One of the popular topics (and one of my favourites) here at Kitchens Bedrooms & Bathrooms is – drum roll, please – wall panelling. This design feature can completely transform the way your space looks and feels, especially when used in bathrooms. Curious to find out what is trending in 2023?
But first, why is bathroom panelling so popular, I hear you ask? Well, it can elevate a plain space while adding depth and interest to any scheme. Plus, you can achieve a wide range of looks – from classic and glamorous to modern and Scandi-inspired.
So, if you’ve been looking for ideas to up your bathroom style, here are the top ten panelling trends in 2023…
Bathroom wall panelling ideas:
1. Panelling and wallpaper combo
Want to create a bold look in your bathroom? Say hello to mixing and matching panelling with wallpaper.
To embrace this trend, James Greenwood, interiors expert at Graham & Brown, recommends taking the wall panelling up to the ceiling for large rooms. For smaller spaces, a half wall is a great option.
“Panelling can often be coated in paint which is more suitable in humid environments such as an eggshell finish. Traditional panelling translates well into both character and modern properties and can be a great colour carrier especially when matching to a feature wallpaper for a boutique bathroom feel,” he explains.
For a cohesive scheme, pay attention to the colour palette and pick complementary hues. To make patterned wallpaper stand out even more, keep the panelling neutral and select a bold shade of paint to show your bath a bit of love.
2. Colourful tongue and groove bathroom panels
One of the classic wall panelling techniques, tongue and groove, has had a modern upgrade with the help of paint. We propose taking it one step further by wrapping the exterior of your fitted bath in the same panels as on the walls.
“Opt for a dado-height, keep it simple, symmetrical, and use a modern and bold shade to let your personality shine through. Gone are the days of completely neutral spaces, so don’t shy away from colour,” advises Emma Deterding, founder and creative director at Kelling Designs.
Maintenance is crucial when talking about bathroom panelling. You need to ensure that your chosen style is installed well so it is watertight and sealed.
“If you’re using tongue and groove, paint the planks before they are installed in case they move. Wood is a natural material and can shrink and expand depending on external factors such as moisture, so painting first will ensure perfection no matter what,” recommends Emma. “I’d always advise to use an eggshell paint and ideally, I would suggest an oil-based one as it’s much more hard-wearing and impervious to water.”
3. Fluted wood
Fluted finishes are taking over our bathrooms – from glass enclosures and furniture to, you guessed it, wall panelling. It’s a stylish way of adding interest to your walls while enhancing the tactile experience. Plus, it oozes a calming feeling, perfect for sanctuary-like spaces.
However, keep in mind that wood is a tricky material to include in your bathroom, as it can shrink and expand. So, ensure you seal it properly or choose waterproof solutions as an easier alternative.
4. Stone-inspired panels
Veiny surfaces are perfect for adding a touch of luxury to any bathroom. But as marble is a high-maintenance material, why not opt for panels that offer a similar look instead?
You can still achieve a glamorous look, especially if paired with metallic brassware and modern sanitaryware, but without the upkeep. Bonus!
More bathroom wall panelling ideas:
5. Industrial meets luxury
Love a bit of edge? Great news! “The trend for industrial bathrooms is on the rise, taking inspiration from urban cities such as London and New York,” suggests Helen Ray-Dennett, senior marketing communications manager at Mermaid Panels.
But how can you achieve this look? “This style takes expensive materials such as marble and pairs them with industrial textures like concrete and metal,” she continues.
Whether you go for veiny patterns or grainy concrete-inspired panels, bring in matt finishes through shower enclosures, lighting, and furniture to complete the look.
Concrete basins and microcement are other popular features that can help you achieve an industrial-style scheme.
6. Spa-like schemes
If you’re looking to create a tranquil bathroom design with a modern-rustic touch, then wood panels are a great option.
“Many people are bringing the outdoors into their bathroom by opting for natural-effect wall panels, such as marble or wood,” advises John Mortimer, sales director at Multipanel.
But don’t stop there! Pair your wooden panelling with terracotta floor tiles. Lastly, decorate with the help of natural materials – be it wicker lighting, rattan furniture or jute storage baskets.
7. Scandinavian style
If you’re into calm and comforting bathroom schemes, then the Scandi-inspired look is perfect for you. Welcome this trend in your space by using nature-inspired wall panels and an abundance of textured materials, from jute to linen.
Keep the furniture minimal and decorate with simple accessories, such as organically-shaped mirrors.
As for the colour palette, neutrals are the go-to. “White, light grey, and wood finishes are popular choices in Scandi design,” says Helen.
8. Bespoke solutions
Are you renovating your bathroom and have to design around inconvenient nooks? If you wish to include wall panelling, we’ve got a solution. Enter: bespoke panels.
Simon Boocock, managing director at CRL Europe, explains that certain shower areas are often created from awkward spaces or in unconventional shaped rooms. But fear not. “These are difficult to accommodate with straight from the box showerware. But by using a single manufacturer for the glass, surfaces and shower hardware, it is possible to create a really high-end look that is tailored to the setting and in terms of style,” he says.
9. Multi-generational living
Does your bathroom need to accommodate the entire family, from little ones to older members? Then grout-free wall panels are a must-have solution.
“One household trend which is set to increase in popularity is multi-generational living,” explains Steph Harris, product manager at Showerwall. “So, when it comes to choosing the wallcoverings, we recommend opting for an easy-to-clean solution.”
Luckily, these days you are spoiled for choices and can find panels adorned with any pattern or colourway you desire. A great idea is to update your bathroom with wall panelling that mimics tiles for a low-maintenance yet super-stylish scheme.
10. Timeless glamour
If you love the look of a classic bathroom, then why not stick to period-inspired wall panelling?
For example, you can decorate all four walls, from top to bottom, with Georgian-inspired decorative mouldings or create a feature wall behind your bath using traditional panels. This style of wall panelling won’t date, so you can rest assured your design will feel timeless.
Neutral shades such as charcoal, taupe or ivory, work best for this particular look. But for a contemporary edge, choose simple sanitaryware and matt black accessories.