Dark colors invoke a moodiness and drama that will immediately turn heads. However, it can be a little intimidating to think about using such a bold palette in your home — that's why we suggest starting with a smaller space, such as a mudroom, laundry room, or bathroom. Limiting the dark color scheme to one area makes the idea slightly less daunting.
The bathroom or powder room is the perfect place to start and can be a welcome surprise for guests. "I tend to like darker [colors] for secondary bathrooms rather than a primary bathroom," says Gideon Mendelson, founder and creative director of Mendelson Group. "You really have to embrace the dark. But, make sure you light the room well." Above all, Mendelson recommends focusing on the lighting so the space isn't a cloud of darkness. If there's no natural lighting option, that could mean strategically placing flood lights or finessing a sizable chandelier.
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Jillian Hayward Schaible, principal designer at Susan Hayward Interiors, recommends mixing a moodier wallpaper with colorful tones or dark bathroom tile with shiny finishes to help reflect more light. Schaible goes on to say, "Make sure that the colors you use are vibrant shades, not muddy or 'drab' feeling tones. Think about pairing jewel tones together or a dark navy with polished gold finishes."
Just note that dark color palettes will dramatically change the look and feel of your space. If you are drawn to light and airy spaces that feel open and maybe even slightly bigger, this probably isn't the direction you want to go in. On the other hand, if you've been dreaming of a moody and luxurious primping station that envelopes you like a hug, you're on the right track.
Enough talk — let's get to the good stuff. Ahead you'll find some of our favorite ways to pull off a moody bathroom.
15 Eye-Catching Dark Bathroom Ideas
1. Experiment with color blocking.
Bathrooms are small spaces, so you really have to get creative and use every surface available to you in order to make your setup stand out from the crowd. The team over at Studio Duggan used color blocking to dress up this dark bathroom. While the walls and baseboards flaunt a rich shade of chocolate brown, the ceiling and crown molding are painted in an unexpected red hue. Black and bronze accents complement the moody scene.
2. Go for a tonal approach.
Tone-on-tone color ideas have never been more popular. So why not embrace the trend in your bathroom? Decus Interiors shows us how it's done with the help of this stunning setup. Here, the painted walls, marble sink (swoon!), and patterned floor tile all feature slightly different shades of navy blue, resulting in a dramatic design that feels wonderfully cohesive.
3. Be bold with a black bathroom.
There's no denying it: The oversize black tile in this bathroom adds some serious drama. And yet, thanks to lighter elements such as the white ceiling, tub, toilet, sink, and towels, the space doesn't feel overly dark. Additionally, the large square mirror reflects the natural light pouring in through the window.
4. Have fun with a funky wallpaper pattern.
A quick and easy way to add visual interest to a dark bathroom is with patterns. For example, in this setup by Kasey from @ferns_and_filigree, an accent wall flaunting a floral-inspired wallpaper design, and the black and white checkerboard floor tile, take center stage. The forest green bathroom walls and black subway tile provide the perfect backdrop.
5. Add Victorian touches.
Add a touch of glamour to your dark bathroom with Victorian touches à la this remodel from House of Brinson. The console sink, ornate gilded mirror, old-school wall sconces, and even the painted radiator, give this space a vintage look that you can't help but love.
6. Consider using the same tile on the floor and the walls.
The reflective surface of the tile will help bounce light around — even dark-colored tile. Take advantage of this quality and continue your floor tile onto the walls as demonstrated in this bathroom by Heidi Caillier Design. The navy blue tile, plus two windows and a mirror, ensure that this moody space gets just enough light. A pair of gold, flower-shaped sconces and a floating wood vanity cabinet warm up the cool scheme.
7. Don't be afraid to go dark in a small space.
A particularly small powder room is the perfect place to experiment with a dark color scheme. If you decide you don't like it down the road, it will be easier to change the palette than a large primary bath. Plus, every time you or a houseguest use the space, it will feel like your own private cocoon. Balance the dark wall color with a light wood vanity, white vessel sink, tan woven basket, and white towels. The mirror and the metallic finish of the faucet reflect the light from above.
8. Create balance with a healthy dose of white.
If you're worried that your dark bathroom will feel too dark, follow the lead of Jenni from I Spy DIY and balance the moody hue with crisp white elements. In this cozy setup, the upper half of the room showcases a decadent eggplant wall color while the lower half is clad in classic white subway tile. The white patterned floor tile, toilet, and sink ensure that the bottom portion of the room remains light and airy.
9. Add decorative molding to the walls.
This Back Bay townhouse bath received an elegant and moody makeover by Arazi Levine Design. The navy blue walls were made even fancier with the help of decorative picture frame molding. Classic elements such as the console sink, vanity mirror, and small framed oil paintings enhance the vintage vibe and help balance the dark bathroom wall color. Brass accents add a hint of glamour and warmth.
10. Consider charcoal gray.
When working with darker bathroom colors, black, navy, and deep green tend to get all of the attention. However, neutrals such as charcoal gray can be just as dramatic. In this moody design by Decus Interiors, lead-colored wall and floor tile, along with a matching marble countertop and backsplash, really amp up the drama. The dark wood vanity cabinet and brass fixtures complement the scheme and add a welcome dose of warmth.
11. Add some contrast.
To ensure that a dark bathroom isn't too overwhelming, you're going to want some contrast. This design by Sarah Sherman Samuel shows us how it's done with the help of checkerboard tile on the wall and floor. But the light-meets-dark scheme doesn't stop there — Samuel uses the combo throughout the space by pairing a white tub and shower curtain with mushroom-colored paint on the wall, ceiling, and door.
12. Have fun with teal.
In this swanky bathroom design spotted on The Curious Department, the pop of teal brightens up the space without taking anything away from the dark, moody vibe. The black wainscoting offers plenty of drama while the blue-green vanity cabinet and the floral-patterned wallpaper liven up the scheme. Black and white checkered floors add even more visual interest.
13. Stick to black and white.
When it comes to interior design, black and white color schemes will always be a classic choice — just look at this bathroom. The high-contrast combination looks simultaneously modern and retro thanks to the matte black wall paint alongside an old-school wall-mounted sink and patterned floor tile — it almost looks like two different spaces. However, brass accents such as the faucet and the mirror tie the two sides together.
14. Carry the wallpaper up to the ceiling.
The team over at reDesign Home accentuated the unique architecture of the bathroom by using the same wallpaper on the walls and the ceiling. The delicate floral pattern makes quite the impression while the rest of the space — black beadboard wall paneling, black curtains, and a black clawfoot tub — acts as a subtle backdrop. The black and white floor tile helps lighten the moody scheme without taking attention away from the walls and ceiling.
15. Incorporate natural wood.
If it weren't for a small window and the natural wood counter in this tiny powder room, the emerald green herringbone backsplash and black wall color might overwhelm the space. However, the rustic countertop and matching light wood floor brighten up the cozy nook and keep the dark palette from taking over. A small light fixture adds a luminous glow that's reflected in the mirror below.
Are dark bathrooms a good idea?
Absolutely. As Mendelson puts it, "You can design a darker bathroom that feels classic and timeless. It’s all about the architecture, details, and fittings you choose."
Just make sure there is enough lighting to keep the room from feeling too dark and drab.
Can you use dark colors in a small bathroom?
Dark colors are a great option for the bathroom. Some popular paint colors are Farrow and Ball Hague Blue, Clare Goodnight Moon, and Behr Meteorological. For a little extra shine, you can use wall tile to help reflect the light.
What colors should you avoid in a bathroom?
While no color is necessarily off-limits, it's a good idea to bring samples of the colors and finishes you are considering into your space and live with them for a few days. You also want to be mindful of the undertones present in paint, and how those will come across in your space.
How do you make a dark bathroom look good?
It's all in the details! Be thoughtful about your wallpaper, paint, and tile selections — the combination of colors, textures, and patterns can really make a space look and feel interesting and unique.