Stripped-Down Bathrooms: Pulling off a Nude-Neutral Color Palette

Interior Design

Stripped-Down Bathrooms: Pulling off a Nude-Neutral Color Palette

Neutral-colored bathrooms run the gamut. Materials may range from showers clad in honed white marble to rich ebony cabinets paired with soothing shades of gray. But beige-colored baths can present a stunning neutral palette, too, setting the scene for the ultimate, spa-like ambiance.

“A monochromatic look, especially in a small room like a bath, is chic and gives the space a calm feeling,” said designer Stephanie Lindsey of Etch Design Group in Austin, Texas.

Highlighting shades of beige with other neutrals, be it ivory or caramel, can encourage a serene yet sophisticated space.

“It’s all about tone-on-tone and keeping it simple and clean,” added Deborah Naierman, a partner at ITALKRAFT, a custom millwork company based in Miami. 

We asked a handful of design pros to weigh in on using nude colors in a bathroom, and they shared their top tips.

Choose Complementary Colors and Finishes 

“When selecting colors, it’s all about balance. In terms of color palette, we see a lot of light taupe––warm taupe cabinets feel very luxurious with white countertops. Taupe has beige and gray in it, so you can bring some gray into the mix without it clashing. Light warm taupe with white and light concrete gray is a great combination. Keep in mind that the gray will need to have a warmer tone, especially if your taupe is very warm. 

“For tile in the wet area, you can always choose a color similar to the cabinetry or the walls. You can also wrap the entire bathroom in tile. Very large format tiles are the trend right now. 

“Metals are very sophisticated. Brass fixtures turn up the warmth, or you can go cooler with aluminum or nickel. Black is fun and daring. If you’re working with lacquer, try to match the hardware with the color of the lacquer so they blend in and don’t compete with the fixtures. Integrated grips instead of handles are great if you want a really sleek, modern look.”

— Deborah Naierman, partner at ITALKRAFT in Miami


Layer with Texture

“Texture is the key to keeping a monochromatic room exciting. Introducing layered textures is so important. Variations in texture help this style keep from falling flat and incorporating luxe finishes and fabric will impart depth.

“Clear glass exposes the light bulb and can detract from the overall subtleness that you want a nude palette to have, so consider using opaque glass fixtures. 

“Details matter here. Zeroing in on the specific pattern in a marble countertop, the sculptural curve of the bathtub, or how the light reflects off the chrome hardware will make all the difference.”

— Stephanie Lindsey of Etch Design, Austin, Texas


Focus on Natural Stone

“I’ve seen beautiful flesh tones that have rosy undertones, while others are more neutral. White oak is beautiful for neutral or nude bathrooms because the grain is fine, and the tone of the species is typically neutral.

“I find the chicest nude-tone spaces rely on a lot of organic material to achieve depth. Beautiful natural stone is key. Travertine or limestone are good natural stones; Crema Marfil marble could work, too. I’d mix stones with other materials like Zellige, a terracotta tile from Morocco. Zellige has a wonderful organic texture, as well as variation within the same finish that provides a ‘perfectly imperfect’ feel. It pairs well when a natural aesthetic is desired and has many options for hues that can work well with stone.”

— Alison Giese of Alison Giese Interiors in San Antonio, Texas


Let Light Guide Your Choices

“I like to start with the first thing that you see when you walk into the bathroom. If you see the shower first, then focus on the tile. If you see the vanity, then maybe start with the tone or color for the fixtures, vanity and wall color. From there, things slowly start to fall into place. Fixtures, finishes, tile––all these are dictated by the mood and style. 

“Observe the light within the room. Natural light, as well as produced light, allow you to use darker colors in the space. If a space has no natural light, then you might use a lighter tone. Natural and produced light dictates how we design the space and what materials to use. Lighting is key.”

— Carolyn Elleman, designer-interiors specialist, Case Architects & Remodelers, Washington, D.C., area

By: Tracey Kaler I  Mansion Global I November 2021

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