Bathroom wall ideas – striking finishes for washroom walls

Step up the style stakes with these bathroom wall ideas, all artfully applied for a dynamic effect

bathroom wall ideas
(Image credit: Future)

If you are looking for bathroom wall ideas that are a little more eye-catching than the usual choices, you are in the right place. Here, we cover expected wall surfaces – albeit with more unusual presentations – and some more original looks, so that your bathroom can feel truly unique, whatever its size and style.

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Bathroom wall ideas

From tiles to tadelakt, wallpaper to the latest paint colors, these are the bathroom wall ideas we love most.

1. Introduce 3D pattern for texture

bathroom wall ideas - marble bath with 3D wall

(Image credit: Humbert & Poyet)

Use 3D pattern to bring a textural dimension that softens a bathroom’s hard surfaces – try CTD Architectural Tiles’ Genesis range. 

For this luxe space, architects Emil Humbert and Christophe Poyet of Humbert & Poyet collaborated with Atelier Tollis to create a striking backdrop. 

‘Based on our vision and drawings inspired by greenery, Atelier Tollis pressed a feather print into gold-leaf aluminium panels, lending an air of romance and movement,’ explains Emil. 

2.  Go for a wall-to-floor tile blend 

bathroom wall ideas - bathroom with colorful tiles

(Image credit: Future)

Carrying floor tiles up the walls gives the illusion of greater depth and is a popular space-boosting technique in small bathrooms

Here, the modern grid-style installation of Barber & Osgerby’s Lane tiles lends graphic warmth to industrial cement surfaces. Be sure to check tiles are suitable for both floor and wall use. Keeping stronger colors below eye level will reduce impact for a more serene atmosphere.  

3. Add a mural for impact

bathroom wall ideas - shower with mural

(Image credit: West One)

Outsized murals trump repeat pattern for impact and drama. 

‘Upscaling really makes an image pop. Wall&Deco’s incredible designs are 100% waterproof so be used anywhere in the bathroom, including inside the shower,’ says Kirsten Wain, designer, West One Bathrooms

‘Each print is rendered to fit the wall dimensions and can be adjusted to ensure focal parts of the design take prime position.’

4. Use wallpaper to bring in pattern

bathroom wall ideas - bathroom with wallpaper

(Image credit: Divine Savages)

As a smaller room, the bathroom is ripe for embracing wallpaper in bold patterns and prints. 

‘People worry about durability and practicality but, with a little care, there’s nothing to fear,’ assures Jamie Watkins, co-founder, Divine Savages

‘We recommend utilizing tiling or painted panelling in areas prone to splashing. Panelling the lower half of the wall and then wallpapering above is a particularly sophisticated look.’

5. Use an interesting mix of materials

bathroom wall ideas - Freestanding bath with herringbone tiles

(Image credit: Adam Carter)

Having a mix of surface materials adds depth and interest to any bathroom design. 

‘We love to mix natural stone with manmade materials,’ enthuses Hamish Smith, creative director at Ca’ Pietra

‘While one material offers a luxe feel and naturally unique patterning, the other, take a ceramic tile for example, can bring solid color and perfect uniformity to the table. Here, shared color tones allow the natural and manmade surfaces to mix and match in perfect harmony.’

6. Use paint in a bathroom as a dramatic backdrop

bathroom wall ideas - painted bathroom

(Image credit: Little Greene)

Bathrooms are all too often painted in white or blue, but deep tones in a well-lit room can make for a space that feels like your own home spa. A word of caution – darker colors will show up splashes more readily than lighter ones, so it's important to ensure that the finish you choose is water-resistant in areas that are likely to get wet occasionally.

See: Bathroom paint ideas – the best paint colors and schemes for your bathroom

7. Play around with repeat patterns

bathroom wall ideas - white bathroom with brass accents

(Image credit: Future)

Enliven a neutral color palette by repeating the same pattern across different materials. Here, Greg Natale Studio has also played with scale, pitching outsized chevron timber doors against miniature chevron mosaics with striking results. 

Beware, the devil is in the detail when it comes to installation – precise pattern alignment is crucial but adding a break between materials, in this case the countertop, can aid neater connections.

See: Bathroom tile ideas – stylish looks that are both classic and timeless

8. Combine wood panelling with lime plaster

bathroom wall ideas - lime plastered walls

(Image credit: Toby Lewis Thomas)

Wood – or painted – panelling isn't a new idea for bathroom walls – they are practical, and add texture and warmth to what can sometimes feel like a clinical space. However, if traditional looking panelling isn't your thing, why not consider a more contemporary approach? 

The bathroom of this London apartment by architects Chan and Earys has a combination of limed oak brushed timber planks and traditional lime plaster mixed with a natural green pigment on the walls and ceiling. The resulting feel is soft and tactile, echoed in the curves of the avocado-green roll top bath.

9. Mix up tile styles 

bathroom wall ideas - marble basin in bathroom with green tiles

(Image credit: Oli Douglas/ Susie Clegg)

‘With so many gorgeous tiles out there, choosing just one is sacrilege and don’t be afraid to mix up surface texture and formats as well,’ advises Mandarin Stone’s Louisa Morgan. 

‘Here, the lime terrazzo pieces in this contemporary floor tile links to green tones in the classic zellige-inspired wall tiles, creating a harmonious connection between the modern matt and traditional glossy surfaces.’

10. Create luxury with polished plaster 

bathroom wall ideas - shower room

(Image credit: credit 82mm photography)

One way to create the look of a luxe spa with bathroom wall ideas is to go for an uneven polished plaster finish. This on-trend wall finish is a wonderful contrast to the more glossy elements of a bathroom – from brassware to tiles. 

Moroccan tadelackt has a natural grittiness, which is tactile and textural, and makes for a striking contrast to even and shiny surfaces. 

Installing it should be left to professionals, explains Jamie Blake of Blakes London. 'You’re looking to add just enough movement in the plaster to create interest but not so much that the end result looks messy.' 

11. Use architectural detail to create a unique look

Bathroom wall ideas

(Image credit: Michael Sinclair/Future)

Taking panelling a step forwards, this bathroom wall idea is a favorite amongst fans of country bathroom ideas. This look can be recreated quite simply – for a carpenter, anyway – with materials such as MDF, which when painted with water-resistant paint, and assuming the room is well ventilated, will stand up to damp conditions well.

12. Paint a picture with tiles

Blue themed bathroom with painted tiles

(Image credit: Future)

Bathrooms can benefit from feature walls – and although the focus is usually, quite rightly on the wall behind the bath, if you have a particularly attractive vanity unit it, you can steal the attention from the bath to let it shine with a stunning bathroom wall idea behind it. 

If a mural is too contemporary for your tastes, this approach is perfect – a wall of tiles that create a loose mural. Keep the color scheming simple if you choose to do this – the tiles themselves will contribute enough detailing and texture with their shapes, material and grout lines – the mural is just the icing on the cake.