Picking a paint color feels like a major commitment and, in my experience, never goes perfectly on the first try. The simple fact that paint samples look entirely different under the direct fluorescent lighting in the home improvement store is enough to drive a person mad. And even if you take that paint swatch home, there’s plenty of room for error.
Bathrooms can be notoriously tricky when it comes to landing on a winning paint color. Their inconsistent lighting, fixtures, and relation to other spaces in your home can send you into a tizzy. Here are a few ways to make the process easier, as well as some recommendations for bathroom paint colors to make your space feel like you (and go perfectly with your bedroom paint colors).
Considerations When Picking A Bathroom Paint Color
Every bathroom is different, not only when it comes to the square footage, but the layout, natural lighting, flooring, and location in your home. Keep these criteria in mind when heading to the paint store:
A small powder room for guests will be treated much differently from your primary bathroom suite. The size of the space inevitably affects how the color is perceived. Let’s debunk one common myth, though: dark colors and small spaces can coexist. Statement small bathrooms can actually feel larger when properly painted. In fact, bold bathrooms are trending because what’s more fun than a surprisingly half bath? The answer is nothing.
Does your bathroom have windows, or are you reliant on overhead lighting? Natural light from a window will make colors more vibrant and saturated, while ambient lighting can often dull colors. It’s something to keep in mind when falling for colors that are bold and moody. A combination of ambient light and natural light is your best bet for achieving a true-to-swatch color match, however, since this isn’t always the simplest of fixes, pick colors that will do well in your existing lighting.
If you’re planning a major renovation, you’ll want to consider the material and color of your bathroom’s flooring. Notice its shape, size, undertones, and textures. Hardwood will often bring a warmth to the space, while stark tile can feel a bit more modern. Consider how this will factor into the presentation of your chosen paint color. And if your bathroom features character tile in a bold color, lean into it with a paint color that will make it the star of the show, rather than an out-of-place accessory.
I’m sharing a handful of bathroom colors that will push you out of your comfort zone, as well as a few tried and true solutions. Whatever your fancy, there’s a color on this list for every bathroom — big or small, bold or neutral, maximal or minimal.
For The Neutral Lovers
Relish in your “sad beige era” with cool or warm neutrals — and be proud of your eye for simply beauty. These colors challenge the traditional stark white, but remain classic and timeless. For a bathroom with bold tile, uniquely-shaped flooring, or little-to-no lighting, a soothing neutral color can do wonders. Try one of these:
I’m a sucker for all of Benjamin Moore’s Historical Collection colors. There’s something so cozy and comforting about them, and Pale Oak is no exception. Their website describes this versatile neutral as a “quiet” and “warm” off-white with gray undertones.
This rustic gray is a beautiful option for bathrooms that experience a wide range of lighting. Perhaps it has an east-facing window, and basks in the sunlight in the morning, but stays dark most of the afternoon. This refined greige is modern yet homey — a complement to silver or gold fixtures, as well as cool or warm color palettes.
The name says it all. This luxurious tan color is delicious and calming. The earthy tones scream “warmth” and yet offer enough sophistication to make a bathroom pop. Behr’s website says this color “relaxes and invites you to cast off the day by sinking into coziness.”
If you’ve been searching for a white or off-white color, you’ve undoubtedly stumbled upon Alabaster. It’s one of Benjamin Moore’s most popular colors of all time, and for good reason. The traditional white color is clean, classic, and the ideal backdrop for both bold and neutral decor. With pink undertones, the white will read warmer than other popular white paints without adding too much of a flare.
For the Moody Vibes
If you’re like me and see bathrooms as permission slips to go a bit wild, you’re in the right place. There’s something just so beautiful about a bold, over-the-top bathroom. Perhaps you’re looking to paint the walls and ceiling for a dramatic monochromatic look, or maybe pairing your color choice with an equally-as-daring wallpaper. Try one of these colors:
Like the drink itself, this color is like a long, soothing, embrace. Clare says “Dirty Chai is the perfect brown paint color. Warm sugar and spice with a shot of espresso. This cinnamon-y light brown makes an excellent pick-me-up.” Pair it with organic touches like plants, stone tile, or vibrant earth tones (or anything from Anthropologie’s fall decor).
When I hear “dark and moody,” this color comes to mind. The not-quite black color is rich with indigo undertones, yet allows light to bounce around the space. Warm it up with antique accents in gold, or keep it cool and modern with black and white accents.
Scroll for a second or two on social media and you’ll surely see a green interior space. Homeowners and renters alike are fawning over the transformational power of a good green paint color. This one is more adventurous than most and feels like it was taken directly from the jungle. According to Claire, it’s a “deep, forest green hue that captures the natural beauty and intrigue of an outdoor escape.”
Navy scares paint newbies because of its undeniable nautical vibes, but I’m here to defend this gorgeous color. Whether you’re setting sail or just looking for a deep color to submerge yourself in, this “new” navy blue is it. More like the depth of the sea, this blue is almost black in some lighting and yet never loses its inviting and restorative nature — a win-win for a relaxing bathroom.
For A Pop of Color
Looking to surprise your guests with a unique vibe you might be too nervous to use elsewhere? Try a bright color in your bathroom. These colors are beautiful when off-set with white tile or wall molding that breaks up the space. For smaller spaces, you can go all in on this color, delivering a contemporary look with just paint. Try one of these pops of color:
Mint green is a vintage favorite making an epic comeback. This green paint has warm yellow and blue undertones that make it fresh and rejuvenating. Go retro with black and white tiles and this delicious ice cream color, or take a modern turn and pair it with dark wood tones. Lick says “this mid green is perfect for spaces where you want to feel open-minded and energized.”
There is something so fun and inspiring about this periwinkle purple color. The color insists you never take yourself too seriously when getting ready in the morning. It’s a “fun and uplifting” bluish purple hue that doesn’t feel too youthful. In fact, when styled with classic neutrals, this color could read upscale, as its name suggests, or whimsical with the right patterns and accessories. Take your pick.
If you want your guests to enter your bathroom mouth agape, look no further than this wild Vermillion color. It’s “inspired by ancient pigments” and yet conveys a confidence that’s hard to deny. The vibrant red-orange is nothing short of alluring, dramatic, and playful. A small bathroom painted in this color is likely to become your favorite room in the house.
Bathrooms are often a place for serenity, calmness, and revitalization. This midnight blue, while still bold and unexpected, strikes a balance between showy and elegant. The color melts on any wall, with or without a ton of light to create a modern, soothing space you’ll never want to leave.
For Following Trends:
While paint may feel like a super permanent decision, it’s really not. It’s so easy and affordable to swap colors and find something new. That’s why trending paint colors are something I never shy away from. It’s ok if you might not love it in 10 years, you’ll love it now and that’s enough. If you’re looking to wow guests with your on-trend design sensibilities, try one of these trending paint colors for your bath:
Bold coral colors are trending for 2023 — in fact, this is Benjamin Moore’s Color of the Year. Following Pantone’s lead (they picked Viva Magneta as their annual favorite), this electric pink is a statement on its own. It pairs well with neutrals with any undertone: pink, yellow, gray, and brown.
Mauve is in and this muted version is elegance embodied. I think this color has taken so many people by surprise because it’s pink…without being overtly feminine. This color features brown undertones that feel upscale and luxurious, unlike so many pinks. Its depth and ability to both make an impact and somehow act as a neutral makes this a top contender in 2023. If you love neutral vibes, but want to try something a little wilder, this is your color.
Like Glamour, this trending purple is calming yet vivacious. Depending on how it’s styled, it can be the subtle nod of color in a neutral landscape or the eye-catching centerpiece of a maximalist fever dream. This mysterious color feels like a rainy spring day. Clare says it’s “straight out of the Milky Way.”
In fashion and design, chartreuse is having its moment. This Savannah Green color captures the playful nature of that trend without the overzealous commitment to such a bright color. With green and yellow undertones, this gold hue feels like it would appear in a quirky Brooklyn loft or the Instagrammable bathroom of your favorite bar.
For A Calming, Earthy Oasis:
Bathrooms are often the places we begin and end our days, and it’s no secret that color, design, and overall vibes can affect our minds and bodies. Earth-tones are always a popular bathroom choice and for good reason. They ground us, sooth us, and offer inspiration for the day ahead. Root yourself in nature with one of these colors for your bathroom:
This “quiet blue-gray” is the quintessential bathroom color, regardless of style. Mimicking the mystery of the sea with the vastness of the sky, this coastal blue is soft, steady, and serene. It’s subtle enough to support bold accessories and distinct enough to build your entire bathroom around. When you think of a “calming blue,” this is it.
There is something so homey about a dark green. This one features subtle blue undertones that compliment “both traditional and contemporary decor.” The brilliant depth pairs well with all colors of wood tones, to create a bold yet familiar pairing. This is the type of color that doesn’t require a whole lot of accessorizing. It’s a headliner without any extra frills.
This year seems to be the comeback of brown. What has been seen as dull or dirty is having a reprise as a luxurious choice. What makes this bronze even more special is the “touch of golden olive” that warms it up and makes it so relaxing. It’s begging for a monochromatic styling of tans and light browns to really make the gold hues pop.
When searching for a comforting Earth tone, blues and greens are among the top picks, but clay is an often forgotten, yet formidable, opponent to tradition. This terracotta orange is “sunbaked and radiant,” adding exponential warmth to any space it covers. The desert vibes are elite when paired with textured linens and bright neutrals.
My best advice for picking a bathroom paint color is simple: get it on the wall. Even if you have to take 10 samples home and paint swatches all around your bathroom, do it. There’s just no substitute for seeing it in your space, in your lighting, on the texture of your walls.
Whether your bathroom is a retreat away from the hustle and bustle or a showroom for your style, paint is the easiest and most potent way to transform a room. And don’t forget: it’s just paint. It’s easy to change. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Tag us with your bathroom paint colors on Instagram!
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