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Design Ideas for Neutral Color Master Bathrooms

Help your master bath becomes a stylish sanctuary when you dress it in shades of white, ivory, cream, beige, ecru, mushroom, taupe, brown, gray, and black.

Written and produced by Debra Steilen
  • Werner Straube

    All the bathrooms we’re about to show you may wear neutral hues, but that doesn’t make them boring. That’s because the designers mixed in contrasting tones, patterns, textures, surfaces, wall coverings, fabrics, graphic elements, and more to keep things from looking drab. These master baths, guest baths, and powder rooms boast their own style. Yours can do the same. Nab some great ideas here.All the bathrooms we’re about to show you may wear neutral hues, but that doesn’t make them boring. That’s because the designers mixed in contrasting tones, patterns, textures, surfaces, wall coverings, fabrics, graphic elements, and more to keep things from looking drab. These master baths, guest baths, and powder rooms boast their own style. Yours can do the same. Nab some great ideas here.

    Their clients respected the past, but their design sensibilities leaned toward modern. That’s why architect Michael Abrams and designer Kevin Toukoumidis updated the Chicago row house with timeless details and a neutral color palette. In the master bath, walls are covered in Elitis’ woven-look Zanzibar wall covering in gray, with trim and ceiling painted in Hazy Skies from Benjamin Moore. The decorative plaster ceiling is inset with mirrors that boost the sparkle from an antique crystal chandelier. Both the tub deck and the 12x24-inch floor tiles are made from Calacatta marble. 

    Architect: Kevin Toukoumidis
    Designer: Michael Abrams

    See the before and after pics of this renovation.

  • Ryann Ford

    Shades of Pale

    Subdued hues give this Country French master bath a timeless feeling of serenity. But it’s the darker details that add interest. Creamy limestone flooring gets its verve from a windowpane pattern of taupe mosaic tiles—which also create the border above the room’s limestone wainscoting. A balloon shade takes taupe behind the tub. Along with marble counters, the matching white vanities gain character from an umber glaze that brings out their beaded details.

    Designer: Kara Childress

  • Julie Soefer

    Everyday Elegance

    Thanks to designer Marie Flanigan, a dated powder room gains an elegant new look with a neutral makeover. She replaced painted-green cabinets with creamy white ones, then added graphic metallic wallpaper by Schumacher that echoes tones seen in the new marble sink and countertop. Polished-nickel fixtures gleam amidst all the grays. “Embellish it,” Flanigan says about designing a neutral room with personality. “Details make a difference, especially when your color scheme is quiet.” 

    Designer: Marie Flanigan

    See more of this Houston home.

  • Laura Moss

    Old World Ambience 

    Authentic materials add intrigue to a texture-rich Tuscan-style bath wearing a palette of neutrals. The sleek Victoria + Albert tub sits atop a French limestone checkerboard floor. A heavily distressed side table stands out against handmade ceramic wall tiles cemented with hand-tinted grout. Venetian plaster walls convey timeless character. Antique iron candle pillars add warmth. “There’s a big difference between mass-produced materials someone calls ‘rustic,’ and handcrafted materials that are nuanced and layered,” says designer Jana Parker Lee. “We went for the handcrafted option every time.” See a powder room from the same house on the next slide.

    Designer: Jana Parker Lee

    Check out our fave focal-point tubs.

  • Laura Moss

    Rustic Retreat

    Designer Jana Parker Lee uses texture and pattern to help a small powder room live large. Venetian plaster walls surround an intricate ceramic-tile backsplash trimmed in black. Silhouetted against the tile, a weathered console table with a hammered-nickel basin stands out as a sculptural vanity. The room is grounded with the same limestone flooring as in the master bath.

    Designer: Jana Parker Lee

    Peek at more powder rooms.

  • Werner Segarra

    Timeless Details

    Set within an arched niche, this bathing area exudes timelessness with its desert-inspired palette, reclaimed-limestone floor pavers, and glazed-tile wainscoting. The latter features narrow tiles individually set to create a herringbone pattern; they’re topped with a bas relief tile border. A crystal chandelier, damask-pattern balloon shade, and velvet-upholstered ottoman add touches of femininity to the tiled space.

    Architect: Gary Wyant
    Designer:  Lissa Lee Hickman

  • Brie Williams

    Light and Lavish

    Original heart-pine flooring warms a master bath that features a tub installed within gray-and-white marble slabs. Creamy white walls and cabinetry soothe the eye. Pale gold silk draperies add a luxurious shimmer at the tall window. All the neutral tones are pulled together within a modern painting that hangs above the tub’s backsplash.

    Designer: Alix Ricco

    Tour a home filled with art and color.

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Tranquil Tones

    “I wanted the whole house to feel soft and quite ethereal,” says designer Beth Webb about an Arts and Crafts-inspired vacation home in northern Michigan. “For me, it all starts with the finishes.” Fittingly, Webb collaborated with architect Peter Block to line rooms with limed wood paneling that delivers a whitewash effect. Lime-washed cedar paneling was chosen for the master bath’s tub niche. The floor around the tub is “Silver Travertine” from Marmi Natural Stone. The unpaneled walls wear Seed Pearl paint from Pratt and Lambert. See another view of this bath on the next slide.

    Architect: Greg Presley and Peter Block
    Designer: Beth Webb

    Visit this relaxing lakeside home.

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Peaceful Retreat

    Mirror-image sink vanities stand out against the limed-cedar paneling, thanks to their “Broxburn Greige” painted finish from the Darryl Carter collection for Benjamin Moore. Echoing the tub treatment seen on the previous slide, the countertop is crafted from silver Travertine with a pencil backsplash. Black-framed mirrors add a touch of drama to the serene setting.

    Designer: Beth Webb

    View more of our favorite vanities.

  • Werner Straube

    Simply Sophisticated

    “We wanted a calm, clean look—nothing too busy,” says homeowner/designer Tricia Dill about the house she and husband, Matt Dill, built in Chicago. That’s why soft varying shades of gray dress walls throughout the space, supplying a calm setting for streamlined furnishings. In the master bath, walls wear Storm from Benjamin Moore and the floor is clad in Carrara marble.  Embroidered linen draperies soften the room’s angular design.  

    Design: Tricia Dill and Donna Hall

  • Dominique Vorillon

    Shades of Gray

    In this guest bathroom designed by Ryan Brown, rich gray walls temper the dramatic contrast between ebony floors and the crisp white ceiling. Against the moody backdrop, white porcelain fixtures—a soaking tub and pair of vintage sinks on chrome legs—pop in high relief. A seaform-like chandelier from Ironies hangs from the tongue-and-groove ceiling—adding an organic element to the well-groomed room.

    Designer: Ryan Brown

  • John Bessler

    Seaside Serenity

    When Jane and Soren Sorensen built their Nantucket beach house, they wanted to decorate with colors that reflected their island home. “We chose a lot of gray,” says designer Cynthia Hayes. “It can be very gray on Nantucket,” she says—noting that thick fog often swathes the scenery in gray. In the master bath, the chosen hues of soft gray and sand was actualized in pale gray walls (“Alaskan Husky” by Benjamin Moore), white woodwork, a sleek white soaking tub, and an eye-catching floor comprised of honed-marble floor tiles with gray, taupe, and ivory striations. A rustic wood stool provides organic warmth.

    Designer: Cynthia Hayes and Pamela Manchester
    Architectural designer: Matthew MacEachern

    Check out this elegant Nantucket home.

  • Emily Minton Redfield

    Naturally Beautiful

    A warm palette of neutrals lets breathtaking mountain views take center stage when viewed through this powder room’s slim window. The rustic but refined space is wrapped in a textural hide wallcovering against which an organically shaped stone-vessel sink and a limestone counter look right at home. The floor is made of reclaimed wood.

    Designer: Susse Budde
    Builder: Corey Larsen

  • Tria Giovan

    Modern Meets Romantic

    A sleek contoured tub and slab-front cabinetry add a masculine edge to a room furnished with flirty wallpaper, shapely antiques, and a crystal chandelier. The cabinetry wears a weathered charcoal-gray finish that picks up the darker tones in the gray-and-pale blue wallpaper. Wood-look porcelain tiles offer a modern reflection of the rustic ceiling beams up above.

    Designer: Nicole Zarr

  • Michael Partenio

    Handsome Hideout

    Wicker baskets keep towels close at hand within a furniture-style vanity boasting turned legs. The wood countertop and shelves are designed to patina over time, thanks to their waxed finish. Stone flooring adds rustic texture underfoot.

    Designer: Anne-Marie Barton

  • Francesco Lagnese

    Scaling the Wall

    Pattern adds interest to a bathroom swathed in neutral colors. Take the wall treatment here, for example. Designer Rob Stuart chose a Faux Alligator wallcovering by Evans & Brown for Koroseal that adds a rich brown and organic texture behind pristine white fixtures. Soft gray grout defines the classic pattern of white subway tiles used in the wainscoting. Artwork finished in gilded frames (one of which swings open to reveal a storage cubby) upgrades the neutral palette with a little shimmer. 

    Designer: Rob Stuart

    See the rest of this New York apartment.

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Artistic Statement

    This former bedroom, transformed into a light-filled master bath by architect Shannon Fickling, includes a vintage claw-foot tub, a wide vanity, and a center island furnished with a washer and dryer. But what really makes the room memorable is the art: paintings, prints, and collectibles artfully arranged against pale gray walls by homeowner Joe Adams, a fine artist and former art teacher. With this display, the master bath becomes a place for creativity and contemplation as well as a haven against stress. The walls are painted Light Pewter from Benjamin Moore. The countertops are Carrara marble.

    Architect: Shannon Fickling

    Check out this charming Georgia home.

  • Werner Straube

    Enlightened Outlook

    The wall of windows in this renovated bath may be dramatic, but the use of neutrals is just as eye-catching. The walls and ceiling wear a cozy “Ashley Gray” paint (from Benjamin Moore) teamed with white woodwork. The perimeter floor tile is Calacatta marble, while the patterned center tile is Seine, a waterjet stone mosaic (Nero Marquina and Calacatta Tia) by New Ravenna. Furniture-style vanities warm the room with their rich finish. 

    Designer: Corey Damen Jenkins

    Tour this historic Detroit home.

  • John Bessler

    Clearly Calming

    For this master bath, designer Keith Baltimore chose white tongue-in-groove planks for the ceiling juxtaposed with a white shag rug from Stanton Carpet. In between, a white cork wallcovering (Jack’s Jungle by Phillip Jeffries) gleams with a silver philodendron-leaf motif. Baltimore added even more shine with an extravagant crystal chandelier and a see-through glass-and-acrylic table in the center of the room. Lustrous wooden Plank Chairs from the Phillips Collection stand out against the pristine backdrop.

    Designer: Keith Baltimore

    Walk through the Hampton Designer Showhouse.

  • John Granen

    Fresh and Clean

    When a walk-in shower includes both glass doors and a wall of glass, the landscape becomes the dominant element. That means it’s the plant life that provides the color for this bathing experience, while gray-and-white marble shower surfaces and white cabinetry provide the luxurious neutral backdrop.  A filmy white shower curtain can be drawn when privacy is top of mind.

    Designer: Henry Brown

    Tour an Oregon home dressed in neutrals.

  • Werner Straube

    Embracing Texture

    “My clients wanted their home to feel lived in from day one,” says designer Kathy Anderson. “We accomplished that by using materials that were flat, worn, and tumbled, and that would get better with age, love, and use.” In the master bath, that texture-driven plan translated into a stone-and-concrete backdrop for a copper slipper tub—directly beneath a barrel vault ceiling detail lined with old brick. The ceiling beams are made of reclaimed wood.

    Designer: Kathy Anderson

  • Emily Jenkins Followill

    Tuscan Patina

    “Elegance was our objective for the master bath,” says Barbara Vessels, the designer charged with turning a client’s new home into a Tuscan-inspired villa. True to her mission, Vessels furnished the room with surfaces and accessories wearing neutrals that range from creamy white to ebony. A tall black-framed mirror with gilded details demands attention from between two leaded-glass windows adorned with silk balloon shades. The floor sports patterned marble tiles in shades of taupe and cream.

    Designer: Barbara Vessels

  • Emily Gilbert
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