8 Ways to Use White in the Bathroom

See how to best incorporate this trending color while avoiding that clinical look

By Jennifer Ott / Courtesy of Houzz.com

Several paint manufacturers crowned white as their color of 2016. It’s been a popular hue for interiors for a few years running now, but when it comes to bathrooms, you don’t want to make everything white and call it a day. That approach runs the risk of creating a space that’s too sterile-looking. Here’s how to embrace white in an inviting way.

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1. A backdrop for interesting architectural details. If your bathroom has nice bones, don’t distract from them — play them up instead. One way to do this is through color. Take inspiration from your favorite art gallery or museum and go with white on the walls. White is a popular choice as a backdrop for artwork because it helps make the surrounding walls disappear so that whatever is on or in front of them really stands out.

2. A blank canvas for eye-catching plumbing fixtures. Similar to the first tip, if you have an unusual and beautiful tub and sink, let them dazzle in the foreground by keeping the ceiling, walls and flooring white.

3. A frame for a fetching view. As a city dweller, I’m extremely envious of those with bucolic scenes out their windows. If you’re fortunate to have a pleasing view from your bathroom, allow it your undivided attention by keeping the interior color palette minimal, and therefore minimally distracting.

4. A light reflector. If your bathroom is skimpy on natural light, you can fake an abundance of it with an all-white color scheme. You still need ample lighting from ceiling or wall fixtures, but the large amount of white will bounce around the light and brighten the space.

5. A space enlarger. If your bathroom is on the small side, go for an all-white palette to make it appear more expansive. An unbroken sweep of color gives a space an open and larger-than-it-is feeling. Keep in mind that cooler colors tend to recede, so if you choose a white that has a touch of gray or blue in it, you’ll get an even more pronounced expanding effect.

6. A vehicle for texture, pattern and sheen. Too many colors and textures in a space — especially a small space like the typical bathroom — can start to fight with one another and become visually noisy. But if you go with an all-white or mostly white scheme, you can really play up these elements in the room. There are countless options available in wallcoverings and tile that can add interesting texture or pattern. You can vary the sheen through the use of matte or glossy finishes for the paint, tile and decorative accessories.

7. A counterpoint to warm, rich materials. Character-rich woods are all the rage right now. Punch them up by pairing them with crisp white walls. This is a great way to warm a clean-lined modern and minimalist bathroom.

8. A contrast to rough and rustic materials. I love the contrast here between the patinated brick wall and the expanses of clean, smooth and white materials. The exposed brick adds so much charm and character to the room, it shouldn’t have to fight with bold colors for our attention. 

Your turn: Are you a fan of all-white bathrooms? Share yours in the Comments section below.