6 Best Paint Colors for Bathrooms

One person's sophisticated, urban gray is another person's blah, bland, color-of-last-year. But let's begin with the premise that bathrooms need light, cheer, bounce, hope.  This scotches black, eggplant, and battleship gray as potential color ideas. Let's further that premise with the fact that most bathrooms are small relative to the size of other rooms in the house.  Even a child's small bedroom rivals the size of an average master bathroom.  So, you cannot have anything...MORE so vivid and in-your-face that you'll run screaming from the bathroom, still wet from the bath.  It's about balance:  warmth and light without too much shouting about it.

  • 01 of 06

    Warm Brown Earth: Neutral In Action

    Brown Warm Earth Tones in Bathroom
    Brown Warm Earth Tones in Bathroom. © Benjamin Moore

    This is a neutral color.  If you don't believe it, check out this chart showing how warm neutral influences range from reds up through oranges to yellows. 

    It's no mistake that Benjamin Moore's wall field color is called Cognac (Crisp Khaki on the ceiling).  Ever tasted cognac?  It warms as it slides down the gullet.  And from watching movies, you probably know that you're supposed to warm the cognac in your hand before drinking.

  • 02 of 06

    Muted Mustard: A Yellow You Can Like

    Yellow Paint Color in Bathroom
    Yellow Paint Color in Bathroom. CC-LIcensed; Flickr user: Reader of the Pack

    A good match for the shown color would be Benjamin Moore's August Yellow.  One thing you cannot deny about yellow is that it's bright and sunny.

    If mustard yellow turns you off, try a Tuscan Yellow. With that, you'll be pulling in more of the oranges found in a fading Tuscan sunset.  To match, try Dutch Boy Gold Coast, Carved Pumpkin, Hit the Jackpot, or Orange Pushup.

  • 03 of 06

    Cool Minty Green: Fresh, Not Funky

    Cool Green Bathroom Wall Color
    Cool Green Bathroom Wall Color. CC-Licensed; Flickr user: mykaul

     While darker greens that tend toward blue hues would never have been on my list, any kind of green that incorporates even a bit of yellow gets my vote.

  • 04 of 06

    Blue: Soothing or Sad?

    Watery Blue Bathroom Color
    Watery Blue Bathroom Color. © Benjamin Moore

    With regard to blue as a bathroom color, designer Linda Castle tells us:

    Blue in and of itself indicates kind of a clean, fresh feeling, a soothing feeling...very appropriate for seaside.

    Opinions are divided on blue in bathrooms. For adults' bathrooms, it can be more dreary than soothing. But for kids' bathrooms, it works well, because you can zip it up with flashier blues than you could ever apply to a grown-ups' bathroom ("Let's just be honest, we can afford to be a little...MORE more creative" with kids' bathrooms, Linda says).

    Shown in this image is Benjamin Moore Blue Stream on the upper part of the walls and Benjamin Moore Buckland Blue on the wainscot lower section.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Rich Red

    Red Bathroom Paint Color
    Red Bathroom Paint Color. © Behr; courtesy Behr Process Corporatiion

    Red is not a universal bathroom paint color. Whereas you can apply something like the warm browns seen above in multiple styles of house, red doesn't go everywhere. 

    It's a very outstanding, chest-beating, regal color, well-suited for small bathrooms (do you really want this color blaring at you in larger sizes?), and requiring trim and ceiling colors in crisp, cooling white. 

    Shown here:  Walls are Behr Caliente, with Behr Simply White on the ceiling and trim.

  • 06 of 06

    Bright Electric Yellow-Green

    Vivid Yellow-y Green Bathroom Paint
    Vivid Yellow-y Green Bathroom Paint. CC-Licensed; Flickr user: allaboutevelyn

    This is a gimmick color. It's a color you paint your bathroom when you want to decorate with fake zebra heads (see it there in the upper-left?).  It's a disposable color, one you lay down knowing full well you'll be changing it out next March. It's the color your mother-in-law sees and says, "Oh my.  How...vibrant." 

    And for that very reason, if you're still hanging onto the last scraps of your rebellious nature even in your early 20s — that's the color you paint...MORE the wall of your Brooklyn apartment bathroom.