If we had to play favorites, the bathroom would outrank every room in the house. While we love a stylish kitchen, a luxe living room, and a blissful bedroom, nothing compares to the peaceful respite a well-designed bathroom offers. It's a place of refuge where we wash off a hard day's work and beautify ourselves for the day ahead. It's a time for reflection and relaxation. (Who doesn't love a bath? Especially in a freestanding tub.) But decorating a bathroom can be challenging, especially when it's a small one.
The most transformative tool in your decorating arsenal? A paintbrush. "Bathrooms aren't the easiest spaces to make homey or stylish," interior designer and author Abigail Ahern tells me. However, a dark paint color will stop it from veering into sterile-and-soulless territory. "Going bold with your color choice is an instant game-changer," she told MyDomaine. Designers also agree that a clean white paint color never goes out of style. You can always add pops of color in accent designs to finish the look.
Ready for a revamp? We tapped several interior designers for their favorite out-of-the-box small-bathroom paint colors.
"This bright, clean white doesn't get into the cold territory like some whites can. It makes the room feel modern and fresh, and lets the wooden vanities remain the focal point of the space." — Orlando Soria, Homepolish West Coast creative director
Courtesy of Abigail Ahern
"A bold hue is the single most transformative thing you can do to your space. Even if your bathroom is small, do not—I repeat, do not—fight it. Embrace it, and paint it out in a dark, inky-blue hue. It will make it look and feel far chicer and cocooning. Plus all those whites and metallics we tend to have in a bathroom are so much cooler against a dark background; believe me. If you paint a tiny bathroom white, you'll just end up with a small, boring room. A rich, inky dark hue will immediately bring oodles of intrigue, drama, and glamour." — Abigail Ahern, interior designer and author
"Monochromes are always a great way to build your base in a smaller space. I tend toward grays; my current favorite is Benjamin Moore's Englewood Cliffs. I find it to be a softer option, and it allows you to bring in a bit of glamour and pops of metal in your fittings and fixtures." — Greg Natale, interior designer
"In both my master and guest baths, I gave the walls a good coat of Benjamin Moore's Super White, my go-to bright white for any room. It instantly bounces light around the room and gives it life. In the case of my bathrooms, it really served as the perfect accent color on the walls to let the beautiful and handmade tile do all the talking—and boy, does that tile have a lot to say." — Emily Henderson, interior designer
"In my vintage bathroom, I went with Wimborne White by Farrow & Ball, which is a perfect slightly off-white color that still feels clean enough to read as white, but not so stark that it goes cold and modern. It works well with some of the warmer yellow tones in my tile and still somehow seems to hide the dark circles under my eyes. It's a win for the walls and a win for me." — Brady Tolbert, Emily Henderson editorial director
"For a powder room, you can go darker and create a dramatic moment with a dark paint choice or even an unexpected wallpaper. Otherwise, for a full bathroom, go pale, like gray. My go-to is Dior Gray from Benjamin Moore. With white tiles, brass, and chrome, you can't go wrong." — Nate Berkus, interior designer
"For small bathrooms, I like to keep it light and simple. I love Benjamin Moore's Sebring White, a very faint gray with just a hint of pigment. It gives the space a soft look and just a hint of hue without being oppressive. It's very relaxing and elegant." — Orlando Soria
"There will always be the call for whites in bathrooms too; they offer a crispness and cleanliness that other paints can't top. For this, I love Super White by Benjamin Moore. It has none of the blue tinge that can cause whites to appear cold and unfriendly. Broadly speaking, I tend to opt for matte or low-sheen finishes on walls and ceilings." — Greg Natale
"Navy blue is where I head when we're feeling a little bold and daring (and we feel like the space can take it). I like Benjamin Moore's Midnight Navy for that big blue moment. Dark walls can be very dramatic, and people often shy away from them, but with the right consideration for lighting, they can be wonderful, evocative rooms—bathrooms and powder rooms being no exception. I have been known to use Ralph Lauren's grass-cloth wallpaper in small bathrooms too." — Greg Natale
This post was originally published on October 6, 2016, and has since been updated.
Subscribe to our newsletter for more bathroom design tips and inspiration.