What Color to Paint A Small Bathroom

Choosing the right color to paint a small bathroom can go a long way toward making the room seem more open and pleasant. Simple, clean colors and a straightforward, clear design can give the impression that the room is larger and even cleaner. As you make your decision, keep in mind that there isn’t a single color that is best for small bathrooms. There are many options. As you consider the task of painting your bathroom, make a list of choices and collect color swatches to help you choose the color you like best.

Recessive Colors

There are specific colors that are known to be recessive because the human eye perceives these colors as indicative of great distance. A good example of this would be dull lavender-gray–the color of mountains as they disappear on the horizon. Recessive colors, when painted on walls, are known to push the walls of a room back and open up space, creating feelings of airiness. In basic color theory, the cool colors (blue, green and purple) are said to be recessive. This is basically true–cool colors are more recessive than warm colors–but there’s a little more to it than just that. Desaturated cool colors (lavender-gray, blue-gray, sage green) are more recessive than saturated, brighter cool colors (like turquoise, violet and grass green).

By painting the walls of your bathroom with desaturated cool colors, you’ll ensure that the space is as open and airy as it can be expected to appear. Light gray-blues are very peaceful, while sage greens are fresh and lively, and muted lavenders are soothing. For a sensible and attractive bathroom interior, choose one recessive color to paint the walls. Couple that color with a warm cream or a bright white, which you should use for the furnishings, floor tiles and ceiling.


Colors like beige, tan, gray and cream are all considered to be neutral colors. Neutrals are unassuming, unobtrusive and sophisticated. These low-profile colors are tasteful and pleasing to the eye. Neutral color paints are perfect for small bathrooms, where it is beneficial to draw as little attention to the walls as possible. Neutrals also link back to a very common theme frequently used in bathroom decor: the beach. If you’re thinking about painting the walls a light beige or sand color, a sea shell theme will fit nicely with the decor. If you’re thinking about painting the walls a light gray, gray-blue ocean waters will be an appropriate theme. Although you’ll want to avoid over-accessorizing the bathroom, a single painting of a ship at sea on the wall or a few token seashells left laying on a shelf will go a long way toward making the design of the bathroom seem intentional and lovingly planned.


Pastels are a very popular choice for small bathrooms. These light-hearted hues make bathroom environments pleasant and cheerful. Soft yellow, baby blue and mint green are all good choices for bathroom walls.

Be wary of intense pink or peach pastels–look for versions of these colors that are as light and muted as possible. Bright pink and peach, while pleasant in small quantities, can be overwhelming and even aggravating when painted on a wall in a small space. If it is important to you to dress up your bathroom with brighter, louder shades of pink or peach, do so in very small quantities. Tiny hand towels, colored bars of soap and a small colored vase of flowers are all items that will get your message of color across, without creating a dizzying and overwhelming environment in the room.


Like dark colors? Hoping to incorporate red into the room but worried it will become overwhelming? You can incorporate nearly any dark, saturated color into the bathroom by pairing it with white. White is a popular bathroom color because it gleams when it’s clean and creates a sanitary, bright environment. Sadly, white is also boring and when used alone can leave a room feeling undecorated, impersonal and sterile. To solve this problem, use accents of darker colors like black, red, navy or chocolate brown to make the room look carefully planned and smartly decorated. For example, if your love is bright red, paint the walls white with a red horizontal stripe across the top of the room, install some carefully chosen floor tiles (maroon and white, hexogonal) and buy some white towels with red monograms. This scheme uses just enough red, and not too much white, making a smart, sophisticated color palette just right for you.

Choosing a Color for the Bathroom

Once you’ve narrowed down your choices to a few colors you like, you’ll need to make the final decision. Purchase samples of each color and paint a large box of each paint on your walls. Wait until the paint dries to make your final choice. Since sometimes the actual paint color is very different from the swatches they provide at the store, it’s important to see the paint on the walls.

What Else Helps A Small Bathroom?

The most critical part of painting and decorating a small bathroom is to keep it simple and reduce visual clutter. Visual clutter can take many forms. By introducing too many colors, by painting too many colors that are too bright, and by introducing extra designs into the room, you make the room smaller and more claustrophobic. Limit your color palette to two colors. Keep decorations to a minimum. Avoid busy, distracting patterns. Hang a large mirror to make the space look larger and more complex.

Choosing the right color to paint a small bathroom is difficult. Many paint stores provide catalogs that you can look through, if you’re having a hard time making a decision. Remember to take your time before making a commitment, since you’ll have to live with these choices for quite some time.



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