If you want to bring instant character and depth to a bathroom, these 19 bathroom panelling ideas are an effective and stunning solution that instantly squashes the flatness that accompanies plain painted walls.
Panelling has been a wall covering solution for decades, originally invented to help keep damp and mould out. However, over the last few years it’s seen a huge resurgence throughout interiors, lending a classic and at times, modern look to a property.
From half wall panelling to chunky MDF panelling, these 19 stunning bathroom panelling ideas are suited for a myriad of interior schemes, all destined to deliver unrivalled character to your bathroom.
Is Panelling A Good Idea For A Bathroom?
Panelling can be a great alternative wall covering for a bathroom (outside of a shower, bath area), it delivers character and depth and has long been a solution for keeping damp out of a property.
However, it does need to be prepped accordingly to withstand the moisture and humidity of a bathroom. Always prime the panelling and choose a water resistant paint for the panelling.
As for installation, ALWAYS build a frame before adding the panelling. I cannot stress this enough. Where wood is concerned, with heat changes the wood will contract and move, and if it hasn’t been installed like this and nailed into place, your caulk and paint will continually crack as the wood moves during heat changes.
To avoid this, build a frame first to take the panelling and pin it into place, do not use no more nails or a similar adhesive, as you will get movement over time and it’s a pain to constantly maintain.
Speaking from personal experience here…
19 Stunning Bathroom Panelling Ideas For Instant Character
1.Half Wall Paneling For A Striking Contrast
Half wall paneling or wainscoting has seen a huge resurgence in the last few years.
It lends a traditional look, whilst it can be given a modern twist to suit your home decor scheme. This type of room paneling adds formality to a wall, it can be painted in your chosen colour and is an inexpensive way to elevate your walls.
Create a stand out contrast by pairing a bright white and a bold colour like navy blue, it will help to draw the eye up as you enter the bathroom.
2. Green & White For A Classic Feel
Green has made it through the full interior design circle of life, and its raging supreme throughout interiors and bathrooms again.
Whether it’s forest green, or sage green, green has a restorative feel on an interior and it can be a great way to bring the natural world inside.
Paint the lower half of panelling in green and elevate the rest of the room in white, it keeps the bathroom feeling light and airy.
3. Floor To Ceiling Panelling
Go all in with your panelling and add it from the floor to ceiling. This chunky, country style panelling brings depth and definition to this bathroom.
This style of panelling works well with a free standing bath, but if you have a built in or enclosed shower you need to use an alternative such as tiles in wet spaces.
4. Natural, Slat Wood Wall Panelling
Slat wood panelling has become a huge trend in interiors, it brings a restorative, spa like and Japandi style influence to a bathroom.
Wood slats are a great alternative behind a sink as a splash back, with the continuation of the vertical panels up the walls, it can also help to elongate the room,
Pair with white fixtures and brass details for a warm and luxe feel.
5. Traditional Tongue & Groove Wall Panelling
Tongue and groove is one of the most popular types of wall panelling. This style of finish is perfect for very traditional, country and farmhouse style properties.
Tongue and groove can be used as an all over wall covering, but it comes into its own when used as a half wall panelling look to add a durable splashback to a bath and sink.
Finish with a moulding or dado rail and paint the upper half in a lighter colour to draw the eye up.
6. Build A Frame With A Shelf
When panelling a bathroom you should always build it onto a frame, whilst you don’t want to eat into the space too much, use it to your advantage if you’re using it for a sink splash back.
Build a small shelf into the panelling which can be used for decorative purposes and storing any daily essentials for your bathroom.
7. Elevate With Playful Wallpaper
One of my favourite bathroom panelling ideas, and it certainly packs a punch! This gorgeous green panelling is paired with a playful, colourful wallpaper on the upper half for personality and vibrancy.
It balances beautifully with the dark tones of green and it will become a true talking point in your bathroom. Introduce a few well placed black accents to pull the room together.
8. Mix & Match Styles of Panelling
An effective way to introduce visual interest is by mixing styles of panelling in a bathroom.
Despite the bathroom being colour drenched in one singular colour, the mix of vertical and horizontal panelling on the ceiling creates visual interest and breaks up the monotony of the colour, whilst the colour drenching works perfectly at creating a cosy, all encompassing space.
9. Dusty Tones of Pink
These dusty tones of pink work beautifully with the soft green tones and white tiling in this bathroom.
The subtle half wall panelling shows a continuation of colour up the entire length of the wall, whilst the panelling adds such much needed character and definition to the space.
10. Rustic Wood Horizontal Panelling
This unfinished, rustic wood horizontal panelling creates a really rustic, natural setting in this bathroom. That almost unfinished look pairs beautifully with defining black accents.
Just ensure that the wood is appropriately treated for use in a bathroom, as wood swells with heat changes, it’s also a must that this type of panelling is pinned to a frame.
11. Envelope The Bathroom In Tongue & Groove
Use tongue and groove panelling for a floor to ceiling look. It delivers a polished and traditional look to a bathroom.
To avoid the look feeling monotonous, do use tiling for interest in the wet areas of the bathroom (by the bath, enclosed shower for example).
12. Tongue & Groove Bath Panel
You don’t need to panel an entire bathroom to benefit from the character that it can bring to a space. Use as a means to create a splash back like this, and continue it onto the section of the bath panel.
It makes it look intentional in the space, and it can be a cost effective and stylish update than replacing with a plastic bath panel.
13. Mix Tiles & Panelling For Visual Interest
A bathroom full of just panelling, or just tiles can create a very flat and monotonous feeling in an interior. Do mix tiles and panelling like this, it creates added visual interest and can be a great way to work in additional colours.
These dusty, pastel tones work so well together for a calming space. Introduce black or brass accents for definition.
14. Bold, Black Panelling
Black panelling can create a really bold and lustrous feel in a downstairs toilet or bathroom. You won’t want to encase the entire room in it as it will make it feel very oppressive.
So, do introduce white onto a ceiling or above a half wall panelling look to elevate, and keep the space feeling airy.
Introduce gold accents on light fixtures, mirrors and taps for warmth and interest.
15. Traditional Wainscoting
Traditional wainscoting is one of the oldest styles of panelling, whilst it will not suit every interior, it is perfect for very traditional interiors, and period properties.
You may choose to still introduce a tiled splash back though which can better support moisture and splashes of water than a painted wall can.
16. Pair Bright White Half Wall Panelling With Stand Out Wallpaper
If you want to create a memorable bathroom or downstairs toilet, pairing a stand out wallpaper above bright white half wall panelling will leave a lasting impression, and bring ounces of visual interest with it.
The bright white keeps the space feeling very light and airy, whilst the moody wallpaper draws the eye up and balances perfectly with the white.
17. Switch Direction of Panelling For Interest
Love, Love, Love!
I am a huge fan of House Nine Design and their projects. This bathroom boasts a beautiful mix of traditional vertical tongue and groove panelling and very rustic, horizontal panels on the other walls.
This mixture of texture, colour and style of panelling creates a warm and visually interesting space. Let’s not even get started on the stone sink, perfection.
18. Embrace Tiles & Panelling
Tiles are still one of the best wall covering solutions in wet areas of a bathroom, panelling just won’t cut it here, and it isn’t meant for use like this.
So, why not embrace tiles in the areas you need it, and panel the upper walls of a bathroom instead? It will still bring character to the space, and the upper placement of panelling will draw the eye up, giving the illusion of a bigger bathroom.
19. Chunky MDF Wall Panelling
Finally, leaving you with a goodie… I absolutely adore chunkier style MDF panelling like this. It delivers a traditional, classic, yet modern appearance in a bathroom.
If you are using white throughout, embrace texture and colour on floor tiles, brassy accents and warm materials to create a really interesting, warm and spa like space.
Which of these bathroom panelling ideas if your favourite?
Before You Go…
Looking to complete a full bathroom remodel? If you have a small bathroom and are wondering about costs, you might want to head over to my following post next. I share with you the exact costs of our small bathroom remodel and how to make any small bathroom space look bigger, and flow better (PLUS, before & afters from our own small bathroom remodel).