By Sophie Warren-Smith published
Beautiful bathroom art ideas can add a decorative element to a space that is traditionally ignored as a truly decorative zone.
Creative bathroom ideas that feature artwork are having something of a moment, as we all begin to view every room in our home as a living space rather than purely functional. And while the most adventurous we once might have become was to install classic bathroom wall ideas – tiles being the obvious choice – bathroom art ideas are so much softer, will create a look that's truly personal and can be changed as the mood takes you.
While bathrooms are perhaps the last place you’d consider hanging artwork – the steam, the moisture, the potential splashes – we love the thought of a boutique hotel-inspired ensuite or master bathroom that allows you to enjoy a favorite piece of art while relaxing in the tub.
These are just some of our bathroom art ideas and we've added a few tips at the bottom about what not to do when displaying art in the bathroom.
Bathroom art ideas
The bathroom art ideas and bathroom pictures below are mostly of paintings, pictures and wallpaper. However, sculpture can be very effective in a bathroom, too, especially if well-lit.
1. Soften the austerity of tiles with a gallery wall
Wall tiles are extremely practical for bathrooms, easy to wipe clean, resistant to steam and perfect for adding color and texture, but they can look stark and make a bathroom feel cold if they aren't broken up visually.
Gallery wall ideas can fix this quickly, with framed pictures attached to the wall with screws – through the middle of a tile to stop it cracking.
Remember, though, this room is about serenity, so just three larger or five smaller pictures in a row will suffice – more and the room will begin to feel cluttered. And why the odd numbers? This is a stylists' secret (no more) – odd numbers look better than even. Want a grid? Keep to evens.
2. Create bathroom art with a mural
'This kind of approach allows you to go large with your bathroom art ideas,' says Homes & Gardens' Editor in Chief Lucy Searle. 'The one-color approach keeps what is a busy design restful-looking, imbuing the space with olde-world elegance and style.'
3. Create whole-room art with bathroom wallpaper
Perfect for smaller spaces, half bathroom or powder room wall decor can be much more detailed, quirky and fun that you might choose for a larger family bathroom – or any other room, for that matter, where an atmosphere of calm sophistication is required.
4. Use a screen to create an artful bathroom backdrop
'The pared-back elegance of Provence is evoked here, through a scenic panel screen and antique ceramics, rustic textural walls and a large traditional freestanding bath. Modern geometric tiles, overlaid on the old flagstone floor, zone the space and bring a touch of modernity,' says H&G's decorating editor Emma Thomas.
The ideal is to find an original antique painted panel, but you can mimic the look with an upcycled find or new piece.
5. Choose sculptural furniture as bathroom art
'Not your everyday sanitaryware, this washstand feels truly unusual, especially when paired with a sculptural console and artistic accessories,' says Emma Thomas. 'Who says the practical bathroom can't be a space for luxuriating in the beauty of coveted and collected pieces?'
6. Turn a shower cubicle into bathroom art with wallpaper
Looking for bathroom art ideas AND an alternative to mildew-prone grout lines? We have an extraordinary solution that will change the way you approach bathroom decor forever.
'Wall&decò's waterproof wallpaper can be installed directly inside the shower, providing a seamless surface that's low maintenance, easy to clean and perfect for making a bold statement,' says Kirsten Wain, designer at West One Bathrooms.
'The wallpaper can also be applied over existing tiles, making it great for a quick update with minimal mess or disruption.'
7. Use art to add instant personality
‘The bathroom is often seriously under-served when it comes to adding style and personality,' says Owen Pacey, founder of restoration company Renaissance London.
'A great way to start is with art. Hang framed prints and introduce sculptures to give the often-neglected space a unique feel.
'Start by choosing one piece you love that works well in the space, and go from there. Perhaps you could build up a gallery wall above a bath, or stick with one statement piece to really draw the eye.’
8. Choose bathroom art that blends with your color scheme
For a harmonious feel, choose or commission artwork that will blend well with your bathroom color ideas.
Brooklyn-based interior designer, author and creative director, Athena Calderone has done just this and the rusty tones and free-hand nature of the painting are mimicked in the marble block by the window.
Black frames stand out well on paler walls and give the artwork a dramatic edge, so use black elsewhere to link it through the scheme. Look out for architectural pieces to add a further dimension.
9. Frame bathroom art with a bold wall color
Bold bathroom paint ideas might be tempting, but painting walls in daring shades should always be done with caution if natural daylight is poor, since the tones cast around the room by the wall color can create unflattering reflections.
However, painting a section of an accent wall to frame art is a wonderful way of showing off a collection, as in this bathroom designed by CP Hart.
10. Choose illustrative bathroom art
Whatever style of artwork you love the most should be what you choose – take this stunning illustrative bathroom wall idea as an example.
It shows that you don’t need to pick a painting to hang, you could ask an artist to paint directly on your wall to fit the space.
The larger the artwork, the more of a focal point it will have, so bear that in mind when considering bathroom layout ideas. Go big if you want to make a statement, or smaller if you want it to integrate more with your scheme.
What kind of art is good for a bathroom?
When choosing artwork for a bathroom – and deciding what will work best – the key isn't necessarily in its looks.
All art is good for a bathroom – from prints, to photographs, to paintings, to wallhangings and even sculpture.
However, you need to assess whether the art you have chosen for your bathroom will withstand the moisture in the room. If the bathroom is poorly ventilated, bathroom art can warp and even become covered in mould and mildew.
What not to do when hanging art in a bathroom
- Don't hang anything very expensive – if you are at all worried about the humidity or fluctuating temperatures in a bathroom, stick to cheaper pieces of work that you can afford to lose long-term.
- Don't hang art in a poorly ventilated room – an exhaust or extractor fan is a must in a room that becomes very steamy (so particularly one with a shower); failing that, ensure you open windows to air the room, and leave the bathroom door open after you've used the bathroom.
- Don't hang art in a frame that doesn't like moisture – it's not just the art that won't enjoy the moisture. Wooden frames are likely to warp, so ensure the material you pick is at least water-tolerant. Similarly, acrylic will allow the artwork to breathe more than glass, and is less likely to crack or break.
- Don't be limited – it's unlikely that your bathroom will host that many guests, especially if you have a guest bath, so choose bathroom art that you love, and not ones designed to please others.
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