9 No-Fail Tips to Help You Choose the Best Bathroom Colors

Upgrade your bathroom with a fresh paint job. Our expert advice on the best bathroom colors will help you pick the perfect palette.

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, including how to select shades for your ceiling, or the 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.

bathroom with green drawers and blue tiles
David A Land

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 one another. 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 wheel for quick and easy solutions to your questions.

Bathroom wooden cabinets shelves
James Nathan Schroder

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 percent of the room's decor, the second lightest for 20 percent, and the boldest for 10 percent.

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.

Bathroom with marble shower
Edward Gohlich

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 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.

Bathroom with floral wallpaper and red cabinets
Werner Straube

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 could be in towels, vanity accents, or a piece of furniture. 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.

bathroom with pedestal sink round mirror patterned wallpaper
Nathan Kirkman

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. "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."

bathroom with orange cabinets and dual mirrors
David Tsay

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 combination. To inject a bit of calm into this lively color scheme, use plenty of white in the trim, sink, tub, or any other central piece in the room. Layer in fun color with low-cost, easily changeable extras like linens. "A little healthy tension is good. I like to inject a bit of surprise into 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."

bathroom with green cabinets lantern-style lights and white subway tile for backsplash
David Tsay

Go Organic

Nature-inspired colors, such as seafoam green and robin's-egg blue, typically make great combinations and help to enhance an organic feel . These types of shades also help soften the kinds of 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.

Pink bathroom cabinets with patterned black and white wallpaper
Emily Followill

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.

Bathroom sink with multiple mirrors
Emily Followill

Look to the Rest of Your Home

To guide your bathroom palette, draw color inspiration from the rest of your home. 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. Here, the same gold bathroom accent color is found in other rooms throughout the house.

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