Bathroom wall ideas - from on-trend panelling to chic decorative tile designs

Get creative with the wall space in your bathroom with these inspiring ideas

bathroom with wallpaper wall with tiles flooring and bathtub
(Image credit: Future PLC)

Transforming a plain room with bathroom wall ideas can mean the difference between something lacklustre and a room you love.

Whether it's creating a restful bathing scheme that helps nurture and relax you, designing an invigorating shower area or making a talking point for a guest bathroom idea, taking time to think about your wall covering means you're less likely to grow bored of your choice and instead be treated to an instant hit of satisfaction every time you enter the room.

Bathroom wall ideas

With so much choice available, from bathroom wallpaper ideas to paint, tiles and other finishes, it can be hard to know where to start. Which is why we've found a range of ideas to help inspire you to personalise your space and create something unique to you, whatever your bathroom's shape or size.

Of course, you'll need to take into consideration the type of room you're in – bathrooms are known for their humidity and so wall coverings will need the proper sealants, while tiles will need to be suitable for areas where they might come into contact with water.

Ready to look at some original bathroom wall ideas? Then let's get started…

1. Pick a striking mural

bathroom with wallpaper wall with tiles flooring and bathtub

(Image credit: Bathroom Mountain)

Statement murals are one of the latest bathroom trends to wow with decor. Covering an entire wall with a made-to-measure mural means you can bathe next to the scene of your choice – whether it's a forest, jungle, watercolour, cityscape or something more abstract. You can even personalise it and use your own custom image should you wish, to take you back to a holiday or moment in time. We especially love this tropical mural from Dunelm which is just like the look pictured.

Although the slipper bath sits in front of this mural, the scene is still easily visible above – something to keep in mind when choosing a design, as you don't want the main portion hidden by a cabinet or bath.

2. Opt for a cabin feel

bathroom trends, marble and wood bathroom, plants, modern style, marble floor and units

(Image credit: Cullifords)

Whether it's a smart wood panelling idea or more rustic planks, wood is a great way to give your walls a totally different look. Combined with a wood floor you can create a cosy cabin feel, whereas contrasted with a more contemporary concrete-effect floor will give wood panelling more of a Scandi effect.

One thing to keep in mind is that you will need to make sure that any wall covered in wood doesn't come into contact with water, so it wouldn't be ideal for a shower wall, for example. And, if you're using glue rather than a nail gun to secure the wood to your walls, choose one that can stand up to the moisture and humidity that comes with a bathing space. Decorative wall panels are readily available from retailers such as B&Q too, so you easily update your bathroom yourself.

3. Choose sleek marble

Marble beige bathroom with marble shower

(Image credit: Future PLC)

You can't get much more luxurious than glossy marble for bathroom wall ideas, whether you opt for large shiny slabs or smaller bathroom wall tiles. This natural stone is highly durable, long-lasting and, as long as it's sealed, suitable for wet areas including shower walls.

Large-scale marble tiles are a huge trend right now too and they're perfect for cascading down a wall. 'From micro marble to 2024’s other major marble trend – large format marble-effect flagstones. While the smaller marble tiles make a shapely statement, these tiles are all about the effect of marble and its majestic colouring,' says Grazzie Wilson, head of creative at Ca'Pietra. Opting for a statement colour or dramatic vein will take this bathroom wall idea to the next level.

4. Add texture with a limed effect

bathroom with wooden floor and glass window with blind and bathtub and towel

(Image credit: restigious Textiles)

That unfinished limed effect has taken off as a wall covering in the last few years and for good reason – it brings a beautifully textured finish to any room. Choose a paint, such as Bauwerk, for bathroom walls that aren't coming into direct contact with water, or, if you want a completely waterproof finish, try a decorative lime plaster like Tadelakt, which comes in a variety of colours.

Here, neutral sand-coloured walls create a soothing feel, while wood accessories add to the natural feel. A patterned blind frames the window and potted plants echo the greenery from outdoors and ramp up the interest in this stylish yet simple scheme.

5. Go half and half

bathroom with grey washbasin with mirror and wallpaper

(Image credit: The Curious Department)

Can't decide between paint, wallpaper or wood panelling for your bathroom wall ideas? We hear you – but it's not a choice you have to make if you opt for all three! Adding painted wall panelling to half your wall and wallpaper to the rest gives you the opportunity to flex your creative skills and choose colours and patterns that complement each other. Plus, you can choose a more expensive wallpaper when it only needs to fill half the wall.

This deliciously dark scheme is kept from feeling dull by the vibrant wallpaper, with green flowers on a crisp white background, along with glossy gold fittings that spark an element of light in the room. While the wall incorporates many features – from the mirror and wall lights to the bathroom cabinets, panelling and wallpaper – they all sit in harmony together, creating a cohesive yet eye-catching scheme.

6. Bring walls back to brick

small cloakroom bathroom with brick walls WC and sink

(Image credit: Future/Rachael Smith)

Take in this bathroom and it's hard to know what to look at first – but we wouldn't mind betting it's that bare brick wall! By chipping off the paint and plaster and exposing the bricks, you can bring a rough and rugged look to your bathroom, which creates a feature in itself.

Team it with an antique brass tap, as shown here, and you've got yourself a bathroom with a beautifully rustic feel – all that's missing is an industrial-style bathroom pendant overhead.

Not convinced your bricks would be in good enough condition to show off? Try brick-style tiles instead and you can pick the exact colour and size you'd like.

8. Keep it tone on tone

bathroom with bathtub and towel and mirror

(Image credit: Carpetright)

Painting your walls the same, or a similar, colour as the furniture and ceiling creates a harmonious, cocooning effect that's ultimately soothing and relaxing. Keep accessories in similar tones for a perfectly blended scheme and, if you want a blast of visual interest, go for a patterned flooring – in the same colour, of course!

Colour drenching works equally as well with light c olours as it does with statement shades, so don't be afraid to go all out.

10. Reflect the surroundings

patterned wallpaper and green panelling behind white freestanding sink

(Image credit: Future PLC / Katie Lee)

Bathroom walls are just like any other room in that you can bring them to life with mirrors. Not only are they highly functional in a bathroom they also go a long way to enhance the decor.

We particularly love this bathroom mirror idea, where the mirror is placed above the double sink station and next to the window to reflect the view into the room.

11. Invest in a standout tile design

bathroom with shower honeycomb tiles wall and mirror

(Image credit: Ca’ Pietra)

Think tiled bathroom wall ideas are plain and boring? Think again! There are so many eye-catching designs out there, from patterns to shapes, that you can really give your walls some pizazz.

'Ca’ Pietra have been working in partnership with the National Trust to develop an original collection of tiles that are both classic and contemporary,' says Hamish Smith, creative director, Ca’ Pietra

'Woodland Glade, from this collection, has been an exceptionally popular tile; it is a collection of nine different tile designs that really awaken the senses with their tonal nature-themed palette. Each hexagonal tile comes as part of a mixed pattern that can be used on walls and floors in various combinations and layouts, so no two projects will ever be the same.'


What should I put on my bathroom walls?

Choosing which type of bathroom wall ideas to opt for really comes down to personal choice, as some may prefer the look of tiles, while others are after the look of paper or paint. Whichever you decide on, make sure you opt for a covering that is suitable for a bathroom environment when planning a bathroom.

When it comes to paint, Tobie from Valspar has the following advice: ‘Make sure you are using the right formula to withstand the moisture in bathrooms. Valspar’s V500 Kitchen and Bathroom paint is designed to deal with mould, so it's ideal for bathrooms.'

'Tiles and natural stone are the ideal wall coverings for a bathroom setting,' says Hamish from Ca'Pietra. 'They create a durable finish, meaning that you can enjoy a relaxing bath or an invigorating shower without having to worry about getting your bathroom wet.'

Leigh Price, co-director of Real Stone & Tile is a huge fan of porcelain tiles for the bathroom. 'Due to their functionality, porcelain tiles are perfect for bathroom walls and floors,' he says. 'They are extremely durable and, more importantly, classed as impervious, meaning they are highly water resistant, which is imperative in a bathroom.'

'Available in so many different colours, shapes, designs and effects, you can now even get highly realistic wood-effect and stone-effect porcelain tiles for a beautiful, long-lasting bathroom design.'

What can I put on my bathroom walls instead of tiles?

Like the look of tiles but want an easier fix? 'Our panels are carefully curated to align like tiles, but without any of the hassle or grouting,' says Helen Dennett, marketing manager at Mermaid Panels. 'Panels are the perfect alternative to ceramic tiles, providing a cost-effective, visually appealing solution that is quick to install and low-maintenance. You can easily fit panels directly to existing surfaces, including plasterboard and tiling, which means you don’t have to worry about preparing the wall beneath.'

Alternatively, paint is an easy option and a great way of adding colour using bathroom wall ideas. 'I'd recommend Crown’s multi-surface mid-sheen emulsion with mouldguard+ technology to keep bathroom walls looking fresh and cleaner for longer,' says Justyna Korczynska, senior designer at Crown.

'Often the smallest room in the home, the bathroom has for too long become the victim of the "all white makes it look bigger" design philosophy. Thankfully, upcoming trends embrace a more creative and bold approach to what can be one of the most exciting spaces in the home.'

What kind of panelling can be used in a bathroom?

bathroom with bathtub and wooden floor and table

(Image credit: Future Plc/Dominic Blackmore)

Whether you choose tongue-and-groove, square panels or shiplap, there's a variety of panelling for your bathroom wall ideas. Traditionally made from oak or dark wood to help insulate brick walls, panelling has come a long way since then. Typically made from MDF or other affordable woods that won't expand or contract with heat, the crucial thing to keep in mind with panelling is that it needs to be moisture resistant if the panels are to last over time.

For shower areas or walls that come into contact with water, it's best to go for a panel that's completely waterproof. 'Whether you have a shower enclosure, bath, or wet room, you'll need to ensure that any wall area that comes into contact with moisture is watertight,' says Helen from Mermaid Panels. 'It’s important to opt for panels that are suitable for high-moisture environments.'

'Those included in our Mermaid Elite range, for example, have a 100 per cent waterproof core, as well as artistic post-formed edges that can be used to continue a consistent, high-end look around external corners or horizontal half-height walls – removing the need for trims or grouting. Testament to the fact that they will stand the test of time, we offer a 15-year guarantee across all Mermaid product ranges, for ultimate peace of mind.'

Becky Dix, head of design at The Luxury Bath Company agrees that panelling is a great way to cover walls. 'From traditional to high-end, maximalist to pared-back Scandi, bathroom panelling can add an extra layer of texture and colour that can elevate your bathroom design,' she says.

'If you're looking to inject colour into your space with panelling, opt for a neutral bathroom suite as this will help to draw on the natural light of the room, particularly with darker colour schemes, and can accentuate the features of the furnishings and accessories you have purchased.'

Which bathroom wall decor idea will you incorporate into your design first? Whether you have a weekend or more time to undertake a full renovation, there's an idea for everyone.

Laurie Davidson

Laurie Davidson is a professional stylist, writer and content creator, who lives and breathes interiors. Having worked for some of the UK’s leading interior magazines, styled homes up and down the country and produced sets for TV shows, adverts and top brands, it’s safe to say Laurie has had a pretty exciting career. Find her on Instagram at @lifeofaninteriorstylist or over at 

With contributions from