How to Fake a Bigger Bathroom With the 'Tone on Tone' Trick

In our dreams, our bathrooms have a stand-alone soaker tub, twin sinks with ample storage and a private stall (lined in marble, natch) for doing our business. But until we win the lottery that day comes, we’ll be employing “tone-on-tone” to fake a larger lavatory. This easy-peasy decorative technique is a fabulous way to add depth to small quarters of any function. Allow us to break it down for ya.

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What Is Tone On Tone?

Simply put, it means working with a single color—creating interest with different shades, saturations, materials and textures. By layering multiple hues in the same family, you create cohesion and depth (aka roominess), as opposed to the flatness of monochrome color schemes or the jarring visual breaks you get with several colors. Example A: This lovely, airy bathroom by Coterie member Taylor Anne, which uses varying shades of buttercream, ecru and gray to fake depth and add all the breezy spa vibes.

The best part about this trick? It can often be achieved with just some new paint and accessories. Here are the three major points to consider when pulling it off.


Step 1: Pick your palette. Above, a “warm whites” directive led designer Anne Hepfer to choose satin wall paint, a cream-colored vanity, matte bone tiles and ivory drapes to add dimension while tying together this modest-sized bathroom. Supremely serene, no?


Step 2: Mix your materials. Texture play is a huge component of tone-on-tone design—and it’s where things really get fun. In this gorgeous bathroom by Amber Interiors, earthy zellige tiles and a stark cement trough sink add tons of depth and visual interest to a black palette.


Step 3: Incorporate subtle motifs. We love how designer Lindsay Pennington peppered this rustic, rust-toned bathroom with geometric wallpaper—which simultaneously echoes the terra-cotta tiling and weathered vanity. See? Dimensional but cohesive—even when busy. We like.

Grace Beuley Hunt

Home Editor

From 2014-2019 Grace Beuley Hunt held the role of Home Editor covering interior design, styling, trends and more.
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