When colour is everything: Key bathroom redecoration tips

A bathroom's design is usually left untouched for a good 20 years or more, which makes your choice of colour all the more important.

Colour has a major influence on the character of a bathroom. Cool white gives the impression of clinical hygiene and cleanliness, while terracotta-coloured walls and wooden floors evoke a Mediterranean lifestyle, and dark blue tiles have a calming effect.

It's not just mood that is influenced by colour. "Dark hues make the room seem smaller," says interior designer Ines Wrusch from Hamburg. "If you paint all the walls in a small room dark blue, it will feel like a cave."

Here's what interior design experts say you should pay attention to when giving a bathroom a makeover to last.

Pastel colours are bright and often have a warmer effect in the bathroom than the corresponding solid colours.

Carefully pick your wall colours

Individual coloured walls can make a bathroom look more pleasant and harmonious.

"If a wall is a little darker than its surroundings, it appears closer in the room," explains Wrusch. "You can take advantage of this in narrow bathrooms."

In a similar way, very high ceilings can be made to appear lower.

Experts also recommend considering the moods attributed to different colours.

"Blue and green tones have a calming and relaxing effect, while the spectrum of yellow and red is invigorating and stimulating," explains Jens Fellhauer of the German Ceramic Tile Association.

Tiles are more durable than a coat of paint, so particular care should be taken when choosing them.

"Wall and floor design with tiles moulds the atmosphere of the bathroom," says Fellhauer. "Most of our customers don't just follow fashion – they have thought about what they like and what fits in well with their room concept".

Beige gives the bathroom a cosy effect.

"Metro tiles," anyone?

The current trend is to move away from neutral white. Instead, according to Fellhauer, patterned, coloured tiles influenced by different time periods and cultures are popular, as are coverings with a wood look.

Arrangements of colourful metro tiles – which owe their name to their use in Paris Metro stations – are currently in vogue. They allow the bathroom to be designed in a range of colours, or in monochrome combinations of different shades of a single colour.

Hip shades of green and subtle reds and blues are popular. There are pastel options for those who prefer a more discreet look.

And then there are other designs with abstract geometric and modern, subtle floral patterns, as well as angled tiles. Often the patterns in tone-in-tone effects are so subtle that they are only recognisable after a careful second look.

Even if bathroom design trends are steadily moving away from white, the colour remains a timeless classic suggesting cleanliness.

Know the disadvantage of clinical white

If you want to stay away from fashionable colours and decors, you will find plenty of classic paints to choose from. "White always works. Those who like it softer choose pastel shades," says Jens R. Wischmann from the German Sanitation Industry Association.

"Grey or beige are also nice and go well with Scandinavian design."

Even black, he says – with the right accessories – can work well.

"If the room is not too small, and the fittings and accessories are silver, it can look really classy."

The drawback with white (or black) is that these surfaces tend to show every hair, smear and speck of dust. If you want an easier-to-clean option, choose patterned surfaces or glazed tiles.

"Water stains and other particles are simply less noticeable on a patterned tile or a textured surface," says Fellhauer. – dpa

It might feel like a risk – and it is one – but bathrooms in mostly dark tones can look classy if done well.

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