Our Favorite Outdoor Showers
Ocean views, beachy details, and functional design elements make these open-air showers by the sea our hands-down favorites. See why an outdoor shower is a beach house must-have, and get inspiration galore.
Alongside the driveway of this Watersound, Florida, beach house, a pair of outdoor showers flank a bonus laundry room that’s perfect for washing sandy suits and towels. We love the striped curtains, blue siding, sky-high ceilings, swinging saloon-style doors, and handsome sconces that light the way when beach days extend past dusk.
"My inspirations were blue skies, sand, and sea," says designer Meg O'Kane of her Jersey Shore home’s beachy color scheme. A classic arbor ceiling tops off the look. The stripes are painted Dix Blue by Farrow & Ball.
Two sets of swinging saloon doors mark the entry to this tiny Provincetown, Massachusetts, cottage’s outdoor shower, which opens up onto a cozy mahogany deck with handy bench seating and stunning ocean views. The designers also installed a foot-wash station for friends who frequently stop in on their way to and from the beach.
Make an outdoor shower stall feel more like an extension of the home by choosing materials and paint colors that blend in with the exterior, like the matching plank siding shown here. Wood floors add warmth and a nonslip surface for bare feet.
This Harbour Island, Bahamas, cottage was on the verge of collapse after years of neglect. Homeowner Trish Becker outfitted the side of the house, now enclosed by a privacy fence, with an outdoor shower. The foundation wall and shower floor were crafted using stones collected from a neighboring island. The siding is painted Summer Haze, the pine shutters are painted Mayflower Blue, and the windows are (both by Devoe), and mahogany windows.
Our 2013 Showhouse in Daniel Island, South Carolina, is filled with design inspiration, including in the outdoor shower. Here, extra-long shutters painted the same shade of blue (St. Bart's by Sherwin-Williams) as the shutters on the front facade serve as doors to mark the entrance to the outdoor shower. The shower tile is reminiscent of a weathered boardwalk.
For beach homes that host large groups, multiple outdoor shower stalls boost the convenience factor exponentially. Here, board-and-batten walls and locking doors give a finished look and offer privacy. Metal hooks for suits, towels, and gear complete the setup. Hanging waterproof artwork adds a touch of color and personality. You can create mini galleries with a series of like objects, such as these glazed metal animal sculptures, to spread a joyful vibe.
It's a plus to be able to close a door and make an outdoor shower truly private. A cedar-shake partition wall paired with a solid wooden door encloses this shower area, which looks curated and considered. Other high-quality materials—herringbone tiles, copper showerhead, granite slab—add texture and a further sense of permanence to the setting.
For a kid-friendly shower floor, consider replacing potentially slippery tiles with artificial grass. Water drains through the turf into pipes below. Covering the rest of the courtyard in the faux material keeps the look cohesive and clearly says "no shoes required."
When selecting a style, mimic your home’s architectural details, then incorporate the structure into the landscape with fragrant and colorful plantings. “If your shower will be used primarily at night, give some thought to lighting,” Ethan advises.
Design pros recommend harmonizing a stand-alone shower with your home. “These showers are best when they look like a part of their site and take advantage of surrounding views,” says Ethan Fierro in his book The Outdoor Shower: Creative Design Ideas for Backyard Living, from the Functional to the Fantastic (Storey, 2006).
• Fill perforated storage containers with loofahs, back brushes, and sea sponges. Keep some aloe vera gel on hand, too, for post-shower soothing.
• Buy eco-friendly soaps and shampoos for a luxurious scrub that won’t harm vegetation and wildlife or clog drains.
• Control water runoff. Cover the floor with rocks, bricks, or stones. If the shower is elevated, make sure water drains through floorboards onto sandy or quick-draining soil.
• An outdoor shower may tax your hot-water system, so consider updating the system before installation.
• Choose materials that will survive the elements. Use pressure-treated, painted, or composite lumber; synthetic decking; mildew-resistant fabrics; and rust-resistant fixtures.
• Stash rolled-up towels in a galvanized bucket to warm them in the sun.
• Use a trellis to define the space around a wall-mounted fixture. Plant a climbing vine to create an aromatherapy session for bathers.
• Hang shatterproof mirrors to reflect light and visually expand the space without the danger of broken glass.
• Mount boat cleats or hooks to hold wet bathing suits, robes, and towels.
• Build a bench box for extra storage and seating.