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Water Themes for the Bathroom

The bathroom is the wettest room in the house so water themes make sense, and they can be fun, too.

By Shari Hiller
Home & Garden Television

I've seen all sorts of decorative themes used in the bathroom from florals, meant to create a garden fresh atmosphere, to newspaper and book themes referring to our nickname of "the library." My partner Matt Fox paints all of his bathrooms white and uses all white towels. Not that he has a "clean" issue or anything. He just wants the bathroom to sparkle at all times.

Anyway, I have found that I enjoy water themes for my bathrooms. After all, it is the wettest room in the house so water themes make sense and they can be fun too. For instance, a great way to get started when decorating a bathroom is to browse through a variety of wallpaper books. Borders can be a great way to get a theme going.

I found a really fun fish border one time with an attractive navy blue background. Since the bathroom was small, I didn't want to close it in too much with the navy as a background color for the room, so I chose a coordinating paper with a cream colored background. The design on the paper is of a variety of fishing lures so of course the paper and the border tie together perfectly.

Well, that could have been enough for the room: wallpaper all the walls and put the border at the ceiling or at chair rail height, but I wanted more. So, I put the border up at eye level, so it was prominent in the room. I made the lower portion of the wall the light colored paper, but above the border I painted the wall to match the navy background of the border. In this configuration, there was room for artwork below the border and even something above if I wanted. Well, of course, I wanted!

Fishing rods made the most sense. They were the right size and shape for the narrow area of blue, plus they fit the theme so well. However, after gathering a few and holding them in place, I knew I could do better. Their slender design wasn't strong enough or large enough to show up against the dark color. So, rowboat oars became the item of choice. They still made sense, being oriented towards water sports, and, boy, did they show up nice against the navy blue walls.

Another fun water design for bathrooms is the wave design. Matt and I have painted a wave design around a bathroom with much success, but recently I've seen lovely ceramic tiles done in wave designs that are beautiful. Ceramic tiles are a wonderful way to bring the look of the sea into your bathroom. From starfish to shell shapes, these designs take us back to the wallpapers of the '50s. But done in tile, the shapes get instant class.

I've also shopped around for new shower doors and discovered the wonderful world of glass. Just about any design you wish can be created out of glass. I enjoyed the simple bubbles and watermarked designs that would fit my favorite bathroom themes. Stained glass is another great way to get a water theme started. Use it as part of a shower enclosure or how about as the window to the outside. It would make for great privacy and such beautiful color during the day as the light streams in. If you're short on cash, small stained glass designs can be gently tacked into the wood trim around a windowpane for just a touch of color in the corner.

So, if you find that your bathroom is lacking in the way of dramatic features and faucets, try building on a water theme for your decorating instead. I guarantee it costs less than a waterfall, whirlpool tub or a custom steam shower, and if you can use your imagination, even a little bit, it looks just as beautiful.

(Shari Hiller writes this column with Matt Fox. They also co-host the Home & Garden Television show Room by Room.)

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