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3 Tips: Add STYLE to a Small Bathroom

Posted on December 7, 2016 by KylieMawdsley


How to Make a Small Bathroom Look Fabulous With Contrast

Unless you are one of the lucky ones (damn you!), your bathroom has somewhere between 25-60sq ft of floor space. And while this doesn’t leave a ton of room for ye olde bidet, there’s ALWAYS enough room for some serious WOW factor!

Most small bathroom articles focus on making small rooms look bigger and adding more function – which are admirable topics. But we’re focusing on the FREAKIN’ FABULOUS here people and one way to get freakin’ fabulous in a small bathroom is with contrast.

So, before we get into the good stuff (I know you’re just using me for the photos) I want to chat about contrast and how it can affect your small bathroom…

High Contrast vs Low Contrast

This photo shows a bathroom with some high contrast details. If you take away those darker pieces, the room might feel a bit too soft and subtle to make an impact.

Sherwin Williams Sea Salt in a bathroom with white countertop, vanity, farmhouse bulbs, wood framed mirror. Kylie M E-design, online color consultant

High Contrast: One item is drastically different from the other (in depth, colour or texture).

  • Can make a space or item look smaller than it is (which is why I wear black underwear)
  • Can be more formal than low contrast
  • Can be dramatic
  • Allows you to accent key pieces/features
  • Can be busy looking
  • Livens a space up
  • Generally has more ‘personality’ than a low contrast space

Benjamin Moore Stonington Gray in a bathroom with bamboo accents by Kylie M Interiors Online Color Consulting

The above photo shows how you can add contrast and texture through a consistent theme as well.

This next photo shows a low contrast bathroom. Even though there are different sheen levels and products, the overall look is low impact and subtle. INTEREST was added via pattern and texture.

Bathroom remodel, Moen Glyde fixtures, Bianco Drift quartz countertop Caesarstone, subway tile wall, Gray painted vanity by Kylie M Interiors

Low Contrast: Items in a room have a similar depth and are similar in colour.

  • Can make a room or items appear bigger than they actually are (which is why I wear a white bra…)
  • Calming and soothing
  • Can sometimes be boring without a shift in sheen level, texture and subtle variations in tone
  • A soft and subtle approach to decorating compared to high contrast
  • Can be made MORE interesting via pattern and texture

So what does this mean to you and your loo?

a) You know WAY more about the colour of my gonch then the average person and…

b) If you have a small bathroom and want a subtle look, you might prefer a low contrast look. However, if you’re looking for some impact and personality then high contrast might be the way to go!

And while you all know I can talk ENDLESSLY on a topic, today I’m going to focus on making a small bathroom look fab with high contrast…

3 Ways to Get High Contrast in a Small Bathroom (without renovating)

Small spaces can have fun too! Just because you have a small bathroom doesn’t mean it needs to be plain, white and potentially boring so that it ‘looks’ bigger (btw…it’s not). Personally, I’d rather it be small with GREAT personality (like myself – wink, wink) than boring and STILL small.

Tip #1      Add Contrast with Paint Colour

If you’re finding your bathroom a little too plain and boring, consider painting the walls a darker colour. You could also add wainscoting to give a real high contrast effect.

Dark room, bathroom with the best paint colour Dior Gray, Benjamin Moore. Clawfoot tub, porcelain tile floor. Kylie M E-design, color expert

Now the interesting thing is that in the above photo, the paint colour (BM Dior Gray) is low contrast with the floor, but high contrast with the trim and white fixtures.


Tip #2      Add Contrast/Change with a Decor

You call them shower curtains, I call them bathroom drapes. What this means is that you wouldn’t hang a plastic see-through drape in your living room would you (or in the bedroom, and if so, what’s your address)? Would you mount it on a white plastic rod that has rust on it? Well, if you would then we REALLY need to talk!

What I’m trying to say in my not-so passive-aggressive way is that the shower curtain presents a GREAT opportunity to add personality to your bathroom!

bathroom countertop accessorized with only 1 item with some sheen to it that matches the sheen on the shower curtain


What could have been a boring little bathroom now makes me a beautiful statement with the addition of a fun and funky pattern.

More tips:  The Best Way to Jazz Up Your Fibreglass Shower Surround

You can also add low contrast interest by layering the same neutral in different products/decor and changing the textures as well.

Benjamin Moore Classic Gray, porcelain greige subway tile, gray linen tower with bathroom decor and design by Kylie M Interiors


Tip #3      Add Contrast with Accent Colours

You can add ‘short-term visual interest’ via accents if you have D.A.D like me – Decorating Attention Disorder. The main symptom of DAD is the compulsive need (and yes it’s a need) to change things around on a bi-weekly, or let’s be honest – daily basis.


As time goes on, I find myself painting more of my walls neutral as this gives me the flexibility to change up my accents and accessories without having to start from scratch and this bathroom shows a perfect example of a neutral backdrop with flexibility.

herringbone or chevron gray marble accent tile in small bathroom with corner shower feature wall. Kylie M interiors E-design

Most small bathrooms can only handle 1 accent colour (really, the same goes for big ones too). You’ll get more visual impact out of 1 well-used colour than 2 over-used or competing ones.



The above shows photos of the same bathroom, with the accent colour pulled around. Granted it is NOT a small bathroom, but it’s the right concept!

Ideas for adding an accent colour

  • Towels
  • Soap
  • Soap dispenser
  • Artwork
  • Shower Curtain
  • Simple accessories
  • Floor mat
  • Baskets

Sherwin Williams First Star in bathroom with hexagon marble floor and floatin vanity. Kylie M INteriors Edesign, onine paint color consultant

One of the best ways to add colour AND texture to your bathroom is with those carpets that go in front of the toilet and around the toilet seat lid…SAID NO ONE EVER! Nothing gives me the heebie-jeebies more than mats in front of or ON a toilet, just thinking of them makes my toes curl OH THE HUMANITY!

Points to Ponder re: Contrast

  • If your walls are a darker colour, your toilet will ‘pop’ and be high contrast simply because it’s white! However, your sink and tub are likely white as well so it won’t look out of place.
  • If you have bone or almond fixtures it will have a similar, but slightly softer effect.
  • If you have coloured bathroom fixtures (pink, blue, brown, purple) then you rock and can just keep on keepin’ on.
  • The little things matter, so make sure your shower curtain rod, towel bars and TP holder are all in the same finish
  • Matte/flat finish paint in a dark colour on bathroom walls can show more moisture, so if you don’t have great ventilation, make sure you use a HIGHLY wipeable paint or stick to a lighter colour in an eggshell or satin sheen.

Want more ideas for decorating your home?  Check out my affordable Online Decorating and Color Consulting Services!

edesign, virtual paint colour consulting. Kylie M Interiors Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams color expert. marketing (6)

Thanks for visiting – chat soon!

Kylie M Interiors Edecor and Edesign



  1. Thank you! I just moved into a new home recently and was looking for inspiration on where to start in my kids’ bathroom, as well as my master bathroom. This was exactly what I needed. 🙂

  2. Kylie: I’m currently having my master then my guest bath remodeled. I wanted to thank you so much for your post and your photo . We had a mirror larger than the eye-sore, drop in jacuzzi and so happy to have it removed. My idea was to do white beadboard on the back wall then a very dark gray paint. We have 3 large windows above so I wondered daily if I was making a good decision. Your photo brought to life the conception I have in my mind and now I’m beyone excited. Thank you soooooooo much!!!

    1. Post

      Hi Dee! It’s more about the ideas, rather than the actual photos – and the ideas can work GREAT for SUPER small bathrooms! I only use photos of my OWN client’s bathrooms, not referring to other people’s work, so I do the best I can with what I have! 🙂

  3. I AM stressing instead of painting – been reading & rereading your posts. and rereading. and rereading. The underwear and bra thing, though. I love your humor as much as the info! Makes this challenge of trying to figure out how to paint & stage our home with the ugly amber colored pine trim, low natural light, too many doorways and mismatched furniture bearable. Thanks!!

  4. I really love the touches of the pink. What shade of pink is that or where are those towels from. And I love the flowers to match up top. Does anyone know what type of flower that is ?

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