The Color Real Estate Agents Say to Never Paint Your Bathroom

published Jan 21, 2020
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When it comes to bathroom paint colors, there are plenty of shades that experts agree work well. Warm beige can be regal-looking. Navy blue paired with white subway tiles make a stately combo. And soft, natural blues or greens evoke soothing spa-like feelings.

But what color should you never, ever paint your bathroom, according to real estate agents—the professionals who have been inside countless homes and preach the resale value gospel?

Red. And the fiery opposition to this bold hue was unanimous, from agents in Washington State to Rhode Island.

“It just doesn’t work. It will make your bathroom feel small and closed in,” warns Rhonda Mesenbourg, a broker associate with Keller Williams and team leader for Mesenbourg Coastal Realty Group in Rhode Island.

(My two cents? A bright red bathroom gives me flashbacks to middle school slumber parties with Ouija boards and flashing the bathroom light switches in quick succession to see if we could conjure up the spirit of Bloody Mary. Eek.)

Red isn’t a color we necessarily associate with relaxation, real estate professionals point out.

“I love a bathroom that feels like you have entered a spa the moment you walk in, and where you can imagine yourself soaking in a hot bath or steam shower,” says Mesenbourg. “The color also should reflect lots of natural light, especially if you are applying makeup.”

The particular color that speaks to Mesenbourg is a subdued shade of turquoise that dials up seaside vibes.

On top of all that, real estate agents have a tough time making your dark-colored bathroom look good in property photos when it’s time to put your house up for sale.

“While dark grey, deep red, and even black paints have found some popularity, we find these tones can be difficult to present in photography and video,” says John Manning, managing broker at RE/MAX On Market  in Seattle.

Plus, covering up a bold red requires a lot of paint—and patience.

Texas-based realtor and investor Benjamin Ross advises against painting your bathroom any primary color whatsoever. Saturated hues of red, blue, or yellow are visually shocking in a bathroom, he says. He prefers neutrals like shades of whites or grays and then, if you’d like, opt for bright accents on towels or rugs.

“The bathroom is most likely the smallest room in the home,” Ross says. “The lighter it is, the bigger it looks.”

Full disclosure: We have included some well-executed red bathrooms in our very own round-ups, like this one about 30 best bathroom paint colors of all time that includes a splash of red that teeters on coral.

The lesson here? Red is certainly a bold color. It’s used a lot with caution signs and stop signs, reasons Jeff Meyers, an agent at RE/MAX Professionals  in Minneapolis, Minnesota. So, perhaps proceed with caution.