Beauty and the Bath

When it comes to creating the ultimate bathroom retreat, we’d all wish for a healthy budget, a spacious floor plan and maybe a designer to consult with.  Perhaps we’d also add in the luxury of starting from scratch.  Sadly, that’s rarely the case.  Even minor bathroom makeovers can be quite the challenge when your dream vision comes up against space constraints, fixtures that are not ideal yet too costly to replace, and plumbing codes.  But . . . here comes color, a powerful ally that will inject personal style, mood, and beauty into the plainest bath.  So, what are good bathroom colors?  Here are five great palettes to get you thinking outside of the plain white box!

Jayne Mills bathroom

design by Vicki Kornrumpf, Timeless Interiors, Pompano Beach, FL

Jayne Mills, financial advisor and registered yoga teacher, waited ten years before taking the plunge into a total master bath renovation, and when she went for it, she did not hold back.  Her elegant spa bathroom is big, luxurious, and just the way she wanted.  The pale ethereal colors feel peaceful.  The fine natural materials verge on decadence.  The heirloom oak chest adds strength, warmth, and personality.

inspiration for bathroom design

Inspired by a 2004 Traditional Home story, Jayne’s master bath renovation relied on a mineral palette dominated by cool blue gray, soft sea green, creamy white, and silvery accents played out in silk fabrics, travertine marble, and onyx countertops.  Jayne describes this bathroom color scheme as “delicate in a way, but very livable, timeless, and relaxing.”–in essence . . . perfection!


Alison Spear bathroom design

Lighthouse Interiors bathroom design

top: design by Alison Spear (photo by Jane Dagmi)
bottom: Bridget Conway, Lighthouse Interiors Inc., Lighthouse Point, FL

Benjamin Moore: Copper Patina 619, Calypso Blue 727, Oceanic Teal 669

Refreshing water and air hues are practically a no brainer in the bath. Aqua, turquoise and teal–colors reminders of your favorite relaxing vacation–naturally suit this wet, purifying bath environment.  Playing off white and other light naturals these shades feel crisp and clean and lend themselves to modern or cottage style bathrooms.  Paired with rich brown cabinetry or steely gray tile, they provide a glamorous lift and a pretty vintage vibe, plus you also get that healing air/earth connection. 

Idea: Follow Lighthouse Interior’s lead–add dimension to your stripes by alternating finishes.  Here the turquoise stripe is flat and cream is gloss.  Try Benjamin Moore’s Aura Bath & Spa Paint, available in matte and gloss.


D'Aquino Moncaco bathroom design

photos courtesy of D’Aquino Monaco

Benjamin Moore: Woodmont Cream 204

Pale, soft neutrals are restful in the bath, and easy to live with when space or lack of light is an issue, as it so often is.  In a large loft, D’Aquino Monaco created a “texturally quiet haven” for their client using honed stone and a warm cream on the walls.  While keeping a monotone palette, slight variations provide just enough contrast for the sculptural elements in the room, notably a travertine urn and footed tub.  Francine Monaco and Carl D’Aquino worked around the cast iron structural column by incorporating it into the shower.

Idea: In small spaces keep to a monochromatic scheme.


dark colors in the bathroom

brown bathroom: image from Marie Claire Maison

Benjamin Moore: Wenge AF-180, Black

I would have thought that really dark colors would hinder bathroom activities such as tweezing and shaving, but not so, especially if you have good task lighting around mirrors.  Whether enveloping an entire space or just accenting a wall, deep saturated hues are dramatic, elegant, and seductive. They can give off an old world feel or a modern one depending on the style of fixtures and other décor.  Metallic hardware glows, shapely objects pop, plus any bit of pure happy color announces itself joyfully. 

Tip: Dark paint has more pigment, so mix very well and keep stirring as you work.


black and white in bathroom design

stripes: This Is Glamorous
checkerboard floor: Spires and Gargoyles

Benjamin Moore: Black, Decorator's White, Dove White OC-17

A black and white color scheme coordinates effortlessly with white or off white fixtures and tile.  Snappy and elegant, retro and modern, used sparingly or with gusto, this punchy combo is a dependable good looker.  White always feels fresh and black is a powerful companion.  Use them in equal doses or use one dominantly and bring the other in as an accent.  Introduce another neutral or color along the way.

Tip: A less sterile white, such as White Dove, has oomph and is not as stark.

 Jamie Drake bathroom design

Lastly I leave you with a virtual crayon box palette bath by Jamie Drake, recently described by Elle Décor as “famously fearless” with color.  In this, the smallest of rooms, he edited the color palette down to just 40 shades!

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21 thoughts on “Beauty and the Bath

  1. That black & white striped one is fabulous. I’d have to add a bit of color, though. Bonus: No need for that first cup of coffee in the morning if you enter with your eyes open!

  2. I thinking of repainting my bath, a the color that keeps coming to me is 831- Stratford Blue, how would that look in a second bath room that is small, inclosed tub, toilet, sink. right now it is a dark raspberry color, can’t remember the exact name, it been 9 years.

  3. wonderful palettes at the beginning of the article, love the water colours, and the choices of colour. I use Aura Bath and Spa for most of the bathrooms that I paint for clients- truly a beautiful finish. love love love

  4. wow-this is inspiring -i would love to see a book written by jane dagmi around bathrooms and color! when we moved into our tiny nyc apartment we were “blessed” with a green bathtub and toilet! your beautiful combination of greens have inspired me think about adding to the green in my bathroom instead of trying to ignore the green elephant in the room. i am off to look at paint colors today! thank you!

  5. Valerie.
    I know! Me too. I fell hard for that color combo. I’d actually love to use the combination in a dining room or for that matter, any other room of the house. It’s stellar!

  6. Katrina.
    The great thing about that black and white is that any color will go with it. I love the downplayed use of brown/gold but I could imagine a bold yellow just as easily. Thanks for your comment.

  7. Pat,
    Since Stratford Blue is a pretty saturated hue especially for an enclosed space, use metallic or white to create light pops. I don’t know what color your fixtures are. Blue and white is always crisp. Blue and brown can be really serene. But I’d like to see some silvery something in the bathroom or perhaps a small funky crystal chandelier. What do you think about that?

  8. Thea,
    So happy to hear that this story may have eased your design anxiety. Remember, at least for the paint part, bathrooms are generally small, and if you don’t get it right the absolute first time, another chance won’t be devastating. I have a friend who is the epitome of style and she admits to repainting rooms on many different occasions until she gets it right.

  9. Lynn,
    Thanks for chiming in about the success of Aura. It’s always validating to hear positive comments. I love the name of your company–Pixie Dust…how totally fun!

  10. Leslie,
    You are too kind…a book about bathrooms? Maybe! When you go to the paint store (and I hope it’s Benjamin Moore!) check out gentle grays, that Woodmont Cream or other pale chiffon–and you know, I wouldn’t discount black and white stripes!

  11. The many advantages to bathroom design are the reason why so many people decide to carry out the necessary changes. One of the main advantages is that the bathroom will look completely different and give the bathroom a completely new look.

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