Bring a breath of fresh air to town bathrooms with a breezy beach-house theme, or create a soothing mood inspired by the natural colors and textures of the seashore.
The beach-house bathroom is a foil of gentle contrasts. Clean lines and a restricted color palette create a fresh, uncluttered look. The colors of sun, sea, and sand are naturally an influence. The style is low-key, romantically rustic, and simple. And the way you put the colors together should reflect these qualities.
Take the cool blues – deepest marine to palest aqua – for inspiration, and choose from the yellows – vibrant sunshine yellow and sand-gold to cream – to provide a contrast. Using white as a foil, you can blend colors to express quite different moods. Opt for a bright and summery seaside atmosphere with strong color brights – use deckchair stripes on furnishings and tiles. Alternatively, choose the sun-bleached looks of a beach cabin – soft whites, muted blues, light sandy-grays, and pale yellows – and echo the weathered tones of driftwood and pebbles with limed and color-washed wood and stone effects.
Creating the Look For a fresh, airy, coastal mood, paint walls and ceiling white, or in a pale to mid-tone matte latex. A change of texture – tongue-and-groove paneling or plain tiles – will add interest below wainscoting level. A darker color will “ground” the scheme and suggest sea and sky. Choose strong contrasts such as marine blue and white, or go for a subtle distressed or color-washed finish. Pale colors and close harmonies will create a gentle, ethereal look.
Beach-house style has a period feel but it is easy to integrate modern features. Select a simple bathroom suite in white or cream, or a clean-lined retro-style design. Panel the bathtub to complement the wainscoting area, or with natural or whitewashed pine. Otherwise install a freestanding, curtained bathtub. Site a shower cubicle behind a divider “wall” – this can be tiled on the inside and paneled on the other – or screen the shower area with a marine pattern shower curtain or a plain or striped glass panel. If stripped, limed, or painted floorboards are not available, choose vinyl flooring in a coastal color, or cover existing flooring with wooden decking. Natural fiber matting and cork tiles also work well. Stone tiles, quarry tiles, and mosaics enhance the rustic look – make them warm with cotton rugs.
Style Pointers WALLS Atmospheric color: soft white, neutrals/aqua/ blue latex/tiles/ tongue-and-groove paneling; stenciled marine motifs; aqua color mosaic details.
WINDOWS Curtains/simple: pale/white semi sheers; tab-headed, cased, basic gathered styles; eyelet/laced calico panels; improvised driftwood/painted wood curtain rod.
Blinds/shutters: natural wood slatted blinds; roll-up cane; painted/distressed wooden shutters.
FABRICS Naturals/stripes: rough/smooth/loose weave linens; muslin; waffle cottons; toweling; striped cottons; marine prints.
FLOORING Natural/rustic: stripped/painted/limed boards; wooden decking; stone/quarry tiles; cork.
Rugs: woven grass/rush mats; nubby cotton weave/rag rugs; wooden boardwalks/cork mats.
BATHROOM FITTINGS Period style/white: simple, wood paneled bathtub; old-fashioned freestanding bathtub; matching basin; low-key modern styles; traditional cross head brass or chrome taps; see-through shower panels/marine motif/striped shower curtain.
FURNITURE Weathered wood: country-style cupboards/chest/chair/shelves in limed, distressed, color-rubbed wood, iron frame/wicker.
LIGHTING Simple/period: glass/metal fishermen’s brass lantern; turned wood sconce candelabrum/candles.
ACCESSORIES Marine/weathered: shell or driftwood mirror frame; porthole shaped mirror; rustic shelves; wooden bath rack; rustic style/period glass containers; cane/wicker laundry basket; color coordinated/striped towels; sea sponges; natural objects – pebbles, shells, starfish; model boats; carved wooden seabirds.