Beach House Bathrooms, Part 2

Just about every room in my home has some touches of a beach theme in it, including my bathrooms! It reminds me of summer, great times with family and a super natural way of life.

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 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




Atmospheric color: soft white, neutrals/aqua/ blue latex/tiles/ tongue-and-groove paneling; stenciled marine motifs; aqua color mosaic details.




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.




Naturals/stripes: rough/smooth/loose weave linens; muslin; waffle cottons; toweling; striped cottons; marine prints.




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.




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.




Weathered wood: country-style cupboards/chest/chair/shelves in limed, distressed, color-rubbed wood, iron frame/wicker.




Simple/period: glass/metal fishermen’s brass lantern; turned wood sconce candelabrum/candles.




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.

Beach Style Furnishings

If you have the room you want to make sure you can add furniture for storage of “bathroom” things, towels,  and of course the all important design style. Add small simple types of furniture like a small chest of drawers, a cabinet for those storage items, a little side chair, a cupboard, side table or even CD storage for extra towels and toilet paper.

Add beautiful colors like

Mellowed pine, a color wash, or a distressed paint finish will conjure up driftwood, weathered fishing boats, and storm-aged beach huts. A wooden crate is easily transformed into makeshift “beach-combed” shelves – ideal for displays of seashore treasures. Use shells, driftwood, and sea-smoothed pebbles to trim shelf edges or to embellish a plain mirror frame – with a hot glue gun these projects are quick and easy.

Beachy Colors, Patterns & Textures

The colors, patterns, and feel of the beach should be used as much as possible in the bathroom. Take a lesson from the actual beach and make sure you are using ying and yang, soft and hard, rough and smooth surfaces like: rough sisal rugs, beautiful painted furniture, sea grass, porcelain tiles, wicker baskets, sandy paint and painted burlap containers.

Bring in colors through the use of towels.

Use towels to introduce an accent color or pattern – choose harmonious blends of sandy yellows, ochers and browns, or blues, turquoise, and aquas – or introduce a nautical note with navy and white.

Curtains and window blinds are an ideal way of introducing a splash of a theme color or pattern, or emphasizing a mood. They can be part of a coordinated scheme – based on marine motifs and stripes, for example – or you can create a romantic mood with billowing muslin or voile.

Atmospheric lighting is a must; choose a bulkhead-style fixture in white or metal, or a traditional fisherman’s lantern. Add distressed wood wall sconces and introduce the smell of the sea with scented candles.


Details The seashore theme is rich and popular, so there is plenty of choice when it comes to the finishing flourishes. Look for objects and details that combine beauty with practicality.

Small touches can provide visual clues to your decorating inspiration – little wooden boats, starfish, and seashells, for example. Look in toy shops, gift shops, and even the toiletry departments of big stores for objects with a seashore theme.

You can also improvise. Driftwood may have a pleasing sculptural quality – display it with the same care you would give a work of art, or select specimens to create a driftwood towel bar, curtain rod, or mirror frame. Collect small smooth-patterned pebbles to make a mosaic-style table top, or to insert between rows of tiles. Add rope trims, cork floats, and shells to curtain headings or tie backs, and take every opportunity to create a sensual, marine atmosphere featuring aqua-colored bath salts and scented oils.

Copyright 2009 Rhonda Morin, May not be reprinted.

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