Choosing a decor scheme when starting a bathroom renovation can be tricky. Do you get creative with colour and pattern for a vibrant look, or should you stick to neutral bathroom ideas for a restful retreat?
If you do choose a neutral palette, it doesn't mean your bathroom ideas will be boring. 'Don't be afraid of stepping out of the norm when decorating a neutral bathroom,' says Connor Prestwood, interior design specialist at Dowsing & Reynolds.
'Neutral doesn't have to mean bland or everything the same, so play around with different textures and colours until you find the right combination that works for you. There are no set rules when it comes to interior styles. It's all about self-exploration and making a space in which you feel happy, welcome and relaxed.'
Neutral bathroom ideas
There are plenty of ways to create interest in a neutral bathroom, by combining different textures and materials and being creative with bathroom colour ideas.
Keep in mind whether you want to use warm neutrals or cool neutrals and how you can use texture and subtle accents to create a harmonious scheme.
1. Add interest with pattern
Draw the eye into a neutral bathroom scheme with different patterns and textures to focus on. In this contemporary bathroom, the neutral walls feel modern and upbeat thanks to the tiles being laid in an on-trend herringbone style, while a gentle green accent in the pattern of the floor tiles adds another dimension to the decor.
Houseplants are also a great way to brighten up a neutral space and many tropical varieties will love the humidity created in a bathroom.
2. Create a modern scheme
The thought of using black in a neutral bathroom might feel counterintuitive, but it's a great way for giving the look a modern edge. Contemporary geometric tiles lift the neutral palette and the black tapware and painted window frame pulls your focus into the calming space without making it feel dark and gloomy.
3. Use accessories to add warmth
The bonus of a neutral decorating scheme is that you can easily give it a new look by changing accessories – a quick bathroom redo on a budget. Change up your bathroom towels when you fancy something different, whether you pick a soothing warm shade like olive or go for a complete contrast and find accessories in a teal or inky shade.
4. Play with different textures
If everything in your bathroom is the same colour it can quickly start to feel sterile, but by incorporating a few slightly different patterns or textures you can turn it into a cosy and welcoming retreat. Shaker-style bathroom furniture in a warm neutral shade creates a soft focal point against bright white metro and marble-style tiles.
5. Warm up with wood
One quick way to add warmth to a neutral space is by using wood and natural finishes against a white backdrop. A vanity unit in a light rustic wood finish, gives a Scandi-style feel and a woven or jute bath mat completes the look. Team with taps and bathroom light fittings in a warm metallic like brass, copper or gold to add warmth around the bathroom.
6. Add punchy metallic finishes
If you want to keep your bathroom sleek and super modern with bright white walls and flooring, use bathroom fixtures to pack a contemporary punch. Gold, brushed brass, chrome and copper, will all add dramatic effect. Just make sure to keep all fixings in the same colourway for a unified look.
7. Cosy up with colourful accents
Choosing a neutral style doesn't mean colourful accents are out. While the walls and vanity unit in this bathroom are all in similar shades, the warm pink finish of the bath stops the scheme from becoming boring and makes the bath a soft focal point in the room.
8. Use similar tones
One key way of creating interest in a neutral space is by using different materials in similar shades. In this bathroom, the flooring and walls work harmoniously together, while the slim wooden planks soften the scheme.
'You can make a neutral bathroom feel warm by adding texture and warm colours to your finishes,' says Connor Prestwood, interior design specialist at Dowsing & Reynolds. 'If you use flat, shiny surfaces, these can make your space feel really cold and unwelcoming so switching these out to textured finishes should make the space more welcoming and warm.'
9. Colour drench for a cohesive feel
For a cocooning effect, colour drench your bathroom in one neutral colour. Pair with a patterned flooring in the same shade and use tongue and groove wall panelling for a country-style with a modern edge.
10. Paint your bath to match walls
The most important thing when deciding on your bathroom scheme is how the colours make you feel. In this calming bathroom, painting the bath the same colour as the walls, gives this space a restful vibe.
'When decorating the bathroom, consider colours which are naturally warm and embracing, the bathroom is a place that should provide sanctuary and a sense of relaxation,' says Ruth Mottershead, creative director, Little Greene.
What is a good neutral colour for a bathroom?
When choosing your neutral colour scheme, keep in mind the other finishes you are using that need to go with it. 'Good neutral colours for bathrooms are off white, ivory and light grey,' says Leigh Price, co-director, Real Stone, Tile & Bathroom.
'These shades can complement bathroom furniture options throughout the colour spectrum. There are many brassware finishes, like anthracite and brushed copper, which neutral shades are also great for pairing with.'
How do you make a neutral bathroom feel warm?
Some neutrals can feel cold, especially if you're using bright whites or neutrals with a blue undertone, so it's a good idea to stick to warm neutral shades for walls or make sure you're incorporating warmer tones through furnishings and accessories.
'Bathrooms can often feel cold due to the harsh white surfaces which often take up much of the space,' says Ruth from Little Greene. 'Bring a sense of warmth and relaxation by using colours with warm undertones, like Little Greene's Silent White Deep, Bath Stone or Travertine, which will add a comforting feel to a space.'
What decorating mistakes should you avoid in a neutral bathroom?
Even if you feel like you're playing it safe by choosing a neutral decor, it's important to get the balance right. 'Bathrooms are places we want to feel warm and relaxed, so rather than add more bright and harsh whites or cool greys, which may make the space feel cold and stark, pair with colours that have a warm undertone to a create a spa-like haven, which will soothe the senses,' says Ruth from Little Greene.
Choose towels in warming shades like terracotta or mustard to add warmth, and textured bath mats and accessories can help to soften bright white schemes.
The lighting in the bathroom is also a key point to consider. 'Remember that light effects can make a colour look completely different,' says Antonia Baier, senior product manager Premium & Mainstream Bath and Wellness, Villeroy & Boch.
'Before you make your final choice of neutral colour, test the colour in different areas and observe how it changes with light. You might find that a colour you love in one corner of the bathroom at sunrise looks completely different in a different part of the bathroom!'
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Amy Hodge has been working on interiors magazines for over 11 years. She's a freelance writer and sub editor who has worked for some of the UK's leading interiors magazines including Ideal Home, Style at Home and Country Homes & Interiors. She started at Style at Home just after it launched as food editor and is now chief sub editor for Ideal Home, Style at Home and Country Homes & Interiors.
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