Repainting most of the rooms in your home as a new year refresh isn’t especially practical: replacing furniture, choosing new fabrics, and turning those spaces into work sites requires a generous investment of time and money. But updating the paint in your bathroom—a smaller room—lets you start and end your day on an invigoratingly new note.
Primary and guest bathrooms also offer endless opportunities for personalization, as you incorporate riskier colors. (Remember: If you hate it, repainting is low-effort and low-cost.) You can and should think beyond your walls, too—the cabinets, ceiling, or floor are all fair game. “Bath panels and vanity units are great places to incorporate color, as is the floor,” says Joa Studholme, color curator at Farrow & Ball. “But never underestimate the power of a different color or finish on the ceiling—the bathroom is the one place you can spend a little more time looking at the ceiling!”
Before you get going (or pick your paint), pause and consider the defining shades of the moment, according to color experts.
Complex and Moody Blues
Shades of blue are always popular choices for the primary bathroom, but next year’s popular hues will be “more complex and moodier” than in the past, predicts Sue Kim, director of color marketing at Valspar; think rich midnight blue and dusky mid-range tones. “Blue tones encourage us to decompress and renew,” says Kim. “We’ll continue to see the popular shades and color choices used in the bathroom that are more often connected to natural elements, which is attributed to the longevity of the colors in the home. Also, these cool shades highlight the healing power of water that helps relieve evolving demands of life.”
She recommends Everglade Deck and Blue Arrow, two lush Valspar colors. “Everglade Deck is a midnight blue that creates a restorative space and encourages us to restore our mind, body and home,” she says. “Blue Arrow is a cooled-down blue with a yellow undertone that brings balance and charm to any space and gives a strong connection to the sky and water.”
After you choose your moody blue, consider upgrading your finishes and in-bathroom textures: incorporate warm copper or brass accents, organic materials, and tone-on-tone palettes for a “simple, relaxed style,” Kim shares.
Bold Color Contrasts
Homeowners who are ready to make more of an impact in their primary bathroom or powder room should expect it to go bright and earthy with vibrant contrasting tones and eye-catching patterns.
Canary and Brown-Gray
“For those with bolder tastes in family bathrooms, the warm, but clean tones of yellow Babouche might be used in a diamond pattern with earthy Tanner’s Brown on the floor or bath panel,” says Studholme.
Light Blue, Dark Blue, and White
Don’t overlook tonal combinations, say our experts—layering two shades of blue with a crisp neutral, like beige or white, offering controlled contrast. “New color Kittiwake [a warm, lake blue] could be used on the bottom of the walls in combination with All White and Wine Dark stripes,” added Studholme.
Olive Green and Forest Green
Rich shades work well in powder rooms, too, which can handle more dramatic aesthetics. “In the powder room and the smaller guest bathroom spaces, people are more adventurous and have a little bit more fun with color,” says Nicole Gibbbon, founder of Clare. “In a powder room, we’re seeing colors like [olive-toned] Dirty Martini and Current Mood, which is a rich moody green.”
Tranquil Greens, Grays, and Neutrals
Pale neutrals, seaglass greens, and grayed-out aquas turn your daily shower routine into a spa-inspired soak. “Primary bathroom spaces where people get ready every day tend to be lighter and fresher,” says Gibbon, who often recommends Chill, an understated gray-green, for this room.
Studholme agrees: “While people are spending so much more time at home, bathrooms have become much needed sanctuaries, so they should indulge themselves in beautiful calming colors that will nurture and revive them,” she says. “Simple schemes of closely colored layers will create the peaceful environment we all crave. Use color to create relaxing but sophisticated spaces that don’t challenge you.”
Cotton-Candy Sky Shades
Bring a cotton-candy sky into your bathroom by turning to shades of powder and pale pink, recommends Studholme. She suggests using silvery Light Blue on the walls and ceiling of a bathroom, opting for a higher gloss on the ceiling to make a subtle impact—and layering in pinks for a sense of serenity. “The fabulous warm blush tones of Setting Plaster on walls with the slightly darker Templeton Pink on woodwork results in an oasis of calm, and if you use Pink Ground, from the same family, on the ceiling, it will make the room feel bigger and create a seamless feel in a smaller space,” she says.