How To Choose The Best Wallpaper For a Bathroom

Which vinyl wallpaper works best in the bathroom?

Finding bathroom wallpaper ideas can be a difficult task, some might even view a bathroom as one of the more challenging environments to style.

The fact that there’s moisture within the bathroom space, is also a concern – one that can be placated. Whilst for some, it’s all about not ending up with a standard white and chrome design scheme for their bathroom.

Although there’s nothing wrong with an elegant design scheme, with bathroom wallpaper, you have a vehicle to emphasise and express any theme or atmosphere that you wish.

bathroom wallpaper with floral shapes and light colour tones. Wallpaper by Robin Sprong.

This wallpaper, for example, emphasises elegance by taking a vintage, floral-inspired twist. The result is a bathroom wallpaper with muted tones that creates a classy environment.

To help get you started with picking a style for your bathroom wallpaper, we’ve compiled a range of tips for picking wallpaper colours, wallpaper patterns and creating the kind of theme you have in mind.

Choose approaches to rustic wallpaper, modern wallpaper, floral wallpaper, landscape wallpaper, photographic wallpaper and even textured wallpaper designs.

Adding a personal touch

Unlike a shared space like a living room, which needs to be welcoming to guests and a master bedroom which needs to be restful and welcoming to a couple – a bathroom is more of an experimental space.

It’s popular when styling a bathroom to come across more striking themes and creativity, that relates strongly to a couple or someone’s personal taste.

This means that the approach for designing your wallpaper will differ, depending on personal preference, the colour scheme and fixtures you’ve chosen for the bathroom.

Bathrooms are often associated with the theme of nature which can be important to someone for a variety of reasons.

floral wallpaper in bathroom
bathroom wallpaper with a tropical style and repeat pattern

For some, nature is where they feel at peace. For others, the intricate detail and vibrant colours that nature serves to us on a platter are too much to resist when designing a bathroom wallpaper.

Both the atmosphere created by nature and the detail of the wildlife and floral forms are important elements to a natural wallpaper.

The detail of the natural forms is brought to life by specific colours that have a purpose within the piece, the same way nature’s purpose within a bathroom wallpaper provides a sense of calm – as we expand on later.

The right material on which to print your wallpaper

Bathrooms are wet spaces, subject to steam, splashes, spills and drips, wherever they might occur, so you need a wallpaper that will be able to stand the test of time.

Steam is a primary factor that makes choosing a wallpaper for your bathroom a bit tricky. Steam can make wallpaper curl and decay designs, so it’s important to pick a durable surface to print your wallpaper on.

For starters choose solid vinyl, fabric-backed vinyl or paper-backed vinyl, as these provide the best splash proof wallpaper surfaces.

Picking a plastic-based material will have a result in a slight sheen or noticeable reflection, but the plastic nature of the material allows you to clean your wallpaper gently and easily.

It also makes the wallpaper slightly water resistant, and this can help with any splashes of water or droplets of moisture left on the walls.

woven vinyl wallpaper material with vegetable illustration
woven vinyl wallpaper material

Vinyl wallpaper with a woven backing is also great for the bathroom, as it provides durability against slightly harsher scrubs and nicks.

The textured nature of the wallpaper also provides creative room for enhancing the artwork or design.

Certain imagery, like rustic wallpapers, vintage wallpapers and floral wallpapers can benefit from some additional texture for added intricate detail.

When picking my wallpaper, how important are the colours and fixtures in my bathroom?

Clients most commonly come to us with their bathroom almost complete. By this stage, it is usual to see that a colour palette has been chosen, alongside matching fixtures objects like the shower rail, washbasin and taps, shower/bath and taps, and floor tiles.

So, we often end up creating a design that fits in with the style of the bathroom that’s already present.

In a perfect world, you might choose to plan your bathroom wallpaper earlier when planning the design of your bathroom overall – but more often than not, building practices are drawn out and stressful and there’s more of a focus on getting this side of the process started as soon as possible.

Thus, it’s a popular approach to pick neutral tones and muted hues that will blend well with the rest of your design choices for your bathroom.

Have a look at these elegant wallpaper panels we created to style a client’s bathroom. It adds to the atmosphere of the room, but subtly as an elegant design that punctuates adds some flair to the neutral-coloured nature of the space.

elegant understated bathroom wallpaper

If you’ve already defined the look for your bathroom, stay in line with the theme broadly but don’t be afraid to stray slightly to add some contrast and creativity.

For a small bathroom space, having a feature wall with a design that draws the eye into the scene and away from the walls blank canvas.

Have a look at our ideas for creating bathroom wallpaper for a guest bathroom – which is typically a smaller sized space, to which you can add sparks of personality.

The Guest Bathroom

The guest bathroom is slightly different from a personal bathroom.

Like shared spaces, it’s more common to see imagery, patterns or colours that are more universally accepted or pleasing to the eye.

But, it’s not uncommon for someone to choose to style their guest bathroom with a slightly unique vision in mind – as it’s a lesser-used space and can be an area show off some creativity or take a risk.

Here, some of the themes we’ve already mentioned still reign true. Popular choices include bathroom wallpapers featuring patterns of birds, flowers, plants and a distinct contrast between these forms and a darker or lighter background colour.

Another popular choice, that you might not think of initially when the idea of styling your bathroom is whirling around in your mind – is fish.

guest bathroom wallpaper featuring birds and floral patterns
guest bathroom wallpaper of fish swimming in ocean like background

Bathroom wallpapers with fish can create a very interesting feel in a small bathroom. This still sticks to the overall theme of nature, but aquatic instead.

The range of blues associated with the ocean makes a fantastic base background for the wallpaper, which is contrasted by detailed and colourful fish forms.

This creates the depth you’re looking for, whilst the theme of nature is consistent and provides a tranquil feel alongside calming blue tones, used to represent the ocean.

The wallpaper design also has a funky, lighthearted feel, as you’re surrounded by fish with different colours, shapes and sizes. The natural intricate detail of a fish provides an eye-catching edge too.

Hotel Bathrooms

The interior of hotel bathrooms will align with most of the ideas and principles mentioned in this piece.

A hotel bathroom is a space shared among guests. As a result, hotels will balance a mixture of tasteful design that can appeal to a wide audience and can stick to their theme in part too.

This is usually in the form of branding or artworks, imagery and wallpaper patterns that match the theme of the hotel.

A good example of this idea is the Le Roi Hotel. The lobby of the hotel contains a similar art piece to the one present in the bathroom, but with a slightly different style and tasteful twist.

le roi hotel bathroom with artwork

This bathroom wallpaper might not fit a neutral theme or mould, with universally appealing imagery and placid tones – but this is still an intriguing piece of artwork that can be appreciated by guests of the hotel, for its creativity and striking theme.

The background of the bathroom wallpaper contains washed bright and muted tones – which look great on their own – punctuated by an image of a royal figure that is consistent with the theme of the hotel.

This provides multiple elements for someone to appreciate, whether or not they would apply this kind of wallpaper in their own home.

Hotels, especially in South Africa, carry the popular theme of wildlife and nature through into the bathroom wallpaper.

A popular choice in this scenario could be a landscape wallpaper or an eye-catching repeat pattern, such as the example below.

Although this pattern appears quite busy, the contrast between the dark background and the lighter coloured leopard forms creates a sense of depth and space.

However, if you’re not a fan of patterns that repeat heavily, keep sticking to the natural theme and instead, switch your focus to flowers and plant forms.

Tropical fonds and intricate illustrations of leaves and branches can also create eye-catching intrigue without creating too much movement within the bathroom.

Choosing a larger size for the symbols that repeat in your patterns can also help create more space and less of an overwhelming, or busy, appearance.


Picking the best wallpaper for your bathroom involves a degree of personal taste.

As a space, the bathroom needs to feel clean and modern, without feeling boring. Choose a wallpaper that conveys a part of your personality, whether it’s your likes, dislikes or interests.

Picking and sticking to a distinct theme will also help tailor the atmosphere for your bathroom from head-to-toe.

Have a look at our artist collections to get an idea of some extra sleek and popular wallpaper themes, or book a consultation here, for expert advice on how to approach the wallpaper design for your dream bathroom.

Robing Sprong Wallpaper will guide you through the process – from conceptualising the design for your bathroom wallpaper, right up to the final installation on your bathroom walls at home!

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