(Left) Himmel Blush Abstract Dots Wallpaper, https://www.wallpaperboulevard.com/product/himmel-blush-abstract-dots-30272.aspx and (Right) Neale Light Grey Subway Tile Wallpaper, https://www.wallpaperboulevard.com/product/neale-light-grey-subway-tile-wallpaper-40302.aspx, Images from Wallpaper Boulevard
Whether the goal is to add whimsy and charm or sharp sophistication to a bathroom or powder room, applying wallpaper to the walls, medicine cabinets, shelving and other elements will upgrade and update any theme or design style. If you are anxious about using wallpaper in a full bathroom because your bathroom lacks a fan to wick away excess moisture (though paint will also peel when exposed to repeated bouts of excessive heat and dewpoint humidity), consider applying wallpaper to a powder room or half bath instead.
Is Wallpaper Okay to Use in Bathrooms?
Just as there is natural concern over using a wallpaper in the kitchen or other high traffic areas in the home that may experience burns, spills, or splatter, some homeowners may worry about the resistance of wallpaper to humidity, heat, and general messiness (especially when children play a part) in bathrooms. Olivia Heath, an interiors writer for House Beautiful, assuages some of these fears in her article “Can I use Wallpaper in my Bathroom?” She notes that many modern wallpapers are washable, splash-resistant, heat-resistant, and humidity-resistant; if possible, “using a splash proof or wipeable option is ideal…as ‘these types of wallpapers are specifically designed for high humidity areas.’” For instance, Wallpaper Boulevard’s Imperial Garden Sage Botanical Wallpaper, pictured below on the right, and the company’s Fiber Green Faux Grasscloth Wallpaper, pictured below on the left, are both described as washable.
(Left) Fiber Green Faux Grasscloth Wallpaper, https://www.wallpaperboulevard.com/product/fiber-green-faux-grasscloth-wallpaper-45536.aspx and (Right) Imperial Garden Sage Botanical Wallpaper, https://www.wallpaperboulevard.com/product/imperial-garden-sage-botanical-wallpaper-45520.aspx, Images from Wallpaper Boulevard
However, it is absolutely safe to install wallpaper in most bathroom or powder room areas even if a specialty wallpaper with a vinyl coating or humidity-resistant qualities is not used. During the spring and summer, the air conditioning system will remove the humidity from your bathroom and in the fall and wintertime, the heat will evaporate the humidity from long, hot showers.” Exhaust fans, a typical home HVAC system, or an open window will all reduce any chance of mold or mildew affecting wallpaper, paint, or other elements within the bathroom. Adding bathroom wallpaper is a great way to achieve the perfect look without the hassle and expense of using tiles, breathing new life into an outdated space.
If concern still remains about the effect of moisture on the wall covering, consider lining the lower portion of the wall with a true tile or stone, preventing splashing from the tub, or water that might be carried onto the floor from wet feet, from transferring to the paper. In her 2019 article “Can You Wallpaper a Bathroom, and If So, How?,” Sophie Robinson, interior designer and host of “The Great Interior Design Challenge” program in the UK, recommends applying a vinyl wallpaper or foil wallpaper, both of which have a “slightly plastic surface that repels water” if you live in a particularly humid climate.
Bathroom Décor Trends 2020
(Left) Neale Black Subway Tile Wallpaper, https://www.wallpaperboulevard.com/product/neale-black-subway-tile-wallpaper-40306.aspx and (Right) Coral Faux Marble Wallpaper, https://www.wallpaperboulevard.com/product/coral-faux-marble-6879.aspx, Images from Wallpaper Boulevard
According to Elle Décor, the biggest bathroom décor trends for 2020 include adding brass or metallic finishes, applying an unusual marble design to the walls, only partially tiling walls, trying out a shaped tile (scalloped, curved, etc.), and Travertine stone climbing from floors to walls. To jump on the unusual marble trend, abandon traditional pale cream or black and white marble for a pop of color; a faux-marble wallpaper like this Coral Faux-Marble wallpaper (above right) from Wallpaper Boulevard adds glamour and a peaceful atmosphere to any bathroom, best accompanied by gold and soft white accents. Try the partial tiling trend either with a traditional faux-tile wallpaper like a subway or penny tile or by throwing the Travertine stone trend by taking a faux-stone wallpaper from the base of the wall halfway or partially up.
Achieving a Certain Aesthetic
In her article for House Beautiful, Hadley Mendelsohn lists “28 Bathroom Wallpaper Ideas that Will Inspire You to be Bold” when achieving your design aesthetic. If you are hoping to create a romantic atmosphere for your bathroom (perhaps accentuated with candles, shades of rose, and the softest of towels), Mendelsohn recommends a pale wallpaper with an elegant but fun print. For a modern twist on a classic touch, Mendelsohn offers the “monochromatic master bath” trend; in her iteration, the writer recommends trying a monochromatic cloud wallpaper, but any naturalistic monochromatic pattern in gray and black tones will elevate a space while recalling a bit of history.
(Left) Balloons Multi Wallpaper, Image from Wallpaper Boulevard, https://www.wallpaperboulevard.com/product/balloons-multi-5386.aspx and (Right) Melodi Orange Folk Wallpaper, Image from Wallpaper Boulevard, https://www.wallpaperboulevard.com/product/melodi-orange-folk-30947.aspx
Mendelsohn also encourages decorators to try mixing prints; her example involves combining a fun hot air balloon print wallpaper with a classic subway tile. For a nearly identical look, try Wallpaper Boulevard’s Balloons Multi Wallpaper, pictured above, with its beautiful French-illustration style print. For a similarly whimsical print, try Wallpaper Boulevard’s Melodi Orange Folk Wallpaper as a feature wall. James Farmer, an interior designer quoted in Mendelsohn’s article, recommends combining “layers and textures” to achieve elegance in trendy styles like farmhouse or rustic. Achieve this look by combining a woodsy wallpaper with brass finishes throughout the bathroom and by adding a pop of robin’s egg blue or pale yellow. Consider combining Wallpaper Boulevard’s Gray Woods Peel and Stick Wallpaper on the top portion of the wall, with a lining of pale blue wallpaper, like the below vinyl Lyons Texture paper, along the bottom to create a mock-dado.
(Left) Gray Woods Peel and Stick Wallpaper, Image from Wallpaper Boulevard, https://www.wallpaperboulevard.com/product/gray-woods-peel-and-stick-wallpaper-11617.aspx and (Right) Lyons Texture Wallpaper, Image from Wallpaper Boulevard, https://www.wallpaperboulevard.com/product/lyons-texture-17831.aspx
The Versatility of Floral Wallpaper
According to an article published by MuralsWallpaper.com, “a floral pattern is a great choice when trying to create a dynamic feature wall…in almost any room of the house.” Many contemporary floral wallpapers have offered a darker palette with large scale patterns, perfect for a punch of style where it might be unexpected, such as in a bathroom or powder room, a hallway, or wall niche. The site also notes that many new floral wallpapers “allow you to style either a mature or more playful space…[with] a modern edge.”
(Left) Innocent Beige Watercolor Floral Wallpaper, Image from Wallpaper Boulevard, https://www.wallpaperboulevard.com/product/innocent-beige-watercolor-floral-wallpaper-40324.aspx and (Right) Black and Grey Commercial Rainforest Wallpaper, Image from Wallpaper Boulevard
A floral wallpaper can be bold and exciting (such as the Black and Grey Commercial Rainforest Wallpaper above on the right), incorporating insects, tropical flowers, or even graphic cacti, can be feminine and soft with a small pattern print of pastel flowers, or can evoke a strikingly dramatic atmosphere with dark colors and skeleton-like leaves. Floral wallpaper is especially versatile because it can be purchased in so many different scales, tones, and patterns, allowing the applier to achieve nearly any theme or style while still staying true to the space. Many historical New England, French, and British floral wallpapers are also available, so decorating true-to-form in a historic home is possible as well. If planning to incorporate a modern floral into your bathroom, consider Wallpaper Boulevard’s stunning Innocent Beige Watercolor Floral Wallpaper (pictured above left), which appears almost like a faux-marble with its soft, organic shapes and neutral color palette.
Protecting from Humidity
While wallpaper is most commonly used as a full wall covering, either for a feature wall or for an entire room, it can be used in many other ways to communicate a theme, express the owner’s style, or add a bit of pizazz to a less exciting space. Avoid a distinctly “bathroom” wallpaper, such as one with childish graphics of ducks or pastel seashells, will allow the homeowner to use the paper in other areas of the home if the paper is chosen for only small details within the bathroom.
(Left) Edomina Dark Brown Palm Wallpaper, https://www.wallpaperboulevard.com/product/edomina-dark-brown-palm-wallpaper-40290.aspx and (Right) Cosima Pink Miniature Floral Wallpaper, https://www.wallpaperboulevard.com/product/cosima-pink-miniature-floral-wallpaper-45472.aspx, Images from Wallpaper Boulevard
In an article written for The Spruce, Coral Nafie offers a number of unconventional or unexpected ways to use wallpaper in the bathroom or powder room, focusing on different layouts of bathrooms in her recommendations. Nafie suggests wallpapering only the section of your bathroom with the toilet or sinks if your bathroom is separated into two small rooms or stalls. Decorating the water closet will allow you to wallpaper a bathroom that does not contain a fan or effective vent system, as the wallpaper will be separated from the room with the bath or shower. Similarly, Nafie recommends applying wallpaper in the shared common space of a jack-and-jill bathroom, as this area houses only sinks and towels, preventing steam from accessing the wallpaper. Choosing to decorate the common area of a jack-and-jill bathroom will also allow you to try out darker or busier prints, such as those pictured above, that may not gel well with white tubs or a mess of toiletries.