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Cape & Islands Designers Talk Outdoor Showers

Cape & Islands Designers Talk Outdoor Showers

A luxurious outdoor bathroom with a freestanding soaking tub in a Cape Cod home designed by Jill Neubauer Architects with interiors by Raymond Forehand Associates. Photo by Durston Saylor Photography.

As Nantucket designer Kristy Kay notes, “Outdoor showers have gone from a simple spigot stuck on the side of the house with hardly any privacy (followed by a towel-wrapped walk back into the house), to an extension of a home's interior comforts.” Indeed, similar to the increased popularity of outdoor rooms (Rugs! Sofas! Fireplaces!), outdoor bathrooms, like the one designed by Cape Cod architect Jill Neubauer pictured above, have become must-have luxuries in homes on the coast and in warm weather climes.

When considering adding an outdoor shower (or full-on bathroom) to a home, Martha’s Vineyard-based interior designer Liane Thomas of MVI Design, who has designed many outdoor showers says, “The three most important things to consider are privacy, sun and view.” Neubauer reminds us to consider of the more technical aspects of creating an outdoor shower space, such as air circulation (walls all the way to the ground in a small shower can make it very damp), drainage, and the need to disconnect the plumbing at end of season and remove the fixtures, since most are not rated for outdoor use, especially in especially exposed regions like the Cape & Islands.

Outdoor shower essentials checklist:

  • Privacy
  • A view if you have it
  • Hooks for wet swimsuits
  • Hooks for dry towels & clothing
  • Built-in bench
  • Semi-dry area for changing
  • Ledge for toiletries
  • Shaving ledge
  • Separate hand-held sprayer for kids & pets
  • Lower spigot for quick feet rinse-offs
  • Sufficient air circulation and water drainage
  • Accessible to main plumbing controls
  • Easily removable fixtures
  • Proximity to the path from the beach

 

Follow Matouk on Pinterest—our Outdoor Showers board full of excellent examples.

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Left: Mary Rentschler of Rentschler & Co. says there could never to boo many places to hang a towel in the summer. Right: A home on Martha’s Vineyard gets a whole new look, including an outdoor shower designed by Vani Sayeed.

Interior designer Mary Rentschler, who lives full time Martha’s Vineyard, has helped homeowners conceive many an outdoor shower. Her number one priority? Hooks! “There can never be too many places to hang towels,” she says. That includes beach towels, pool towels, and towels used after showering off at the end of the day. In the above photo on the left, Rentschler attached an extra long pegboard along the exterior of a beach house.

Newton, Massachusetts-based interior designer Vani Sayeed designed this outdoor shower for a longtime clients’ home on the Vineyard. “An outdoor shower at the beach are non-negotiable for them,” she says. She echoes Rentschler’s directive for lots of hooks for towels and swimsuits. Other requests include a bench so little ones can sit while a parent rinses off, and a ledge so ladies can put their legs up to shave. “You don’t want to have to take another shower inside,” she reasons. This particular shower has a partition with a semi dry area for changing into clean clothing. “It’s not big,” Sayeed says, “but it’s very functional.”

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Matouk’s Elysium towels have a loop for easy hanging.

To dress up sophisticated outdoor showers, we like our Elysium towels. Made from terry loops constructed of rare, superfine low-twist yarn, Elysium soft and plush, with remarkable absorbency. Plus, Elysium incorporates a built-in-loop for easy hanging. Elysium is available in 13 fresh shades and finished with tone-on-tone piping. Mix things up by displaying contrasting colors in a row, and check out other ideas in our Towel Play Pinterest board.

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An outdoor shower integrated into the architecture and landscape. Photo by Gil Jacobs Photography.

A pagoda-like home in Edgartown on the Vineyard, re-imagined by Chuck Sullivan of Sullivan + Associates Architects and Mary Rentschler of Rentschler & Co., includes a new outdoor shower built off the master bedroom. It blends into the landscape and allows the homeowner privacy and along with the convenience to whatever they need to get ready for a night out. Guests and kids use another outdoor shower.

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Left: Matouk beach towels in quintessentially New England designs. Right: Our take on the Turkish towel.

We can’t talk about the Cape & Islands without mentioning our Beachcomber, Parasol, Regatta, and Rope towels, made from plush 100 percent Egyptian cotton terry. For more coastal style, check out our New England Living board on Pinterest.

On the right, inspired by classic Turkish beach towels, are Matouk’s Pico and Pico Stripe styles, made even more functional with a layer of absorbent terry on the back side.