Choosing The Best Paint Color For A Windowless Bathroom


Over the past few months, I’ve been helping my dad decorate the second floor of his home. Before I got my hands on it, it was a blank space in need of paint, furniture, and personality.

Designing an art deco bedroom with swanky and glamorous style

I shared my design plan for an art deco guest bedroom right here.

Upstairs loft decorating ideas

I then went on to share my ideas for a family-friendly loft space for the grandkids.

Today, let’s discuss the windowless bathroom attached to the guest room.

The Bathroom Now

A windowless bathroom with marble floors, large tub, marble tile on the walls, and a gray vanity

My dad updated this bathroom when he bought the home and the new touches are great – marble floors, white tile walls, a large white soaking tub, and a modern vanity. It’s not a small bathroom at all and it feels pretty grand. However, the design feels a tad bland.

Where’s the color? Where’s the personality?

A gray vanity and white walls in this small windowless bathroom

I immediately knew that the white walls weren’t working with the other design elements of the space. So, a fresh paint color would be my first order of business.

When A Space Has No Natural Light

An all white bathroom with white paint color, marble floors, and a gray vanity

Because this is a bathroom with no windows, choosing the best paint colors can be a bit tricky. Natural light is so helpful when determining the right paint color.

Dark green bathroom reveal
Going bold in our basement bathroom

Contrary to popular belief, bright white isn’t a great choice for a windowless space, as it can make the room feel cold and dingy.

I prefer a mid-tone or dark hue to create warmer vibes, like the dark green paint color on the bathroom walls in our basement bathroom. I also suggest avoiding colors that are too vivid or bright as they can look harsh with only artificial light.

Let’s Go A Tad Darker…

cozy home decor ideas to take your space to the next level
“Boothbay Gray” in my bedroom. It’s the perfect pale blue with gray undertones.

In the adjoining guest room, I’m going with Benjamin Moore, “Boothbay Gray.” It’s a mid-tone color that reads as a grayish-light blue. I want the guest bathroom color to complement this one and feel like a calm spa-like retreat.

choosing Benjamin Moore Boothbay Gray for our bedroom

I’m opting for a shade darker than “Boothbay Grade”. I’m all about a darker color in a small room to create a cozy and intimate atmosphere. Right now, this space has only crisp whites going on, with the marble floors and walls. Let’s add some contrast and elegance!

In a windowless room, dark paint colors absorb light rather than reflect it. This completely changes the feel of a room! It makes a space feel more inviting and envelopes you in color. However, we will need to amp up the ambient lighting in the room (which I’ll discuss in a moment).

Finding The Perfect Paint Color

Choosing paint samples

Because I knew I wanted a paint color that complements “Boothbay Gray”, I first looked at the other colors on the paint swatch next to it.

I didn’t have the particular paint swatch handy, but I googled the paint code for “Boothbay Gray” and it’s HC-165. You can then search the colors near it (HC-164 or HC-166) and see if those work for your design. This is a nice trick and saves you a trip to the paint store when finding paint color inspiration.

Paint shades that complement Benjamin Moore Boothbay Gray

I also suggest going to the paint manufacturer’s website and finding the colors they suggest alongside your particular color. I did that for “Boothbay Gray” and I immediately liked “Night Train” in the above image.

I know choosing the perfect paint color can be overwhelming, but hopefully, these little tricks help. Then, read this post with even more ideas to land the perfect hue!

Let’s Discuss Paint Samples

Choosing paint samples in the bathroom

I rarely choose a paint color without painting samples on the walls. Here are some tips for this crucial step in the paint color selection process…

Paint samples of various shades of gray and blue
  • Narrow it down to 10 or fewer shades, using paint swatches from your local hardware store.
  • Compare all of those shades to one another and try to get the final count to under five. (Although, I did buy 14 paint samples when trying to find the perfect off-white for our whole home. Ha!)
  • Buy samples of each color and paint various walls in the whole room.
  • Observe these samples at different times of the day to make sure you love the look with the sun, without the sun, in the dark, etc.
  • Paint the samples next to other key design components of the room (next to the trim, the countertops, etc).

Using those tips, I chose three samples to paint in my dad’s bathroom.

Windowless Bathroom Paint Colors

Blue and gray paint samples on a wall in a bathroom

From top to bottom (All Benjamin Moore shades) Boothbay Gray, Night Train, Brewster Gray, Puritan Gray

Here are the colors I tried out. I painted Benjamin Moore’s “Boothbay Gray” on the top (the color the adjoining bedroom will be painted) to ensure the winning color complements this one. I think all three of these colors could work with the blue-gray hue of “Boothbay Gray”.

Painting samples of colors next to the gray vanity in this bathroom space

From top to bottom (All Benjamin Moore shades) Night Train, Brewster Gray, Puritan Gray

When I first painted these colors, I had no clue which one would be the winner. They all looked great in the space. But, once I painted them next to the vanity, I knew which one I liked the best.

Since the vanity color will stay the same, I didn’t want to choose a color that would match it. Instead, I want it to be a tad darker. I liked the middle color (“Brewster Gray”) the best. The top color’s green undertones were a bit too harsh next to the gray paint color on the vanity, while the bottom looked too muddy and greige next to the crispness of the vanity.

Paint colors on the wall next to a white towel on a towel bar

From top to bottom (All Benjamin Moore shades) Night Train, Brewster Gray, Puritan Gray

I think “Brewster Gray” is a good choice for the wall color in this room. It has blue undertones and will look nice with the elements in the guest room next door. It will be the perfect backdrop for the other elements of the space.

How To Add Personality To An All-White Bathroom

Now that I have a paint color figured out, let’s dive into my design plan for the rest of this space. We’ll be keeping all of the main elements of the room (the vanity, mirror, and toilet). Here’s my plan to add warmth and sophistication.

Add Interest With A Wood Wall Treatment

An all white bathroom with white paint color, marble floors, and a gray vanity

In the above photo, you can see the long blank wall on the right side of the room. That towel bar is not working (Sorry, Dad!), so I suggest removing it.

Our baby girl's nursery

Then, let’s add a wood wall treatment. You guys know I’m a huge fan of these because I’ve done just about every single style in my own home. We have shiplap, picture frame molding, board and batten, beadboard, and more! I knew that shiplap would be too farmhouse for my dad’s style, so I was going back and forth between picture frame molding and board and batten.

Adding picture frame molding to a nursery

Since the attached guest bedroom will have an art deco style, I think picture frame molding is the best choice for this bathroom. It’s an elegant way to add interest to a small space and it will give this room some life and personality!

I did consider doing a chair rail and picture frame molding on the bottom portion of the walls, with wallpaper on top. However, I decided that the molding to the ceiling was the better choice for this room due to the bulkhead and nooks and crannies on the bathtub wall.

Don’t Neglect Lighting

Sconce placement

As of now, my dad’s bathroom only has overhead lighting with cool-toned light bulbs. It isn’t flattering and that is one of the reasons this bathroom is falling flat.

Every room needs at least 2-3 light sources, so I suggest adding this gold sconce over the mirror. You can read more about my rules for lighting in this blog post. When in doubt, add more light fixtures to a space with little natural light.

Add Warmer Hardware

Figuring out kitchen hardware placement

I’m all about mixing metals and (just like lighting), I suggest having 2-3 metal finishes in a room and I explain why in this blog post.

Right now, the fixtures are all silver chrome, which reads very cold. Adding some gold touches to the bathroom will help warm up the space. We will leave the faucet and bathtub hardware as is, but let’s do a new gold towel ring, gold knobs on the vanity, and various gold accessories. Those small swaps will make a huge difference!

You’ll also notice in the source list below that I chose all of my gold hardware/accents from the same retailer – West Elm. That’s because brass and gold can come in so many varying shades. I always suggest buying them from the same retailer so you know the colors and finishes will match.

My Bathroom Design Plan

Tips to add color and life to a boring bathroom

Vanity Light // Cabinet Knobs // Towel Ring // Wood Towel Rack // Rug // Wood Wall Shelf // Art

The main elements are set and now it’s time for the fun stuff – the decor and accessories. Those cold marble floors are begging for a pretty rug. I would opt for this one that will fill the space and add color and texture to the floors.

I’m also very excited about this wood towel rack to fill up space on that long wall. Wood is always a smart idea to add warmth to a cold space and this one will warm things up while adding some function!

Let’s opt for a wooden shelf over the toilet too. I love the curved lines on this one and the rattan is fabulous!

My Best Tips To Add Life To A Boring Bathroom

One of my favorite bathroom decor ideas is to use a tray on your vanity to corral smaller items

Let me sum up what you can do to add personality and life to a boring bathroom…

  • Paint! Preferably a saturated hue if there are no windows.
  • Add a wood wall treatment.
  • Swap hardware for warmer tones. (Gold/Brass for the win!)
  • Bring in wood to warm things up and add texture.
  • Ditch the boring bathroom rugs and opt for a washable area rug.
  • Hang art, incorporate plants, and add fun accessories.

These Rooms Are Coming Along…

I ordered all of the furniture for the guest bedroom and loft. The professional painter has started working on these rooms too! I have one DIY project in mind for the loft area (a new wood wall treatment that I’m excited to try out!), so I’ll keep you posted as these spaces come together.

More Bathroom Decorating Tips

Popular Paint Colors: A roundup of all of the wall colors throughout my home.

Our home's paint color palette
Our new main bathroom

Countertop Decor: The biggest decorating mistakes I see when choosing these pieces.

Bathroom Decorating 101: The dos and don’ts when designing this space.

Our dark green bathroom reveal
Painting a bathroom vanity

Painting An Outdated Vanity: My step-by-step tutorial for a lasting finish.

Casey


The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.

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