Develop a Color Scheme

Whether you're remodeling or just giving your bath a facelift, the use of color is key. These 10 tips will get you started on creating a whole new palette.


Creating a good color palette for your bathroom can be a challenge, but there's nothing forbidding or mysterious about it. The following general guidelines will help.

+ enlarge image Decorate with three to six colors.

1. For the sake of continuity, carry your home's overall personality into the bath.

2. Link the bath with adjoining rooms by matching color values (that is, the colors' darkness or lightness) as well as actual hues. For example, if the trim in the hall outside the bath is painted a high-gloss creamy white, consider using that color somewhere in the bath.

3. Use a minimum of three and a maximum of six colors. Three-color schemes consist of a main color (the prevalent color used on most surfaces), a secondary color (often used on cabinets, trim and/or some wall or ceiling surfaces), and an accent color (the least-used color to provide interest, variety, and balance). The accent is often the brightest or darkest color in a scheme; use it in at least three places (or on one major design element) to establish a definite presence.

4. Give thought to the color of every component: walls, ceiling, window and door trim, wainscoting or chair rail (if any), floor, furniture, counters, fixtures, curtains, accessories.

+ enlarge image Use art and accessories to continue the theme.

5. Decide what you want the main focus of the room to be. Consider that the eye is attracted first to the lightest color. If the walls aren't the main focus, they should not be painted the lightest color.

6. White (including ivory and cream) fixtures are not only less expensive, but they also are easier to clean than dark fixtures.

7. White comes in many tones, and choosing from among them can be tough. Decide if you want a cool white or a warm white, then choose one specific hue. Match all the white or off-white elements so various tones won't be competing with each other.

8. If you use the bathroom for applying makeup, choose your wall color based on lighter versions of the colors of the clothes that look good on you. The lighter colors reflect flattering light, allowing you to get your makeup colors correct.

9. Countertop colors that keep their good looks are lighter midtones, grays, and beiges. Dark colors have poor reflective qualities, solids tend to show marks, and pure white counters shows stains.

10. White cabinets can make a small bath seem larger. Dark cabinets have the opposite effect. Use dark cabinets only in a well-lit room.

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