White is a clean, bright color, and black is sleek and bold, but together they make a killer style combination. The very essence of contrast, light and dark, a black and white decor is just about the boldest design choice you can make, and a bathroom is the perfect place to try the style on for size. Since many bathroom elements come in black and white already, it isn’t a big leap, and typically a bathroom is literally a smaller space than others you’d be decorating, which makes it a sensible choice for a wild decor.
The very first thing you need to consider when planning a black and white bathroom design is what you want the balance between the colors to be, ranging from all white to all black and every proportion in between. The most modest design would be something like this sensible, white-dominant bathroom with a few snazzy black accents. Using a country style white vanity like this Adler makes the decor a little more casual, but pairing it with a black vanity top, black and white wallpaper, and a simple black Sconce with a Black Shade elevates it from cozy cottage to instantly classy.
Of course, if you for a glossy white modern wall mount vanity like Palace Bathroom Vanity Unit from Laufen and dress your bathroom all in white – walls, floors, Mirror Frame, window treatments and all – even the smallest black accents will act as little exclamation marks. Here, the black counter, towels, and throw rug keep all that shiny white from looking sterile, and intensify the brightness of the room.
The more black you add to the bath, the darker it will seem. That might sound like a statement of the obvious, but even small balance choices – like black versus white grouting on your tile – factor into those proportions. This bathroom has one of the most perfect 50/50 splits I’ve seen in a black and white decor. From the black Wall Mount Vanity with big, thick white Fireclay Vessel Sinks to the black deck for a white tub (and matching seat) everything here is perfectly balanced. Even the Painting aims for equality of the two colors, and the bold black and white stripes on the walls put a dramatic modern twist on a vintage style. The Black Chandelier is also a nice classic touch, and helps balance out the lonely all-white toilet.
Remember, black and white come in more than one “type.” While I can’t say shade, since technically black and white are absolute, what I mean is something like that. This bathroom uses several different finishes and textures – from the eggshell paint to the glossy floor and the thick shag style rug – to help keep the black from seeming flat or cancelling out the brightness of the white. Instead of using patterned wallpaper or tile, this bathroom relies purely on texture to draw the eye. And though many black and white bathrooms tend toward the modern (and the Bioflame Fireplace is certainly a nice modern touch), the elegant Clawfoot Tub and antique style Crystal Pendant and candle holder add that touch of old world class that takes this bath to the next level.
Now, while you could do an all or almost-all black bathroom (and I’ve certainly seen it done well) it’s a design that takes some serious gumption to pull off, and is definitely not for the faint of heart – or anyone who might object to bathing in a cave-like space. There is a certain charm to a bathroom like this that has floor to ceiling inky black, but it’s important to remember that it’s the little touches – the white interior of the black-finished Cast Iron Clawfoot Tub and the honeycomb white tile and the so-white towels – that bring out the beautiful white sunlight. So if you want even a little bit of natural light, make sure to include a little white to help reflect it. It’ll look almost day-glow bright next to all that sunlight-absorbing black.
One warning: beware of patterns with very fine detailing. Whether a mosaic done in very small tile or something like this wallpaper, thin lines of black and white can end up looking dizzying at a distance. Instead, opt for larger tiles or a wallpaper with a thicker pattern, like florals, fleur de lis, or even thick stripes. It’ll look better both close up and at a distance, and save your bathroom from getting a funky optical illusion look. What this room does right, though, is the gorgeous Console Sink, which is subtle and subdued, and the tiny Crystal Pendant Lights that pair white glass with black mounts in another play of contrast.
If doing all of even a small bathroom feels a little too bold, instead of repainting the whole space, pick a single wall to try out the style. This accent wall happens to spill onto the flooring, and the black door frame is a nice touch, but neither are necessary – in an otherwise white bathroom, and all black or more-black-than-white wallpaper can look especially dramatic limited to a single wall. I do like the way the texture of the paper carries over into the white portion of the room, which helps unify the design. Again, though, all you really need to complete that accent wall is a nice modern wall mount vanity like this Avara, in some combination of black/white or black/black vanity and counter. A matching wall mount toilet like this Toto Neorest doesn’t hurt either!
Finally, feel free to play around. This bathroom riffs on traditional wood paneling, swapping it out with a black tile half wall for a great modern twist on a classic style. Consider your existing bathroom, and don’t limit yourself to modern designs. Drawing inspiration from more casual and classic decor can keep a black and white bathroom livable – even if the Console Sink, Small Square Tile , and Black And White Prints make it breathtaking.
What draws you to a black and white style? Which color do you prefer, or are you aiming for an equal balance of the two? Let me know in the comments!