15 Wainscoting Bathroom Ideas: Shiplap, Beadboard, and More

updated Jan 2, 2024
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image

Shiplap and other types of wood paneling have successfully worked their way into the bathroom, creating a polished look that works well with just about any type of bathroom, from a country-inspired vintage bathroom to a modern and chic home spa.  

In the bathroom, wainscoting is mostly found in rustic, farmhouse-inspired designs. But wood paneling can really be adapted to nearly any style preference — even if your space is modern or boho and maximalist. The size of your bathroom doesn’t matter either. As you’ll see, even a small bathroom can use wainscoting with the right creative configuration.

So if you’ve fallen in love with this look, these 15 ideas will get you started on applying this wainscoting in the bathroom. You’ll also learn tips for getting the size, color, and texture just right for your space.

Tips for Using Wainscoting in the Bathroom

There are a few things to keep in mind when adding wainscoting to your bathroom, whether it’s beadboard, shiplap, or other wall paneling.

  • If you’re only covering the lower portion of the wall, keep the height of wainscoting below the vanity and sink for easy installation.
  • Consider using PVC or vinyl materials for bathroom wainscoting because it’s more durable, water-resistant, and easy-to-clean than wood .
  • Paint and finish wainscoting before putting it on the wall for an easier DIY.

1. Go for a monochromatic look.

Bathroom wainscoting can look stylishly simple, as demonstrated in this Hollywood Hills house. The creamy white wainscoting here complements the rest of the room’s decor, including white fixtures and white upper walls, allowing the stunning wood floors to stand out.

2. Add wallpaper to accent wainscoting.

Bathrooms definitely don’t have to be boring. Take the bathroom in this adorable rental for example — fun dotted blue wallpaper covers the upper portion of the wall above plain white wainscoting for a touch of whimsy.

Credit: Erika Conner

3. Go for a moody look.

Decorating a room with dark, moody colors can be scary — it’s a big commitment! Start with the bathroom (maybe even the guest bathroom) and use this beautiful dark bathroom for inspiration. Paint your wainscoting black and add lighter wallpaper (or paint) to the upper portions of your walls to give the space contrast.

4. Surround the bathtub.

No need to slap wainscoting all over the place in your bathroom. Simply placing it all around your bathtub like @cwcincy did here is a nice way to make your tub the focal point of your bathroom.  

Credit: @intrimgroup

5. Install it at the top. 

Most examples of wainscoting in a bathroom feature it at the bottom two-thirds of the wall. But this bathroom from @intrimgroup does the opposite, with wainscoting installed above the tiling instead of below. It makes for an attractive and interesting look. 

6. Add hooks for storage.

If you choose to install wainscoting in your bathroom, don’t forget to include a small ledge at the top like @hilltophome192 did. This allows you to add hooks to the wall for handy storage of items like towels and robes. 

7. Mix eclectic colors.

There’s no rule that says you have to stick with one color when it comes to wainscoting in the bathroom. As exemplified in this Australian home, the right color combo — in this case pastel green, peach, and yellow — can complement one another perfectly, no white paint necessary.

8. Slap on shiplap.

A classic example of shiplap paneling can be found in this New Orleans cottage. What makes it stand out so beautifully is the ultra rustic vanity and incredible wood floors. The mashup of the cactus and porthole-like mirror give it a vintage Texas beach house vibe — who knew that could be a thing?

Credit: Minette Hand

9. Blend it in.

You can still enjoy the lovely texture of wainscoting in a bathroom that already has quite a few patterns going on, as seen in this Charleston home. The vanity and shower curtain introduce splashes of bright colors, but the white beadboard paneling is a gentle, grounding touch that keeps the scheme from getting too busy.

10. Up the walls.

If space is limited, take note of how this Dutch farmhouse incorporated paneling in the bathroom. Rather than wrapping it around the walls horizontally, the owners installed it up the slanted ceiling and around the dormer skylight.

11. Add a splash of nautical navy.

This Michigan home used bathroom wainscoting to create nautical vibes with navy paneling and a porthole-inspired mirror. A few smart design choices can turn your bathroom into a sea escape—all without actually heading to the coast.

12. Shower in style.

Wrap your shower surround in wainscoting, like this Portland home did for an original look that beats any shower curtain. It provides a tasteful farmhouse appeal that doesn’t feel kitschy or outdated in the slightest.

13. Try different configurations.

If you like different kinds of wood paneling, don’t be afraid to try two types in one room. Shiplap up top and wainscoting down below creates a unique contrast in this coastal cottage in Australia. Both paneling treatments are white, but the use of two styles still breaks up the wall and gives it personality in a minimalist way.

Credit: Cathy Pyle

14. Spotlight your tub.

Wainscoting in the bathroom can serve as a brilliant background for a gorgeous tub installation. The white clawfoot tub plays perfectly off of the teal blue beadboard in this English pub-turned-home, while the brass rim mount adds a handsome, warm touch to the space.

15. Keep it on the cabinets.

Wainscoting doesn’t need to cover your bathroom’s walls. This eclectic example in a New Jersey loft shows how big of an impact paneling can make when it’s featured on a vanity, too.