Summer on the Water: Design Tips to Spruce Up A Beach House Bathroom

As a home away from home, a vacation house should be cozy, calm and inviting. And when that getaway is situated on the water, it’s especially important to have a comfortable space for watching the sun set after a fun day of activities.

But the need for serene design doesn’t stop at the living room, bedroom or patio. Vacation homes need to exude peace and relaxation around every corner – including in the bathrooms. To ensure that family and friends are always at ease, here’s how to curate a beachy, meditative bathroom in a lake or beach house.

Choose a Theme

Most lakeside abodes exist to give homeowners an escape from city life. That’s why many designers choose to use a house’s location and nearby natural surroundings to inform design elements in the bathroom. Mackenzie Schmidt explains that establishing a theme anchors the house in its surroundings and gives it a strong presence.

Defining a theme also helps guide design choices that stay balanced and don’t stray too far into the cheesy, extreme or unapproachable. If the house is on the ocean, for example, American Olean suggests drawing design and color inspiration from surrounding elements such as sand dunes, seashells, driftwood and the colors of the sea. For a lake house, rustic elements like warm earth tones, natural wood and stones can guide the color schemes.

Harmonize with Natural Elements

After choosing a theme, consider how to harmonize with a house’s surroundings. Designer Susana Simonpietri of Chango & Co. says that when she designed a house in the Hamptons, she wanted the homeowners to be able to enjoy as much sunlight and fresh air as possible. To achieve this goal in the bathroom, Simonpietri incorporated a private deck with an outdoor shower directly off of the bathroom.

Natural stone tile also works well in lakeside bathrooms. Lauren Liess shows how adding river rock flooring adds a dramatic natural element to an existing bathroom. The multi-colored gray river rock tile she chose is particularly effective at bringing the surrounding natural elements into the home. Another way to play up natural elements is to experiment with materials. Frame My Mirror suggests adding seagrass accessories that mimic the movement and texture of dune grasses. Lamp shades made of woven fibers, jute rugs and faux grass are all superb ways to bring these elements into a bathroom.

An additional way to play up natural surroundings is to draw design and color inspiration from local fauna. For example, Larissa Gardner of says that fish scale tiles are a growing trend that’s perfect for beach house bathrooms. These shiny glazed tiles can be slippery when wet, so they’re best for walls and backsplashes. With bright, colorful features, they’re a great wall decoration for a shower the kids use or for creating a playful look in a guest bathroom.

Plan Colors

Color is an essential element that can be guided by a theme choice. Color expert and author Dana Hathaway Timmons explains that since every home has its own lighting and surfaces, not just any beach-inspired color will do. From greens and blues to yellows and tans, she suggests choosing colors the homeowner loves and then sampling them throughout the home to see which ones work best.

Remodel Works Bath & Kitchen says that blue shades are the best ally when planning out beach house bathroom designs. Maritime blue shades can be contrasted with white tub and floor tiles or neutral curtains for a coast-inspired feel. When searching for something nontraditional, tan walls and brown elements can offer a more contemporary vibe that still evokes a beachside feel.

For homeowners who prefer greens over blues, Cyndy Aldred of The Creativity Exchange shares a coastal paint palette comprised of soft green hues. Aldred refers to these colors as muted bolds, and she says that these hues are great for homeowners who prefer neutrals but want to add a bit of color into a space.

It’s also important to consider what ambiance to portray in a bathroom, as this intention can guide appropriate color choices. When aiming for a serene feel, author Heather J. Paper writes that almost all soft hues are soothing. And even if they’re not the first choice for wall colors, these hues can be incorporated in less expected ways. Think of things like pink granite or light green seaglass, and how these elements might play up or play down a certain color or theme.

To create a fresh, rejuvenating feeling in the bathroom, Sherry Nothingam suggests opting for a blue and yellow color scheme. In addition to adding instant freshness to any room, using yellow to compliment blue is a more playful and interesting alternative to white. To add yellow to an existing blue color scheme, try gradually incorporating pops of brightness with towels, flowers, blinds and art pieces.

Play Up Contrast

No matter what kind of style is intended for the bathroom, there should always be multiple elements at play. Contrasting different design styles and elements is the best way to create an intriguing design that feels fresh and unique. Interior design blog Home Bunch showcases a warm, rustic master bathroom with a freestanding tub and two vanities. The elegant nature of the tub works in contrast with the rustic, medieval feel of nearby wood elements, creating a dynamic contrast that suits the rest of the home.

To play with a beach house cottage feel without being too coastal, Lisa Ng of This Beautiful Day decided on a rustic farmhouse look for her bathroom. To achieve the feel, she mixed handmade geometric tiles with wood features and faux marble. This contrast between rustic and luxury gives Lisa’s cottage a touch of elegance while staying comfortable and approachable.

To use both modern and beachside styles, it might be a good idea to mix wood elements with minimalist fixture design. As a modern cottage featured on Beachfront Decor shows, a natural wood-framed mirror and matching cabinets work seamlessly with white floating sinks. Although these traditional and modern elements might not normally be paired together, it works in this instance because they are tied together by a more timeless element -– white shiplap.

Work with Existing Spaces

Redecorating an older vacation home often poses the challenge of a small bathroom. To maximize space and make the bathroom feel larger, StyleBlueprint shows how mirrors can make all the difference. In one example, the homeowner displays two rows of large mirrors above the bathroom sink that help lengthen the height of the wall and brighten up the space.

The lifestyle site Tidbits adds that open boxed shelving and recessed shelving give a cottage feel while maximizing space in small bathrooms. Built-in shelves can also provide more room for beachside decor and knick knacks. If a cottage has a sloping ceiling in the bathroom, make the most of minimal floor space by adding a freestanding tub. Period Life Magazine says that having a tub with a shower attachment provides the same functionality as a shower, albeit without using up the vertical space found in a shower.

Images by: Pexels, Michelle Maria, noh950