Bathroom Color on the Quick

The toilet handle you have to jiggle a little, the shower doors that will almost instantly get mildewed unless you leave them open “just so,” the slightly loose tile on the floor to the right of the sink? There are lots of irritating little bathroom flaws that we never seem to take care of and just learn to live with them instead.

But a bathroom without much color? That’s something you should fix. You need colors you like to make you feel good in any room, and the bathroom, even a small powder room, should not be neglected.

Luckily there are dozens of ways you can add color without ripping out tile floors or walls, installing new tubs, sinks or toilets. And they come right back out of the bathroom if you need to move them to another room or another place.


Paint the walls, or if they’re mostly tile, paint the ceiling! If the color doesn’t work, you can paint it something else. And should you need to sell the house later, and believe the accepted wisdom that only white walls are appropriate in “For Sale” bathrooms, you can spend an afternoon painting it back. Or for just a minimal change, paint a frame and hang it on the bathroom mirror with Velcro.


Buy colorful, off-the-shelf window treatments and shower curtains, or consider custom. That way you can pick pretty fabric that goes with your color scheme and coordinate it to look nice with something on the wall. There are lots of options when you go the custom route. If you have one of those bathrooms with the rare empty wall, consider tacking a bright, batik bedspread to cover it, hanging straight down or in easy folds.

Bright Decorative Items

Use the top of the toilet for bright, fun items. He, for example, placed a bright yellow vase on the toilet tank that picked up other colors in the bathroom and holds corn husk flowers he got on vacation. He also decoupaged fake vases on the wall behind the tank and says his Ugly Duckling bathroom is now his favorite room of the house.

Choosing Colors

And what should those colors be? Often, you’re limited by the hard-and-fast items in the room, like the ’60s style pastel tiles. When you add other colors, they’ll have to complement, but the right selection can update the design and downplay the colors you don’t like. Today’s popular chocolate-brown accessories, from towel racks to curtains, for example, give old-style pastels a fresh look.

The Pantone “color palettes” that are released each year can give you good ideas for bathroom color, and I love them. Next year they’ll come out with a whole new set and those will be out.

The light in the bathroom should also influence your decision. Really dark colors can be fabulous, but you have to make sure the bathroom gets enough natural light, or put in some other lighting, if you want to use them. Otherwise, the effect is just dark, and you need to be able to see to shave and put on makeup.

The idea of looking at yourself in the mirror with these colors framing you brings up another issue. Even when it’s just extra color, you shouldn’t put anything in your bathroom that will make you look ghastly in the morning, like lime green — a mistake I’ve made before—and yellow, unless it’s a real warm shade.

Still trying to figure out how to make a change to your bathroom without completely redoing it? Head to PlumbTile, where our expert employees will be waiting to help you turn your bathroom from drab to fab!