Our Top 12 Stunning and Unique Chair Rail Ideas for Bathrooms

Before diving into unique chair rail ideas for bathrooms, let’s quickly cover what chair rails are for those unfamiliar with the term. Chair rails are moldings, typically made of wood or another durable material, that are installed horizontally along walls, most often in dining rooms, living rooms, and foyers.

The name comes from the fact that chair rails tend to be the approximate height of the back of a chair, around 30 to 36 inches high. Historically, chair rails were added to rooms with plaster walls to help protect the lower part of the wall if furniture or chair backs rubbed against it.

Benefits of Chair Rail in Bathrooms

In addition to their decorative appeal, using chair rail molding in bathrooms offers some great practical benefits, including:

  • Create a clear division on bathroom walls for applying different colors, textures, or materials above and below the rail
  • Built-in ledges and display space by utilizing the area above the chair rail
  • Protects lower walls from moisture damage
  • Adds architectural and aesthetic interest

Traditional White Chair Rail

Perhaps the most popular way to incorporate chair rail molding into a bathroom design is the classic approach of installing white chair rail about midway up the walls. This traditional style pairs beautifully with options like:

bathroom chair rail ideas

Timeless Classic Look

Crisp, bright white chair rail molding against white walls creates a refreshed, timeless look perfect for coastal cottages, vintage homes, or anywhere wanting an airy charm. For variation, try behr crisp linen or Benjamin Moore classic gray below the rail.

Paint Color Combinations

Use chair rail as a divider between upper and lower wall colors. For example, try navy or deep green below with a soft gray, light blue, or warm white above. Vary sheens as well – satin, eggshell, or semi-gloss paint below with flat or matte paint above.

Tile or Wainscoting Below Rail

Playing off the traditional dining room aesthetic, install white subway tile, shiplap panels, or beadboard below the chair rail in bathrooms. Pair with neutral wallpaper or paint above the rail for a light and airy look.

Faux Marble Chair Rails

For a touch of elegance and drama, bathroom chair rails using faux or actual marble tile bring an opulent, spa-like feel. The visual texture and interest make a statement set amongst other finishes like:

Elegant and Dramatic

Marble chair rail tile (especially darker tones like black or gray) makes a striking impact against light, breezy wall colors like airy grays or soft blue. Contrast makes the look ultra-glamorous.

Realistic Options on a Budget

High-quality laminate and porcelain tile offer the look of real marble without the maintenance or price point, keeping projects budget-friendly.

Matching Wallpaper Above

Compliment faux marble chair rails with subtle metallic sheen wallpaper, textured patterns, or matching marble wallpaper prints above the rail to continue the sophisticated style.

Graphic Wallpaper Above Chair Rail

Make a bold visual statement by pairing traditional chair rail molding with eye-catching wallpaper prints installed above. Balance vibrant colors and patterns with simple treatments below the rail.

Making a Bold Visual Statement

From modern geometrics to tropical prints, graphic wallpaper catches the eye. Opt for darker hues on lower walls to prevent overwhelming small bathrooms.

Tips for Selecting Striking Patterns

Consider light reflection to avoid visual vibration. Busy patterns can overstimulate. Limit wallpaper to one killer print instead of multiple competing colors and designs.

Contrasting Paint Below Rail

Offset flashy wallpaper prints with crisp white, soft gray, or even deep charcoal paint below the chair rail. This balances visually while still allowing that POP above!

Two-Tone Walls Divided by Rail

Make chair rail the clear delineator between upper and lower wall paint colors. Contrasting tones and textures create distinct zones.

Mix and Match Paint Colors

Highlight favorite color combos – light blue and tan, deep green and red, charcoal and eggplant. Supported by chair rail, eclectic color schemes make bathrooms pop.

Creative Color Combinations

Beyond expected pairings, explore fun, fearless paint shades for small bathrooms. Electric plum with spa mint green, or rosy pink with sage temper exciting brights.

Coordinating Tiles Below Rail

Incorporate coordinating handmade cement tile, metallic mosaic tile, or Moroccan fish scale tile below chair rail height to complement or contrast wall paint shades.

Open Shelving Above Rail

Use chair rail as a transition to built-in display space. Open shelving invites treasured belongings or decorative objects to shine.

Perfect for Displaying Decor

Show off grouped candle vignettes, trailing succulents, or hand wash collections without cluttering precious countertops.

Glass-Door Cabinets for Visual Interest

Display collectibles or decorative soaps behind glass cabinet doors mounted above chair rail. Keep items visible but dust-free.

Decorating Shelves with Greenery and candles

Work succulents, trailing ivy, pillar candles, and ceramic vessels into styled shelving vignettes above bathroom chair rails. Nature echoes restful renewal.

Recessed Niches Above Rail

Use the chair rail ledge to border customized recesses for displaying decorative objects or storage needs.

Built-In Spaces for Accent Pieces

Frame out rectangular or circular openings to hold artwork, ceramics, bud vases fresh floral bouquets perched above the chair rail.

Circular and Rectangular Shapes

Carve round or linear niches into the drywall over bathroom chair rails. Shallow crevices prevent overcrowding while highlighting favorite finds.

Spotlighting with Adjustable Lighting

Install adjustable sconces or directional lighting inside wall cutouts over chair rail to directly accent niche contents.

Beadboard Installed Under Rail

For a lightweight, airy finish, paint classic white beadboard along bathroom walls below chair rail height.

Timeless Shiplap Look

Crisply painted tongue and groove beadboard offers beach house charm. Its breezy, coastal vibe pairs perfectly with chair rail.

Crisp White for Coastal Charm

Crisp white encapsulates summer beach cottages. Keep walls, chair rail, and beadboard freshly bright white for relaxed style.

Soft Hues for Modern Bathrooms

Trending greys or exotic teal paint updates traditional beadboard with modern cool. Chair rail defines while color shifts interest.

Horizontal Board Below Rail

Instead of beadboard, install contrasting wide-plank boards below bathroom chair rails for added texture.

Rustic, Farmhouse Look

Naturally stained, rough-cut wood boards cultivate rustic farmhouse style. Match board tones to wood chair rail for cohesion.

Contrasting Stained Woods

Intentionally vary wood types below chair rail – oak, cedar, pine – for eclectic visual charm. Allow natural wood grains beauty to shine!

Accent Colors on Boards

Paint random horizontal boards contrasting colors beneath neutral chair rails. Pops of peach, sea green, sky blue enliven.

Wallpaper Border Below Rail

Define dual decorative zones using wallpaper solely under chair rail molding.

Contrasting Prints Below

Highlight dynamic patterns on lower walls to anchor simpler solid paint or wallpaper above chair rail.

Vivid Colors and Geometric Prints

Modern abstract wallpaper prints with vivid colors or flashy metallics below chair rail make that space the accent wall.

Metallic Wallpapers for Glamorous Style

Shimmery silver, champagne, rose gold wallpaper ensures Hollywood glam. Pair metallics with traditional chair rail for striking contrast.

Chair-Height Wainscoting Paneling

Outfit the lower half of bathroom walls with decorative recessed panel wainscoting installed chair rail height.

Floor to Rail Coverage

Fit long, vertically oriented tongue and groove wainscoting boards from floor to chair rail cap for a streamlined look.

Raised Panel for Dimension

Thick, molded recessed wainscoting panels add textural intrigue below chair rail caps. Paint crisp white.

Beadboard for Sleek Finish

Thin, grooved beadboard wainscoting seems tailor-made for clean finish chair rail capper. Crisp whites keep the look light.

As you can see, chair rail molding offers so much decorative potential in bathrooms. Far beyond its traditional role as plaster wall protector in stately dining rooms, this simple horizontal element creates stylish display nooks, borders distinctive design zones, and provides beautiful architectural detail.

Follow our stunning chair rail ideas to create focal features that make your bathroom pop with gorgeous style suited to your unique taste and space.

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