Dark Bathrooms – Here’s What You Need To Know

Hi Everyone,

Thanks for all of your terrific input on Sunday’s post about an idea I had to update my “mistress” bathroom in my new place. Well, almost new place in Backbay, Boston. The closing is scheduled for November 6th. And, I just got the commitment letter from the bank. But, that isn’t stopping them from further torture. Nosiree. I know that many of you will be able to commiserate. Thank you in advance even if it’s just sending good vibes through the airwaves!

If you’re just tuning in and going WHAT???


Yes, I am in the process of purchasing a beautiful 2-bedroom duplex in a 140 year-old brownstone, in the historic area of Backbay, located in the heart of Boston. This is a real pinch-me moment in my life!

There was a comment on Sunday’s post about the mistress bathroom (I’m calling it) which has inspired me to riff off of that post.

Since I had chosen a dark, rich blue (Farrow and Ball Hague Blue) as the wall color, the comment conveyed concern that such a dark room and one with no windows would make it difficult to put on make-up. She felt that since there are no windows, she’d want to go with a very pale color.


Guys, sorry. And yes, I mean guy, guys.


You can go out and get a beer or something and come back. Or, maybe you’ll enjoy this post about mistakes guys make when decorating to impress women.

Or, this post about a crass dude who let his not-too-bright secretary order his furniture.

Some men and women will get a kick out of one of my favorite posts which has partially come true.


So, the main topic of this post is going to be dark bathrooms and why I want to have at least one, maybe both of them, in my new place.


Okay, here’s my take on the wall color and putting on makeup.

For the most part, I don’t think the wall color has a lot of bearing because if it tints what you see in the mirror, it’s going to tint everything evenly. What I think matters most is the lighting.

In fact, many of you know that I have a background in theatre and dance. In my younger days, I was in a lot of shows. And, I can’t recall one time where our dressing room had an exterior window. But, what most of them did have was terrific lighting.

I also did some film work and there were times when we were in a studio with black walls and getting our hair and makeup done.


Therefore, what is most important, I believe is the lighting.


The best lighting for a bathroom is soft and warm with little to no glare. (always on a dimmer) Plus, the lighting should be even so that there are no shadows.

As for the color of the light, you already know what your make up is. You’re just putting it on. For me, I just want to know that I don’t miss places where I didn’t blend correctly or that I have eyelashes clumped together; that sort of thing.


But, WHY do you want dark bathrooms, Laurel?


Great question. Well, for one thing, this is a chance to play up the drama of the room. This is perhaps best for powder rooms or small bathrooms like mine are, for the most part. In addition, most of my apartment will be light and bright. so, it will be refreshing having some variation for the pit stops. :]

Okay, let’s take a look at some exquisite dark bathrooms. And, maybe, by the time I’m done, you’ll want one too. If you don’t, that’s also fine.


Jean Stoffer Design - mother-daughter interior designers - Lakeside_smashing bathroom

Jean Stoffer


How gorgeous is this! I adore Jean’s work. In recent months, she has become like the BFF I’ve never met. haha.

So, the first thing I’d like to point out is when I say dark, I don’t mean a cave. Of course, you can do a dark bathroom where everything is dark, but I love dark bathrooms that have white or pale areas, as well.

Dark bathrooms also need great lighting and mirrors, of course. And, I love gold accents, as well.

And marble!


Savuti Wallpaper dark bathrooms - Cole & Sons wallpaper

Savuti Wallpaper by Cole & Sons

What a charming powder room. It is reminding me of this powder room we did a few years ago. Sorry, the photos aren’t the best.


Park and Oak Design - fabulous bathroom - gold mirror - wallpaper- Little Lotus - Galbraith and Paul

Above and below are two of my favorite bathrooms by Park and Oak.


Park and Oak Design - wonderful bathroom - brass fixtures - moulding

Yes, I realize that the only dark part of this bathroom is the vanity. However, I’d love to copy that moulding detail. I LOVE it!


Airbnb Backbay Boston - Black Marble tile bathroom - dark bathrooms - photo - LBI

This is a photo I took with my phone last month when I was in Boston. It’s the bathroom at the airbnb that my son Cale and I stayed at (yes, the one with the gloppy trim). We both loved the black and white marble in this chic little bathroom. I can’t say the lighting was the greatest. However, I don’t recall if I had struggles with my make-up. But, no one complained or looked at me like I was demented, so I guess it was okay.

By the way, when I was in Boston, you may recall this pic of me.


Well, I was standing in front of my building, the day before I went inside for the first time! Of course, it’s not a complete coincidence. That apartment had JUST gone on the market and I knew it would not last long.


House of Brinson - Dark Bathrooms - One Room Challenge 2018

House of Brinson – Dark Bathrooms – One Room Challenge 2018

Oh my! I’ll take this one! Please click the link above to see the rest of this magnificent space. If there’s a prize for the One Room Challenge, I sure hope they won it!

Oh, wow! I just read that they used one of the Laurel Home Paint Colors in my curated paint and palette collection. Benjamin Moore Anchor Gray. I’m not saying they used it because they saw it in my collection. But, it’s fantastic to see one of my chosen paint colors in situ!


Benjamin Moore anchor gray 2126-30

Benjamin Moore anchor gray 2126-30 is the quintessential charcoal gray with a teensy smidge of blue-green. It’s very sophisticated and can look fabulous in either traditional or contemporary rooms.


DXV Modulus tubs-toilet- bidet kitchen and bath kbis 2018

I don’t know what shade of gray this one is. However, I took this pic at the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) in January 2018.


Swan Architecture - chic black bathroom

Swan Architecture

How chic is this black bathroom!


You may recall this handsome English bathroom from the fabulous @tradchap on instagram.


Oh wow! He’s done a lot of redecorating!



DuPont_Corian_Peace dark bathrooms

DuPont_Corian_Peace dark bathrooms


Sabbe Interior design stunning dark bathrooms

Sabbe Interior design  Oh what a stunning bathroom. I need to check out this firm when I have more time.


Above, the fabulous bathroom by Nancy Keyes. Please follow Nancy on Instagram!



And the bathroom by Mark D. Sikes that inspired Nancy’s bathroom.


Christopher Guy windowless rooms mirrors dark walls via cozy stylish chic

Christopher Guy windowless rooms mirrors dark walls via cozy stylish chic.

This is a reminder that mirrors or at least one beautiful mirror are essential for dark bathrooms. Of course, there’s always at least one mirror in a bathroom.


Tim Barber - sage green bathroom

Tim Barber via House of Turquoise

Okay, I realize this isn’t terribly dark. It’s a mid-tone. However, from what I can see, there are no windows and I think it’s pretty freakin’ gorgeous!


Via Behance - dark green bathroom


Via Behance – dark green bathroom

If this looks like it might be a restaurant bathroom, it’s because it is. But, I think this could be used as inspiration for a windowless dark bathroom with a vintage feel.


Chris Loves Julia - Dark Bathrooms - dark green and white bathroom

Chris Loves Julia

They love their dark bathroom! By the way, if you love that porcelain cement-tile-look, you can find it at Lowes!

Please also check out this post about current bathroom trends.

You might also get some good ideas from this post about windowless rooms.

Well, I think these bathrooms are too handsome! I hope you enjoyed them too.




PS: Please check out the newly updated HOT SALES.

The Serena & Lily 20% off sale is ending tomorrow 10.29.2020 at midnight PT


61 Responses

  1. Laurel love your blog. In the pic on the home page of this entry, where is the chandelier from? Is that vintage? Its also in a pic inside the blog in a Dupont corian bathroom?

  2. I remodeled four bathrooms this year. (Yes, I know, I lost my mind temporarily;) Painted three of them dark colors and was just stunned at the outcome. They all feel more spacious. The smallest of the four is a windowless powder room painted matte BLACK. When it was cream colored it felt claustrophobic but now it is black it feels twice the size. If anybody feels indecisive about it, I say try it. You can always change paint.

  3. I did a windowless black bathroom in my home using chalkboard paint. It looks fantastic and I leave chalk available to write on the walls so it’s fun to read or add to. The floor, ceiling and all fixtures are white so it doesn’t feel dark at all.

  4. These dark bathrooms are stunning! If you go with one, I’m sure it will look fantastic in your new home, like a jewel box. And you have convinced me that we can do makeup in a dark bathroom with the right lighting! I never thought of putting the vanity lights on a dimmer. I can’t wait for an upcoming post on bathroom lighting!
    I’m still happy with my mainly white bathroom, so that pic of the dark vanity is my favorite. I especially love the mirror above it.
    That’s one of the joys of reading your blog; we get to see things we’re not ready for yet, or would not have thought of and it starts to open our minds to new ideas.

  5. The last bathroom from Chris Loves Julia I could live with… a great combo of light and dark. I need light, windows, brightness in my life. The room does not feel dark. It’s striking.

    I am pulling for the right guy to show up, Laurel. You are bright, funny and would bring light into his life.

  6. As usual, another stunning post! My friend had a chocolate brown powder room with white fixtures and white wainscotting-stunning,
    You need to just have fun with the online dating, so many interesting stories, and so many nice men. The right one is out there. Afer a 43 year abusive marriage, I divorced, met some very nice men, but then I met the Right Man. I’m engaged, and am very happy! Smart idea to use a coach, there are a few others who have excellent sites and youtubechannels too.
    Welcome to Bahston, and good luck with all your endeavors.

  7. Ok Laurel, I’m convinced to try dark! Can you recommend some colors for the baths built when almond/beige tile and tubs were “the thing”? Floor, wall of tub surround, and cast iron tub are in great shape so maybe a dark or mid tone color would bring some life to my windowless room. So enjoying you journey, location and dating, thanks for sharing.

  8. I love dark bathrooms and say, “Go for it!” As for makeup, I have always had a table and chair near a window in my bedroom where I put on makeup with natural lighting. Started this because sharing a bathroom with family when we all had to get ready for work meant I was quickly in and out of there. So yes, lighting for make up in the bathroom if you wish, but there are good alternatives. Then you can have a sumptuous dark bathroom!

    1. I usually put my makeup on with my eyes closed anyway. lol But, one discovery that has changed my life is Cover Girl long-lasting lipstick. It doesn’t come off in your mask very much either.

  9. A couple of observations: all of the gorgeous bathrooms you featured have wonderful architectural details (molding) that I think could be easily installed. It enhances the darker colors in an incredibly stunning way.
    As to a dark bathroom and ……makeup…..that is what lighted makeup mirrors are for….LOL!

  10. I have an inexpensive antique-mall watercolor behind glass in my kids’ unvented (no exhaust fan!) bathroom and it HAS developed a few spots where the colors got so moist from humidity during bathtime that they blurred together. I think you’ve made a good decision.

  11. Hi Laurel! Thank you for taking all of us with you on your journey to Boston! Your new home is already beautiful and I can’t wait to see what’s next!
    BLACK PAINT ADVICE DESPERATELY NEEDED!! We did a tiny bathroom last year. Black and white marble, the most gorgeous little vanity, polished nickel fixtures. I love it. Early this year we decided to paint the walls black. I’m crazy about the look. I’m not crazy about the water spots. Just about every day I’m delicately swabbing the spots off with a microfiber cloth. In addition, the walls seem to sort of stain if cleaned. My daughter in law was considering painting her powder room black so I sent her a photo of the black smudgy areas. Her boys (my wild and crazy grandsons) are 6 and 4. She responded “ugh, it looks just like the boys dark polo shirts after they’ve worn them.” She’s right. Is this the price I have to pay for this gorgeous, chic bathroom or is there a trick to the upkeep or product I just don’t know? The walls were professionally painted, Benjamin Moore paint. I’m too tired to go find the can and see which finish. Signed chic but smudgy in Chicago

    1. Hi Toni,

      There’s a phenomenon with dark colors if they are a flat or even matte finish that they can “chalk.” I’m not sure if this is what you mean, but if you touch the wall, it’ll get marks that look like someone took chalk against it. To get it out, wiping with a damp cloth is all one needs to do. But who the hell wants to do that. I learned that when visiting the Benjamin Moore booth at the kitchen & bath show a few years ago.

      So, for dark colors I recommend an eggshell finish. In addition, there’s paint specifically formulated for bathrooms which naturally get very humid. Maybe some of that will give you a clue as to what is causing the marks.

  12. Hi Laurel,
    I can’t begin to tell you how much I love dark rooms.
    I’ve painted a bathroom black. And 8 years later painted it navy. I loved it so much I painted the adjoining bedroom navy also. The bathroom had no window & the bedroom gets shaded northern light.
    I’m going to be watching the YouTube channel. I’m also going to suggest it to my single daughter.

  13. I just painted a bathroom and a half bathroom
    in Benjamin Moore ‘Healing Aloe’ going over
    some old gold color in our 1910 house. In one
    bathroom with a claw foot bathtub half the
    wall is wainscoted in Chantilly Lace, the rest
    in Healing Aloe. It is divine laying in the white tub with the blue water seeing the same colors reflected on the walls. I’m going for the same color in our new bathroom. However, I do get it: paint a dark room dark- that can be really striking.

  14. Love these dark schemes. And I loved the bathroom “botox” you designed for your new bathroom in the previous post. For my bathroom in an old home I’m always concerned about cleaning and the “hidden issues” as another comment mentioned. I have a window so I think a dark scheme could work for me.

  15. Laurel, you have such impeccable, wonderful timing.

    Since I last wrote you about purchasing the wonderful Margot sofa from OKL, I have initiated a divorce, had to hand the sofa over to the wasband (SO unfair–I picked it out, with your help of course!), but moved on to purchase a funny little home in the country with lots of room for my horses.

    One of the first purchases I made was the four-poster cane bed from WSH, and IT IS STUNNING. I don’t think I would have been bold enough to buy it before finding you, so thank you.

    Now that I have a beautiful bed to wake up in (alone :-/) I’m moving on to the bathrooms. And online dating. I’m digging the slightly masculine feel in both 🙂

    I’m excited to follow along with your progress in all areas of your life, and I wish you so, so well.

    1. Thank you so much, Mara. Sorry about the marriage and the sofa, too. But, love that you got that gorgeous four-poster from WSH.

      Good luck with the online dating. I could write a book about that.

  16. Laurel, I think the dark Mistress bathroom is a great idea because it might help unify all the busy stone patterns and make them less noticeable.

  17. First off, congratulations on your beautiful new apartment! It is wonderful–so full of beautiful details and lots of promise!
    I recently painted a powder room in Ben Moore’s Gray Gardens–a really nice deep charcoal gray. I love it!
    Can’t wait to see what you do with your space!

  18. I want to go dark in my downstairs powder room. It’s so boring, maybe dark would give it some drama. Of course, I live in a townhouse built in 2001 and it has absolutely no architectural detail.

    Excited to watch your process!

  19. I would really be tasked if I had to choose which bathroom ( and dark color) I liked best! The dark bathrooms have a personality, don’t they?
    As always, wishing you the best both in your home closing and your personal life.

  20. Hi Laurel!

    Thank you for sharing the info and video by your Dating Coach – that’s a new concept to me. I have so many friends who are looking for a committed relationship after divorce, etc.

    The bathroom by The Brinson’s was amazing. That gorgeous cabinet/chest was just beautifully restored and the wallpaper background was everything!!

    The brassy gold antique switch plate looks like the perfect solution rather than painting them or wallpapering them. Here’s the caption on their photo: “Lighting buttons and plate from House of Antique Hardware. Link below. “

    I’m convinced doing a dark powder room will work. I personally use a lighted make-up mirror and magnification when needed.

    Thank you for sharing the links to all these gorgeous bathrooms.

    Have a great day,

  21. I am with you on dark windowless bathrooms. I painted my powder room in BM gentlemen’s grey and have muted brass fixtures with cream smooth travertine floors . Love all the pictures above. All would look nice in your gorgeous apartment. congratulations !

  22. I have painted my switch plates use a good plastic primer and clean with alcohol first or mineral spirits. Then I had my color put into a spray can, which any high end paint shop will do. I also did my fan housing for my “Hale Navy” ceiling. I bought hammered copper spray paint for another room to match knobs. You do have to be careful installing, but if you get a chip or scratch you can touch up with artist brush. And if your doing wallpaper your installer should offer to cover your switch plates with the paper to match.

  23. I love the idea of dark bathrooms – these examples are exquisite! You may have already done a post on this, but what do you recommend for types of paintings/art to hang in bathrooms? The humidity content in bathrooms (if not a powder room) tend to be higher. My mother is an artist and I have quite a few of her watercolor paintings but I am always afraid to hang them in the bathroom! I have always stuck to prints and oils so I don’t ruin a painting, but I am curious if this is something you have run across!

  24. I love 💗 the one with the dangling chain (?) lights! Absolutely beautiful! My downstairs bath has black and white checked wallpaper (I picked it up at the MacKenzie -Child’s barn sale on a whim, thought maybe I’d decoupage something someday and then realized that there was just enough- and I mean just -no one has noticed yet but there’s a bit over the door that’s just pieced together) and antique mirrors. It took me awhile to find sconces that would work (plain dark metal strips with pretty round bulbs).

  25. Hi Laurel, Loved the beautiful bathrooms and as I was scrolling there was ours! Thank you, as always and the “Laurel Factor” brought lots of new instagram followers. To anwser the question about light switches. Very easy to come by black outlets which I think make a big difference. Thanks again dear friend..XOXO

  26. Very, Very, Very trendy. In a few years, you will say “What was I thinking?” Also, the photos do not show all-important storage. As a starter, I suggest putting an outlet in a drawer of the vanity so the hair dryer will be out of sight, but convenient. Here’s an article which may be of interest:

  27. Hi Laurel. Love these dark bathrooms! Especially the last one pictured. I have a powder room I want to redo similar to that. It’s 5’x8’, with no window. I went to your second page and enjoyed Jonathan’s video. I hope you find your true companion soon, Laurel. Good luck and stay well. BTW, “True Companion” is the title of a Steely Dan song, in case you’re not aware. Best wishes.

  28. Love the dark bathroom Londony vibe! We did a renovation 2 years ago and everything is white except one bathroom! I painted it BM Hale Navy. I absolutely love it. We did a marble counter. We did wainscoting in Hale Navy and the ceiling and walls are white. Also highly recommend putting the faucet in the wall rather than the counter. This bathroom is so cool and absolutely no problem with makeup. As you said, the right lighting is everything.

    1. You can paint anything if you use the correct primer and do a light sanding between coats. A finish is either eggshell OR semi-gloss. I recommend the Advance formula for trim. It really does look like oil, but it’s water-based. Brilliant technology!

  29. I love all the rooms in this post. I think the key to a livable dark bathroom is balancing with plenty of white. Great moldings and mirrors take these over the top. My favorite was the Tim Barber design. That one made me want to go in and hang out for awhile.

  30. All I can say is that the gold tone hardware and mirrors makes each one of these rooms pop. So glad to see the resurgence of brass and the soft shades of gold.

  31. Good Morning Laurel
    I love every one of these bathrooms. I will agree to disagree with you about a dark bathroom and putting on make up. I work in television and our make up rooms are white, white, white, countertop is white. This was demanded by our make up dept.
    As I get older, I need all the light I can get to see what the heck I am doing.
    You know your vision,so, do what makes you happy and serene.
    On the boyfriend thing,for me,they have to have a life outside of me. Maybe I have been single too long, but deceased hubby had a life outside of me and I didn’t have to babysit him. Too needy makes me run run run.
    That’s why I’m still single.
    My very best to you.

    1. I have never had a man in my life who was in any way needy. If anything, the opposite. They didn’t need me for anything. lol

      One exercise I did in my coaching was to work on “limiting beliefs.” Actually, that one applies to just about everything in life. But, all of us have a tendency to tell ourselves things that may or may not be true in certain areas of our lives. But, these beliefs can hold us back. For instance, I could say that I won’t be able to find a man because I have green eyes. And no man likes a woman with green eyes, so there’s no point in even looking. Of course, that one is clearly absurd, but most of us tell ourselves things that have no bearing in reality.

  32. I love these bathrooms. But where are the plugs and switches? We are doing a windowless bathroom (short ceilings in this one room unfortunately) in our basement and I’m planning on going all in on BM Bainbridge Blue – walls, ceiling, vanity.

    I have long wanted a post from you on light switches and plugs. It has honestly kept me from doing darker walls because I hate seeing white squares on the wall for these items. I know there’s some very high end acrylic pieces that can be bought (but I think may have to be planned ahead for during build or remodel) but wondering what all the options are (paintable?) and I know you’d have great ideas to share as always. 🙂

    1. Hi Amy,

      Well, like many kitchens that you see photographed with “no lights,” they apparently photoshop them out. OR, they’re behind a plant or lamp, or something like that.

      Yes, you can get dark or paintable backplates.

  33. Beautiful pics. Thanks for the links to older posts. I either get a new look at some old pics that I loved or, very occasionally, run across one I haven’t yet read.

    My favorite bathroom in our houses so far was a powder room in the center of an otherwise light and bright house. No natural light options in that space and the previous owners had installed a dark, dramatic wallpaper. No point pretending that anyone could make it light and bright, so better to build on what actually was. I loved it.

  34. Hello Laurel, I agree that these dark bathrooms all look stunning, but I am afraid that you have still failed to convince me. I have a feeling that in a short time I would regret the dark color–of course there always is the advantage that a bathroom is usually the smallest/easiest room to repaint.

    Not only do light bathrooms feel more sanitary (to me), but also they show up any dirt, signs of leaking plumbing, etc. Also, bugs are attracted to water and dark spaces, including mosquitoes, which are almost impossible to detect against a dark surface. (Perhaps this is the Taiwan in me coming out.)

    As regards the dating coach, good professionals (as for example good decorators) are worth their fees. In addition to their specific skills, they can get one out of a rut and able to see things in a new way.

    Good luck on all fronts!

    1. Thanks so much, Jim. I understand that the mosquitoes in Back Bay are few and far between and the ones that make it in are quite well-behaved. lol I got clobbered this summer. But, both times I was “bushwhacking” with my son. That means going for a walk in the woods.

  35. I recently remodeled my guest bath which has NO window. I painted the walls Naval by Sherwin Williams. White vanity, white tub and subway tile, white marble floor and it is beautiful. I agree with you!! I love my bathroom and feel like I’m in a nice hotel when I use it. I have mixed metals with a small brushed gold table in it. Would love to send pics if you are interested.

    1. Thanks Nancy, I’d love to see it. If you’re a subscriber, just attach the photos to any email you receive from me. It comes from Mailchimp, but responses come back to me.

    1. I love beautiful mirrors and that is the problem with most medicine cabinets. However, I’ve seen where a beautiful mirror was affixed to a regular medicine cabinet. So, the best of both worlds.

  36. Just painted two of my bathrooms Kendall Charcoal. One has a sun tube and the other is in the basement. Looks great in both. Love the dark bathroom trend.

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Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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