When swimsuit season is a distant memory, beach bathroom decor will help you recall the relaxed atmosphere of sunsets, sand and lazy days on the shore. What's not to love about that?
As with all popular bathroom ideas, there are multiple ways to pull off nautically-influenced coastal bathroom ideas. For some it’s all about harnessing the sun-bleached breeziness of a Nantucket beach house, while others go for fun maritime motifs for a more playful approach.
For us, beach bathroom ideas are all about seaside-inspired colors and textures that recreate the relaxed ‘out of office’ atmosphere of long summer vacations, whatever the time of year.
Beach bathroom decor
Beach bathroom decor is best approached with restraint when designing a bathroom – subtle touches are always much more elegant than a themed look.
1. Beach bathroom decor can be elegant
If you're looking for luxury bathroom ideas with a coastal appeal, this is how to achieve it. Interior design company Gunter & Co (opens in new tab) transformed this bathroom in a Chelsea townhouse into a relaxing space with a subtle and sophisticated beach bathroom decor theme.
A bespoke curved shower enclosure allows a double vanity, a freestanding bath plus a toilet and bidet to also slot within the clever design. While elegant panelling, classic stone and a soft brass finish all add to the refined look.
‘I like the playful touches like the wallpaper and shell lighting,’ says Homes & Gardens' Editorial Director Sarah Spiteri. This bathroom won Best Bathroom in the Homes & Gardens Awards 2021 – so, yes, we approve.
2. Add nautical notes
When designing a beach bathroom decor, the key to creating an elegant space is subtlety. In this coastal-inspired bathroom designed by Kit Kemp (opens in new tab), the classic blue and white color scheme is enlivened with red coral-effect bathroom lighting ideas that add in a warm color scheme – and cast a warm light at night. They also introduce organic shapes into a room usually dominated by hard surfaces.
3. Work beach bathroom decor with wallpaper
If you are looking for bathroom wall ideas to boost a beachy scheme, you don’t need a sea view to enjoy nautical wallpaper. From traditional boat and beach hut motifs to style-led shellfish and swirling coral repeat patterns, there’s a watery world of options out there.
We love the classic painterly feel of Linwood's The Wave in Indigo (opens in new tab) – a wallpaper we highly commended in our Design Awards.
For some wallcoverings, it's worth adding extra protection in moisture-prone bathrooms, such as a decorator’s varnish.
4. Paint the ceiling in a coastal bathroom
Ceiling decor is getting a ton of attention from interior designers at the moment – and it's one of those easy bathroom paint ideas that is perfect for adding a hint of beach bathroom decor to an otherwise plain space.
'Use darker colors in rooms with high ceilings – this will make them feel lower, and the space cozier,' says Homes & Gardens Editor in Chief Lucy Searle. If you use a deep blue as has been here, a splash of a hotter color will make the bathroom feel warm and welcoming – always a must in a space you want to feel inviting.'
5. Choose soothing neutrals
Sandy tones and driftwood-inspired timbers take beach bathroom decor in a nautical direction without falling prey to seaside color clichés. Bathroom flooring ideas can come into their own in a coastal bathroom – natural stone or porcelain lookalikes are perfect for your space the right appeal.
6. Introduce timber to coastal bathrooms
Carrying timber cladding up the walls and onto the ceiling lends a modern beach-house vibe to this spa-like bathroom. The walk-in shower and freestanding bath boost the sense of space for a luxury resort feel, while the rustic textures continue via Zellige-style porcelain tiles in sandy tones and bleached wood vanity.
7. Embrace white beach bathroom decor in a small space
Channel the elegant style of a glamorous beach house in The Hamptons and find space-enhancing small bathroom ideas with a sophisticated white-on-white scheme.
This coastal bathroom feels sea-breeze fresh thanks to white-washed tongue-and-groove ceilings, crisp marble counters and flowing voile shower curtains. The warming tones of unlacquered brass, which will age and patina over time and use, adds just enough contrast to prevent snow-blindness, without interrupting the crisp, clean look.
8. Style it with stripes
French sailors used to believe stripes made it easier spot men who had fallen overboard, hence the popularity of their striped sweaters, or marinières. Then, of course, there’s the classic stripes typically found on deckchairs and bunting.
However they first became associated with seaside living, stripes always evoke happy memories of beach holidays, making them a dreamy feature in any nautical scheme. Go for stripes in aquamarine shades to keep the look sophisticated and add subtle sailing cues like a porthole style mirror – with a rope frame for extra seaworthy points – and classic bateau shape bath.
9. Fit shiplap for a farmhouse feel
Shiplap cladding and industrial lighting echo the pared-back charm of lighthouse living in this bijou beach bathroom decor.
Distressed finishes and dried grasses dial up the rustic coastal references – perfect for anyone browsing for farmhouse bathroom ideas – while a large mirror with battered salvaged frame reflects light in to enhance the feeling of space. Displaying collections of seashells, coral and other beach-combed treasures is a fun way to capture memories of happy days beside the sea.
10. Bring in natural materials
‘When designing a beach scheme for a bathroom it’s tempting to gravitate towards an excess of blue and white and red. While there is nothing wrong with this, we prefer to adopt a slightly subtler approach,’ says interior designer Emma Sims-Hilditch of interior design agency Sims Hilditch (opens in new tab).
‘For instance, we have incorporated a pebble floor in the bathroom of our Cornish beach house, paired with white wooden panelling behind the sink and a soft ocean-colored tile around the bath. These elements give a gentle nod to the property’s coastal surroundings without losing any of its elegance.’
How do you style a coastal bathroom?
Styling a coastal bathroom couldn’t be easier – there are hundreds of great style cues for beach-themed bathrooms. Pop into any seafront homeware or gift store and you’ll find a tonne of cute inspiration. We’re talking driftwood and rope mirrors, lantern-style light pendants, and towels and bath mats embroidered with lighthouses, anchors, starfish, whales… any maritime motifs you can imagine, and so much more. For a calm, sophisticated approach, take your steer from luxurious spa hotels in exotic locations like Bali or The Maldives. Load up on Hamman-style fringed towels, scented candles and bamboo accessories, fill a warm, oil-infused bath and relax.
What is a coastal bathroom?
A coastal bathroom evokes carefree days with sand between your toes and sea-air in your hair. It is a common theme for beach-based vacation homes, but the look can be easily translated in-land, so you can enjoy those chilled-out vacation vibes all-year round. Common color schemes include blue and white nautical stripes, navy and red maritime brights, and neutrals in warm sand and pebble-based tones.
Linda graduated from university with a First in Journalism, Film and Broadcasting. Her career began on a trade title for the kitchen and bathroom industry, and she has worked for Homes & Gardens, and sister-brands Livingetc, Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, since 2006, covering interiors topics, though kitchens and bathrooms are her specialism.
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