How to turn your bathroom into a self-care mecca
Infuse your loo with color and personality with these tips.
With all things self-care and wellness on the rise, it’s no surprise that people want to turn the self-care mecca of their home—the bathroom—into their own ideal haven.
“These days, people are interested in transforming their bathrooms into sanctuaries that make them want to spend more time there relaxing and pampering themselves,” Hannah Yeo, color marketing and development manager for Benjamin Moore, says. “They are investing in quality bathroom design that really speaks to them.”
Before you whip out that color wheel and select the shades that most resonate with you—whether for a bathroom wall that you intend to paint, wallpaper or tile—consider how you want to use these hues to create a point of emphasis in the room.
“Bathrooms are usually cramped, so there isn’t too much room for decor and the color really does make that visual statement,” Hannah says. “You want to be deliberate about where you want the attention to be. All the walls or one accent wall? Behind the vanity to make sure that’s the focus? Or paint the vanity itself in a bold shade to draw attention to it and make the walls more subtle. Make sure the color serves a purpose and that you’re using it with intention—why this shade?”
There are a multitude of ways to bring color and personality into your bathroom—from the simple fresh coat of paint to a more complex tile accent wall in the shower.
Bathtub and Sink
If you want that day-at-the-spa feel in your bathroom try a luxurious soaking tub and an oversized sink bowl (perfect for scrubbing off a face mask). Even better, freestanding tubs and sink bowls in dark shades are having a moment.
To truly create a harmonious space, the finishes within it should work together.
“I had a project where my clients wanted to create a Mexican resort feel,” Susan Wintersteen, owner and principal designer for Savvy Interiors, says. “They wanted a bathroom that was representative of them being on vacation. Accordingly, we selected a bold tile with Spanish flair for the shower walls, but toned down the rest of the room. The floor tile was a sedate gray concrete, the vanity counters a simple quartz and we added a subtle shiplap to the walls. These touches balanced the graphic shower tile so that the room didn’t feel too busy, while also creating visual interest with multiple textures.”
A great roll of wallpaper can bring a pop of personality to a powder room, Susan says. Susan has done it all—abstract polka dots, fresh florals and graphic patterns. “A powder bathroom is the one place you can really go a little crazy, and since you don’t have the moisture issues of a full bathroom you can try a fun wallpaper. For example, textured grasscloth wallpaper brings in so much more personality than just a coat of paint.”
For full bathrooms, Susan’s go-to for a bold wall statement is unique tilework. “Most people these days just go with subway tiles for a shower or vanity accent wall,” Susan says. “While they are a nice option, there are so many other varieties of tiles to consider. We are especially loving scallop, hexagon, penny round and ceramic tiles in rich hues.”
For a home with multiple bathrooms, a cohesive feel can be created by using the same color palette throughout. “We once did a house with four secondary bathrooms that the homeowner requested all be in white and navy,” Susan says. “So we stuck to that color scheme but kept things unique by doing a variation in each bathroom: A herringbone tile pattern on one bathroom wall, penny rounds on another and hexagonal tiles in another room. You’re not really increasing your material costs doing this; you’re using a field tile and changing color and direction.”
For a quicker transformation (and one that’s easier to swap out as the mood strikes you), paint is the way to go. “People are using bolder colors in their bathrooms—especially in powder rooms—to express themselves and impress their guests,” Hannah says. “The moody, jewel-box look is very much in right now. I love a dark navy, black, purple or gray for a dramatic bathroom look.”
To achieve the coveted oasis vibe in a master bathroom, opt for soothing shades like soft pinks, gentle greens, mild grays and quiet blues, Hannah says. “A lovely yellow would be great for bringing light and warmth into a darker bathroom. Any combination of these colors would work well. Keeping the walls neutral with a light gray and throwing a pop of sky-like blue on the ceiling would invite tranquil thoughts. Or try Benjamin Moore’s Color of the Year, First Light, a revitalizing barely-pink shade.”
Take things off the wall and down to the floor. While keeping the walls neutral, choose floor tiles with a graphic pattern or create a statement floor with wood-look tile and marble in a herringbone pattern. This can be a whole-floor look, or surround your patterned area with solid tile to create a cutout with the appearance of an area rug.
“We love creating custom floors with mosaic tiles,” Susan says. “You can order all different types of penny round tile and use them as a liner, to create patterns or even to write out sayings. We wrote ‘Carpe Diem’ in one client’s bathroom. In a recent project, I laid out a custom pattern with hexagonal tiles in different shades of white, gray and blue that turned out wonderfully. I love incorporating brass inlays for a glam look, too.”
Susan is all about experimenting with fresh cabinet colors in 2020. “I’ll find a color in a fabric and color match it at the paint store and then have my cabinet maker do a custom draft,” she says. “We’ve got some shades we’re just dying to try: a blue that’s close to a rich navy, a deep green, a super pale blue, a green-blue-teal peacock-esque shade and a cerused black oak.”
“I’m looking for more manufacturers to come out with oversized mirrors,” Susan says. “I’m over the round mirrors and I am incorporating more art-
framed mirrors into my projects, especially with colored acrylic borders.”
If you’re stuck with a dated mirrored wall, you can always hang a wooden mirror frame for definition, Susan says.
Brass fixtures still feel current, Susan says. “I’ll also always promote classic polished nickel fixtures or matte black for an edgier look.”
Keeping your hard surfaces neutral for easier resale down the line might be more your style, but it doesn’t mean you can’t infuse your bathroom with plenty of personality. Turn to linens, artwork, decorative objects and hardware to bring in pops of color.
Choosing the correct paint sheen for your bathroom is important.
“Typically, glossier paints are the only kind recommended for high-moisture areas like bathrooms, due to their durability and easy-to-clean coatings,” Hannah says. “But with Benjamin Moore’s Aura Bath & Spa paint you are able to get the same quality and benefits in a matte finish, which is unique in a bathroom. Now you aren’t locked into that high-sheen paint, though, if you are looking to reflect light in a small bathroom, glossy paint can aid you.”