Storytelling in the Bathroom: Wallpaper as an Eye-Catcher and Stage

Even if the new trend towards using wallpaper in the bathroom won’t take over from tiles completely, wallpaper undoubtedly brings a very fashionable element to bathroom planning, which otherwise tends to take a long-term view. Because whereas the choice of tiles could well accompany an entire generation of bathroom users, wallpaper comes with the option of replacing it to suit changing tastes and preferences.

Wallpaper in the bathroom? The idea isn’t as far removed from our bathroom culture as you might think – after all, when bourgeois boudoirs first started being equipped with water closets and bathtubs with running water, they were designed for prestige – with tiles and above all wallpapers depicting flora in all its glory. True, in more recent times, wallpaper has mainly been reserved for the bedroom and living room.

But now, adorned with classic, fashionable, floral, graphic or photorealistic motifs, or even artistic imagery, the patterned wall coverings are once again enjoying renewed popularity – and increasingly being used as a creative and decorative element in the bathroom too, where they can be used to evoke a very special atmosphere. Waterproof wallpapers are particularly suitable for use in the vicinity of the washbasin or bathtub. Bathroom planners are integrating wallpaper designs with patterns, photorealistic surfaces or individual photos into their designs, which enables them to tell totally new stories.

Wallpaper can have a major impact on the overall effect of the new bathroom and should be selected to suit the planned sanitaryware, materials and surfaces. As a rule, the wall behind the washbasin is the ideal place for using wallpaper as a key element of the design – whereas papering the entire room is more or less passé as far as the interior design sector is concerned. Instead, bathroom planners use wallpaper to set the stage, so to speak – for protagonists who know how to enjoy life.

Story I: The green bathroom

Nature and sustainability are a trending theme right now – and not just because of fashions: for a growing number of people, they are deeply important issues. What’s more, many of us associate nature with pleasant feelings that we’d like to translate into our own four walls. Natural fabrics and materials like wood, wool, bamboo or cork, as well as plants, play a major role and visualise this green lifestyle.

The colour green in all its many hues, together with floral patterns big and small on fabrics and papered walls, help make nature a presence within the home. In combination with real plants, the result is a green collage that can add a totally new touch to bathroom design.

Story II: Patterns and tactile qualities for an individual bathroom

Non-woven wallpapers are available in many different looks – plain, multicoloured, textured, with a 3D effect, an individual photo, or a vintage, wood, stone or plaster effect. As a result, they open up a multitude of design options and make all sorts of styles possible. And they’re relatively easy to strip off the wall in lengths when they lose their appeal as well. Just like anywhere else in the interior, patterns and texture are an absolute must when it comes to on-trend wallpaper for the bathroom, but bolder colours are in vogue right now too.

Depending on style preferences, concrete-look wallpapers can be used to give the bathroom a fuss-free, modern feel that’s perfect for a minimalist or contemporary ambience in Bauhaus or industrial style. Such edgy, modern bathroom designs look great when combined with clear-cut bathroom furnishings and sanitaryware, preferably in darker colours like anthracite or black. But wallpaper with subtle graphic patterns is also especially suitable for showing off a minimalist modern style while simultaneously adding a lively touch.

Wallpapers with a wood or stone effect create a natural, cosy mood and are an ideal choice for creating a close-to-nature Scandi or country look. And it goes without saying that floral patterns and light, pastel shades are predestined for bathrooms in these looks too. Non-woven wallpapers are a particularly good choice for these nature-loving styles because of their breathable and moisture-regulating properties.

For a more flamboyant bathroom of the boudoir or art deco kind, wallpapers with embossed textures (possibly combined with geometric structures and special details like appliqué metallic elements) can make the walls come to life and add an intriguing tactile quality as well.

Story III: Special moments from the owner’s life

Photo wallpapers are enjoying growing popularity and are available in a wide range of designs. And anybody who can’t find what they’re looking for can have their own motif printed on wallpaper instead as a way of capturing emotional moments from holidays or family life and integrating them into the interior design. The makers of shower enclosures have also picked up on this trend: besides the actual enclosure, they also offer glass panels that can be printed with individual motifs and used to cover the shower area instead of tiles.

In the hospitality sector, this option can be used to create individual bathrooms featuring the company logo or regional landscapes and attractions. And in private bathrooms too, the possibilities for individual prints on glass or wallpaper are almost endless. This opens up additional scope for the bathroom planner, who can for instance have the motif printed in a very specific colour to harmonise with the bathroom furniture. Having samples made up and checking to see what they look like in the actual lighting conditions on site is helpful when it comes to any fine-tuning that might be required.

Water-repellent is not the same as waterproof

In general, glass fibre, non-woven and vinyl wallpapers are particularly suitable for use in the bathroom because they’re water-repellent and don’t pucker or ripple when exposed to moisture. However, water-repellent is not the same as waterproof, which is why non-woven wallpaper is less suitable for direct contact with the wet area around the shower or washbasin. On the other hand, if a glass panel is fitted over the back wall of the shower or behind the basin, this type of wallpaper can in principle be used for these areas too.

Wallpapers with special properties: For an individual bathroom

Thanks to the multitude of designs, colours and embossed effects available, using wallpaper in the bathroom opens up a wide range of design options for creating an individual bathroom that’s a perfect fit with its users – regardless of their preferred style. Some wallpaper manufacturers are even going one step further with products that don’t just look good but smell good as well.

The wallpapers from the ‘La via dei sensi’ collection by Pixie Progetti & Prodotti, for instance, have scented particles integrated into their surface and release their fragrance for up to six months after being applied. With the aid of a special wax, which simultaneously cleans the wallpaper and coats it with a protective film, the fragrance can be reactivated after that time.

Wall&Dekò, a boutique wallpaper manufacturer from Italy, has developed a system for hanging and protecting wallpapers thanks to which, according to the company, its tasteful products can be used in wet areas. There’s even a wallpaper solution for enhanced hygiene: according to Marburger Tapetenfabrik, which developed the product, its keimEx wallpaper demonstrably eliminates viruses. Its surface consists of silver nanoparticles which, according to the manufacturer, studies have shown to be effective against influenza (H5N1), noroviruses and herpes viruses.