Is black the new white? Having a deep shade or dark coloured bathroom has certainly become a popular alternative to the all-white or light neutral bathroom.
Evoking richness and luxury, dark bathrooms have a gutsy, bold aesthetic and make a strong style statement. The darkness creates a mysterious moody vibe and lends an atmospheric, emotional feel to your bathroom. It doesn’t have to be gloomy at all–just add plenty of functional light or incorporate natural light.
Here’s are our ideas for how to design the perfect dark bathroom.
1. Go for dark walls
Begin with choosing the right dark colours for your paint and/or tile from a broody colour palette of almost-blacks, rich browns, muted greys and inky blues.
Unless you are deliberately going for an all-black bathroom look, choose one key dark colour and work your other surface textures and colours around it as complements. Because the real trick to a successful dark bathroom is mastering reflection, light and so-called lustre balance (essentially, that’s the contrast between shiny and matte elements).
2. Have a range of tones
When thinking about the level of darkness you want to achieve, consider the overall colour palette of the rest of your home. Although you can certainly define your dark bathroom as a unique space, you may not want it to stick out like a sore thumb either! Once you’ve decided on your colour palette, it is a simple enough paint job to transform your walls though you may prefer to have an expert bathroom painter to help.
The design rule of thumb is that if you’ve chosen to go with dark walls, your other surfaces should showcase another slightly different tone to add character and visual interest.
3. Add texture
Add a liberal dose of moody, textural surface finishes and metals to create an intricate monochromatic palette that is dynamic and visually exciting. Incorporate darker-toned natural stones (marbles, basalts, granites) or raw concrete or use tiles for a textured wall.
This lovely tone-on-tone dark bathroom uses texture beautifully, from tiles creating a textured wall, to the mix of materials including concrete basin and matte black tapware.
4. Choose dark tile
If the brief is moody, luxe and sophisticated, a dark bathroom ticks all the boxes. Consider statement handmade clay tiles that are neither matte nor glossy but boast a strong organic flavour and plenty of texture. Or textured, 3D tiles that create subtle visual interest and a sense of dynamic movement. High gloss 3D tile also works well to reflect as much natural light as possible in a darker bathroom.
5. Pair dark walls with light timber
Keep it simple. Start with your key feature colour and mix in complementary shades but avoid overcrowding your palette. Add in timber or timber veneer as a surface finish for warmth, tonal qualities and organic touch. For example, a charcoal wall colour can be repeated in a concrete statement tub and dark grey tapware, then mixed with ash and blonde timber tones.
Timber helps to relieve large expanses of dark colour in the bathroom, adding warmth and a sense of a connection to nature. In a dark bathroom, timber can be the real hero, balancing the heaviness of dark walls.
To go through your rendering and waterproofing needs, get an expert rendering and resurfacing professional to answer all your questions and give your bathroom a refresh.
6. Embrace industrial darkness
Monochrome dark bathrooms very much suit the industrial aesthetic. Dial up the industrial flavour by exposing your pipes in a dark bathroom. Piping (especially paired with brassware) inevitably has a factory-like vibe.
7. Go speckled
Do you love the starry, speckled look of terrazzo? Terrazzo can be a great way to add darker tones but keep a dash of sparkle to prevent it from looking flat. It’s ideal for a minimal, contemporary look.
8. Have dark accents
Even if you don’t want to darken your walls or floors, you can embrace the dark bathroom aesthetic by choosing dark or black statement vanities and basins. Instead of generic, functional white sanitaryware, completely change up the look and explore the possibilities of darker and coloured pieces. Allow statement pieces to speak for themselves and keep the rest of the space simple and restrained.
Bespoke and unique mirrors need to be carefully wall-mounted so that no tiles are broken, vanity mirror installers will be able to help with all your face-level storage needs.
9. Have light accents
Adding lighter, brighter toned fittings and fixtures will lift a sombre, dark charcoal bathroom — apart from warm brass, copper or polished chrome also work well. Blending the dark tones with lighter coloured timbers is another option.
10. Think about lustre balance
Keep lustre balance in mind when designing your dark bathroom. When working with dark colours in a space, it’s important to contrast them or balance them with the light and reflectivity of high lustre elements. For example, dark walls contrasted with glistening metallic fittings (tapware, showerheads, shower frames) or dark glossy porcelain or ceramic tiles contrasted with matte surfaces.
11. Make use of mirrors
In a dark space, mirrors amplify the light and give the room more size. The larger the mirror, the greater the effect, so go for bold, oversized mirrors in unusual shapes. Aside from reflecting brightness, mirrors add also depth to the room.
12. Add in zellige tile
Tiles are a wonderful way to darken a bathroom, because of the way they catch and reflect the available light. Even matte tiles will create a soft, textured expanse with lots of variation of light. Gorgeous charcoal zellige tiles can add a lot of sophistication and elegance to a plain bathroom wall.
13. Opt for stained reclaimed timber
Add an urban edge to a farmhouse bathroom by bringing in darker tones. Choose reclaimed wood, stained in a soothing coal-black, for a rustic effect. Natural wood always provides warmth and texture but salvaged, distressed wood, in particular, has plenty of character.
14. Use contrast
Dark bathrooms really benefit from a dramatic contrast between the dark surfaces and other colours and materials. Just a few highlights of complementary or contrasting colours are needed, whether you keep your fixtures or sanitaryware white for contrast against dark walls, or simply add paler, interesting accessories. A matte dark wall colour absorbs light, so ensure you add light whether through mirrors, lighting or high-contrast accents.
15. Go for a dark tile bathroom
Bring pattern into a dark bathroom with tile work for extra contrast and movement. As your walls take up the most visual space in your bathroom, the colour and pattern of your tile act as a backdrop for everything else. If you decide to go with darker toned tile, think about keeping some white for contrast. And if you’d like some help with a tiling task, you can find a local bathroom tiler.
16. Have a luxe rainfall shower
A dark tiled shower creates the perfect sense of cosy moodiness. Make the experience even more sensory with a rainfall showerhead.
17. Gloss it over
Using materials with a high sheen will ensure all available light is bounced around a light-absorbing dark bathroom. Highly-reflective, glimmering surfaces and fittings–whether metal, glass or other polished materials–will maximise the reflectivity in the space.
When you have a feature tile in your bathroom, make sure it looks it always looks its best. Find out how much it will cost to have a professional clean your tile and grout.
18. Make it backlit
Illuminate dark wall tile with a backlit mirror to ensure you have sufficient lighting to carry out self-care tasks.
19. Mix materials
Moody, darker walls create a cosy, cocooning vibe. Mix different surface materials (concrete, metals, wood) to help break up the overall dimness.
20. Go dark and cosy
Even a dark bathroom can have those “spathroom” vibes. Add sauna-style river rock around the tub and lots of warm timber.
Need more tile ideas? Check out our article on bathroom tile ideas.
21. Add dark accents to classic marble
Adding contemporary black tapware and fittings modernises the classic look of marble.
22. Wow with wall treatments
Apart from painting your walls a darker colour, you can also introduce darker colours with wall treatments like panelling and wainscoting. It’s a nod to retro styling which may appeal too.
23. Embrace raw greys
Concrete has a naturally moody colour so it works beautifully as a material to use in a dark bathroom. When using concrete, ensure you have enough tonal variation in the space to create texture and avoid flatness. As a blank canvas, the raw grey of concrete is the perfect backdrop for everchanging colour pops you can add through accessories and bath products.
24. Dark fixtures
Experiment with darker vanities, sinks or bathtubs, as darker statement pieces tend to appear smoother and more sensual than white ones. Try to choose striking forms and shapes to create visual interest in a monochrome space.
25. Add a chandelier
Moody walls suit moody lighting, and a chandelier is a naturally atmospheric statement piece, adding mystery, character and sophistication. For loads, more ideas on creating the perfect ambient light in your dark bathroom, see also our article on bathroom lighting ideas.
26. Consider dark wallpaper
Go darker with an opulent, luxe-looking wallpaper as an alternative to painting your bathroom walls. You could also team it with tile, panelling or half-wainscoting as seen here. Add an iconic statement piece like an enamel clawfoot tub, which you can even have repainted in a colour that complements your wallpaper.
27. Add statement lights
Statement pendant lights deliver a golden glow against a floor-to-ceiling tile. Bringing light down from the ceiling has a dramatic effect and lifts a fairly standard bathroom space into something that’s a little extra. Keep the bathroom suite simple and restrained—choosing white sanitaryware will add contrast while also brightening things up.
28. Use surfaces to play with light
Catching the light and bouncing it around the room, glossy tile is an easy way to enhance reflectivity and brighten a dark bathroom. Shiny surfaces let light move around a room and typically make a space feel bigger—so take advantage of the high shine materials that will create this effect.
29. Choose dark walls + colour accents
Walls are the backdrop for other colours to pop off, so complement your darker walls with a secondary, accent colour you love. For instance, large format grey tiles can be juxtaposed with pretty pink glossy tile, or set contemporary black tapware against a white freestanding basin.
30. Go dark but light
Combine dark walls with paler floors and light-coloured accessories for contrast and interest. Lighter colours will really pop against the dark walls, so choose feature accessories and accents you want to shine a spotlight on.
Making over your bathroom? Find an expert in bathroom waterproofing to work out any waterproofing issues you may need to deal with.
31. Use texture for depth
In a dark bathroom, the texture becomes especially important in order to create shadows within the dark and avoid bland flatness.
32. Look for dark marble
Explore your options when it comes to darker coloured marbles, there are so many gorgeous varieties to choose from. For example, if you love blue, you might consider the vibrant Argentinian “Azul Cielo” blue marble. Its deep blue tones work beautifully with golden-toned tapware and showerhead.
33. Go with large format tile
Whether you go with paint or tile, darker walls and floors really make a white bathtub stand out. Hardwearing large format stone tiles can unify walls, floor and ceiling, allowing the focus to fall on the bathware and accessories. Hints of black add definition and style.
34. Dare to go dramatically dark
It’s usually preferable to avoid creating flatness by using too much of one colour. Instead, achieve more visually interesting tonal variation through the use of a thoughtful colour palette and a range of surface materials. Having said that, sometimes you may want to make a feature of a solid block of darkness. And if you go with black as your dark colour, choose an off-black which has a little softness to it.
35. Compare and contrast
When using a darker colour scheme, the contrast becomes especially important to break up the uniformity of the darkness. Little highlighting details in white or another neutral add pops of light and lessen any gloominess.
36. Rise and shine
Since darker colours absorb light, if you go with dark or black bathroom tile, choose gloss rather than matte. Shiny surfaces reflect the available light and create more depth and dynamism.
37. Install skylights
If you have the chance to add skylights to your bathroom, it’s a wonderful way to add enough light to equalise darker wall colours.
38. Make the tub the focal point
A dark bathroom often looks best with a minimalist, uncluttered aesthetic so the eye does not have to work too hard focusing on so many objects and elements. Since dark colours recede into the background more, they are the perfect backdrop for a strong statement piece like a gorgeous attention-seeking tub.
So there you have it, 38 ideas for creating a chic dark bathroom. But for loads more ideas on bathroom décor, you might like to also check out our article with a comprehensive selection of bathroom ideas.
Worried about the longevity of a dark bathroom? It’s not necessary to commit to the style long-term if you aren’t sure you’ll always love it. It’s easy enough to paint walls darker or adds dark colour pops through the accessories, while you can always keep your options open by sticking with white sanitaryware—it will provide contrast as well as enable you to switch back to a lighter coloured bathroom with ease.