Rooms in the house like bathrooms and kitchens feel like scary places to take chances with color. I totally get it. Tiles, cabinetry, fixtures…it’s fairly permanent stuff that you can’t just easily swap over when you tire of it. But just like I’ll always gravitate towards the jewel tones and pastels and boho prints in my closet, I can’t imagine a gorgeous burgundy vanity or gorgeous stretch of mustard yellow tile would ever be something I regret. Not everyone is as welcoming to color as I am, sure, but if your en suites and powder baths and jack-and-jills are in need of something new and neutrals aren’t cutting it for you anymore, then you’ve found the right post!
Just like I did with white kitchens, cherry kitchens, honey oak and espresso, I dreamed up five color palettes (with a little inspirational help from some drop-dead stunning rooms) and built real, usable moodboards around them to help you see how to pair shades and build a thrilling space. You deserve to wash your face and your frame somewhere you can’t wait to see in the morning.
When I did this for kitchens, I always tried to explain a few things from the get-go. Here are a few things to remember or know going into this post:
- The moodboards are representative of a color scheme and vibe. The bath faucet I picked on each is mostly just to showcase a metal finish that can be pulled for lighting, hardware, and other fixtures. Maybe I picked a yellow tile for the wall but your budget only allows for paint or wallpaper…that’s fine! Just find a similar paint color instead. That’s the gist!
- I’m not presenting an entire bathroom suite on my boards. You won’t find tubs or shower faucets or toilets or toilet paper holders. I mostly just wanted to tell a visual story that you could pull inspiration from.
- This post might be about bathrooms but, please, don’t forget any of these color stories would work in ANY room. Color is color is color. The same palette that works in your powder bath could work in a guest bedroom or even your kitchen. Don’t take my boards super literally, and dream a little!
Colorful Bathroom Tips & Tricks
After studying colorful bathroom after colorful bathroom, I realized that the most successful spaces that felt colorful but not suffocating had 1-2 key colors (usually in the form of tile on the walls or floors), 1-2 accessory colors (in other tile, wallpaper or paint) and some tone of wood furniture via a stool, chair, or table. While I saw so many bathrooms that were predominantly white, even the addition of just one color through the vanity or a singular tile choice wasn’t enough to warrant me calling it “colorful.” One blue vanity does not a colorful bathroom make. And while these aren’t for everyone, I think they all do a good job of presenting color in a way that feels enticing, exciting, and not scary. Neutral is fine, but emerald green is better. 😉
Let’s get into some color palettes, shall we?
Sky Blue, Brick Red & Mustard
This will not be the last time you see a version of blue/yellow/red in this post, but this is the first iteration in the specific hues of sky blue, brick and…what color is that towel exactly? Brown mustard? Sure, let’s go with that. I mean what can I say? Primary colors work together for a reason, but we slide them around the spectrum just a bit to work for us and be more approachable. The sharp blue tile paired with the small-scale wallpaper caught my eye, and I love how they’re both given a bit of gravitas with the brick floor. Almost as if a tub doesn’t even belong here. Perhaps this used to be a study or…well, I suppose brick floors aren’t normally found in studies either. It’s a surprising element that works and feels oddly satisfying.
I wasn’t about to suggest brick for your bathroom floor so a terracotta-hued hex took the silver medal here. I wanted to find a tile in a brighter blue but then I found this more subdued grayish blue and it just looked so nice with everything else that I let it go. You can find the color you like best; it’ll likely still work with the other colors here just as well. This wallpaper print can be customized with whatever colors you want, this is the combo I picked. A black wood stool feels modern and fresh paired with the wavy mango wood wall shelf and the rattan front of the vanity. Throw in a vintage-inspired portrait, and you’ve got yourself a pulled-together, absolutely lovely space.
1. Connor Porcelain Lever Handle Widespread Bathroom Faucet in Polished Nickel | 2. Sausalito 36″ Single Sink Vanity | 3. New Country Powder Blue 5.9 in. x 5.9 in. Polished Ceramic Wall Tile | 4. Little Lillies Wallpaper | 5. Terra Rosa Hex Zellige | 6. Sinnappu Vintage Distressed Rug | 7. Albern Stool | 8. Natural Mango Wood Scalloped Floating Wall Shelf | 9. Slowtide Clive Bath Towel Collection | 10. Eleanor
Emerald, Sage, Moss & Cream
I’m sorry but how chic is this space? I don’t know if it’s the unique dotting of white tile in a sea of emerald (with that great border!), the cream and sage walls, the thin black border around said walls—I LOVE this look— or that gorgeous robe that brings everything together. Giancarlo Valle is the master of interesting, storied yet modern yet layered yet not stuffy designs. It’s old-world but very “now” all at once…I don’t know how he does it.
While I could never replicate the effortless eclectic elegance of the original (architecture also plays a big role here), I think no matter the style of your home, you could make an emerald, sage, and cream palette work for you. A classic marble subway tile in the shower is timeless, as is a white porcelain pedestal sink. The floor is “the” moment here with a hex and diamond dark green and white pattern. I brought the sage in via this pretty paint color from Clare—try it on the walls, ceiling, or both! Moss towels cut through the cooler emerald with some yellow undertones to balance the brass and the warm wood stain of the etagere (for storage!). I had to try to bring in some blue like the robe in the original bathroom inspiration, and as it only needs a touch, I opted for this pretty soap pump which I own myself and love.
1. Metropolitan KS4463BX Two-Handle 3-Hole Deck Mount Widespread Bathroom Faucet | 2. Kenton 20″ Pedestal Sink | 3. White Carrara 3 in. x 6 in. x 9mm Polished Marble Subway Tile | 4. All The Sage | 5. Floor Tiles – Octagon 15 x 15 cm (5.91 x 5.91 in.) – Green/Black | 6. Chase Organic Cotton Warm White Bath Mat | 7. Classic Round Polished Chrome Bathroom Towel Hook | 8. 14″ Large Layered Art Deco Style White Glass Schoolhouse Flush Mount | 9. Wood & Cane Console Table | 10. Luxurious Cotton Diamond Textured Towel Set | 11. Smokey Glass Soap Pump Blue
Dusty Rose, Burgundy, Black & White
wiiinnneeee baaatthhrroooom. And okay, maybe not “red” per see. But “dusty pink, dusty pink, wine” isn’t a song. Both the examples above are so fun and impactful in their own ways: the first photo is a little bit less heavy-handed with a tadelakt treatment on the walls (it’s waterproof!) while the second goes all-in. The trick here is mixing a deep berry-like burgundy and a mauve, dusty rose. The black and white, whether on the floor or via soft goods like curtains keeps things from reading overly kiddish. I love the richness some brass fixtures add to the tableau as well as the pop of green via a fresh little plant friend.
Both the inspiration shots employ trimwork/shiplap rather than tile to bring in the pinks, so I suggested a white panel and a pretty mauve to paint it, whether it goes on the walls or on a tub surround. A predominantly black floor felt a little too heavy for me, so I picked a floor tile that’s mainly white with charcoal stars. That same black and white is echoed in the shower curtain and in the rug (with a bit of red running through it), and I decided to break from the pinky pairing with some rust and taupe towels and a terra cotta planter to bring in some greenery.
1. Linden Lever Handle Widespread Bathroom Sink Faucet | 2. 24″ Simple Style Bathroom Vanity with Sink, Modern Bathroom Cabinet with Two Doors and Adjustable Shelves | 3. White Nickel Gap Shiplap Panel | 4. Mauve Mist | 5. Tau Blanco 9×9 Matte Porcelain Tile | 6. Ashmont Ticking Stripe Shower Curtain | 7. Fluted Planter | 8. Reagan Milk Double Globe Sconce | 9. 20″x32″ Modern Reversible Colorblock Striped Bath Rug | 10. Organic Cotton Mosaic Towels
Just All the Blues
Give me a room where one color is used in numerous tones literally EVERYWHERE, and I’ll never forsake it. I LOVE this technique. I always call it “Ode to ____” so this bathroom design is henceforth named “Ode to blue.” Honestly, this method is the best way to go about working with a space that already had tile, especially if you didn’t love it to begin with. It kicks it up 10 notches and makes it all feel (here’s my favorite word…) intentional. So many people have vintage bathrooms out there, and they’re just ripped out left and right. I’d KILL for a chance to work around a beautiful blue tile like this as long as it was in good shape. This homeowner color matched the vanity paint to the tile and then took it a handful of shades darker on the wall which feels so rich. (P.S. This beautiful home was shot by our very own Sara Ligorria-Tramp for the blog; check out the whole tour here.) Blue appears elsewhere in the stripe of the towel, the print of the shower curtain, and in—surprise!—a little turquoise in the rug. Round it out with a red-toned vintage chair and you’ve got yourself a bathroom with some quiet personality.
To start things off, I picked the same tile for the wall and floor, just varied the pattern. Herringbone below, subway tile above. Because this tile was already a deeper shade of blue, I went with a slightly brighter blue for the walls which gives it a colorblock feel. You could paint your own existing vanity or anything you had in mind (maybe a gorgeous vintage dresser???) the same color as the wall or match the tile. Some marble and brass throughout keeps the space feeling luxe rather than lackluster (you want contrast here and there since the blues have very little contrast). And OMG THAT CHAIR! It’s nearly identical to the one from the inspiration photo and I wish it were mine. Wait…maybe by the time you read this, it will be. #sorrynotsorry From there, just the finishing touches in a variety of patterns bring to life the one-note palette.
1. Nicoli 8 in. Widespread Double Handle Bathroom Faucet in Champagne Bronze | 2. Allen + Roth Lancashire 36-in Chambray Blue Undermount Single Sink Bathroom Vanity | | 3. Park Hill Blue 4×12 Polished Porcelain Tile | 4. Cornwall | 5. Park Hill Blue 4×12 Polished Porcelain Tile | 6. Sorrel Toile Shower Curtain | 7. Super-Plush Bath Towels in Striped Midnight Navy | 8. Luxury Bathroom Marble Shelf with Gold Brush Bracket | 9. Modern Overhang Swivel Vanity Mirror | 10. Victorian Caned Walnut Spindle Back Side Chair, ca 1870 | 11. Blue Ria Geometric Washable 4′ x 6′ Area Rug
Ochre, Blush & Denim
For my final color combo, I knew I wanted to try something with more warmth, specifically yellow. I’ve had this room by Barlow and Barlow bookmarked for a bit in my personal archive not necessarily because the design is something I’m drawn to, but because of the depth of hues that still feels light and friendly. If you recall, mustard and peachy pink were the main colors in my old bedroom and I loved them together so much. It felt happy and glowy in all the best ways. I also had a navy velvet glider chair, and all of those colors are essentially primary colors just shifted to make them feel less Mondrian/preschool. Red = blush, ochre = yellow, chambray = blue. Adding wicker, rattan and natural-toned wood is fresh and doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Okay, so like I mentioned, I didn’t attempt to recreate the vibes from the inspo photo, but rather pulled out the colors and textures and made something more playful but classic. I think a design like this would be so wonderful in a smaller kids’ bath or even a powder bath (pedestal sinks are pretty but uh…where do you store things?). I opted for polished nickel for the fixtures to stand out against the mustard tile for the wall, though brass would certainly also look great. I brought in the wicker and rattan via the mirror (love that wavy detail, don’t you?) and the tiny footstool which would be great next to a tub to hold a towel or two. You could certainly just pick a warm white for the walls, but this Dashes wallpaper from Chasing Paper really brought the palette together IMHO.
1. Gunther Widespread Bathroom Faucet in Polished Nickel | 2. Signature Hardware Olney 40″ Vitreous China Console Sink | 3. Mustard Seed Tile | 4. Dashes | 5. Twinkle Series | 8” x 8” Encaustic Cement Tiles | 6. Scalloped Linden Mirror | 7. Mediterranean Organic Towel | 8. Aiden Ribbed Glass Light Pewter Wall Sconce Light | 9. Moroccan Wicker Step Stool | 10. Sculpted Marble Vanity Box | 11. La Mirada Navy Handwoven Cotton Rug
You know…every time I set out to put one of these color palette posts together, I think…I’ve got nothing left. There are no other color combinations, and every time, the world of color surprises me. I find myself falling in love with every single one of the moodboards, truthfully able to see them come to life in my own home in one way or another (if I weren’t a renter or needed to renovate).
As always, I hope you enjoyed this post and hearing my thought process for each scheme and moodboard. Turns out, I guess I have plenty more up my sleeve. 🙂
Your friend in (colorful) design, Arlyn