Vacant interior wall space can be perceived as an opportunity or a stressor. A common yet unrealized to-do item by new house occupants is getting décor up on the walls—even years after moving in.
However, just filling space is not necessarily a decorative enhancement to interiors. And, when it comes to bathrooms, what works on walls is often perplexing.
Interior designer Craig Duncan of Atlanta-based C.W. Duncan Designs has some great bathroom wall décor ideas. He points out that a bathroom “is usually the smallest room in the house where one can get a lot of bang for their buck.”
Duncan has assisted clients with their homes in Chicago and New York City, as well as in North Carolina, Colorado, and Georgia. “As a rule of thumb, I give thought to the owner of the home to determine if what I would hang on a bathroom wall reflects their personality.”
Even in the smallest of bathrooms, especially powder rooms, Duncan says “there is an opportunity to do something really unique and different.”
Keep bathroom wall décor ideas simple yet interesting
While no home should have to settle on cookie-cutter and/or outdated décor, there are considerations when it comes to avoiding tacky and over-the-top. Duncan’s 30 years of interior design experience has led him to suggest to clients they not “overpower a bathroom with too much.”
When it comes to sizing up how to adorn bathroom walls, he says, “I find something hanging over a commode looks better if it remains within the confines of the width of the tank, but I'll often hang pieces higher towards the ceiling.”
Elsewhere in the bathroom, Duncan encourages keeping things simple. “To keep a space from looking too cluttered, I'll often use a collection of something with a similar look or common theme,” he says. “For example, I might arrange and hang together three paintings of red barns or brown and white porcelain pieces.”
Instead of hanging wall décor, Duncan also uses shelving to display it.
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- Get Red Barn Art at Ballard Designs from $255.20
Go for a distinct look, not a designer one
When it comes to bathroom wall décor ideas, the last look a bathroom—or any room in a home should exude—according to Duncan, is a designer look. Instead, the ambiance should convey an organic coming together, a melding of past and present elements. The right piece does not have to be expensive and can often be found at mainstream retail stores and antique/consignment-type shops.
Some of his non-designer-look ideas include:
- A small, old ladder hung so towels can be folded over the rungs.
- A collection of unique or theme-related plates and platters found in antique and specialty shops—or made by a local potter .
- Objects shadowboxed in Lucite, which, Duncan says, “is a unique and affordable method of displaying meaningful items.”
He also adds, “People don't usually hang things on sloped ceilings, but I think it's a really cool opportunity to try something different. In one bathroom, I hung old pitchforks.”
Shelving is pretty and practical
Shelving can be found everywhere, from discount stores to upscale online sites. And, shelves can be made of every imaginable material and finish, not to mention styling that appeals to all decorative interests, from a stair-step modern farmhouse shelf with baskets to sleek, painted lacquered tier shelving.
Shelves can artfully house rolled towels, candles, jars for cotton balls, baskets for makeup, skin care products, medicines, and more.
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Always consider affordable options when it comes to bathroom wall décor
There are many easy and affordable ways to make the most of a bathroom’s wall space.
It won’t cost you much to print out a clever message and frame it in a simple or elaborate frame—depending on bathroom style. Messages can be original or inspired, such as “This is how I roll,” or, they can be famous quotes, like “For this relief, much thanks,” from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. You can also hang painted or unpainted large letters to spell out a simple word, like relax, chill, or happy.
Hanging items in groups can create a dynamic visual and bring to light your personality. A few ideas include colorful metal or woven baskets, fun hats, or wall planters. Choose one large or a few small wall art sculptures made of metal, ceramic, etched glass, stone, or wood.
Splurge on a few decorative tiles to hang together over the sink or toilet; they may have a high ticket per tile, but only a few won’t break your bank.
Duncan also suggests, “Hang oversized mirrors or a mirror on an entire wall to add drama and to make a bathroom seem larger.”
However, “with respect to family photos,” says Duncan, “I’m not a big fan of hanging those in a bathroom unless they are really old ancestral photographs. I don't really like the eyes watching in the bathroom and really prefer those great family photos in a hall, den, or bedroom.”
- Get the Home Twig Mirror at Macy’s for $165
- Get the Katya Metal Wall Planter at AllModern for $39
- Get the Maravi Palm Wall Hangings at The Citizenry from $135
- Get the Kobasic Creations Large Wood Letters at Etsy from $14.99
Make a statement with one focal piece
A bathroom can also be a place for one, quality piece of art that stands out, notes Duncan.
Select a woven wall tapestry to take up part or all of the wall, or perhaps install a single, pendant light so it hangs as the central focal point. You could also frame a new or old map, or find a simple wreath made of twigs, dried eucalyptus, or quality artificial flowers.
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- Get the Lomas Wall Hanging at The Citizenry for $1,450
- Get the Statice and Eucalyptus Wreath at Harry & David for $89.99
Wall colors and patterns alone may be just enough
Duncan says dramatic paint colors and wallpapers can make a difference in a bathroom, almost as much as wall hangings. For example, something like Pantone’s 2022 Color of the Year Very Peri, a vibrant periwinkle blue with violet red undertones, may be all that a bathroom wall needs. During its December introduction, Pantone announced it as the “happiest and warmest of all the blue hues.”
A tribal theme wallpaper, removable photography scene, or wallpapers featuring reproduction paintings might do the trick. Some modern wallpapers, in fact, are of such quality that they almost achieve on a bathroom wall the quality of detail from that of a hired artist’s or muralist’s paintbrush.
- Get the Birch Grove Golden Light Wallpaper at Photowall
- Get the York Wallcoverings Sylvia Wallpaper at Anthropologie from $4
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.