Nautical Powder Room: Nail a Chic, Not Kitschy Look

It feels a bit odd to say my favorite room is a powder room, but there is something undeniably special about this space. In fact, plenty of visitors who leave to “use the facilities” at my parents’ lake house, wind up spending an inordinate amount of time studying the walls. This nautical powder room is beautiful, soothing and most importantly personalized.

It’s a family album of sorts. Instead of wallpaper, my parents decoupaged nautical charts to tell their story.

Each waterway has meaning; each chart holds a memory. As Michiganders, my parents grew up with the Great Lakes in their backyards. These are the places they lived, worked, fell in love and vacationed. Gaze up at the carefully curated walls and you’ll see where they went sailing on their first date, where they moored the boat they lived on as newlyweds, where they ran a small business teaching windsurfing and where they hope to retire on the Lake Michigan shoreline.

In fact, their first boat (a 30-ft 1929 Richardson) inspired the overall look of this room. It was from the Detroit area, and according to local legends was a rum runner in its hey day. My parents didn’t have a lot of money at the time, but were thrilled to have a space to fix up and call their own.

Looking to craft a deeply personal space like this in your home? With a decoupaged wall, it might be easier than you think!

Get the look: nautical powder roomnautical powder roomnautical chart walls

Step One: Determine your materials

To begin, think about what you’d like to showcase. For our purposes, we’ll be discussing nautical charts, but your options are endless! This process will work with just about any paper material. However, you’ll want to make sure your paper materials are not water proof. They need to be able to soak up the glue. Also, make sure your wall is clean and dust free.

Are you a musician? You could decoupage a wall using a series of music sheets. A sports enthusiast? Try tickets, baseball cards or other memorabilia. Into history? You could use architectural prints, old newspapers, or photos.

My parents found their charts at their local West Marine shop, however you can also purchase them online. Here’s a similar example. NOAA also has a list of approved vendors.

Supply list:

Step Two: Create your layout

If you are doing a bathroom wall, I highly recommend incorporating a chair rail in your design. In this particular nautical powder room, the wood paneling and accent trim serve two purposes. First, from a functional standpoint they protect your decoupage wall from splashing water. Second, they tone down this feature wall and prevent it from looking too “busy.” The result is elegant, yet interesting.

Now, it’s time to place your paper materials. Use painters tape to piece together your design. You’ll want to determine where each item will go. This is NOT a time to wing it.

You’re creating a beautiful and lasting puzzle, so take your time!

Step Three: The application

  • Work in small sections, gradually making your way around the room.
  • To begin, apply a “medium” layer of Mod Podge on the wall area you are working on. By medium, I mean that you should visibly see the white covering your surface.
  • Lay your paper piece face down on a drop cloth and apply another medium layer of Mod Podge on the back. Make sure you are painting over the paper edge to ensure it is completely covered.
  • Position your paper, press down firmly, then smooth out any bubbles or wrinkles with the brayer. You will want to work quickly, since Mod Podge doesn’t take long to dry.
  • Let dry for 15-20 minutes, then decoupage over the top.
  • Once all of your paper pieces are in position, go back and do 2 more coats.

For this project, my parents opted for a matte Mod Podge or satin rather than glossy. This allows the decoupage to look more like paint and helps create a more seamless design. In addition, you are preventing glare from lights that can happen with a glossy, reflective finish.

Step Four: Finishing Touches

Now that your top coat is dry, you can use fine grain sand paper to lightly smooth out any noticeable brush strokes. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to add a topcoat of polyurethane matte varnish. This will ensure your hard work lasts!

As for the other finishing touches, my parents wanted the vanity mirror to resemble a window from their first boat. They had one custom made for a 24″ overall width with a 3/4 ” bevel showing in the glass. They added the color (Benjamin Moore’s Mississipi Mud in the Satin Impervo finish) and metal studs themselves.

The faucet was Moen’s “Mannerly” which has since been discontinued. However, I found a faucet with a similar look. The nautical powerder room also features a stainless steel undermount sink and vanity with louvered doors.

Funny story—-The faucet handles are in French, but the installation team wasn’t familiar with the language. Before anyone could check, the faucet was in and we ended up with “Chaud” (hot in French) for the cold water and “Froid” (cold in French) for the hot. I’m the only one in my family who studied French, so I get a good chuckle every time I wash my hands. We ended up loving the quirky mistake, so we never fixed it.

Please let me know in the comments below if you have any specific questions about recreating this nautical space or doing a decoupage wall. I’m happy to help!

Need more inspiration for chic nautical spaces? Here are some of the decor items I’m loving:


  1. Victoria Martin | 7th Sep 18

    You and Linda should have your own show or magazine!

    • laveremis | 8th Sep 18

      Wouldn’t that be fun?! Thanks so much!

  2. Frank | 10th Sep 18

    A bit too many neutral tones for my preference, but the nautical wallpapers are quite nice. I think I could see this in my home but with a few colorful accents.

    • laveremis | 12th Sep 18

      Thanks for reading Frank! It would certainly be easy to do something similar with bright shades and I bet it would be stunning. We went for a softer palette because this is a coastal home and the soft shades extend throughout the house.

  3. Maartje | 10th Sep 18

    I absolutely love the map on the wall! Might try that one when I get my own apartment!

    • laveremis | 12th Sep 18

      Thank you and best wishes for your future space! Decorating when you finally get that first apartment is so much fun and this project will allow you to make the space your own. If your landlord doesn’t allow you to do a wall, you might want to try this on a coffee table or desk. The process is very similar.

  4. Preet | 10th Sep 18

    OMG, You hahve such a wonderful room. I am dereaming about his since then. You are so talented and cretaive. I just love everything abou this.

  5. Megan | 10th Sep 18

    This is the cutest powder room, WOW. Flawless decor. I’m in love.

  6. Corina | 10th Sep 18

    This is such a beautifully decorated room! Love the map on the walls.

  7. Kesha | 10th Sep 18

    This is one beautiful power room. Very creative. I love maps and would love to do something like this in our home.

    • laveremis | 12th Sep 18

      The fun thing with this project is it lends itself to total customization! And you can do it in many places… on a table, on a living room feature wall, a child’s desk. Happy decorating!

  8. Twinspirational | 10th Sep 18

    You guys did a fantastic job on the powder room. We love the decor.

  9. Faneshia | 10th Sep 18

    Such a cool, pretty and neat space. I love the details put into this!

  10. Ashley | 11th Sep 18

    This is such a fun room and I can tell so much love and care went into it. I can see why people take time to admire it.

    • laveremis | 12th Sep 18

      Thanks Ashley, seriously you do see people just staring up 🙂

  11. Rose Ann Sales | 11th Sep 18

    This is such a beautiful powerful room. I love every accessories and design you put in it, I really like it.

    • laveremis | 12th Sep 18

      So kind of you Rose Ann. Appreciate you reading the post and visiting the blog!

  12. Dana Brillante-Peller | 11th Sep 18

    I love the idea of the map on the wall. For someone who enjoys traveling, this is perfect! I like the details on the faucet as well.

  13. Julie | 11th Sep 18

    I love the decor. You did a great job. I feel like you gave great details if someone wanted to do it themselves. I love the faucet. I am decorating our bathroom. Good ideas. I would never do it myself!

    • laveremis | 12th Sep 18

      Thank you Julie. That’s my hope with this blog is to provide practical information people can actually use in their own spaces. Happy decorating!

  14. ROsey | 12th Sep 18

    So wow, this turned out really fantastic. I haven’t seen a powder room quite like it!

    • laveremis | 12th Sep 18

      Thanks so much Rosey! It’s also really held up over time. It has been 10 years and no fading or signs of wear.

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