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Considering adding black to your bathroom design? Don’t underestimate the power of black. When you decorate with black in a bathroom, you are already working with the darkest colour, so don’t overdo it. I’ll show you how a subtle repeat of black is all you need for a classic bathroom design.

Since hiring my fabulous design assistant Kelly Parkinson four years ago, she has renovated two homes with my help. One of the perks of working for me, is not only do you get trained in my classic and timeless aesthetic, but design help is not far away for one of your own projects.

Here’s the first house tour and here are the before photos of her current home. I recently posted the before and afters of her exterior here.

I’m starting the tour of her house with the main bathroom:

Faucet | Hex Tile | Black Mirror | Wall Sconces, similar here and here | Knobs | Pulls

How to Decorate with Black in a Bathroom

Now that the black and white trend is here, I’m seeing so many overdone black bathrooms.  Black is the darkest colour in the spectrum. Which means that a little goes a long way and this bathroom is a great example of that.

Repeat it once or at the most twice, in small amounts as Kelly did here and you’re done.


Wall colour BM Horizon (found in my curated collection of large colour samples here)

Before you say it, I should have moved the botanical down, it’s slightly too high but I LOVE how it picks up the greens in the bathroom.

Kelly cut and sanded this board to create a DIY caddy for the photoshoot. She said she might keep it around for this purpose!

Love the black and white hex tile.



Quite the transformation from the 70s bathroom that it was! Kelly has done a great job with her house, I’ll show you more soon!

I’m right in the middle of my Boston Specify Colour with Confidence workshop and having a great time! Follow along here in my Instagram stories.

We are at the airport hotel for the workshop and then Friday night we go downtown to the Liberty hotel where we’ll have one day to explore and then Sunday we’re off to our SOLD OUT event in Orlando!


And Kelly is pregnant with her first child! We are so excited for her and this opens up a rare opportunity to work and learn from me personally as my design assistant for one year maternity leave, see the job posting here.

Related posts:

What Everyone Should Know About Black

Ask Maria: What Mood Does Black and White Convey?

Are Black Shower Doors the Best Choice for Your New Bathroom?

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  • Tina Meyer says:

    Yes, I agree with you, Maria, black goes a long way and should be used sparingly. I would not use black as I don’t like the look of it, it is one trend that does not appeal to me at all. I much prefer a softer look with colour but I’m sure some people will use it. I have seen some homes here in black and dark grey and find them very drab and unappealing. I wonder how long the black trend will last, hopefully, not for the next ten years, but who knows.

  • Julie says:

    Maria and Kelly, this looks amazing! I absolutely love it: the tile, the colors and the styling…EVERYTHING! The green reminds me of the original roman shade in your kitchen. How fresh and clean. This post came at the right time. I am updating my guest bath and going with white hex tile floors. Plus a little sprinkling of black in three small decor items. Thank you for the beautiful guide on how to achieve that balance. Can’t wait to see the rest of Kelly’s home. Kelly, congrats on your upcoming baby!

    • Maria Killam says:

      As an actual fact it is the roman shade in my kitchen, I forgot to mention that, Kelly made the shower curtain from the other romans and the middle one fit perfectly 🙂 good eye Julie! x Maria

      • Donna says:

        I love the look of a touch of black. To me it gives a room brings a room to a new level and adds little class. I think when it is used properly even though it is the darkest color, it can be the most neutralizing use of a color to pull a room together without a choosing an actual color that you may tire of in a few years and can pull a room together. Not that I know how to do all that but I have been following your posts and am gradually learning thanks to you!
        Btw, would black facets in your assistants bathroom work? Or, because of the silver drawer handles, keep it the same? Learning!!!

  • Robin Payne says:

    Maria, can oil rubbed bronze be as timeless and interchangeable with black? ( mirrors, hardware, door knobs) For instance if you have dark bronze windows and cream or off-white furnishings. Does the rule apply white with black and cream with brown? Robin

    • Maria Killam says:

      Yes it looks so close it is often interchangeable. Like that post I wrote years ago when I was looking for black lighting for my entry and couldn’t find any then, the salesperson said, ‘blink twice and it’ll be black’. Maria

  • Kelly Clark says:

    Adorable! May I ask who makes the tub faucet? I’m working on client bathrooms currently that I would be very interested in specifying it for.
    That board is genius:)!

  • Debra says:

    Looks great ! I do see the black repeated more than twice though ,In small amounts a of course.

  • Lauren says:

    Maria, this post comes at the perfect time for me! We are considering buying a new home. It has those great black and white basket weave floors! Of course the current bathroom finishes don’t coordinate at all with the floor! If we pull the trigger on this house, Ill be bringing using these tips! I’m pretty sure if they had consulted with you on colors and other finishes, this home wouldn’t have sat on the market for as long as it has.

  • Teresa says:

    Wow, what a transformation! I know subway and hex tiles are timeless (thanks to your blog) but what about the wood toned cabinet color? Can you explain why that works and is it timeless as well? What about 12” x 24” tiles?

    • Maria Killam says:

      Yes there’s nothing wrong with a wood stained vanity in a white bathroom, it adds nice contrast! There’s way less cabinetry in a bathroom so I think that’s why it looks so good. I think 12 x 24 tiles can work in a modern bathroom! Thanks for your comment! Maria

  • Nicole says:

    Congrats on your growing family, Kelly, and for finishing such a lovely bathroom BEFORE kids arrive. The dandelion print is so cheerful, it made me smile!

  • Mary P says:

    Many years ago I chose to add a little black to my decor because it feels classic to me and I think it still looks crisp and sophisticated. I have no desire to change it, so to me it’s still holding it’s own. I love this bathroom – it looks fresh and clean.

  • Lucy says:

    What is the wood finish on the vanity? Our kitchen cabinets are vertical grain fir and the catalyzed lacquer(Sherwood CC-F43) the contractor wants to use seems to bring out and darken a lot of orange tones more than what he originally showed us.

  • Barb says:

    So glad to see a bathroom using an attractive shower curtain! I much prefer a shower curtain over a glass door. Cleaning the door and its
    frame gets too hard. The curtain offers softness and an opportunity to change shower curtain whenever you want to change the look of the room.

  • Candice Hill says:

    Hi, Maria….New hair style? Very cute!!! Like it a lot! 🙂

    • Maria Killam says:

      Thanks Candice, It’s not new it’s just that my hair was trashed a 2 1/2 years ago (and I’ve been counting 🙂 by a new hair stylist when my stylist fo 15 years stopped cutting hair and it’s taken me this long to grow it back 🙂 x Maria

  • Barbara says:

    Gosh I love the hex tile. I had it in one apartment built in the 1920s (I think) that I lived in. Love the green, too.
    I recently did a little refresh on my master bath. Painted the light wood cabinets white, changed the knobs to a gorgeous black basket weave, sconces black metal with nice opaque (soft light) glass shades, new toilet and new faucet. With a few black accents –flower pot, candle holders and ceramic armadillo–it looks great.

    I had thought about some of the great looking black faucets, but was worried about water spots, especially over time. Anyone with experience with that?

  • Marie in AZ says:

    Hi, Maria — I’m sure you’ve heard that good old design stand-by that “every room needs a little black,” and this post illustrates that beautifully. The makeovers you show are lovely. However, I once worked with a man who installed a BLACK SLAB GRANITE FLOOR in his kitchen (it was a medium-size kitchen)! Personally, I thought that was absolutely crazy…of course, every speck and droplet showed up like flashing neon lights, and he ended up spending most of his home life sweeping and wiping up. A regrettable decision to be sure. But I do love a little black in rooms, as you show here…just not the whole darn floor. LOL

  • Holly says:

    Everything is gorgeous. I love the wood vanity. Can’t wait to see more!

  • Jeanne says:

    Would this bathroom floor look as good with a white vanity? Do you need contrast with this sort of classic white tile look?

    • Maria Killam says:

      No, a white vanity would look fine, it’s the black you need to repeat like she did with the mirror and scones. Maria

  • Jeanne says:

    Thanks for responding Maria, I am new to your blog and love it. So, if I did the black and white hex floor with white subway tile in the bathtub/shower and a white vanity, you recommend repeating the black in lighting choice and Mirror trim? I want a large rectangular mirror so I should look for a black frame? Would a dark wood frame look ok, instead of black metal? Do you have an opinion of whether sconces or lighting over the mirror offers better light? I suppose they should be black too. Thanks so much.

  • Alannah says:

    Hello Maria

    Have you ever considered doing a post on whether to buy a leather sofa or cloth sofa?

  • Heather McColl says:

    where can I find that gorgeous shower curtain?

  • carmella says:

    Love the wood vanity!! What mfg is that from? I can’t find it online and and want it!

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