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!
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.
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!
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.
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: