Powder room wall decor – how to choose wallpaper for a powder room?

These powder room wall decor ideas will inspire you to create a powder room with pizzazz. Sometimes the smallest room can make the greatest impact

An example of powder room wall decor showing a powder room vanity area with wooden drawers, a marble worktop and green palm print wallpaper
(Image credit: Vivian Johnson)

Beautiful powder room wall decor can turn a small space into a special one. 

Powder rooms – the British cloakroom – may be small but they can still pack a decorative punch. Color and pattern can make these ground floor rooms spaces both family and guests can appreciate.

When it comes to bathroom ideas for your family, you might hold back on using wallpaper where it might be splashed. But there’s no reason not to introduce it in a powder room to turn what could be an anonymous area into one with style.

Powder room wall decor

Powder room wall decor needs to be chosen in conjunction with other elements of the room – it’s not just pattern that can dress up one of these spaces: other powder room ideas, such as vivid or dramatic wall colors, rich finishes, and fabulous furniture and accessories can all be part of the picture to match to your wallpaper ideas.

1. Evoke organic beauty

An example of powder room wall decor showing a dark powder room with swirly stone walls in black, orange and gray

(Image credit: Paul Dyer)

The Swirls wallpaper by Robert Crowder in this 1928 Tudor home in California designed by Anyon Design has the appeal of extravagantly veined natural stone and mesmerizing effect. 

‘I loved how the powder room turned out,’ says Lindsay Anyon Brier. 

The room’s other elements pick up shades from the wallpaper, giving the space a cocooning atmosphere. 

‘We restored an Asian chest and lacquered a pagoda-style mirror in a dark green. The brass fixtures by Waterworks really complete the look,’ she says. 

2. Create a color surprise

A powder room with multicolored patterned wallpaper, a small black radiator and a white hand towel

(Image credit: Salvesen Graham)

London-based interior designers Salvesen Graham's cloakroom ideas include adding a pop of color with a dynamic Beata Heuman wallpaper

Take a leaf out of the design practice’s book by introducing a contrast in style as well. This contemporary wallpaper idea strikes a different note to the room’s more traditional elements, such as the radiator, to make the scheme even more arresting.

3. Stay fresh

A powder room with blue and white wallpaper, a marble vanity unit and a round mirror

(Image credit: Thomas Kuoh)

An organic stripe creates impact in the powder room of this home overlooking the San Francisco Bay designed by Nest Design Co

Choosing a wallpaper with a white ground like this one is a great option to take in order to make a very small bathroom feel airy and bright without compromising on the scheme’s boldness.

The vertical stripe wallpaper design adds height to the room, too, leading the eye upwards to a ceiling that reflects light to further space-stretching effect.

4. Opt for distinct style

An example of powder room wall decor showing a dark green powder room with green botanical wallpaper and a traditional sink

(Image credit: Sarah Shields Photography)

While this home in Carmel, Indiana, was give a modern monochrome update when the homeowners’ five children had flown the nest, interior designer Whittney Parkinson of Indianapolis-based Whittney Parkinson, changed the palette and the mood with this interior.

‘For the powder room we wanted to throw the rule book out of the window,’ she says. ‘This space is all about fun and frivolity. The Cole & Son wallpaper is an inspired addition that we think fits this space perfectly.’

5. Bring it to life

A light powder room with a wooden sink stand with open shelving, gray wall panels and green and white botanical wallpaper

(Image credit: Sims Hilditch)

Jungle Birds wallpaper from Hamilton Weston has a vibrant presence in this powder room design by UK design practice Sims Hilditch

The motif is perfectly scaled for the small room, allowing the details of birds, butterflies, branches and even spiders’ webs to be appreciated.

If you’re concerned about scuffs, there are a range of paneling ideas for walls to choose from. Using the strategy of paneling to dado height, as shown here, is a great solution, creating a hard-wearing finish.

6. Add drama

A dark powder room with a black toilet, a pink sink and dark wallpapered walls

(Image credit: Rachael Smith)

Deeply veined marble in a warm burgundy shade on the floor, along with tactile wallpaper, make this powder room in interior designer Elnaz Namaki’s apartment a masterclass in going bold.

‘I wanted to have fun – compact spaces are ideal for experimenting with all-out glamor,’ she says. 

Follow Elnaz’s lead by swapping white sanitaryware for alternative shades. Here, it’s a black WC, along with a delicate plaster pink basin. The mirror’s a showstopper from the 1950s with a lit frame. 

7. Go for glamor

An example of powder room wall decor showing a bright pink powder room with a wooden sink stand and a white sink

(Image credit: Nat Rea)

This powder room by Vani Sayeed Studios is as visually striking as the rest of the New England home. Intricate pattern and bold colors give it both glamor and a sense of playfulness, but they’re combined with classic furnishings and white sanitaryware as a cozy and grounding counterpoint.

8. Choose a biophilic theme

A wooden sink stand below green palm print wallpaper in a powder room

(Image credit: Vivian Johnson)

The powder room of this colorful San Jose home designed by Carmit Oron is brought to life by the exuberance of the wallpaper.

'Despite its size, this room was a glorious opportunity to utilise color and pattern with added playfulness,' says Carmit. 

'I began designing it with a rather cool Beverly Hills Hotel wallpaper in mind – one that showcases lush, oversized greenery. I was delighted when my clients gave me the green light on this particular design element. 

'To tone down the grandiose wallpaper, I used horizontal shiplap for wainscoting on the bottom half of the walls, and classic herringbone Carrara tile on the floor.'

9. Create intrigue with a map

A light gray powder room with white sanitaryware and black and white map wallpaper above gray panels

(Image credit: Future)

If you've seen a little too much blue and want to try a different color, stick with subtle, powdery shades for powder rooms – as the name suggests. 

David Shell, Founder and CEO of a home design and construction publication TradesmenCosts, recommends taking inspiration from pink and gray bathrooms for powder rooms. 

'Gray is a great choice because it pairs up with almost every other shade and is easy to clean. Make sure to use contrasting shade/s on your floor and ceiling.

'Pink has more of a dramatic impact,' he says, and 'will make anyone feel prettier than ever'. 

Marjorie Tornatore, a licensed real estate salesperson for Douglas Elliman, is also betting on gray as a great value-adding choice for powder rooms, especially warm dove gray shades that will 'make spaces appear larger and brighter'. 

10. Bored of pastels? Try a jewel tone

A powder room with green wall panels behind a white sink and below botanical wallpaper

(Image credit: Future / Polly Wreford)

If pastels just aren't your thing, however, there are some beautiful powder room wall decor ideas and bright colors, as shown above, that will work. 

The best color to try is a deep, jewel-toned green: there is just something classic about a deep, heavy green in a smaller bathroom which makes it work.

11. Combine traditional prints with bold paint colors

A powder room with red wall panels and an antique vanity with black and white checkered floor tiles

(Image credit: Douglas Gibb)

If you want to give traditional style wallpaper a contemporary twist, picking out the brightest of the accent colors in the design to paint wainscotting with is a characterful powder room wall decor idea. Here, the character is given a further boost with the use of period-style furniture housing a bathroom basin.

12. Pick practical panelling in a family space

A blue powder room with traditional sanitaryware, mosaic floor tiles and gray open shelving

(Image credit: Future)

The cloakroom idea above is fabulous for families. Knock- and splash-proof, panelling is tough and durable, but also adds texture and character. Which color to paint wainscotting?

Real estate agent Chuck Vander Stelt, founder of website Quadwalls says: 'Light blue is always a winner for kitchens and powder rooms. Light blue is subtle, crisp, and clean. Also important is the versatility of blue. Blue easily matches with many other colors commonly found in powder rooms.'

So, think a light blue combined with chic copper fixtures, for example, for an elegant and classic look. Charles McMillan, founder of Stand With Main Street, agrees: 'In a tiny bathroom, a soft and airy blue provides a sense of tranquility to any area and produces a pleasant, spa-like feeling.'

13. Pick a bold, fun theme

Beautiful powder room with colorful, patterned wallpaper with a stunning design and golden fixtures

(Image credit: Studio Indigo)

A powder room is a space to have fun with your wall decor, so why not choose a wallpaper that you'd never dream of hanging in a larger space, in bold colors or with a striking design. This one, designed by Studio Indigo, is reflected in a large wall-hung, frameless mirror, and enhanced by gold light fittings.

What is a good color for a small powder room?

A soft light blue is, in our opinion, the best color for a small powder room. It is the color most likely to add to your home's value, it reflects light, looks clean, promotes a spa-like feel and enhances space.  Eric Nerhood of Southern California's Premier Property Buyers helps with the numbers: $5,400 is the extra price buyers will be prepared for for a beautiful blue or periwinkle powder room. 

The colors to avoid in a powder room

Although powder rooms are safer for experimentation than other rooms due to their small size, there are a few colors that won't do your home value any favors. Eric Nerhood recommends avoiding a plain off-white powder room – it can decrease the value of your home by approximately $4,000.

The other extreme – overly dark and dramatic colors – is also to be avoided if you are trying to sell your home, according to Vander Stelt: 

'Avoid yellow, red, purple, and browns in powder rooms. These colors in these areas are not as appealing to homebuyers. A homebuyer who right away thinks he or she will be doing work to the home will offer the seller less for the home.' 

Marjorie Tornatore also urges homeowners to avoid on-trend bathroom color ideas, 'such as orange, because they tend to go out of style and lose value over a short period of time'.

So, keep a powder room soft and light, but don't settle for white.

Sarah Warwick
Contributing Editor

Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor. Previously executive editor of Ideal Home, she’s specialized in interiors, property and gardens for over 20 years, and covers interior design, house design, gardens, and cleaning and organizing a home for H&G. She’s written for websites, including Houzz, Channel 4’s flagship website, 4Homes, and Future’s T3; national newspapers, including The Guardian; and magazines including Future’s Country Homes & Interiors, Homebuilding & Renovating, Period Living, and Style at Home, as well as House Beautiful, Good Homes, Grand Designs, Homes & Antiques, LandLove and The English Home among others. It’s no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house renovator.