Bathe in colour

Colour is an interior designer’s superpower. Whether your home is dipped from skirting boards to rafters in monochrome, or playfully painted in complementary tones, colour has the ability to create an illusion of space, to affect your mood and to transport and inspire. 

When it comes to bathrooms, however, colour can go even further, cementing a feeling of sanctuary and repose within the larger design concept of a home.  Here, we’ve explored five bathrooms that take inspiration from their surroundings to evoke feelings of protection, comfort, calm, wonder, drama and even opulence.  

Starting from a bathroom in the far south, in a small home that hunkers into its wild and windy landscape, through to a generous bath within a white minimalist haven in Auckland’s leafy suburb of Takapuna; a colourful and playful bathroom surrounded by Otago hills, and ending with a resort-like room with natural stone and a classical undertone, we consider the use of colour and material in bathroom design. 


The Coast House Bathroom, designed by Stacey Farrell

This bathroom within Coast House by Stacey Farrell was highly commended in the Green Home of the Year category in the 2021 Home of the Year

This small home at the southernmost tip of the South Island was designed as a sustainable retreat for a Queenstown-based couple and, as such, was highly commended in the Green Home of the Year 2021 category at the Home of the Year Awards. This bunker-like cabin utilises passive house ideology, using sustainably sourced materials where possible. With a footprint of just 100m² and surrounded by beach and bush, its interior was designed to provide a sense of protection, comfort and space from its otherwise wild and windy surrounds. 

In the bathrooms, circular geometries (on fittings and mirrors) and the gentle glow of the light imparts a certain softness which is further set off by the highlights of the brass tapware and natural tones of the vanity and wall. As a contrast, the smooth black of the sink and splashback, as well as the deep black tiles introduce a moody and nocturnal feel which combined with the cocoon-like architecture and the tactility of the strandboard surfaces, gives a sense of protection, depth and timelessness to the bathroom. 


Stonefly Lodge by Kurio Design

High on a hilltop in Motueka, the tones of this bathroom were inspired by the environs of Tasman Bay. Designed for a luxury lodge, the owners asked the architect and interior designer to take their design cues from the surrounding nature. As such, materials were chosen for their organic look. The green mylonite stone of the vanity – with its waves of black, white and various depths of green – emulates the wild Motueka River, while the natural timber echoes the trees outside. The surrounding accents – a balance of classicism and contemporary lines – use white wall tiles and complementary brass tapware to draw the eye into the masterclass of green and timber used in this vanity.


Gibbston House by Laura Shallcrass

A brave pop of colour in this Central Otago home promises relaxation

Beneath a view of gold and brown hills, this bathroom of sunset pinks is one of dreams. As an artist and illustrator, it is homeowner Laura Shallcrass’ brave eye for colour that makes this bathroom pop.

The statement pink-tinted bath and basin were picked for their complementary tone to the pink-hued pieces in the cocci spaccato floor tiles. The textural aesthetic approach is both reminiscent of classical ambience and modern sophistication, highlighted with the use of brass fittings that lend patina and shine.


Northcote Home, Katie Lockwood Studio

Tiled top to toe in soft green, this home’s mid-century details inspired this bathroom renovation’s considered, artisan aesthetic

The reduced palette of colour and materiality of this bathroom is an extension of the interior influence throughout the rest of the home, which is defined by mid-century and Japanese detailing. This monochromatic colour scheme of olive-green tiles is broken up by timber fixtures and matte white tapware. The soft green tiles imbue peace, calm and comfort with a touch of nostalgia and promote relaxation in this family bathroom.

The tiles from Health Ceramics are handmade, and the variation in size and glaze promotes the considered, artisan aesthetic of the home.


House on Takapuna Beach, CAAHT Studio Architects

This bathroom within the City Home of the Year 2021, House on Takapuna Beach by CAAHT Studio Architects offers a secluded space for relaxation

On a tight beachfront site on Auckland’s Takapuna Beach, this home met the challenge of the glass bowl effect, finding a balance between privacy and community. Here, in the master bathroom, privacy and comfort are found beneath a circular skylight.

Clad top to toe in tiny white mosaics, interrupted only by chrome tapware, the textures and surfaces reflect the ever-changing light from above. The use of white and boasting a generous natural light source increase the sense of space, a private and fresh take on the beach beyond. The round bath echoes the skylight above, promising a calming performance of clouds and stars to those relaxing.


Words: Katie Delany

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