With just a gallon or two of paint and a few hours, you can easily give your bathroom a fresh look. In fact, the hardest part of the process is deciding on the color scheme. There's no exact science for choosing the best bathroom color, and with endless possible combinations, the decision can feel overwhelming. To help, we've gathered the best advice on bathroom color, including how to select shades for your ceiling or tile and where to use them. Whether you're looking to create a spa-like master bath or a statement powder room, these tips will help you choose the best bathroom colors for a space you'll love.
Use the Color Wheel
If you're stuck trying to decide which colors go together, look to the color wheel for inspiration. The concepts of color theory can help direct you toward hues that complement each other. Purple and yellow go together, for example, because they're across from each other on the color wheel, making them complementary. Green and blue blend well because they're next to each other, making them analogous. When in doubt, turn to the color wheel for quick and easy solutions to your bathroom color questions.
Choose Three Colors
Use the rule of three as a guiding principle for creating a bathroom color scheme: Pick one neutral, one rich color, and one accent. To do it successfully, think about proportion and rely on a 70/20/10 distribution. Use the lightest color for roughly 70% of the room's decor, the second lightest for 20%, and the boldest for 10%.
Keep in mind that neutrals can be combined in different ways. For example, a palette of white, cocoa brown, and light green creates a clean, classic look. But pair those same neutrals with Kelly green and the effect is energizing and uplifting. With this clever rule, your bathroom paint colors will look like they were chosen by an expert.
Mix Two Neutrals
A mostly neutral bathroom color scheme helps establish an atmosphere of serenity and relaxation. Again, rules of proportion apply: When using two bathroom colors, focus on a distribution of 70/30. Two neutrals, such as gray and white, make a calming color scheme that's understated without being boring. For added visual interest, include patterned elements, such as herringbone tile on the floor or veined marble on countertops or wainscoting.
Follow the Second Rule of Three
Another rule of three can help you execute your bathroom color scheme effectively. When you pick a color, use it at least three times in a room. That might mean in towels, sink-side accents, or a piece of furniture in a bathroom. In this bathroom, for example, red repeats on the vanity, sconces, and wallpaper. An even distribution of bathroom colors makes each hue look intentional and not out of place.
Don't Be Afraid of Dark Colors
Many people shy away from rich, deep tones in favor of lighter and brighter colors in small rooms. However, dark colors, such as charcoal or cocoa, can offer dramatic contrast in powder rooms, especially when balanced with white trim and white bathroom fixtures. And, with a dose of another hue, such as bright green, the overall effect is animated and contemporary at the same time. "People are nervous to put dark colors in small rooms. But they don't make the rooms seem smaller, they just make them darker," says Los Angeles designer Kishani Perera. "Use mercury glass and mirrored lamps to make the room less cavelike."
Contrast Two Brights
If you want a bathroom color scheme that's more energetic than restful, consider a collection of bright, bold hues. For example, orange and blue make a complementary and invigorating color combo. To inject a bit of calm into this lively color scheme, use plenty of white in the trim, sink, tub, or another central piece in the room. Layer in fun color with low-cost extras like linens that can be easily swapped out. "A little healthy tension is good. I like to inject a bit of surprise in my color schemes," says designer Liz Levin. "If you don't have an eye for it, find a fabric or art with an interesting mix of colors and use that as your guide."
Nature-inspired colors, such as seafoam green and robin's-egg blue, typically make great combos and help to enhance an organic vibe in a bathroom. These types of shades also help soften hard edges and geometric shapes often found in bathrooms. Incorporate pulled-from-nature hues into your bathroom wall colors or vanity surface for a fresh, clean look.
Balance Fun Selections with a Neutral
If your color palette comprises more exuberant tones (such as apple green or hot pink), embrace the bold color, but choose one neutral as a balance and a base. "Think of paint as a complementary background instead of what knocks you down upon entering a room," Levin says. For example, a creamy light brown or crisp white can offer a neutral counterpoint on walls or as a bathroom tile color. Black accents, provided by vanity hardware or patterned wallpaper, provide punctuation to break up the bold color.
Look to the Rest of Your Home
Draw color inspiration from the rest of your home to help guide your bathroom color palette. Pick up on an accent color in your living space, for example, and make it the dominant color in your bathroom. Although the rooms will maintain their own identity, the cohesive flow of color will enhance your home's overall aesthetic, too. Here, the same gold bathroom accent color is found in other rooms throughout the house.