7 stylish small bathroom wall paneling ideas that designers say will "leave a lasting impression"

Make your space shine with these fit-for-small bathroom wall paneling ideas

Small bathroom wall paneling ideas look so smart. Here is a bathroom with white wall panels with brown bird wallpaper, teal walls, two white wall sconces, a white standing basin, and a light blue towel
(Image credit: Annie Sloan)

Using beautiful small bathroom wall paneling ideas will help you make the most of every inch of decorative space.

We've asked designers how they like to incorporate this design style in homes, and they have plenty of useful tips you might not have thought of. Brilliant marble, gorgeous glass, and stunning shiplap are a few that are perfect for small spaces.

Finding small bathroom ideas that will glow up your walls like paneling is always smart, as styling up this area will instantly change how it feels.

Pretty small bathroom wall paneling ideas

Wall paneling will work whether you're looking for colorful small bathroom ideas or more neutral ones, as they're versatile and impactful.

Our experts have recommended useful buys throughout, which we have sought out to help you get styling ASAP.

The prices below were correct at the time of publishing this article. 

1. Seek out light shiplap

A bathroom corner with white wood paneling to the right and a black and white gallery wall and a marble sideboard with a pink box and flowers on top to the left

(Image credit: Design Insider)

Bring warmth and depth into your small bathroom with rustic small bathroom shiplap paneling

“Reclaimed wood or wood-effect panels add character and warmth to the space, creating a cozy retreat,” says Nina Lichtenstein, principal designer and founder of Nina’s Home Design.

She continues, “Opt for light-painted wood for a Scandinavian-inspired vibe or weathered barn wood for a farmhouse feel.”

Nina also recommends sealing the wood properly to protect it from moisture and humidity, such as with the Tried & True Original Wood Finish from Amazon.

2. Try wainscoting

A close up of white bathroom wall panels with a long silver showerhead and faucet on the wall and a white bath underneath

(Image credit: Future PLC / Paul Reside)

Wainscoting paneling is a timeless choice that brings traditional charm to any small bathroom. 

“This technique adds texture and depth to the walls, making the space feel refined and inviting,” Nina says.

For a contemporary twist, Nina suggests considering painting the wainscoting paneling in a soft pastel hue like pale blue or mint green (Farrow and Ball's Arsenic is a pretty choice) to create a soothing atmosphere.

3. Stick on subway tiles

A bathroom with white subway tiles, a curved white bath tub with a glass pnale, a gray towel hung on the wall to the left, and black and white star flooring

(Image credit: Sanctuary Bathrooms)

Subway tiles are a go-to option for anyone wanting small bathroom wall paneling with a clean, modern aesthetic. 

Nina explains, “These rectangular tiles can be laid in a classic brick pattern or stacked vertically for a more streamlined look.”

She suggests going for glossy white subway tiles (the Colamo Subway Tiles from Amazon are renter-friendly) to bounce light around the room and visually expand the space, or choosing colored tiles for a bold statement.

4. Try lush, dark stained wood

A dark bathroom with dark brown stained wood paneling, a circular wall sconce, a gold mirror on the wall and a marble sink with a plant on it

(Image credit: Design Insider)

Small bathrooms don’t just have to be light, you know. In fact, dark small bathroom ideas such as stained wood paneling can create a sophisticated, snug atmosphere.

“In this powder room application, I used a re-sawn cedar board. Re-sawn means the board was not completely smooth and it still had a little bit of texture on it,” explains Amanda Wyatt, interior designer and founder of Design Insider.

She continues, “This allowed the board to absorb the stain beautifully and leave the room feeling moody and slightly rustic.”

If you’d like to recreate the look yourself, the Furniture Clinic Wood Stain from Amazon is the perfect shade for achieving a similar finish.

5. Cut out wallpaper panels

A bathroom with white wall panels with brown bird wallpaper, teal walls, two white wall sconces, a white standing basin, and a light blue towel

(Image credit: Annie Sloan)

We love using small bathroom wallpaper ideas to add playful patterns and bags of personality.

“Adding wallpaper inside your panels will add visual interest without overwhelming the space,” says Artem Kropovinsky, interior designer and founder of Arsight.

Simply cut them into rectangular shapes and paste them on for a Bridgerton-style finish. The Annie Sloan RHS Decoupage Paper is the exact same one used above.

6. Reach for glass panels

A greige bathroom shelf with a silver pot of makeup brushes, a silver soap dispenser, and a silver vase of pink roses, with mirrored wall paneling at the back

(Image credit: Hyperion Tiles)

Anyone looking to create ultra-modern small bathroom wall paneling should absolutely consider sleek glass panels.

Nina explains, “Glass panels provide a seamless and minimalist look while allowing natural light to flow freely, making the space feel open and airy.” 

Don’t like the idea of being able to see everything in the reflection? Nina says frosted or patterned glass (we like the Encore Surfaces Samba Tiles from Wayfair) can also offer privacy without compromising style.

7. Go for hotel-style mosaic tiles

A bathroom wall panel with pink mosaic tiles on it, a plant and two brown bottles on on the ledge beneath it, white subway tiles around it and a green leafy plant above it

(Image credit: Ca' Pietra)

Make your small bathroom wall paneling remind you of sunny, Mediterranean days by adding mosaic tiles.

Nina explains, “Whether covering an entire wall or creating a striking feature, mosaic tiles can be customized to suit any style, from classic to eclectic. Play with colors, shapes, and textures to design a one-of-a-kind mosaic masterpiece that transforms your bathroom into an art gallery.”

For anyone who loves the pink tiles above as much as we do, the Merola Tile Tribeca Honeycomb Tiles from Wayfair are a deeper rose shade and are utterly fabulous.

Whether you prefer classic elegance, modern minimalism, or rustic charm, there's a small wall paneling idea to suit every taste, no matter what your budget is. 

“With these inspiring designs, you can turn your compact washroom into a design-forward retreat that leaves a lasting impression,” Nina finishes by saying.

For anyone who is unsure about panels but still wants to decorate some wall space, small bathroom splashback ideas may work better for you.

Eve Smallman
Content Editor

Hi there! I’m a content editor at Real Homes. I've been a lifestyle journalist for over five years, previously working as an editor across regional magazines. Before this, I graduated from Nottingham Trent University a degree in journalism, along with an NCTJ gold diploma. I love running, decorating my rented Victorian home, and discovering new cheeses. For Real Homes, I specialize in interior design, trends and finding the best viral buys.