Mountain Retreat: Tips for Designing an Inviting Lodge Bathroom

The mountain home is intended to be a place for relaxation, inspiration and reconnecting with nature. For this reason, lodges in the woods usually strike a balance between outdoor elements and creature comforts.

Here’s how to design a lodge-inspired bathroom that includes all the fundamentals of rustic interior design, yet reflects personal style and uniqueness.

Characteristics of a Lodge Bathroom

From wooden beams to stone tiles, lodge bathrooms all assume the same basic rustic elements. These fundamentals can be mixed and matched to cater to personal tastes or echo the geographic location of your lodge.

Cabins and lodges are characterized by rough-hewn timber walls and peaked natural wood ceilings, Alexandria Cott at Architectural Digest explains. Anytime that wood can be exposed in the bathroom, it should be. This helps bring the feeling of the outdoors inside in.

Tracy Svendsen, interior designer and founder of Canadian Log Homes, adds that lodge interior design is all about evoking rural charm. Lodge inspired spaces should layer natural fabrics, metals and textures. Think about adding touches of leather, stone and wrought-iron to the bathroom to balance out the heavy use of wood.

Wood in the Bathroom

Lodge bathrooms tend to put a classy spin on the traditional rustic lodge look that’s seen in basic wooden cabins.  In a lodge bathroom featured by interior design writer Shawn Marie Gauthier, wood elements abound. The finished wooden slab repurposed into a sink is one design detail commonly seen in rustic bathrooms. This one in particular is enhanced with a large tree stump beneath the sink – a decorative insert that personalizes the space.

The wood-paneled walls and wood-bordered mirror also show that different wood types can work together to contrast one another and avoid the space from becoming too monochromatic. Meanwhile, elegant touches like the vessel sink basin, the stone backsplash and the overhead lights keep the bathroom feeling modern and new.

Lodge bathrooms can support a clean, minimalist look while incorporating wooden materials. In a lodge home designed by James Thomas Interiors, off-white shiplap adorns the walls while a light sage covers the vanities. Wooden elements aren’t present in this bathroom, yet the horizontal shiplap echoes the wooden layers of a log cabin. Moreover, the splash of green reminds of pine trees while the stone flooring brings the outside inside.

If you’re not keen on installing wooden beams in your bathroom, wallpaper can help you achieve a similar effect. Colorado Homes digital editor Vanessa Richetti highlights a number of mountain-inspired bathrooms, one of which features log-patterned wallpaper. Set on a black background, these logs bring a rustic feel directly into the bathroom from the floor to the ceiling. They also blend in well with the wooden frames adorning the walls.

wood wall - lodge bathroom

Lodge Color Schemes

The most popular color schemes in the lodge bathroom involve deep browns, taupes and sage greens. In fact, dark browns are actually coming back across all rooms in the modern home, real estate editor Devon Thorsby points out at U.S. News. This will make it easier to create consistency in a lodge-inspired home, and allow homeowners to indulge in deep, dark wood in the bathroom.

Inspiration for a calm and neutral lodge bathroom can be found on the Home Bunch blog by Luciane. Here, a lake house has soothing gray walls and marble floors to enhance the fresh and airy ambiance of the water nearby. Keeping the space so neutral draws attention to the pine trees, mountain and lake outside the window — making these natural elements the stars of the show.

Bright colors can work well in the bathroom too, for those who prefer a bolder and more colorful palette. Albert, Righter & Tittmann Architects showcases a mountain lodge with a walk-in shower adorned in colorful tiles. These tiles include blues and greens to echo the outside lake and trees, the yellow and red reflecting the changing fall colors. The wood ceiling keeps this eclectic color scheme grounded.

Colorful decor is actually a current trend in modern lodge homes, according to Mountain Living Editor in Chief Darla Worden. She suggests that homeowners incorporate a range of colors and hues from the nearby landscape. This might include sky blues, grassy greens and golden, sunny yellows. You might also consider the colors of the seasons, with a fall-inspired red and gold bathroom, or one that evokes the whites and blues of winter.

Nature-Inspired Design Choices

One trend that’s showing up in Colorado — and in other lodge homes across the west — is simplified, more modern interiors. Rather than going over the top on pine tree and black bear motifs, AIA Colorado CEO Cathy Rossett says that today’s mountain homes are focused more on bringing the outdoors inside. This means bigger windows and more indoor/outdoor spaces, as we’ll explore further below.

Windows and Airy Spaces

Every mountain lodge bathroom should balance natural materials with fixtures that inspire relaxation. For example, a clawfoot tub can induce the ultimate amount of relaxation when set in front of a light-filled window. This is seen in a Jackson, Wyoming home designed by architect Jerry Locati. Here, a bathtub, wooden walls and stunning mountain view come together to create the ideal retreat.

A similar effect is achieved in a Montana home designed by Len Cotsovolos. Here, the tub is set in front of a large window featuring both mountains and a lake. While this bathroom is situated in the mountains, it doesn’t feature any wood in the interior design. Rather, a more modern master bathroom look is achieved when a freestanding tub is combined with simple wall and ceiling elements.  

rustic cottage - lodge bathroom

The same indoor/outdoor feel can be created with a walk-in shower and window combination, as seen in a mountain home designed by Olson Kundig Architects. The floor to ceiling window is fully visible from the moment you step into the bathroom, thanks to the shower’s transparent glass door. The beautiful mountain scenery is reflected in the mirror and even across the shimmering white tiles, creating a serene escape any time of year for anyone who steps into the bathroom.

If you want to add a freestanding bathtub to a smaller bathroom in a lodge, or you’d like to amp up the classiness of a guest bath, a massive window isn’t always necessary. Interior designer Erica Reitman shows how a clawfoot tub can make a small, wood-paneled bathroom feel cozy and inviting — especially when paired with a Navajo rug. This goes back to the idea of making a lodge bathroom feel cozy and inviting, regardless of the space’s size or architectural makeup.

Another creative idea for adding relaxation to a lodge bathroom is showcased by creative creative Jess Chamberlain and writer/editor Joanna Linberg. This house in Washington features a cantilevered deck in the bathroom, making it easy to enjoy the outdoors any time of year. This design element literally transcends the boundaries between outside and inside, bringing nature closer than ever.

Animal Themes

From bears and bobcats to moose and fish, animals play a large role in everyday mountain life. This is why antlers are such a popular element across all lodge-inspired interior design styles.

Desiree Burns Interiors shows how a light fixture made from moose antlers compliments a wooden ceiling. The design in particular is seen in an Adirondack home in New York, but could work well across homes in any mountain region.

In fact, mountain lodges as far as South Africa are combining rustic wooden features with animal elements for a tasteful, exotic interior. Travel writer Richard Holmes looks at a number of South African interior designs that feature subtle incorporations of animals. These include faux animal skin throws and rugs. This technique would work in the bathroom in the form of a simple entryway rug or shower mat.

For something more eclectic, animal-print patterns could do the trick. Lodge homes adopting a ranch-inspired feel might benefit from cow print, for example. Travel and design writer Laura Beausire shows how varying cow skin-patterned tiles can adorn the walls of a bathroom for a rustic ranch look.

The interior designer who collaborated on this project also tells Beausire that patterns should be in different shapes and sizes. This avoids symmetry and busyness while creating a more dynamic and unique appearance.

Images by: skdesign/©123RF Stock Photo, Burst, Nicole De Khors