Bathroom wallpaper ideas – 11 ways to bring personality to practical spaces
Transform the look of your space with these inspiring bathroom wallpaper ideas
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Bathroom wallpaper ideas are a brilliant way to bring color, pattern and personality into your home.
Being one of the smaller rooms in the home, and serving a practical purpose, bathrooms can get overlooked when it comes to decorating and can run the risk of being cold and clinical, but adding wallpaper is a wonderful bathroom idea that will instantly bring life and character to the space.
As well as being functional, bathrooms are private spaces where we take time to ourselves, so it makes sense for them to really reflect our unique style. To help get you inspired we've rounded up an array of bathroom wallpaper ideas and bathroom wall ideas on how to display them, along with some tips from the experts.
Bathroom wallpaper ideas
If you’re looking for bathroom wallpaper ideas then there’s huge array to get inspire, from trompe-l'oeil murals, abstract prints, chinoiserie and other wallpaper trends, to timeless stripes and textured neutrals.
To find the right wallpaper ideas for your space there are lots of things to consider from light levels to the existing architecture of the space, but first and foremost you must be clear on the mood you want to create,' explains Ruth Mottershead, creative director of Little Greene (opens in new tab).
‘There are a myriad of ways to approach bathroom wallpaper ideas, the first thing to consider is how you use the space. Is it a downstairs guest loo, where you want to create wow factor, or a retreat that you use to relax and unwind? For wow-factor, a bold, bright large-scale pattern works fantastically as a design statement. Consider designs such as a Chinoiserie trend inspired scenic design, or bold jungle pattern,' she suggests.
'To create a calm relaxing bathroom, warm shades of white are an obvious choice: they can create a spa-like haven, a place in which to soothe the senses at the end of a busy day. Delicate, natural patterns like or gentle yet traditional stripes can create a cozy and comforting retreat.'
Decorating with pattern can be daunting, but really pattern can work in any room, including bathrooms, it’s often just getting the scale and the treatment of the pattern right that’s key. If you have a large room consider a statement landscape mural or a large-scale design where the prints can shine, but where space is at a premium smaller, repeat wallpaper designs tend to work better, bringing a touch pattern without overpowering a space.
‘We have always shied away from heavily patterned wallpapers in small rooms however by using the paper on all walls (and even the ceiling wallpaper ideas if you’re brave enough), the edges of the room appear to blur and you can create a wonderful cozy feel that almost appears limitless,’ says Paula Taylor, head stylist and trend specialist at Graham & Brown (opens in new tab).
‘Wallpapers that have a slight shimmer to them are also ideal for use in the bathroom as they really enhance skin tone and add radiance to the room,’ she adds.
1. Bring luxury to a bathroom with a statement scenic wallpaper
If space allows, why not bring intrigue to a bathroom by hanging a show-stopping panoramic mural? Bold designs are great master bathroom ideas as these bathrooms tend to be larger, plus as they are not intended for guests giving you the opportunity to really get creative.
Based on a trompe-l'oeil painting by Laurence Mosneron Dupin, this Pierre Frey (opens in new tab)wallpaper takes inspiration from the traditional Portuguese azulejos tin-glazed tiles still found on the palaces of Sintra, Lisbon and Porto. Team it with yellow light fittings and burnishing brass taps for an eye-catching contrast.
2. Pair a vibrant bath with a monochrome paper
For an eye-catching, modern bathroom ideas, consider pairing a decorative monochrome wallpaper with a roll top bath and woodwork in colorful, contrasting paint finishes.
‘You should not overlook the effect of good colour choice of paints to cover other surfaces in the room,' says David Mottershead, director of Little Greene.
'In terms of styling wallpaper for a contemporary look – select a contrasting paint colour for your woodwork that can be easily refreshed. Brighter tones and dark shades often create a strong contrast. For a confident look, combine a punchy colour with a classic paper. When painting the adjacent ceiling, for ease find a gentle pastel shade close to the ground for the wallpaper for a very contemporary look.'
3. Bring a vintage feel with an ornate blue and white print
Bathrooms with grand proportions are great spaces for using decorative wallpapers as the designs are allowed to really shine, while making the space feel more cosy and intimate.
For classic elegance you can’t go wrong with a sinuous chinoiserie-style design in blue and white such as this Les Pecheurs wallpaper from Warner House (opens in new tab) which comes in a coordinating fabric. If you're looking for vintage bathroom ideas and are partial to a touch of chintz, try introducing the same print across window treatments as the walls.
‘Clients are seeking a multi-layered style with an emphasis on colour and pattern,’ says Lee Clarke of Warner House. ‘Using the same design on the walls and on blinds and curtains makes a dramatic statement and is a great way to inject personality into a space.’
4. Celebrate design history with a refreshed archive print
If you want to create interiors that tell a story consider a wallpaper inspired by a historic design – they're brilliant traditional bathroom ideas, plus, if you live in a period property, you may want to use a paper that complements the era of your home.
Burges Snail is a charming, playful design from Little Greene’s National Trust Papers II collection which is guaranteed to raise a smile. Attributed to the eccentric Gothic Revivalist architect and interior designer William Burges, the design was found on the walls of one of the bathrooms at Knightshayes Court in Devon, which Burges designed for the Heathcoat Amory family and was built between 1869 and 1874.
Carefully redrawn and recoloured by Little Greene’s in-house design team, the paper is available in seven colours, including this beautiful Juniper.
'Don’t overlook the soothing power of darker shades: deep, sumptuous colours can give your bathroom a luxurious, nurturing feel,' suggests Ruth Mottershead of Little Greene. 'Surround yourself with deep blues or intense greens such as our ‘Achillea’ design, to cocoon yourself in the colours of nature and give yourself time to relax and reflect.'
5. Get playful with a bright abstract design
Small bathroom ideas and powder room ideas are often easily overlooked when it comes to decorating but they are a great space to get experimental with colorful bathroom ideas pattern as this beautiful room proves.
‘As often one of the smallest rooms in the house, adding wallpaper to a bathroom can be a great way to add interest and wow factor to a space,’ say interior designers Jessica and Eleanor Pile, founders of the interior design studio at House of Norica (opens in new tab).
‘A downstairs loo can be a great place to be a bit more experimental, as a space that you don't spend lots of time in it's the perfect place to go for a bold or colorful pattern that you might be too scared to use in other areas of the house,’ add the design duo.
6. Create calm with leafy green prints
As private spaces where we can really take time to relax, bathrooms are brilliant rooms to channel a restful scheme inspired by the nourishing properties of nature.
Adding a leafy wallpaper in a soothing verdant shade will blur the boundaries between outside and in, bringing the restorative powers of nature into your space. A beautiful green bathroom idea, this Aspen Pine vinyl wallpaper by Graham & Brown is perfect for areas where moisture is present.
7. Bring classic elegance with sinuous florals
Elegant and feminine, floral prints make a fitting choice for a soothing traditional bathroom, particularly in delicate shades and pared with warm cream panelling as this graceful scheme proves. Taking inspiration from chinoiserie designs, this Snow Tree design in Aqua from Colefax & Fowler (opens in new tab) pairs beautifully with Le Bateau Foix bath from Catchpole & Rye (opens in new tab).
8. Choose an exuberant Chinoiserie wallpaper
With roots in the beautiful landscapes of China, Japan and East Asia, hand-painted Chinoiserie wallpapers from companies like de Gournay (opens in new tab) make stunning wallpapers for luxury bathrooms, helping to create spa-style spaces where we can truly unwind. Bringing Eastern opulence, the sinuous, elegant designs will conjure distant lands allowing your mind to drift away from the daily routine.
9. Luxuriate in oceans of deep color
Neutral shades are guaranteed to bring a soothing feel to bathrooms, but dark colors can be really effective, too, explains Ruth Mottershead of Little Greene.
'Don’t overlook the soothing power of darker shades: deep, sumptuous colors can give your bathroom a luxurious, nurturing feel. Surround yourself with deep blues or intense greens such as our ‘Achillea’ design, to cocoon yourself in the colors of nature and give yourself time to relax and reflect.'
10. Pair bold prints with painted panelling
Adding wallpaper above painted bathroom wall paneling is a good way to introduce bold prints without them overpowering a space. A combination of white panelling and a colorful print helps keep bathrooms looking bright, fresh and uplifting while bringing cheerful pattern, however it is also a brilliant solution for breaking up large walls to make spaces feel more intimate and welcoming.
11. Make a statement with a bathroom mural
Wallpaper around a bath can be practical if you choose a mural that's designed especially for the task in hand. Wall & Deco (opens in new tab) creates impervious wall mural ideas – they can even be used to line showers where they will be drenched. Designs range from contemporary looks like this one to more traditional designs.
Which wallpaper is best for a bathroom?
What wallpaper is best for your bathroom will depend on many factors including personal taste, the size of the room, light levels, the orientation of the room, what already exists in the space and what mood you want to create. Taking time to examine these factors is a good place to start when deciding which wallpaper to use.
Both color and pattern can have a huge impact on the look and feel of a room, so pay special attention to these elements, plus it’s important to consider scale.
‘Textured wallpapers work particularly well in a small bathroom as they add interest, especially next to shiny brassware and tiles. They also help to add warmth and depth to a bathroom setting. Key trends include monochrome designs, botanical prints and even scenic wallpapers to add a bold or figurative element,’ says Shalini Misra, Interior Designer & Founder, Shalini Misra Ltd.
is wallpaper in the bathroom a good idea?
Wallpaper is a brilliant way to decorate in bathrooms as it is a quick and easy way to add instant personality, color and pattern. While what print you choose is ultimately a matter of personal taste, when using wallpaper in wet areas such as bathrooms there are some practical considerations you need to take into account.
‘As bathrooms are very humid rooms, vinyl wallpapers will always work best. Opt for something that is designed specifically for use in the bathroom or outdoors – these will work perfectly well in areas with high humidity and moisture levels. Be sure to avoid using wallpapers where there is a direct water source to avoid it getting ruined by excessive moisture,’ says Shalini Misra, interior designer and founder at Shalini Misra Ltd (opens in new tab).
It's also worth thinking about ventilation, says Paula Taylor, head stylist and trend specialist at Graham & Brown.
‘When considering using wallpaper in a bathroom ventilation is key. If you have a well-ventilated space that doesn't get humid, using standard wallpaper will be fine. Keeping wallpaper clear of high splash areas near showers or baths will ensure it lasts.’
‘This can also be a great opportunity to add other textures to a space such as tiles or panelling. Be sure to order samples before making a final decision to ensure your wallpaper, tiles and paint choices all work together,’ adds Paula Taylor.
Pippa is Content Editor on Homes & Gardens online contributing to Period Living and Country Homes & Interiors print issues. A graduate of Art History and formerly Style Editor at Period Living, she is passionate about architecture, creating decorating content, interior styling and writing about craft and historic homes. She enjoys searching out beautiful images and the latest trends to share with the Homes & Gardens audience. A keen gardener, when she’s not writing you’ll find her growing flowers on her village allotment for styling projects.
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