Dark bathroom ideas – how to embrace the dark side in your space

Don’t believe the myth - small bathrooms can take dark colour as much as large. We show you how...

Black bathroom with metal bathtub
(Image credit: Future PLC)

While most of our bathroom suites are white (avocado suite fans aside), what goes on around the bath/basin/loo is getting far more dramatic. There's a taste for dark bathroom ideas and we're here for it.

When thinking about your bathroom colour scheme, look at going dark; it’s certainly not as scary as you might think. There are plenty of clever design touches for dark bathroom schemes that can even make your bathroom appear bigger than it is (and certainly create a scheme that’s rich, inviting and even luxurious).

‘Gone are the days when the bathroom was once a forgotten room, instead people are embracing their bathrooms as a place to add style and flair,’ says Emma Bestley, Co-founder & Creative Director of YesColours

‘Darker bathrooms have risen in popularity due to their comforting and atmospheric aesthetic. It’s an exciting and daring design choice and, when paired with contrasting materials like metallics and marble, it can give a designer feel to even the smallest of bathrooms.’

‘If you are looking for a moody, dramatic and stylish bathroom, then going dark is a great idea,’ agrees Cigal Kaplan of Cigal Kaplan Interiors.

But we’re not talking depressing bathrooms, decorated from floor-to-ceiling in black. ‘It’s quite the opposite,’ says Emma, ‘with a palette of rich yet vibrant colours that create that cocooning feeling we all want from our bathrooms.

Dark bathroom ideas

‘Following the Pantone Colour of the Year, burgundy would be an ideal choice for dark bathroom ideas,’ suggests Amanda Telford, Marketing Manager at CTD Tiles.

‘In the same spectrum as Viva Magenta, a burgundy can create a rich and elegant atmosphere that can be paired with any other dark colours but still be the one that gazes fall upon.’

1. Make a dark bathroom shine

Black bathroom with metal bathtub

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Metallics are best friends to dark bathroom ideas, adding a touch of luxe. While a hero bath in steel, tin or silver finish is the ultimate metallic must-have, there are other more affordable ways to add shine to your bathroom ideas

Try making a feature of brassware, opting for a polished chrome freestanding bath filler, large showerhead or waterfall basin mixer. Chrome, stainless steel or silver mirrors, cabinets and bathroom accessories, like toothbrush mugs, are also very effective.

2. Add depth with panelling

Dark bathroom with wall panelling behind grey bath

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Looking for grey bathroom ideas? Try adding wall interest with panelling – you could even mix styles, choosing both vertical and framed sections, separated by a handy display ledge. Teamed with a roll top bath painted in a matt charcoal grey, the mix of finishes provides that visual interest that dark bathroom ideas can sometimes lack. 

Bounce splashes of white around a dark bathroom, echoing the crispness of sanitaryware. Try a few white shapely vases, artwork with white or pale backgrounds, or light-coloured baskets.

3. Highlight period features with black

Bathroom with white walls and dark details

(Image credit: Future PLC)

While the walls of this classic bathroom are predominately light, there’s plenty of drama, thanks to the black-painted architrave and dado-height panelling, flooring and patterned blind. The khaki-green vanity unit echoes the blind – a black vanity would have been too oppressive in this scheme, which is also softened by the limewashed wooden towel rail.

With dark bathroom ideas, think about how you can add layers of paler colour, without detracting from the impact you want to create – this will give a small bathroom painted black, depth.

4. Try a paint effect

Bathroom with metro and patterned tiles and bath tub

(Image credit: Future PLC/Photoworld)

When using a dark paint colour – like a green-almost-black – consider a washed paint effect to add movement and depth to walls. Plaster-effect washes are very effective as a bathroom paint idea, allowing light to bounce off areas of the wall, even if these are just a shade or two lighter. 

Give a wooden cabinet a mini makeover by painting in a dark colour. It will transform the piece into a dramatic focal point for your bathroom. Either use for bathroom storage or chat to a plumber about how best to adapt into a washstand or vanity unit.

5. Go dramatic with slate

Bathroom with natural dark tiled walls and white bath tub

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

Create a feature wall that’s dark and texture-rich with natural slate. These tiles are fitted like mosaics, with a mesh background. They are perfect for providing warmth to a modern bathroom

Choose a natural slate for the floor, while remaining walls can be painted (depending on how near to splash areas they are) or tiled in a lighter colour. Don’t forget feature lighting in dark bathroom ideas; here downlighters will cast a moody glow down the tiled slate feature wall.

6. Keep it chic with metro tiles

Dark bathroom with black metro tiles in walk in shower

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Metro (or brick-shaped tiles) are perfect for experimenting with grout-and-colour combinations. Try a black gloss tile with crisp white grout for a look that’s sharp for a black bathroom idea, while grey or dark grout can look equally as striking with white tiles.

In a dark bathroom, go for high-shine chrome brassware and fixtures and fittings, which will reflect the light and lead the eye around the space. 

7. Accessorize a dark wall

Bathroom with dark grey-green wall with alcoves

(Image credit: Future PLC/Paul Craig)

Bring a dark painted wall to life with plenty of lighter bits and pieces. Try brass picture frames, while white always pops out against such a dark colour. 

If using a dark shade of paint (or tile, depending on splash areas) on a feature wall – the wall behind the bath is ideal, but repeating this colour for woodwork is a great way to create a warm, inviting space as the eye is reassured when colour repeats.

8. Give a cloakroom impact

Downstairs loo with dark patterned wallpaper

(Image credit: Future PLC/James French)

Usually the smallest space we decorate, cloakrooms can look super-impressive when decorated with dark colours. Try a hero wallpaper behind the loo and sink, with woodwork and vanity unit painted in its background dark colour. 

Think about your choice of flooring; a mid-wood, like oak, is a great choice for a dark cloakroom colour scheme, as it’s not too dark that your downstairs loo starts looking cave-like.

9. Go with the vein

Bathroom with oversized grey and white marble tiles and white bath tub

(Image credit: Future PLC/James French)

This dark bathroom has so many on-trend ideas that’s it’s hard to know where to start. How about the veining; the large format tiles, or the grey marble that’s a refreshing change to white?

Using the same tiles for the walls and floor is a bathroom tile idea that can make the space seem bigger – perfect if you’ve a hero freestanding tub that you want to squeeze in. Remember to include an area for styling, like a niche or freestanding trolley, as touches such as plants and bath products will stop the scheme looking clinical.

10. Try a deep brown shade

Dark bathroom with standalone bath tub

(Image credit: Little Greene)

Don’t overlook the soothing power of deep colours; even in small rooms, these sumptuous shades can give your dark bathroom ideas a luxurious cosy feel. Try pairing with a softer green for painted trims, adding visual layers.

‘A deep, rich tone will envelop the space and create a cocooning and calming feel,’ says Ruth Mottershead, Creative Director, Little Greene. ‘Elysian Ground (used on the walls) is a sumptuous stone hue that will bring a sense of opulence while creating a nurturing and soothing interior.'

'This complex stone-based brown provides the perfect backdrop to literally bringing the outdoors in, layering with an abundance of houseplants to evoke the atmosphere of a spa-like sanctuary in which to relax and unwind.’

How can I make my dark bathroom look good?

‘Dark colours can make the mood low if you get it wrong,’ says Cigal from Cigal Kaplan Interiors. ‘It’s very easy to get it wrong. But if you add metal fixings like brushes, brass or any sort or brushed metals, you can really enhance the space. The right dark stone and the right dark tones can make a bathroom feel opulent.’

‘Embrace dark bathroom ideas by using painted panelling or larger format porcelain tiles in darker shades to half-height on walls,’ says Robert Whitaker, Creative Director at Claybrook. Both options will create an architectural feel in bathrooms, in shades of deepest green or navy blue. Pair with tiles and paints in complementary shades for a moody feel, or lighter shades like apricot or blush pink for contrast. Using mirrors will naturally bounce artificial light around the space for a lavish feel,’. 

‘Highlight architectural features, such as dado rails or woodwork for a gentle contrast,’ suggests Ruth from Little Greene.

Can you make a small bathroom dark?

‘Yes,’ says Cigal. ‘I like using dark green in a small bathroom, mixed with a beautiful dark stone and brass fixtures. Add green plants to the mix and the space becomes cosy, homely and organic.’

‘Even the smallest of rooms can darker bathroom ideas,’ agrees Emma from YesColours. ‘The downstairs toilet is often where people are the boldest in their design decisions. It’s key to consider lighting, whether natural or wired, ensure the room is well lit so that it’s beautiful as well as functional.”

Jennifer Morgan

Jennifer Morgan is an award-winning editor, writer and stylist, with over 25 years’ experience writing, styling and editing home interest magazines. Jennifer was the deputy editor of Ideal Home from 2008-2010, before launching Ideal Home’s sister title, Style at Home in 2010. Jennifer went on to launch several craft magazines and websites, before going freelance in 2016, with a client list that includes John Lewis, Dunlem and Nordic House. Today, she writes for Ideal Home, Real Homes, Waitrose, Woman & Home, Sainsbury’s Magazine and Homes & Gardens. But it was during lockdown that Jennifer realised her dream of publishing her own magazine – Simply Scandi.