Few things are as calming and restorative as a dip in the sea, so it makes sense to want to recreate the experience at home in a coastal style bathroom. But designing a coastal bathroom that looks and feels elevated – rather than cold and cliched – is an art form.
Luckily, Coco Tully, owner and creative director of Cote Interiors says the secret is simple: have a bit of fun and make design decisions that are uniquely yours.
“Look beyond what’s already been done for inspiration. Go for a coastal walk, sit on the beach, look at the ocean on a cloudy day, study the patterns in the rocks and the colours in the foliage. You’ll be surprised how much you see when you really look closely!” she says, adding, “I also love to ask my clients about their dream holiday destination and let that inspire the design.”
So if you want to create a beach bathroom that feels like a portal to the Hamptons, Positano or simply your favourite local beach, these expert tips will give you plenty of ideas to inspire a complete bathroom makeover.
What are the best colours for coastal bathrooms?
Colours like blue, crisp whites, grey and sandy neutrals are synonymous with the coastal look, but the choice of specific colours will come down to: the mood you’re aiming to create, the natural surroundings of your home, your choice of statement tiles (or wallpaper) and the amount of sunlight your bathroom receives.
Coco recommends seeking inspiration from nature, rather than adopting a palette of prescribed colours. “Be it the land, the water, or the sky, you can draw the perfect blend of hues directly from nature. For a sunny and bright scheme, I like to use crisp whites, cool aquas, mint greens, light oaks and sandy beiges.
“If we are going for a subtler palette, I tend toward pale greys, silver gum or sage green, and watery blues. You can also bring a moody vibe to a coastal bathroom by incorporating stormy blue-greens, steel grey, navy and deeper timber tones,” she says.
A coastal bathroom doesn’t always mean selecting cool colours either, says Coco. “To create a Mediterranean coastal vibe, I look to the landscape for warmer whites, soft terracottas, and hints of brown.”
Coastal bathroom finishes
While nailing the colour palette is undoubtedly important, the unsung hero of the most successful modern coastal bathrooms is an abundance of texture.
“I gravitate towards natural and handmade materials when designing a coastal bathroom,” says Coco. “Handmade tiles reflect the light in an almost sea-like manner. Natural stone is beautifully reminiscent of ocean cliffs. A timber vanity or stool brings instant warmth.
“The coastal aesthetic lends itself to playing with unexpected design elements. It can be as simple as a fresh take on tile layouts or an interesting tapware finish,” says Coco. “Living metal finishes patina over time, adding character and depth.”
It’s also important to think about your choice of wall covering too. Floor-to-ceiling tiling may be a practical option, but it can end up making the room feel cold and clinical. “Go big and bold with quirky wallpaper or a daring paint colour,” says Coco.
Another wall treatment she loves for coastal homes is V-groove panelling (just be sure to select panelling designed for wet areas to prevent warping over time).
Making your coastal bathroom unique
Coco recently went big and bold when designing her own bathroom. “I had been eyeing this Cole & Son ‘Acquario’ wallpaper for years and knew this was the perfect space to finally use it. I chose to really let the wallpaper be the standout feature by keeping the other finishes pretty simple,” she says.
“The other benefit of designing the room this way is that, if you ever get tired of the fish, the wallpaper is super easy to change!”
Coastal style bathrooms have been done a million times over, but the secret to creating a timeless space you love is to head to the beach, be inspired by your surroundings, pay attention to the layering of textures and finishes and to inject fun and personality into the space.
Coco’s final words of advice: “Don’t be afraid to make some unexpected choices – those are often the ones my clients love most in the end!”
Coastal style bathroom paint colours
Your ideal coastal bathroom colour palette and colours will be unique to your home, but these calming hues may be a great place to start:
- Paper Plane, Tint
- Lexicon Quarter, Dulux
- Cloud White, Benjamin Moore
- Couch Potato, Tint
- Muslin, Benjamin Moore
- Refer to the Stars, Tint
- Soothe, Haymes
- Mindful, Haymes
- Paradise Blue, Haymes
- San Francisco Bay, Benjamin Moore
- Ocean Air, Benjamin Moore
- Do Not Disturb, Tint
- Coastal Drift, Dulux
- Inner Self, Tint
- Seamist, Haymes