Sea Breeze Inspired Bathroom – Before and After

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The upstairs bathroom is where all the pre-school, pre-work rush happens: showering, prepping, handling my daughter’s hair, convincing mine to lay flat, making sure everyone has brushed their teeth, etc., etc. It is very much a morning room for us. Yet, for years, it’s been immersed in neutral colours, subdued, calm. A little boring.

Bathroom before

Since I’m definitely not a morning person, I need all the energy I can get when I’m getting ready to seize the day. So emulating those zen, peaceful, spa-like bathrooms from grown-up decor magazines isn’t for me.

Enter ‘Bali Hai’, a punchy turquoise from Cil.

When choosing colours, here is a little ritual I have:

  1. Put a good dozen swatches up on the wall.
  2. Spend the next week or two glancing at them at any moment of the day — some colours look vastly different in morning or evening light.
  3. Once in a while, eliminate a couple (‘this one’s too purplish, this one’s too blueish’…).
  4. Pick a favourite one from the couple swatches that are left.

The old colour covered the walls and ceiling but, since this new colour was quite strong, we used it for the walls only, which are blocked in part by the shower stall, door and vanity/mirror, so it wasn’t too overwhelming. The ceiling and top part of the walls were painted white.


I tried for years to resist a cliché beachy bathroom theme, even though the cabinet and drawer handles were seahorses and starfish, but with a colour named « Bali hai », I felt resistance was now futile. Let’s go with the tide!

The old towels were switched to new soft and sand-coloured ones. As an accent, blue’s complementary colour was brought in: a couple of orange towels, a bath mat, small frames. The bath mats are from Ikea and they are super easy to maintain: I just throw ’em in the washing machine and dryer to refresh and fluff them out. They last a while, too — I’ve had the greyish one for many years.

Accessories are mostly small souvenirs from our travels: a shell- and sea glass-adorned frame bought in the Maritimes, a glass snail from Murano (Italy), a starfish garland and a photo from the kids in Cape Cod, a photo from Bouctouche in an orange frame. The window ledge was used to put together a vignette, integrating a large sconce shell I’ve had for years, and a mini-palm tree from Ikea.


There is a small artwork piece I’ve had for years, of a girl holding a lantern with her mini dog. This little imagery always sparks my imagination, which is why I’ve loved it as soon as I came across it at a thrift store. The frame was flimsy and in bad shape, though… so time for a little DIY! Here’s a quick how-to:

  1. Buy a sturdier, chunkier frame at a second-hand store (for like, 4$ or 5$), with a nice linen matte (for a beachy feel!).
  2. Remove the matte if you can; if, like mine, it’s stuck on, protect it as best you can (a sheet of paper slipped under the frame might do the trick).
  3. Clean and prime the frame.
  4. Paint the frame a nice colour. I used the same latex paint as the walls so the artwork would stand out a little more.
  5. Mount the artwork to your « new » frame. I actually enjoy mine’s frayed edges, and I’m crushing on artwork mounted « over » the matte right now, so I placed mine on top with… scotch tape (yes, really!).


I couldn’t find any ocean/beach artwork that I liked and/or one that fitted the space correctly, but I had an empty canvas in the right format and an evening painting class coming up… so I thought « Why not, let’s give it a go! ». I’m not sure about the rocks, and I was hoping the 3d texture would show up more, but I love how the hues in the sea turned out, and the mountains in the back.

For a simple frame, we just outlined the canvas with a few pieces of white-painted wood.


The bath podium and shower stall are made of black granite with greenish details. The vanity is made of laminate and I’d love to switch it to something a little more sexy, but that will have to wait a few years yet.

The « Keep Calm and Wash Your Hands » sign I made as a reminder for the kids. The Ikea frame was originally bare wood, that I painted with acrylic.


The iron chandelier picks up the black from the granite and its shape echoes the round mirror (Ikea) near the shower. This mirror faces the vanity’s large mirror — my grandma had facing mirrors in her bathroom, and I’ve always wanted to repeat the effect in my home: endless reflections!! Hehehe…


I love spending time in this room, now, and feel more energized when getting ready for the day.


– Émilie


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