There are 9 Neutral Undertones in the World (see them here)


I’ve been thinking about my bathrooms lately and how un-renovated and dated they are. (update, see all my renovated bathrooms here) It’s a project I was going to tackle this year but honestly, they just don’t bother me enough so I let it slide.

Except for this: I have always loved taking baths but the tub in our master is too big and takes more than one hot water tank to fill and the one in my main bathroom is an ugly pink beige tub/shower insert and it hurts my eyes to look at it so I am uninspired and rarely bathe in this house.

The equivalent to bathing for a Fin is a sauna, but my favourite Mother in the world has been in Finland for months to be with her older sister who recently had to move to assisted living (I miss her soooo much).

We’ve only had one sauna bath since she’s been gone because usually she’s the one who builds the fire and calls us over (it’s a wood heated sauna–totally divine). We sit there naked and solve the worlds problems, so amazing!

My course in Houston this week was the best ever! None of my courses are ever the same because I’m constantly tweaking the course material to help make it clearer and easier to understand. See my upcoming dates here.

In my system for Understanding Undertones©, there are basically 9 primary undertones in the world. Everywhere you go, they are the same.

Colour Wheel Front

I received a question about shopping for shower curtains a while ago so I thought I’d take this opportunity to show all 9 in a row here.

The right shower curtain can magically hide a bad surround, or simply make your fabulous bathroom even more fabulous.

So here’s how to get the right shower curtain to coordinate with your tile or hide it if necessary, or at the very least distract attention from it.

There’s many a bad shower surround that can be put out of sight and out of mind with a shower curtain.

Blue Grey

This shower curtain is blue grey and green beige so it would also work with the tile in the second image in addition to a bathroom with blue grey tile (as shown below).


Tile image source | Shower curtain source

Green Beige

I couldn’t find the right bathroom image with this tile (below), but I’ve seen many so ignore the sofa: This shower curtain would work best with biscuit or creamy plumbing so if yours is white, get the shower curtain above which is also green beige and blue.


Tile image source | shower curtain 

Yellow Beige

There’s way more shower curtains in greys than beige right now so this was the best I could find. Keep looking if you think it’s kinda boring.


Bathroom source | Shower curtain Macy’s

Pink Beige

Lots of bathrooms in pink beige. That shade comes out quick in tile when it’s installed in a room without natural lighting. It makes sense to check your tile in a bathroom without natural lighting BEFORE you install it.

And it’s the reason why I think all bathrooms should be white or cream anyway. This way, there will be no unhappy surprises when the beige tile you were convinced was perfect suddenly turns out pink when it’s installed.

But if this happened to you, how great is this orange and pink beige shower curtain?

Don’t despair if you don’t like the tile you inherited, look for a fabric with colours you like and also the neutral undertone it’ll work with.


Image source | Shower curtain source

Orange/Butterscotch Beige

In the Tuscan brown trend and the sage green trend (right before brown came along) this slate was installed in bathrooms everywhere (below).

Lately, every hotel I stay in has orange undertones from their last renovation.

So, if your bathroom has tile that looks like this and also has bright white plumbing, this shower curtain will relate to the white AND pick up the orange/butterscotch tones in the tile.

orangeundertoneMacy’s Shower Curtain | Image source

Gold Beige

If your finishes have a gold beige undertone, try this one.


Bathroom source | shower curtain source

Taupe Undertone

Taupe is a combination of beige and grey. If your tile is taupe, this shower curtain will work.


Anthropology Shower Curtain | Bathroom image source

Green Grey 

Lots of bathrooms with this undertone, there are many shower curtains that will coordinate.


Image source | Shower curtain West Elm

Purple Grey

purple bathroom

Anthropologie shower curtain | Bathroom source

So, if you have anything but a white or cream bathroom, figure out which neutral undertone(s) are in your tile, use my How to Choose Paint Colours ebook to help you. Bring home all the colour chips in that category and then when you know what it is, go shopping with that colour chip.

Which neutral undertones are in your bathroom/s?

Related posts:

The Best White Bathrooms

The Best Cream Bathrooms

Do you Understand Neutrals? Take the Bathroom Test

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness when you walk in the door, go here to learn about my NEW quick colour solutions or to schedule a personal consultation.



leave aREPLY

  1. I can confidently say that I know the nine undertones now that I’ve taken your course. Thanks so much for all that you and your team did to make the True Color Expert training so impactful. Truly a life-changing experience that I would recommend to everyone who wants to learn how to harness the power of color!

  2. Well done, Maria. I did a beautiful blue and white color scheme with a yellow butterscotch travertine tile installed for a client to tie in the bright white tub sink and toilet. Started with the shower curtain and got the towels, hamper and window treatment to coordinate with the blue and changed the knobs on the linen closet and vanity to coordinate with the chrome faucets. The guy’s general contractor left it a train wreck of mismatched metal, wrong trapeze of paint, etc. it was like malpractice.

  3. *sigh* I think I might have all 9 undertones in my horrible bathroom that I inherited: a biscuit tub and white toilet, yellow walls, yellow-green ceramic “stone” floor tile and pink beige tub surround, taupe-ish plastic faux marble sink top, orange wood stained vanity cabinet, and green-pewter mirror frame over the sink. I just avert my eyes. Not sure where to even start!

  4. Another wonderful visual article, Maria! This really helped me see the undertone in my new bath tile, which has been elusive. That’s part of why I chose it – it’s my forever home and I like that the colour changes with the light (I bore easily). Sometimes it’s pale pinky grey, all the way to warm rosy orange gold or brown. Exciting! But it means I have a plain white shower curtain right now lol 🙂
    Here’s my feature tile, with a mainly white/cream bathroom.

    Looking at these photos, it’s the violet grey that looks best with all the tones in the tile. But it also made me question – is it just me, or is “violet grey” a lot like brown? What’s the difference?

    • No it’s not brown, that is just the shower curtain, the bathroom beside it is a purple gray, that was just the best shower curtain I could find to go with it.

    • I was thinking of eventually installing continuous hot water heat (can’t remember what it’s called). Good tip thanks!

    • This article is for the millions of people who have a tub with a shower curtain. The biggest problem with installing glass where it’s not designed for glass, is that you can’t turn on the shower without getting wet. And glass would make most dated bathrooms look like “New glass insert, old bathroom”. Maria

  5. Great article to show us examples of undertones. I have been wanting to ask this question for a while about color and light. Do Muted colors look best in a room with little
    natural light and clear colors look best in a room with lots
    of natural light or does it make any difference???
    I hope you liked Texas well enough to come back!!

    • No it doesn’t make a difference, just keep muted colours together and clean colours together for harmony.

  6. Maria, really great job finding photos of each undertone and shower curtains for sale to coordinate!! While I do love the orange & pink beige shower curtain which matches the pink beige tile beautifully I recall that you have said in the past that blue can be used w pink beige too. My bathroom wall and floor tile is pure white but my vanity top has pink UT. I painted walls BM Palladian blue. Made a ” Phoebe Howard” shower curtain in same blue green color w white linen bands. To the above writer, shower curtains don’t hv to look cheap if you make them. This way they can be longer than the usual 72″ and wider too! Lol

    • You are so right, Betsy! When we redid our bathroom, I decided against glass doors because of the upkeep..I bougth a remnant of the most beautiful Brunschwig & Fils linen toile fabric, and made a extra long shower curtain and curtains. It looks gorgeous..

  7. I have mid-century modern home. The main bathroom in the hallway is in mint condition with all of the original tile (floor and wall), tub, toilet, sink and vanity. It is sky blue and white. It looks as though it was never used. I cannot bring myself to touch this perfect piece of history. The master bath is exactly the same, except is is pink and grey. Perfect! The other 2 baths are strictly white top to bottom. We have paid homage to mid-century modern in some rooms of the house and gone a bit eclectic in the others.
    Maria, would you leave the baths alone?

    • I probably would 🙂 And your bathroom, probably has a timeless look and feel to it, small scale tile, etc. It’s sad that there are so many perfectly good bathrooms that people just want to rip out ASAP because there’s nothing timeless and classic about it.

      It’s also the one big reason I can live with my bathrooms. They are cream. They are definitely dated but not the cliched version of a horrible 80’s bathroom.

  8. This is a great article. I love the solutions you found for each undertone.
    Thankfully, my tile is Carrera Marble. Much easier to live with. I went with a white & blue shower curtain that I made myself so I can get the extra length that the store bought curtains don’t provide.

  9. Joyce B in Atlanta

    Thanks Maria
    A very interesting post, since we will soon redo the 3rd bathroom in our house. It is the type of room that will need a shower curtain. The third bath is tricky because the builder made the bathtub and toilet area separate from the sink area, but made it too small. I’m still puzzling what to do – other than rip out walls.
    Undertones in our master bath – the first one we did – didn’t quite work as planned. Fortunately, the room is large and bright, and the tile and wallpaper are perfect together. The cabinets I chose turned out a bit pinky white, but like you have said many times, cabinets can be painted. We may choose to do that some day. Right now, I just squint a bit when I am in the bathroom.
    Many people think of wallpaper as a big no-no, but this is a beautiful tone on tone design that is airy and nearly invisible. We lowered the ceiling a foot – so now it is ONLY 11 feet. What was the builder thinking??!
    Our second bathroom redo was a huge success and is truly wonderful in colors and layout.
    I keep reading your blog and learning – look at tile on the floor, and paint color on the walls, not butted up to each other on the same plane, etc., etc. Thank you for this wonderful blog. It is very helpful to people like me who aren’t professionals, but really love design.
    How wonderful that your mother is able to be with her sister at such a trying time of life. I’m sure she’ll be torn about returning home, but for your sake, I hope she comes home soon to build the fire and enjoy your company.

  10. Another great post Maria. 9 undertones? Yikes I had no idea. The potential for color mistakes just multiplied! 🙂

    My favorite posts are always about your own home renovations and I look forward to seeing what you do with your bathrooms. How about some teaser posts to give us a hint about what you have in mind for those areas?

  11. Very informative, great with the visuals, one to bookmark. As for shower curtains vs glass: I think glass looks better with more modern decor, less so in, say, a farm house or a Victorian. Had glass at my last place and never again. Such a pain to keep clean and clear looking, constant scrub and polish.

  12. I love all these pictures and examples! They all look great. Love how you categorized the undertones, too- it’s always a good refresher to see your examples. 🙂 I don’t know where I would be without my undertone knowledge! -Jill