31 Jan 19
Can you wallpaper a bathroom and if so, how?
Is it a good idea to wallpaper the bathroom is a question I get asked a lot? Well let’s kick things off with a big fat yes shall we, so the next obvious question is how and indeed why would you want to. I personally love wallpaper in the bathroom as it really appeals to my maximalist tendencies. Often the smallest room in the home you can really make a punch with pattern. Like kitchens, my advice is to be careful not to err on the side of being too clinical and utilitarian with the design. I believe you can have as much fun with the design details in a bathroom or downstairs loo as you can with any room your home.
In a small bathroom, it works really well to tile up to dado height and then paper above. To enhance the sense of space, choose a tile that colour marries in with the wallpaper or vice versa. Deco martini wallpaper, Divine Savages
So let’s plan this out. Obviously, you need some water resistant surfaces in the wet areas of the bathroom. Tiles or panelling like painted tongue and groove can do this really well. This leaves areas around the tiles, the obvious choice may be to paint, but I urge you to consider wallpaper. People worry about the practicalities and durability but I’ve wallpapered lots of bathrooms with no problems I assure you. My favourite is for our little holiday let in the centre of Brighton, which I decorated ten years ago, and it still is looking as good as new. Your biggest enemy with wallpapering the bathrom is the moisture, which can stain the paper or cause it to peel off.
But I have some tips on this…
My Holiday let, Birdcage Cottage in central Brighton wallpapered in Anna French Songbirds foil wallpaper has lasted over ten years so far.
The main wet shower area is tiled and then the rest of the bathroom is wallpapered in a beautiful foil paper which bounces the light around the room. Photo from my holiday home The Birdcage.
Follow these guidelines when papering your bathroom
- Avoid having regular wallpaper in splash areas- for examples above the sink and around the bath. Obviously, you don’t have it in the shower. Or maybe, that’s no longer true, read to the end of this post to find out!
- You can use any wallpaper in my view although some brands, like B&Q, offer vinyl wallpapers specially designed for bathrooms, as they are resistant to moisture. Choice will be more limited and so I don’t think you have to. Generally, foil papers work very well as the slightly plastic surface repels the water.
- Apply the wallpaper to a really well-prepped wall and use an extra strong wallpaper adhesive.
If you can place the bath in the middle of the room then there is no reason why you can’t wallpaper the whole room. 18th Century wallpaper, Little Greene
- Good ventilation is key. Make sure you have a new, up to date and efficient extractor fan. This is key as that way steam will be drawn out of the bathroom rather than creating condensation on the wallpaper.
- Be prepared that this might not be the forever look. I’ve had my bathroom wallpapered for ten years, however, I’m actually surprised it has done so well. I think if you are going to paper, you need to be realistic that you might need to redecorate in say five years. For people like me, that’s no problem as I’d be looking to update the look by then anyway.
Wet areas should be tiled but you can protect the wallpaper from splashes with a coat of clear matt varnish to be safe. Citrus Grapefruit Mural by Michael Angove, Surface View
- In a very small bathroom tile or panel up to chair or picture rail height and then pop the paper above. Small loos can get scuffed and marked down below so you don’t want your lovely paper to get trashed.
- Don’t forget the ceiling! You can paper that too.
- If you are still anxious then a coat of clear matt varnish rollered over the finished papered wall will protect it against moisture.
This bathroom in the hotel Ten Mallorca showcases this stunning wallpaper by Anna Hayman. I love how the black taps pull the look together so every detail has been considered.
- Because bathrooms are often the smallest rooms in the house you don’t need very much wallpaper. You might only need one roll so it’s an opportunity to indulge in something really designer! Go on, go for it, you’ll feel like a rock star!
- Having said all of this, you can buy specialist wallpaper that is designed to be fitted INSIDE the shower and wet areas. The only brand in the UK I know that are doing this are Wall & Deco. Their Wet system is a wallpaper style covering that combines waterproof properties of liquid membranes with the highly decorative features of wall coverings. It couldn’t be more different from regular wallpaper, the Wet System is a watertight waterproof finish for bathrooms and showers, just as traditional tiling would. At this time you can order the Wall & Deco Wet system from West One Bathrooms. Prices start at £156 sqm which sounds pricey but you don’t have the hassle of removing existing tiles or wallpaper as it can go directly over the top. So there’s less mess which makes it a quick update. However, I’ve personally never used it in a project but I can’t wait to try!
The Goethe wet system is a fully waterproof wall covering by Wall& Deco. Available from West one bathrooms.
CREDITS: Feature written by Sophie Robinson and compiled by Luisa Ferdenzi-Rouse.
Featured image at top: Geometric Avery wallpaper, Divine Savages