Embarking on an interior design project—especially when you’re starting from scratch—can feel a bit overwhelming because there are so many choices to make when it comes to just about everything.
In a way, bathrooms are among the least daunting rooms to decorate because they don’t really require nearly as much decor and furniture. But that doesn’t mean you can’t add a few stylish touches here and there. Enter: bathroom wallpaper.
Whether you opt for a simple solution like peel-and-stick in a colorful, punchy pattern or choose something a bit more lasting, like a traditional paper that requires professional installation, your options are limitless. That’s why we turned to wallpaper experts: Manuka Textiles’ Roxana Eslamieh, Malmberg Studio’s Robert Malmberg, and the twin sisters behind Tempaper, Jennifer Matthews and Julia Au. These pros are sharing their do’s, don’ts, and general tips for using eye-catching wallpapers in the bath.
Do: Start with a blank slate
Installation can be tricky—especially when there is hardware hanging on the walls. “Take down all towel hooks, holders, light fixtures, outlets, switch panels, and mirrors before applying the wallpaper. Basically, anything that isn’t bolted to the wall should come down,” Matthews explains.
“Clean and primed walls are essential to any successful wallpaper installation, but even more important for a bathroom install,” Eslamieh suggests. Scrub away any splatters or imperfections across the whole surface, scrape any loose paint, and patch all holes. Once everything has dried, opt for a primer that is specific to your space. “If you’re using dark-colored or black wallpaper, consider using an equivalently dark-toned primer or liner paper,” Eslamieh says.
Don’t: Ignore placement
There are a few specific factors to consider in the bathroom. Au instructs, “Don’t forget that your room’s natural lighting can affect how a certain color will look on your walls.” If there’s little natural light, which is common in most bathrooms, dark hues will make the space appear even smaller and darker than it actually is. When it comes to bathrooms, paler shades are always wise. “Another important don’t? Definitely don’t install wallpaper in places where it will be exposed to excessive splashing,” Au adds.
Also avoid anything that may feel a little too bold. Malmberg says, “You can go big or minimal, but I would advise going against something too chaotic—especially in your master bathroom. Alarming colors and complex patterns can make you feel anxious—even subconsciously. It’s not what we are going for in the lavatory.” He has a point.
Do: Measure ahead of time
“Precut your panels to the approximate height and width of the walls. This will help with smaller bathrooms that are difficult to maneuver,” Matthews notes. Few activities can feel more frustrating and overwhelming than trying to measure and cut wallpaper as you install it, so do yourself a favor and get as much done before you start hanging your patterns.
Don’t: Underestimate the number of panels you’ll need
Eslamieh notes, “Don’t forget to buy extra rolls. Buy adequate (if not extra) attic stock.” When it comes to bathroom design, future damage that could ruin the wallpaper should always be a consideration. Eslamieh suggests buying an additional two to four rolls, depending on the square footage of your space, when you’re making your initial wallpaper purchase. “Plus, you can prolong the life of your wallpaper by installing mold-resistant paper behind it,” she explains.
Do: Order a sample set
Au encourages her clients to apply a sample to your wall before committing to a pattern that, once it’s up, may not look how they wanted it to. “Doing a little section of wall before installing the paper throughout the whole room allows you to visualize how a certain print or color will look next to your vanity or existing decor,” she suggests.
Don’t: Cover the ceiling
Malmberg admits, “I know that wallpapering ceilings are hip right now, and rightfully so, but I would advise against doing the bathroom ceiling.” After all, the rising humidity will not be kind to your bathroom wallpaper over time. Not to mention, it can create a slightly cramped and distorted-feeling environment in a room that’s meant to function like a calming oasis. “Instead, consider a complementary paint color,” he encourages.
This was originally published on Architectural Digest US.