Black and white bathroom ideas for striking monochrome schemes

Classy and confident…timeless black and white is the perfect colour choice for bathrooms

 The most dramatic of colour pairings, black and white is guaranteed to add wow to any room scheme. But when it comes to black and white bathroom ideas, this classic colour combination is always a winner, slipping stylishly into on-trend modern bathrooms or adding period elegance to a traditional bathroom scheme.

Black and white is a versatile colour choice too, whether you want to update a plain white bathroom idea with just an accent of bold black on fittings or want a full-on look with a monochrome colour palette used to full effect. Black and white bathrooms lend themselves perfectly to other colours too, from soft pastels that give just a hint of subtle colour, to saturated tones of teal, emerald and dark grey.

Black and white bathroom ideas

Black and white are perfect together - black absorbs, while white reflects - which is why this combination is such a great choice for creating a real impact for a bathroom colour scheme. Black and white also works well in a functional space, like a bathroom, where bold angles and clean lines tend to dominate.

One of the easiest ways to introduce black and white into a bathroom scheme is with the use of pattern. Whether small-scale geometrics, mid-sized abstracts or oversized stripes and chequerboard squares, patterns will add instant wow and can be worked into a bathroom using wall tiles, flooring, wallcoverings or on towels and accessories.

‘When teamed with white, black can be used anywhere,’ says Nicky Philips, Ideal Home’s Decorating Editor. ‘However it’s crucial to choose the right shades. For a soft monochrome, combine off-white and charcoal, or for a striking effect, use a clean white and strong black.’

Take inspiration from our medley of monochrome looks and work black and white bathroom ideas into your scheme this season.

1. Shift focus with white on black

bathroom with upper wall painted white and lower section panelled black

(Image credit: Bathroom Mountain)

A half-and-half colour balance can also work well in reverse, with the upper walls painted white and the lower section tiled or panelled in darkest black. Having the darker colour at the bottom helps to create a grounding effect and makes a contrast backdrop for statement baths and basins. A paler colour at the top will draw the eye up and is a clever way of making small bathrooms feel loftier and more spacious.

Consider painted panelling as a wall treatment in black and white bathroom ideas. Panelling is a good cover-up for walls that are less than perfect and can help to disguise ugly pipework. Painting it in a low-sheen eggshell paint will ensure that the finish is hardwearing and easy to wipe clean.

2. Bring balance with black and white in equal measure

bathroom with upper wall and ceiling black and lower wall gloosy white

(Image credit: Future PLC/William Goddard)

Black and white are perfect together – black absorbs, while white reflects – which is why this combination is such a great choice for creating real impact in a bathroom.

Baths, basins and loos tend to be mainly white, so most bathroom schemes already include plenty of sparkling white as a starting point. Adding black into the mix will create contrast and is a great way of making an all-white bathroom feel less clinical.

Go halves, by tiling the lower section of bathroom wall in glossy white tiles and the floor in toning tiles to create a seamless transition. Painting the upper wall and ceiling black (or any darker colour) will create the illusion of the ceiling being lower and is a great way of making large bathrooms feel less lofty or can help to disguise a sloping ceiling or uneven roof line.

3. Start small with a simple black and white scheme

bathroom with white tiled wall and floor with black and white tiling

(Image credit: Nuie)

Unsure of bringing black into a bathroom? Introducing black as an accent colour is the perfect compromise and will add a smart edge to a white bathroom. Swapping standard taps and hardware for matt black fittings is one of the easiest ways of working black into a white scheme and will give a plain bathroom a smart, upmarket vibe.

‘In contrast to vibrant colours, monochrome remains an iconic fashion trend, providing a timeless and classic look,’ says stylist Lisa Talbot, summing up the trend for bathroom brand Nuie. ‘It’s the equivalent of wearing black trousers, a white t-shirt and a black leather jacket - but in bathroom design. The contrast between stark white tiles and bold black brassware creates the same glamorous and edgy style that is seen on the high street.’

4. Add wow with statement stripes

bathroom with black and white striped wall and bathtub

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

For standout style that is an instant attention-grabber, opt for oversized stripes in a black and white bathroom scheme. In a small space with lots of clean lines and equal amounts of black and white, the effect is quite striking.

Instead of opting for pricey striped tiles, cheat the look for less with a savvy styling trick. Buy simple brick-shaped tiles, with half your quota in plain white and half in matt black. Lay tiles vertically, rather than horizontally, to create bold vertical bands of colour and a chic black and white striped effect.

5. Make a black and white bathroom sparkle

bathroom with white tiled walls and copper bathtub

(Image credit: Future PLC/Simon Whitmore)

Keep to strictly black and white bathroom ideas throughout and the effect is guaranteed to look striking, or introduce a punchy accent colour or luxe metallic finish to add contrast, warmth and sparkle.

‘Black provides the perfect foil for metallic accents, such as brass or copper,’ says Alison Teverini, interior designer at Milward Teverini. ‘A bathroom or cloakroom may be the perfect space to start out with black, as the mirrors that are inevitably in there will pop against it.’

Warm-toned metallics, like copper, brass and rose gold make a perfect partner for a monochrome scheme and will add warmth and colour to what can sometimes be a chilly space. An antique copper bath is the ultimate statement piece, but if you don’t want to blow the budget, working in metallic accents here and there is the way to go. Think, brushed copper taps and brassware, light fittings, luxe toiletries and candles.

6. Give a tiled floor the star treatment

bathroom with white tiled walls and black and white patterned flooring

(Image credit: Future PLC/Clive Doyle)

If a monochrome colour scheme throughout is a step too far, get your black and white fix by bringing in the colour combination on a smaller scale. Black and white fall outside the colour wheel so are technically defined as neutrals, which make them the perfect foil for other colours.

Bring a hit of monochrome to a coloured bathroom by focusing on the floor. Opting for boldly patterned floor tiles in punchy black and white will make the floor the focal point of the room and is a great way of introducing pattern into a small bathroom, where it can often be lacking.

7. Accessorise all areas for style on a budget

bathroom with white tiled walls and bathtub

(Image credit: Future PLC/Chris Snook)

Looking for ways to update an existing bathroom scheme that has lost its oomph? Black is a brilliant accent colour that will work with most styles of bathroom, from contemporary to traditional, and adding black accessories to a plain white bathroom idea won’t cost a fortune.

Revamping bathroom tiles is one easy way of updating a tired bathroom and it needn’t mean a costly refurb. Replacing dingy grout-lines with dark black grouting will smarten up plain white tiles for an instant transformation.

Swapping bath towels that are looking threadbare or colour-faded is another easy trick that can make a big difference. Mix plain black towels and bathmats with patterned designs in zingy zig-zags, tailored stripes or traditional damasks and florals.

8. Be brave with a bold pattern

bathroom with chevron tiled walls and black and white pattern flooring

(Image credit: Walls and Floors)

Make a statement in a small bathroom or en-suite with a tiled panel in a bold oversized chevron design. The secret to success with large-scale designs like this is to limit use to just a small, focused area, which will create greater impact than if used wall-to-wall.

Contrast bold monochrome patterns with neutral finishes to bring calm, from natural stone and variegated marble, to rustic timber or burnished metals. Bring in foliage and greenery to prevent a black and white scheme from feeling too cold and clinical. Plants thrive in humid bathrooms, so work them in where you can, from hanging planters and tubs to larger floor-standing palms.

9. Combine black and white with soft pastel shades

bathroom with light pink wall and white washbasin

(Image credit: Future PLC/Simon Whitmore)

Monochrome is a versatile colour combination that will sit easily alongside many other colours, materials and finishes. Contrasting black and white with pretty muted pastel pink bathroom ideas can prevent softer shades from feeling too sickly and sweet. While pairing softer shades with black and white will keep monochromes from feeling too harsh and clinical.

Give a small bathroom a rose-tinted glow by teaming white tiles and black fittings with walls painted in a soft blush pink, adding towels, bath mats and toiletries to accessorise.

10. Go wild with an animal print wallpaper

bathroom with zebra wallpaper on wall and golden round mirror

(Image credit: Charlton Island)

Make a classic white bathroom pop by introducing a bold, standout pattern on the walls. An animal print design in striking black and white will add a playful touch to a plain bathroom and looks super-chic teamed with white painted panelling and brushed gold taps and fittings.

Animal print designs work much like a neutral and will sit well with plains, but the key to making them work is to limit their use. Opt for a panel of wallpaper in a smart zebra print or a chic leopard spot pattern used in a feature area rather than all over. Using too much animal print or mixing lots of patterns can look kitsch and will overpower a small bathroom.

11. Put the focus on a feature panel

bathroom with black and white patterned tiling and white round mirror on wall

(Image credit: Crosswater)

Creating an eye-catching pattern with black and white tiles is a stylish way of mixing up the two colours in a monochrome scheme. Mix curves and diagonals to create a bold abstract feature area that works brilliantly as a splash back behind a basin area. Keep the rest of the bathroom plain in comparison, with solid blocks of white tiles and black tiles on the floor and in a shower area.

12. Go big with chequerboard tiles

bathroom with checkerboard tiled floor and bathtub

(Image credit: Future PLC/Jo Bridges)

If bold is your thing, then embrace it in a small bathroom, with striking chequerboard tiles the centre of attention. Running large-format black and white tiles from floor to walls creates an optical illusion that stretches the space and makes it feel bigger. While it’s a clever visual trick that is brilliant for small spaces, there’s no doubt that it’s a brave choice too, so it’s not one for the faint-hearted.

How do you add colour to a black and white bathroom?

There are lots of ways to add colour to a black and white bathroom. In a tiled bathroom, introducing a different colour on the floor, such as a neutral stone, luxe marble or wood-toned vinyl will add an extra dimension. Also helping to bring warmth and colour to a cool black and white scheme.

Painting any wall area that isn’t tiled is another way of introducing colour into a black and white scheme. Go for bold, saturated tones that will add depth and drama, such as vibrant teal, emerald green, navy or charcoal grey. Or consider calmer neutrals and muted pastels that will give a softer look that will make black and white lose its harshness.

How do you soften a black and white bathroom?

To tone down and soften a black and white bathroom, try working in lots of natural textures and neutral colourings, from towels, mats and rugs in soft, muted tones to tactile weaves and woven baskets for storage, with wooden shelves and bamboo rails for hanging towels and bathrobes.

Create an organic feel by working lots of plants and greenery into the mix too. Dot mini succulents and lush, leafy ferns around the bathroom displayed in monochrome pots, woven hanging baskets and floor-standing tubs. When using bathroom plant ideas vary the heights so the greenery is at different levels.

Whatever style you choose, black and white is such a striking theme, you are sure to make an impact with this classic design. Just remember: A little goes a long way. Try adding grey to your colour scheme to soften a stark bathroom, or choose monochrome soft furnishings to give just a nod to this theme.

Thea Babington-Stitt
Assistant Editor

Thea Babington-Stitt is the Assistant Editor for Ideal Home. Thea has been working across some of the UK’s leading interiors titles for nearly 10 years. 

She started working on these magazines and websites after graduating from City University London with a Masters in Magazine Journalism. Before moving to Ideal Home, Thea was News and Features Editor at Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc and Country Homes & Interiors.