What colors make a small bathroom look bigger? Design experts shell out their picks

Before you grab the paint brush, learn what colors make a small bathroom look bigger — they just might change your plans!

modern black and light pink bathroom
(Image credit: Getty Images/SolStock)

We've heard all about the no-go shades, but what colors make a small bathroom look bigger? Which members of ROY G BIV are able to trick our eyes into seeing more than what's on our floor plan? 

As it turns out, there are a few selections that pair nicely with a small W.C., but that doesn't mean one coat of paint works magic: you still need to stay organized and accessorize properly in order for things to feel spacious and functional. (Chaos is just one empty shampoo bottle away, folks.)

If you're nailing down small bathroom ideas but aren't too keen on the adjective, here's what to consider for your next painting project. 

What colors make a small bathroom look bigger?

For expert-approved ways to brighten up a small bathroom — and for professionals' take on the worst colors for a small bathroom — look no further. Interior designers are fond of the following:

1. Neutrals

a beige bathroom with a white sink and wood floating vanity

(Image credit: Getty Images/Suleyman Ozkan)

An-all white palette is one of the outdated small bathroom trends that needs to take a seat, but that's not to say soft tones are not a fit. In fact, when styled properly with various textures and the right accessories, they're exactly what you're looking for.

"A neutral color palette is a smart choice to open up the area," says Warren Kinloch, bathroom interiors expert at Bathroom Deal. "To create a luxurious and airy feel, opt for soft grays, creams, or muted pastels. These neutral tones instill tranquility and a sense of spaciousness."

We don't know about you, but we're all about feeling like we're in a spa, even if we're just soaking in the occasional bubble bath. 

Warren Kinloch

Warren Kinloch is the bathroom interiors expert at Bathroom Deal, a retailer that  supplies "the highest quality bathroom products at the very best price."

2. Pastels

pink bathroom tiles and a white modern sink with a nearby plant

(Image credit: Getty Images/Suchada Tansirimas)

Still looking for those zen vibes? Want to honor small bathroom fung shui rules but get some personality in there? Pastels are the perfect solution. 

"From a breath of muted blue to a whisper of off-white, venture into pastels," recommends interior expert Artem Kropovinsky. "They don't just paint walls; they expand spaces, crafting an airy allure."

We're all for the airiness, especially considering — in feng shui terms — the bathroom should be a sanctuary where we unwind. 

Artem Kropovinsky
Artem Kropovinsky

Artem Kropovinsky is an interior design expert and founder of Arsight, an award-winning interior design studio based in New York.

3. Dark accents

a bathroom with a green/grey tub, glossy subway wall tiles, wood floors and plants

(Image credit: @sophia.at.home)

As much as we can't resist rich shades, sometimes the darker you venture on the color wheel, the tighter your space will feel, especially if it was small to begin with. 

"Dark shades like black, navy, or deep red can give the impression of a cramped and enclosed space," Kinloch notes. 

While you might not want things to be overwhelming, you might have a color crush on navy or dark green (same) and want to add just a tad of your favorite hue to the W.C. That's totally understandable. Rather than go all out on four walls of midnight-esque or Christmas tree shades, choose an area in particular to highlight. 

"Accent with bright or darker colors to punctuate the lighter colors," says interior designer Jane Barnes. "This keeps a space feeling balanced and personalized. Plus, it's fun to change out accessories and colors for different seasons."

Jane Barnes
Jane Barnes

As an interior designer, Jane has always had a passion for creating beautiful and functional spaces. With over 10 years of experience in the industry, Jane has worked on a wide range of projects from residential homes to commercial spaces. Her keen eye for detail and ability to seamlessly blend different styles and concepts has won awards as well as praise from clients and colleagues alike.

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What color paint is best for small bathrooms?

Interior designers say light colors, like neutrals and soft pastels, are best for small bathrooms because they give a light and airy feel. Dark colors, like burgundy or red, run the risk of making the space feel tight, if they're not used sparingly, like with an accent wall. Although white is a popular way to go, an all-white bathroom is an outdated trend, as it makes things look too stark. You need to mix up textures and textiles for some variety.

How can I make my small bathroom look bigger?

To make a small bathroom look bigger, the first thing you need to do is declutter and get rid of things that aren't essential. From there, it's best to figure out what you need and what type of multifunctional furniture would help clear space, perhaps a mirror with storage or a floating cabinet to place toiletries and towels. Consider vertical storage options and opt for a light paint color as well, so that the space feels airy and you're getting rid of items from the ground.

Now that you've squared away a color scheme, you'll want to avoid small bathroom design mistakes so that your space truly pops and functions at its best.

Danielle Valente
Content Editor

Pleasure to meet you! I'm Danielle, a content editor at Real Homes who loves scoping out interior trends. I've specialized in lifestyle writing and editing for 10 years with a focus on events, food, and books, among other areas. When I'm not working, I'm usually cooking, reading, or searching for a new project for my apartment.