reflects your personality, so think carefully about what you want your space to say about you.
As a general rule, avoid mixing in too many colors at once as this can make a scheme appear cluttered or messy. At the same time, steer clear of having everything in perfectly matching shades. It’s all about finding a balance, so play around with combinations until you find something you’re happy with.
10. Go for a tonal color scheme
Use a combination of paint and tiling to create a truly bespoke bathroom. Paint really comes into its own when used alongside tiles in tonal colors. Tonal colors are basically a variety of shades of one color, also known as tone-on-tone or monochromatic (not to be confused with monochrome).
Decorating with this color palette will result in a uniform scheme as it uses only different tones – both lighter and darker – of one color.
11. Evoke purity with a white on white bathroom paint scheme
Decorating schemes will never tire of white but an all-white scheme can make a real statement. Glamorous yet relaxed, mix up different tones of white for a fresh and airy feel. 'White also works well with brass accessories as it will allow them to stand out against the background,' explains color expert Judy Smith.
'This is also true for colored bathroom ceramics or accessories, painting the wall a light colour will help them stand-out and be the focal point of the room.' An all-white scheme is more complex than you think. As there are no distractions every choice becomes critical. Wood will warm up a white scheme as will marble, glass and ceramic accessories.
What is the best paint color for a bathroom?
With so many to choose from, it can be hard to know the best paint color for a bathroom.
We all know bathrooms should be restful sanctuaries as well as utilitarian spaces, and a well-thought out decorative scheme will reflect both practical and aesthetic elements. Current trends including painted bathtubs, as well as walls and ceiling and bold colors are making a splash in this room just as much as any other in the home, so make sure that yours isn’t neglected.
Break free of a staid design and add pops of color to your room with these bold and bright bathroom paint ideas. Adding a bright hue to your bathroom will really lift your whole home, bringing this functional space into line with the rest of your decor. Or, if you prefer a chic and modern take on interiors, you can choose muted greys to complement your otherwise neutral bathroom color scheme.
Don’t forget that part of the beauty of paint is that, unlike tiles or wallpaper, you can give your room an update at a later stage. ‘Using paint means you can adapt to changing fashions,’ says Michelle Alcock, Director of Pride & Joy. ‘There is more opportunity than ever to paint the bathroom, or part of the bathroom, in whatever takes your fancy. A great way of keeping on trend is by painting a bold feature wall, then using accent colors on freestanding units and soap dispensers.
What paint can I use in the bathroom?
Due to the constant moisture that's often in the air, it's important to consider the type of paint used in the bathroom.
'When it comes to painting a bathroom, you need to be able to create a proper ventilation in the room to avoid condensation peeling the paint and creating mould,' advises Rachel Martin, Merchandising Director at C.P. Hart.
'Always opt for an appropriate finish such as eggshell, or other water-resistant types of paint. Crown offers a specialist bathroom paint range which is specially formulated with built-in anti-mould technology, ensuring bathroom walls look fresher and cleaner for longer.'
'If you’re feeling unsure about using bold tones or want to ensure you can future-proof your bathroom, you can always incorporate pattern and color in a variety of semi-permanent ways. Bright colored paint is a great way of using your walls to inject some tonal variation and can be easily updated when you like. The idea works particularly well in a small cloakroom, as well as in a larger, family bathroom.'
What is the most relaxing color for a bathroom?
As well as being a functional room, it should also be a calm space - so what is the most relaxing colour for a bathroom?
Simple, white fixtures and fittings are timeless, but consider making an impact when it comes to surfaces such as walls, ceilings, floors, windows and counter tops. High quality bathroom furniture adds a luxurious effect, but it is the background elements that really underpin the feel of the space and allow experimentation with color, texture and pattern.
‘Bathrooms can now be so much more than purely functional spaces,’ explains Yousef Mansuri, Head of Design at C.P. Hart. ‘More of our customers want to create an oasis of wellbeing at the heart of their home – somewhere that they can enjoy as a private retreat to de-stress and unwind.
'We call this trend “cocooning” because it’s a way for people to wrap themselves in comfort and a quiet sense of luxury.’ As well as simple luxuries like scented candles and a warm robe, cocooning is a mood that can be created with soothing paint colors, such as a palette of warm greys, taupes and off-whites.'
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