Transforming Your Bath
From '80s "Eek!" to Coastal Chic
I'll admit it: I loved the 1980s. But while my giant hair and jelly shoes were totally awesome at the time, some styles are best left in the past. Unfortunately, not all remnants of '80s style are as simple to update as hairstyles and footwear. While you may have gotten rid of that can of Aquanet, the faux marble bathroom counter on which it sat may still be alive and well. The good news is that the current trend toward coastal decor presents some unique opportunities, and before you know it, your 1980s bath can go from gnarly to nice.
I recently did just this when I helped a family transform their tired bathroom into a coastal oasis. As you can see in our "Find Your Design Style: Creating Coastal" video, the homeowners were delighted and amazed at what could be accomplished in one day with less than $300. And while this is one example, with these simple guidelines and a little creativity, you, too, can create the bath of your dreams without spending a fortune.
Understand Your Elements
The first step it to identify what you're ready to change and what needs to stay. While paint and new accessories are easy to replace and relatively inexpensive, tile, fixtures and countertops are not so easily addressed. If you have neither the budget nor the DIY skills to tackle big ticket items like replacing toilets and tubs, the key is to make these elements work for you, rather than against you. From faux cultured marble countertops, to a sea of 4-¼" tiles and fixtures in every shade of beige, aqua, peach and more, it's time to view them through a different lens and discover their hidden potential for supporting a coastal theme.
Refine Your Palette
Coastal decor tends to be light and airy with hues drawn from the ocean, soft sandy beaches, weathered wood, pebbles and shells. Once you understand what elements you have to work with, you can select complementary colors that tie in nicely with your fixtures, tiles and countertops. Does your faux marble countertop remind you of a lovely seashell? Do your tiles, tub and toilet look like warm sand, lovely coral, or even the color of waves on the ocean? Any of these can work with coastal decor; it's just a matter of finding the right mix. There are a lot of coastal-themed items that can help you refine your color scheme from hand towels and shower curtains, to art and accessories. Simply find something that picks up the color of your fixtures and let that inspiration piece drive the rest of the palette.
Prepare Your Canvas
When it comes to introducing breezy coastal style, a little paint can go a long way. It's an easy and inexpensive way to get rid of the strong colors, heavy wood tones and bold wallpaper patterns to visually open up the space. Once you've selected your overall palette, choose your wall color: a pale grey or white with undertones of blue or green can make a small space look bigger and can cool down some of the warmer-toned fixtures in the room. When selecting your paint color, keep in mind that bathroom size and lighting can really affect the look. It's best to test samples in the space, but when in doubt, err on the side of lighter and less saturated to ensure it doesn't end up too strong for a coastal feel.
When it comes to your cabinets, these can be painted, too! You may find that once you get the walls painted, your current wood tone will work better than you thought it would, especially if you do some light sanding to give them a distressed look or dress them up with some nice knobs or handles. But if that's not enough, consider painting them white or gray for an updated look. To ensure durability, you'll want to rough up the existing finish with some light sanding, clean your surfaces, prime, and then use a good-quality trim paint. There are different approaches that people take with this. I typically let each coat of paint dry overnight and lightly sand between coats, but if this is new to you, it doesn't hurt to check out specific articles on how to paint your cabinets.
Here's another idea, which I realize may be met with skepticism: create a feature wall using (yes, I'm going to say it) wallpaper. OK, I understand many of us are still haunted by memories of scraping and peeling to try to strip our walls of the garish and overdone styles of the '80s, but wall coverings have really come long way in the last 25-35 years! Finding a nice, pre-pasted wallpaper is an easy and inexpensive way to add the look of distressed wood or shiplap to your space, which not only adds a truly coastal feel, but adds visual interest and texture to the room.
Rebecca has a passion for helping all things express their innate beauty, often in unique and unexpected ways. As the Director of Advertising for The Lakeside Collection, she guides an incredibly talented team to demonstrate that "the best things in life don't have to cost a fortune", while away from work she creates a beautiful home and beautiful life with her fantastic husband and two truly amazing daughters.