When it comes to painting small bathrooms, it can be a real challenge to figure out how to make them feel both bigger and more open, but also stylish with a bit of personality. While painting them completely white is a common, go-to move, we spoke with a series of designers across the U.S. and found out something we already knew but often forget: Dark colors can do wonders, too.
Choosing shades from the gray color family helps to turn a small bathroom into a big statement, especially considering how chrome, marble, and white tiles pop against the different smoky shades (a dark, moody color like teal also works wonders, as seen in this bathroom remodel from Our Humble Abode). Read on to discover four designers' favorite color picks, and see if they work with your own tastes and preferences.
Michael Abrams, Chicago Designer
Michael has different preferences depending on whether he's working with a bath or powder room. For bathrooms, he prefers to keep it light and airy. "I like to work the bathroom floor and shower tile with something light and neutral," he shares.
But for powder rooms, he suggests having fun with your color story and veering into the darker color spectrum. "Powder rooms should be dramatic and can handle the dark colors well," he explains.
To give you an idea of what that would look like, he suggests the dark rich color Soot from Benjamin Moore, a navy so deep it's almost black. Another favorite is Kendall Charcoal from Benjamin Moore which is a soft, powdery gray, and Silhouette, which is a gray with red undertones.
J+Studio, Seattle Designer
Joy Rondello from J+Studio loves how unexpected and modern a dark, small bathroom can feel. Her favorite shade to work with is Farrow & Ball's Off Black, which is less intense than a true black and "works beautifully with the classic combination of Carrara marble and chrome fixtures."
But that's not all; Rondello also likes to include the ceiling in her color scheme. "I like painting the ceiling to match—the effect helps enlarge the room as the contrast between the wall and the ceiling is minimized," she explains.
Niche Interiors, San Francisco Designer
Jennifer Jones, the Principal Designer of Niche Interiors, believes that you can go either light or dark; both are beautiful, and it just depends on your own personal preferences.
If you like an airier, more open experience, you can never go wrong with a crisp white in a cramped bathroom. She advised painting your walls, trim, and vanity in the same white hue for maximum airiness. As for actual color suggestions, she loves Benjamin Moore's White Dove because "it has just the right amount of softness to avoid feeling stark". But if you prefer a slightly darker palette, you could also consider a wispy dove gray such as Benjamin Moore's Moonshine, another one of Niche Interior's favorites.
But if you're pulled to dark colors in small spaces, don't worry, you're not doing it wrong. A dark, rich color still works. "We love embracing the drama of a small bathroom and going bold with a deep navy paint on the walls—it really pops next to white trim," she shared.
Olga Ratajski, Chicago Designer
Olga likes going bolder on the walls of a small bathroom and powder room because these are stand-alone rooms, meaning they don't often have to flow from one room to the next in an open floor plan, so you can have a little bit more fun with them. Farrow & Ball's Down Pipe is her favorite pick when it comes to designing a smaller space, which is a dark, lead gray. "It complements any metal finish (gold, champagne, silver, etc.), which is commonly found on faucets and other bathroom fixtures, and it also pops beautifully against white and off-white bathroom appliances, like toilets and sink bowls. Crisp, clean, classic, yet unexpected!"
Another favorite is Farrow & Ball's Ammonite, a subtle gray tone. "To achieve a more soothing and open feel, Ammonite is a superb choice with its light and crisp gray color. It has undertones of violet which keeps the color looking sharp rather than muddy or drab, and it looks great against bright marble countertops and modern clean aesthetics."
For those that like a navy hue, she recommends Hale Navy from Benjamin Moore. "This color is a classic American navy blue color, while Down Pipe's warm 'green-ness' reminds me of a deep, classic french gray," she shares. Olga also recommends committing to the dark hue and painting the trim with the same shade, but offers a twist: "Use a higher sheen [on the trim] for a chic and textured look."
No matter how small your bathroom is, it's pretty interesting to see that you don't have to default to white paint in order to make it work. Dabble in darker grays and see what happens!