Help spruce up my bathroom!
January 14, 2012 2:48 PM   Subscribe

What color should I paint my bathroom? How about the floor? Difficulty: existing wall tiles are pink and I don't know what to do with them. Budget and skills are somewhat limited.

My bathroom is pink. Pinkish walls, pink flowers on the floor tiles, pink pattern on the wall tiles. Pink is my least favorite color and it's driving me nuts. Problem is, I'm terrible at choosing colors. My wardrobe is gray and black because it's easier that way. My husband is no help in this. He'll be happy to help paint or whatever, but coming up with a plan is my job. I'd like to do what I can for $200 or less.

Here's what we're starting with: pic1, pic2. The colors look more true to life in the first photo. My three problems are floor, walls, and the tiles on the wall around the sink and toilet.

Floor: 1'x1' square self-adhesive plastic tiles that look like they were installed hastily. Most of the corners don't match up neatly. White and gray with pink and green floral pattern. On a limited budget, I'll probably need to scrape these up with a chisel and install... something similar? Something that looks less cheap? Are there any better alternatives for someone with my limited budget and skillset?

Walls: pale pink but easily painted, if only we could decide on a color.

Tiles on wall: These are just on one wall: the wall with the sink and toilet on it. Whitish with a design of dusty pink cracks. I don't think we're brave enough to rip these out, rent a wet saw, and try to re-tile ourselves. I'm hesitant to rip them out at all - the wall behind probably has a ton of adhesive on it, right? Would that be very hard to remove? Having something waterproof there seems like a good idea since it does tend to be a damp area, especially the space between sink and shower. I tried searching online about painting tiles and it seems like not a great idea if the area tends to have moisture frequently. So I'm thinking I should leave the tiles and pick wall and floor colors that will look ok next to pink...

The other complicating factor is that our towels (which are very nice fluffy towels that I'm pretty fond of) are red, brown, and tan. Ideally I'd like to keep these and find a color scheme that doesn't clash. I'm definitely up for replacing the shower curtain and rugs though.

So, what do you think?
posted by beandip to Home & Garden (25 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you love those towels enough to build a color scheme around them, you might want to buy a back-up set (or two) immediately. They won't last forever!
posted by cyndigo at 2:53 PM on January 14, 2012

I have no tiling experience but I am a rather experienced color-scheme-picker.

If you feel stuck with the pink tile but want to tone it down a bit, try adding a brown, tan, or grey (the first two should work with your towels as well).
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 2:56 PM on January 14, 2012

As a first thought, I would say paint the wall a very, very pale tan color, and get a shower curtain that is a similar color with a linen or canvas texture.

I think your towels actually can work with pink, since they have chocolate brown which is one of the colors that looks good with pink. But you don't want to use chocolate brown too much in the bathroom IMO because it gets too dark. (I like lighter-color bathrooms; though dark ones are more modern feeling. Dark would work especially if you were going to replace your sink with a squareish modern one.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:56 PM on January 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

you don't want to use chocolate brown too much in the bathroom

posted by the cuban at 3:08 PM on January 14, 2012 [6 favorites]

I think dark gray would look great in there.
posted by decathecting at 3:13 PM on January 14, 2012 [4 favorites]

Can you take another pic, a close-up on the pink tiles, so we can see more closely what the non-negotiable color is?

That will help to decide whether you should aim for warm colors (like the ones in your towels: warm tan, cream, chocolate brown, red) or cool colors (most grays, blues, purplish-pink, purplish-red).
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:16 PM on January 14, 2012

From the photos, the pinks in your wall tiles and wall appear to be almost a neutral. The only pink I can really see is in the floor tile. I think if I were in your situation, I would just pretend the pink in the wall tiles wasn't pink and was just a neutral -- in other words, I would paint the wall whatever color I damn well pleased. Or I really might ignore the pink and just make my color statement with the linens/accessories in the room.

I actually don't think chocolate brown is going to be an issue dark-wise on that wall (because a lot of the wall is taken up with light-colored tile, plus you have the shelf/mirror to break it up), and it would work with your towels, or else you could go for the red, tan, or white from the towels. My bathroom has brown walls (I didn't choose it -- previous homeowner did). Well, really they are half brown because there's kind of a high chair-rail situation and beadboard on the bottom half. I don't know what that's called. Anyway, my point is that it looks nice! So I don't think brown is bad. To what I believe to be the cuban's point, I have never gone in my bathroom and thought hmm... poop color... a bit on the nose, eh?

About the floor -- I know nothing about retiling a floor and my approach would probably be either to ignore it or cover it with a bathmat as you've kind of done.

I think the biggest problem you currently have is your shower curtain, which doesn't complement your towels or your tiles. Go with a solid color from the towel color scheme for that curtain and you'll be well on your way.

On preview, I agree w/LM that additional photos to help us see the non-negotiable color would be super helpful!
posted by pupstocks at 3:21 PM on January 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'd go with Art Deco colors. Pewter, brown, black, ivory, old gold, a touch of either turquoise or wine. The pink can work with these.
posted by vers at 3:21 PM on January 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

What about ripping down the tile, then installing cheap bead board panelling and painting that white? That tile is heinous. I'd rip up the press and stick floor, too. Just buy new, more neutral press and stick flooring. Cheap.
posted by Malla at 3:22 PM on January 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you want to stick with the towels, I would go with a very simple shower curtain in a linen-y texture that is the same creamy color as in the towels (like this or this). Maybe bath rugs in another brown shade slightly darker than whatever color your shower curtain is (option). Try rugs that are more interesting than the generic kind you have now. I know nothing about replacing floor tiles, but again, go neutral -- possibly a light cream/tan. For wall art, find either photos that bring in the deep red of the towels and some of the pink tones, maybe some photos of trees with bright autumn leaves? Or something more abstract?

If you could give up the towels, I think a grey color scheme would work really well with the pink.
posted by wsquared at 3:23 PM on January 14, 2012

Response by poster: Great suggestions so far! Thanks! I'm not 100% attached to the towels - they could always be replaced in the future. I'm liking the gray idea. Medium gray with darker floor?

Here's a close up pic of the tile. I don't even know... is that warm or cool or neutral? Also, here's a better view of the floor (with bonus kitty posing for the camera).
posted by beandip at 3:33 PM on January 14, 2012

I would go with a silvery grey.
posted by winna at 3:34 PM on January 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Echoing the suggestion for gray. Go with a medium to darkish gray.

Other suggestions:
- Deep red bathmat to match the red in the towels.
- A neutral-ish shower curtain. No more colors. Something like this that has some browns and greys to tie in the towels and gray walls.
posted by raztaj at 3:35 PM on January 14, 2012

This post about tips for how to tone down a pink-tile bathroom and again how to renovate your pink bathroom might be helpful, though I'm not crazy about all of those pictures.

Here are some quick examples of rooms with pink plus another color. You can get a sense of which color combo appeals to you.

pink with greenish-gray
pink with greenish walls and pale tan upholstery
pink with lighter blueish gray
pink with darker blueish gray
pink with chocolate brown

pink tile bathroom with cream/pale tan walls and striped towels
pink tile bathroom with blueish ("steel") gray walls
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:53 PM on January 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

I really like Malla's idea of replacing the wall tile with bead board. Do you think that's something you could tackle? It looks nice in my bathroom and based on the previous owner's choices throughout my house, I'm sure it was extremely inexpensive. If there's any way to get rid of that wall tile, I think you'll be much happier. It's really... veiny. That said, if you don't feel like you can do that, I think you'll stop noticing it if you treat it as a neutral. Just call it a pinkish beige?

I don't really think gray will work with your very warm-colored towels, though. I would actually say to go with the red color in the towels (or a deeper/more neutral version of it) for your wall paint before I would choose a gray.

I do think the floor tiles being replaced would be the optimal solution there. Too bad they didn't go with those tiles sans flowers because they would be fine then! Cute kitty. :)
posted by pupstocks at 4:10 PM on January 14, 2012

If you're not going to replace the pink tiles, I'm with everyone who suggested a slate grey for the walls and accents (as Lobster Mitten linked to). If you make it kind of bold, you won't notice the pink so much. I know you love your towels, but I think you might want to replace them. How about:

Grey stripe shower curtain

Chevron shower curtain

Stripe mat

Other mats

Or would it be possible to cover the tiles with bead board (without ripping them out?)
posted by biscuits at 4:49 PM on January 14, 2012

My friend had large expanses of pink tile in several places in her bathroom--house was built in the sixties. She went with a beige/taupe shade of paint on all paint-able surfaces. She also painted a few random tiles with tile paint matched to wall color. Not sure how that would work since your tiles aren't solid pink...and the painted ones would be. Or it might be perfect ; ) She used towels, throw rug and shower curtain in tan/taupe shades. Handtowels, same but with pink appliques/accents. She accessorized with small, beachy things she's collected. I was surprised how updated and chic the finished room looked.
posted by mumstheword at 5:43 PM on January 14, 2012

Light cool pale grey or pale tan. I'd stay away from darker colours because you'd be amazed at how much wall colour can reflect of suck up light! The bathroom is somewhere you want lots of light, especially when you're hidden behind a shower curtain.
posted by exquisite_deluxe at 5:43 PM on January 14, 2012

You could just cover the tile up with some thermoplastic wall panels. I believe that this material can be cut with a utility knife and it doesn't require any special skills to install.

Other than that, I like the suggestions of grey and taupe.
posted by Ostara at 5:47 PM on January 14, 2012

I would go with a nice medium green paint with that pink, which would also go nicely, I think, with your shower curtain. Maybe even AskMeFi green, or a little lighter than that. Brown, red and tan towels could go with a green like, if you spend some time comparing/matching.
posted by urbanlenny at 6:34 PM on January 14, 2012

It feels like you need some kind of pale green/light blue to offset the pink and tan.
posted by The Whelk at 6:51 PM on January 14, 2012

My mother-in-law had the same tiles in her bathroom, except they were purple. She choose to paint the woodwork a silvery gray, and that worked very well with her much deeper purple rugs, shower curtains and towels. While pleasing to the eyes, the combination felt slightly dated to me. I would play with all kinds of gray, from light to dark, light on the floor, dark for the curtain and towels. Or mix gray and very pale green. The tiles have enough texture and movement that a patterned fabric would be difficult to work into the room. You might consider artwork on the wall to add a punch of color and complement the pink (nothing babyish or cutsy.)
posted by francesca too at 7:49 PM on January 14, 2012

Ripping out ceramic tile is a bitch. The pink-ness of the pink can be neutralized in effect by choosing a color of wall paint that plays down the color of the tile. You don't want to go with an all-out contrasting tone, because it'll make the pink look even pinker.

Paint chips are your friend. Find the card with the pinks that are closest to the pink of your tile, pick up a slew of other cards, and play with how differently a pink can be perceived based on what's next to it. I'm thinking there's a shade of taupe/tan that will nicely split the difference between the pink of the tile and the red, brown, and tan of your towels.

The floor tiles look cheap and very well may come up pretty easily. Replacing them with another inexpensive glue-down sort of option would be fine. If you go with a more striking, darker color, it could serve to further de-emphasize the pink cracks of the wall tile.
posted by desuetude at 8:14 PM on January 14, 2012

Rental? Paint the walls beige, neutral and calm. Get some beige carpet and cut it to fit the bathroom; a pain to do, but it will hide the floor.

Own? White paint on the tiles, beige paint on the walls, and new flooring. Painted tiles aren't fabulous, but I think those tiles would look better painted.
posted by theora55 at 10:11 PM on January 14, 2012

I would leave the wall tiles, as others have suggested, and paint the walls.

You can replace the floor easily. I'd suggest getting the best grade of peel and stick tiles- the thicker stuff is more forgiving if your floor is uneven, less likely to curl up over time, and quite durable. I've used tiles that did a good job mimicking the color and texture of slate, which would go beautifully with light gray walls and help the pink fade somewhat.
posted by pernoctalian at 12:45 AM on January 15, 2012

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