Using Driftwood In A Beach-Style Bathroom

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Sun-bleached driftwood is a wonderful, underestimated decoration material. Its organic shape and "used" look is perfect for a romantic, beach-inspired bathroom. And the best thing: if you have a DIY mind and live near water, driftwood is easy to find, and free.

I love to talk long beach walks along the waterfront of my town. There's always driftwood lying around, and many local artists and sculptors use it as their base material.

As a decor writer, I'm always looking for ways to integrate what I see around me into decor ideas and concepts, and driftwood is a wonderfully flexible and beautiful item that, when cleaned, cured and built up, will give you wonderful results.

Or, you can encourage an artisan by surfing for driftwood items online; Etsy if full of them. Also, visit your local artisan markets and fairs; there's usually at least one or two driftwood-minded makers that sell their handmade items.

Why driftwood?

Driftwood is different from regular wood, first, in that it's already dead. But merely dead wood is rarely as beautiful as driftwood is. Water, salt, sand and stones soak and polish the wood to give it the smooth, bleached look that everyone loves.

Because we find it on the beach, driftwood has this romantic quality to it that's only matched by other beach-related items like seashells and smooth stones. It's soft yet strong, organic and natural, but can be made to suit human needs with just a little work.

Preparing driftwood

If you want to use your own driftwood, I suggest reading this guide on cleaning, preparing and curing driftwood for use. You can't use driftwood as is because of the salt and sand, and taking the time to prepare it properly will improve the beauty of whatever object you're trying to make.

Beach-style bathroom

Now for the main ideas: what to do with driftwood in your bathroom. First, you'll want to set up a basic beach-themed bathroom with soft water-inspired colors or a nautical feel. 

Color schemes for beach-style bathrooms are simple. On the neutral side, you have sand and stone shades that work for any kind of space. Add aqua blues and greens, and you have something that's definitely reminiscent of the seaside. 

Use soft, matte finish tiles on the floor and walls to imitate "sandiness". Don't be afraid to use a neutral multi-colored mosaic tile for variety, and also because sand is actually multi-colored. 

For accessories, nautical and beach-themed items are perfect. Shells and stones, coral and rope will all look amazing. Add driftwood, and you have the perfect beach-style bathroom.

Adding driftwood to a beach-style bathroom

Driftwood has a natural place in a beach decor. Whether it's a big piece set in a corner like a sculpture, or used as a frame for a mirror, driftwood instantly adds a sense of romanticism and timelessness.

Small pieces of driftwood can be set to frame just about anything. A mirror, a print or painting, even a window. Just nail or glue to a wood frame and install as you would any other kind of frame.

I can also imagine setting a straight piece of driftwood along the edge of a shelf for decoration. Arrange your shelves like the branches of a tree and move the pieces close enough together that it looks like you have a piece of a tree hanging on your wall and holding your bathroom items. 

Another interesting thing you can do is set driftwood as elements to hide less flattering parts of your bathroom, while still giving you access to it. Take this bathroom, for example. The pieces of driftwood were installed in front of the exposed pipes to semi-hide them. People see the driftwood rather than the pipes, and the pipes are still easily accessible.

But you don't have to have actual driftwood to get the effect. You can have your wood furniture finished driftwood style, which means a soft, whitened finish.

I especially love the romantic and traditional look of these cupboards and wood panels. It makes you think of an old, beloved boat sailing the seas.

Driftwood can also easily work as art on its own. Plenty of artisans make interesting driftwood pieces; this is only one example. If you have the patience for collecting and treating your own driftwood (see above), you can make your own art pieces for the bathroom, the bedroom, and really any other room in the house where you want a touch of romantic.

You can use a single piece of driftwood as a towel rail for a subtle touch of the beach in an otherwise modern, neutral bathroom. I love how the asymmetrical driftwood softens what could be a much more severe space. Here's another example

Use a bigger piece of driftwood and install hooks on it to make a wonderful towel holder. It might take you a while to find a suitable piece of wood, but the beautiful, organic look is worth it. I could definitely see a smaller piece used for hanging items like a soap bag, a loofah, etc., in the bath or shower as well.

Sometimes small is better. Use small pieces of driftwood to decorate a counter or a shelf. It's much easier to maintain than fresh flowers or a plant, and it has a retro, romantic feel that can change the look of any bathroom.

Here's another example of a driftwood "tree" set in a pot like a live one. Again, it basically requires no maintenance, and is perfect for adding a sense of scale in a bathroom. While many bathrooms focus on small items and tiles, sometimes playing with proportions by adding big decor elements can change the whole feel of the space.

Driftwood is easy and flexible

As you can see, driftwood can be used in many interesting and original ways. You can set up small pieces on a shelf just as decoration, or find bigger pieces and turn them into towel racks, stools or towel rails.

Next time you're walking along the beach, pick up a few driftwood pieces and see how they inspire you. Maybe you can find a whole new bathroom decor in them!