The bathroom has black and white tile floors or walls, pristine enough so you wouldn't dream of replacing them. Celebrate your good fortune by surrounding those tiles with colors that reflect your style but don't turn the bathroom into a bodacious cliche. Red enamel, orange and hot pink are relentlessly bold against black and white -- and not very relaxing. Mirror accessories are fine in an Art Deco treatment but should be applied sparingly otherwise. Try soft or surprising color solutions to work with the tile.
Greening the Guest Bath
Pastel mint paint is fresh, light and surprisingly strong in a bathroom with black-and-white tile floors. The icy-pale shade of green holds its own but doesn't compete with the dominant patterned floor. Add lots of white trim, wainscoting or bath linens for a guest bath that feels like a spring day. Diamond, checkerboard and penny-tile floor patterns won't limit your options for big green drama on the walls. Black and white tile is so classic you can play with the decor to achieve exuberant results. Paint the walls eggshell white and then stencil overblown painted chartreuse flowers all over, edged here and there with just a hint of black. Traditional tile suddenly looks modern, and accessorizing the room in white to match the background keeps it from appearing busy.
Baby Blue Bath
The tub surround and shower stall are white ceramic tile with a band of black-and-white mosaic tile running around the enclosure at shoulder height. The floor is classic black and white hexagonal tile with a black border. You want serene and soothing, not stark and modern. So paint the sky in your bathroom. Cover the walls and maybe even the ceiling in the palest, most gossamer shade of blue -- almost like a mist. A small dark bathroom might need a white ceiling to bounce more light around the space; a larger, brighter bathroom can be all baby-blue. Paint trim glossy white; consider a modern pastel colored glass chandelier or a large, frosted white globe for overhead lighting.
Linen and Bone
Stark white paint may not match the white in floor tiles and is ultimately a bit harsh in a room with black and white floors. Subtle differences in the tile -- glazed ceramic, marble, sealed limestone -- and porcelain fixture shades mean you probably don't have a single true white anywhere in the room anyway. Embrace the off-shades for a richer, more inviting bathroom that feels more luxurious after a paint job. Linen and bone are close enough neutrals to stand in for white in the room. Mix them up -- linen on the ceiling and trim, bone on the walls. Search for variations on the creamy, softer shades -- vanilla, antique white, chalk, ivory, pearl, snow, magnolia and camellia each have a tint that can be emphasized in towels and the shower curtain.
Sunshine and Stormy Weather
Black and white bathroom floor tiles are urban-cool when the lower walls are covered in white subway tile and the upper walls are painted gray. Depending on the light in your bathroom, opt for the pale gray of a wisp of smoke -- matte paint is less durable in a humid room but looks spectacular -- or a richer, darker gunmetal or charcoal. Going gray lets you add color accents in towels and accessories or keep it suave and simple with white, black or gray linens and shower curtain. Sunny yellow on the walls, over black and white hexagonal tile wainscoting in a traditional bathroom, is unabashedly country-cheerful, day or night. Experiment with lighting so you never look jaundiced in the mirror -- CFL, incandescent and LED bulbs emit different light colors. Change the decor seasonally with spring green, summer peony, fall bark and winter white towels.
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