Summertime is here and what better way to spend the days than in your backyard pool? Whether hosting pool parties or just taking time to relax by yourself, pools are a great addition to a home.
And though they’re the center of summer fun, pools come with slippery floors, floaty toys and the need for extra rinsing. To keep wet feet, swimsuits and towels out of the house, a poolside bathroom can be a great place to direct guests for whatever needs they may have.
There are many considerations when designing a pool-adjacent bathroom. Here, the experts weigh in on what details make it perfect.
Consider Size and Use
Outdoor pools can be elegant or they can be where all the neighborhood kids hang out on the weekend. You can determine the size of the pool bathroom based on the style and purpose of your pool.
If, for example, you primarily use your pool as a place to wind down or host small gatherings, all you might need is a free standing shower to make the pool experience even more relaxing. House Beautiful’s Hadley Mendelsohn says simple and rustic outside showers can be a great way to make your home feel like a spa. With just a few slabs of wood, stone and walls laced with botanicals, you can have a great place to retreat to after time in the sun.
For other families, a pavilion with shower and a changing room is more desirable. Designer Molly Frey creates a simple outdoor change room by putting the shower curtain at the entrance. This is a functional way to keep wet swimsuits out of the house.
Other outdoor bathrooms are traditional full size. Just remember that if you’re adding a structure to your property, you’ll need a building permit. Also, all bathrooms must have allotted dimensions that are up to code in your local area, says interior design writer Sarabeth Asaff. There are recommended dimensions for each bathroom feature, so have a professional confirm that your bathroom addition will pass code.
Popular Bathroom Features
It is important to determine who will be using the bathroom to determine what features your bathroom will need.
“The most common bathroom layout is the single plumbed wall,” says architect Steven Randel. “All fixtures are lined up and served from one compact source of drains, water supplies and venting. This saves on plumbing installation and provides efficient distribution of heated water, especially when the wall is near a water heater.”
Like any other bathroom, you will consider how to incorporate a toilet, a shower, and a sink. Unlike other bathrooms, however, your poolside bathroom needs additional space for changing in and out of swimsuits plus extra towel hooks and extra storage for sunscreen, goggles and other pool items.
Depending on the purpose of the bathroom, some outside bathrooms only include one or two of these features, while others include them all.
One feature to consider is the vanity. “The bathroom vanity is one of the areas that can make a big difference – both for decor and functionality,” says Debbie Gartner, owner of The Flooring Girl. The sink can be placed in a metal frame to show your minimalistic taste or in a vanity with lots of storage for extra towels.
The vanity might not be sufficient for all storage needs. For those who are trying to organize toys and swimsuits, you might consider having an additional storage room or closet added to the bathroom. Design blogger Erin Rollins says an additional closet space with vertical storage next to the pool bathroom is a great way to keep pool toys organized.
You may consider separating change rooms from the toilet or shower areas in the pavilion. If there are a lot of people using the pool, one bathroom might not be enough to meet all their needs. Separating these features and spaces could be more practical.
You will also want to consider the type of floors you choose. Sarah Tidwell at Garden Guides says raised floors are a popular feature of poolside bathrooms. They can be created by installing wooden slats, and the benefit is that they look beautiful and are less slippery than traditional tile.
When choosing the elements of your outdoor bathroom, make sure they come together in a cohesive way and reflect the overall design of your home.
Poolside bathrooms have a wide range in styles. The Rhythm of the Home blog shows that the shower area can be designed with country, botanical, Scandanavian or rustic styles. One popular choice is to make the outdoor bathroom experience a portal between you and nature. The shower and bath can be built with natural materials — wood, plants, stone, or pebbles. The team at DigsDigs highlights just how many ways these elements can be used to create your own perfect outdoor space.
“Vintage-style bathrooms can give off an elegant feel, using stone can make you feel like you are on a wonderful vacation,” says the team at One Kindesign. Adding a cast iron clawfoot bath can give your outside bathroom a vintage and luxurious touch.
And just because pool showers and changing areas are outside, doesn’t mean they can’t be planned with interior design in mind, says Elizabeth Metcalfe in a round-up at House and Garden. She’s a fan of pool houses that enhance their gardens and surroundings, such as those with neutral schemes and exposed brick.
Shiplap is a popular and simple way to create coastal vibes in your outside space. Andréana Lefton at Bob Vila says white shiplap paired with geometrics shape wallpaper or bold colors can make your poolside bathroom a bright and inviting space.
If the bathroom feels small, Caroline Picard and Caroline Utz at Good Housekeeping recommend mirrors. “Mirrors on top of white-washed siding does the trick. The reflections create a ‘window’ on any wall, nipping that cramped feeling in the bud.” Many homeowners choose to keep a white color scheme for outside bathrooms in order to give a clean feeling. Shades of blue and gray are popular color scheme choices to complement the pool water.
Bold wallpaper prints are another great option, says designer Abbe Fenimore. Colors that pop and geometric patterns will add life to your pool area.
To bring your poolside bathroom’s features and style together, you will have to decide what type of hardware you want to use in the bathroom.
Interiors stylist Alexa Hotz looks at a pool pavilion in Charleston, SC. This pool’s bathroom features an exposed shower, a wall-mounted faucet and stainless steel cleats for hanging towels and accessories. These features work together to create a practical, beautiful and nautical pool bathroom.
Many homes with outside showers choose to go with exposed shower pipes. Pipes can range in material from PVC to stainless steel. What matters is that they are slightly larger than indoor piping. “For outdoor showers, it is a good idea to use one inch or three quarter inch pipe,” says Robin A. Smith at Homedecorss.com. If you are working with customers who are looking for bathroom hardware for the bathroom reno or installation, explain which materials work best in outside environments.
Many homeowners opt in for a bathtub near the pool. Fixtures such as bright cast iron bathtubs are trending right now because they can add a touch of color in a neutral space, says Bryan Sebring, Owner of Sebring Design Build. Black matte hardware is another popular choice for sinks and faucets, adds interior designer Erica Reitman. Black matte vessel sinks paired with white subway tiles can give your poolside bathroom a modern look.