If you’re lucky enough to own a coastal property, then you’re probably loving the sea views every morning, and the smell of fresh, salty air.
But owning a coastal property is about much more than that: this is a whole lifestyle. Living by the coast changes many aspects of your day-to-day life, and it also comes with a specific sense of style and décor.
Even if you have never stepped foot in a beach house, you probably have an idea of what one should look like. Now you have the opportunity to create your own, it’s time to learn a little more about what makes the perfect coastal décor, and how you can employ it in your own home. That’s what we’re going to be discussing throughout the course of this article.
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What is Coastal Interior Design? How Do I Make My Home Look Like a Beach House?
Coastal homes have a particular look to them. And this is both a practical consideration, and an aesthetic one.
When you choose the right design for ANY property, you will need to think about the emotions you want to evoke, as well as the practicality of each decision.
Do you have the space for that feature?
Does that color help to emphasize the natural features of the property?
Will that material stand up to long-term wear and tear?
Being by the beach introduces some unique factors that will ultimately guide many of your subsequent practical decisions. In terms of wear and tear, you now need to contend with the salty air, the likelihood of lots of water being dripped around the floor, and maybe even sand. There are likewise particular pests that you might need to consider when you live near to water (such as gulls).
This can impact on choices for materials – it’s one of the reasons that typical beach houses use a lot of wood, and of course it is going to dictate many of those coastal flooring ideas.
Likewise, most coastal home décor is going to need to emphasize the view. You probably paid a great deal in order to be able to see the sea, so of course you’re going to want to take full advantage of that fact.
You may decide that the TV is not the focal point of your living room as it often would be! Instead, you might choose to install a large bay window or sliding patio doors and turn that into the focal point.
This changes the layout you use for the rest of the room, and removes one of the walls as a viable space for furniture.
As you can see then, factors owing to the beachfront location can dictate the requirements of coastal décor. That in turn means that many coastal properties would end up with a similar look, even without considering fashions and trends.
The fashions and trends have then been born out of these requirements: as we learn from each other how to make the absolute most out of the location and its environments, a certain style begins to emerge that becomes the defacto décor for that kind of location.
Now we begin to seek that style for its own sake – because that’s what a beach house looks like and that’s what coastal décor looks like. We want to communicate what our property is about and how we want it to make us feel. In some cases, the form can even supersede the function – the point that we end up using faux elements that are designed to appear practical. Life rings hung on walls, anyone?
That said, the very best coastal theme decorating will still be both functional and aesthetically pleasing. It should be modern and in-keeping with the latest trends, but while still acting in service to the setting, the shape of the property, and the unique demands placed on it.
In other words, your property should create the right emotional response when you first walk in, but it should also be a pleasure to live in.
Read on and we’ll discuss how you can achieve all of that and more, with the perfect coastal home decor. This is your ultimate guide to creating that coastal theme!
What Are Good Beach Colors for Coastal Style?
Let’s start with the basics: colors.
When you choose the colors you want for your room, you will instantly define the tone and the rest of your style choices.
Coastal paint colors will almost always be lighter in tone and somewhat pastel. These light colors are perfect for creating a feeling of space. Because light colors reflect more light, this means that they make a room feel instantly bigger and less claustrophobic. That in turn means that your home will feel a little more in-tune with its surroundings, recreating the feeling of a carefree day at the beach.
Of course, many of the colors that you use in your coastal paint jobs will also be inspired by the sea itself. That immediately gives you a number of light-colored options such as aquamarine, turquoise, duck egg, beige, grey, and light yellows. Combined together, these can again help to bring the beach indoors, helping to create a laid back and summery vibe throughout your home.
In fact, if you want to get really technical and choose the perfect coastal color palette, take a trip to your local beach and take a few shots of the sea and sand. Now come back and load the image in order to pick out three complementary colors. The amazing things about nature is that it always knows how to color match!
(I’m joking of course – our psychological appreciation of color is born from nature, not the other way around!)
Coastal gray paint is a particularly strong choice right now. Remember what we said about serving not only the coastal setting, but also the current trends? Gray is extremely in-vogue right now and is splashed all across Pinterest. This marries that coastal theme with something that is currently in-fashion, resulting in a modern, beachy feel.
Pick out a nice shade of gray from your photo – find a pebble or perhaps the sea on an overcast day. Make sure it’s light and breezy. Now find the best match for your coastal gray paint, and try to find two accent colors to match. Those accents will work extremely well as cushions in your room, for rugs, or for curtains.
When it comes to specifics, the best coastal gray paint will often come from Benjamin Moore. This manufacturer provides a number of coastal color palette paints, include things like Serene Breeze. But you can find good options from any paint company. In fact, Dulux does a great warm white/light beige called Summer Linen.
Also popular is to choose a natural palette and then to use coastal blue accents. These blues have a marine quality to them which look nautical and nicely contrast the rest of the scheme. That said, more and more modern coastal designs are opting to tone down the blue in favor of duck egg or turquoise; or to stick purely with the greys and beige colors. This is a more crisp and thus modern look.
Another tip is to pick paint that lasts. If your home really is situated right on the beachfront, then you need to be prepared for kids and dogs to run straight in from the sand and to wipe their hands on the walls! Dulux has a range of paints called “Diamond Matte.” These paints are a lot more expensive than your typical ranges, but that money is a great investment because it’s almost impossible to scratch!
Think as well about mold proofing, especially if moisture is an issue where you are.
What is the Best Flooring for Coastal Homes
For coastal homes, wooden flooring is a common favorite. The reason for this is that wood floors have the appearance of being natural, which helps to fit with the beach colors and themes of your room. This also has the advantage of ensuring that your color scheme never goes out of fashion: natural colors and materials are not beholden to the whims of fashion!
You might think that wood would be a poor choice for any space that is likely to encounter moisture. However, engineered hardwood in particular will not typically have this issue. Engineered hardwood has the look of traditional wood, but is designed to hold up well to moisture – certainly better than carpet!
This also matches any other coastal style décor you might choose, such as driftwood, or weathered old furniture!
Otherwise, any option that doesn’t absorb moisture will likely be popular. Porcelain tiles are a popular choice for any home near water. Porcelain tiles are not waterproof, but are what are classed as “moisture proof.” This means that they won’t easily absorb moisture compared with other options such as ceramic.
While porcelain tiles don’t work as well in living rooms and don’t necessarily match the natural aesthetic associated with many coastal style living room furniture, they can still look the part if you choose a subtle pattern in whites, blues, or greys. Moreover, they are the perfect choice for bathrooms and kitchens, where they can also be used on the walls.
What is Coastal Style Furniture?
Now you have your color palette and your flooring, it’s time to start decking your home out with furniture, ornaments, and fittings. Where to begin?
Looking at current trends in coastal styles, you’ll see that it is now very common to go with a minimal and crisp design. Furniture has almost always been made from wood and natural fibers (such as wicker), while glass elements are also popular.
Seaside motifs and stripes can nicely round out the look.
But keep in mind that the best coastal décor design will be one that doesn’t sacrifice practicality and aesthetics at the altar of “theme.” That’s why you don’t want blue and white striped coastal rugs, and you shouldn’t be tempted by gimmicks such as deckchairs in your rooms!
For the living room, you should start with a great sofa. This does not need to be “nautical,” just make sure that it matches the coastal color palette you’ve chosen. You can always add more of a nautical theme with striped cushions for example, or a throw.
This should be large and comfortable, and you might like to throw in a beachy armchair for the corner of the room. Something structured and firm will work well as an accent chair.
For other furniture, aim for wicker or rattan. These wouldn’t look out of place at the beach, making them perfectly coastal, but they also offer great comfort and practicality. Want to push the boat out? In a living room or a bedroom, one of the best investments you can make is a wicker egg chair. In case you have never seen one of these before, this is a chair that hangs from a cord and that encloses the user inside a wicker egg with a small opening at the front. This feels extremely cosy, and it’s the perfect place to sit and read a book by a window overlooking the sea.
For a coffee table, or perhaps a dining table in a dining room, look for a weather-worn wood. Something heavy and bulky, but simple. If it looks like you made it from wood salvaged from the beach… then great! You can even buy a very simple item of furniture and then apply the distressed look yourself. The same is true for cabinets and chests of draws.
While the layout of your home might not be open to interpretation, open plan spaces work extremely well with a coastal theme. This helps to let more light through the house, and creates a more laid back holiday vibe. Imagine your friends relaxing on the sofa and chatting while you prepare some smoothies in the kitchen chatting to them. We also like the use of bar stools, which can further enhance the holiday feeling.
As mentioned, tiles can work very well in here.
In terms of the best coastal kitchen colors, a lot of homes will go with whites and perhaps use a duck egg or light blue for an accent. White wooden chairs at a kitchen island or a serving hatch work really well and create the feeling of having that bar right there on the beach where you can grab mimosas and enjoy the sounds of the sea.
The word to keep in mind when choosing coastal kitchen lighting and other fittings is “rustic.” That means you want things to look worn, tarnished, and tired – but in a knowing, chic way.
When painting your kitchen, you can even use a rough brush in order to create a more weather-worn look. If you can see the downward strokes where you applied the paint and the gloss paint to the doors, this is no bad thing!
The bathroom takes more of a center stage in a coastal décor than it normally would. When you spend all day looking out at the beautiful ocean (a first world problem, we know), you will find yourself looking forward to that nice refreshing bath even more!
Many people will continue the same nautical theme into the bathroom. That means choosing similar colors – whites, grays, duck egg, navy blue – and employing it in the bathroom. Throw in some wooden shelves or picture frames and you will start to see the room come together.
Exposed architecture such as wooden beams look fantastic in a nautical bathroom. So too do more old-fashioned looking items of furniture and bathroom fittings. For instance, a free-standing bath can look fantastic in a nautical bathroom.
Choose round mirrors and other features to help make your bathroom look the part.
But before you go all-in on your coastal bathroom, keep in mind that not every room in your home needs to adhere to the same coastal aesthetic. While the beach-inspired look of a coastal home is often a good fit for bathrooms, it can sometimes also lead to a room that looks a little old-fashioned and perhaps even less modern and clean than it could do!
This, obviously, is not our objective.
For that reason, you might choose instead to go with a modern looking bathroom that stands in juxtaposition to the coastal themes of the rest of the home. If you want to create the impression of a holiday home, then what better experience than heading into the bathroom and feeling as though you just stepped into a modern and luxurious spa! You could feature a hot tub, a waterfall shower, and any other features that would allow you to feel relaxed and pampered.
Likewise, you could use large, marble-effect tiles, and how about a big modern mirror? Waterfall tiles also look great, as do using differently colored tiles to highlight, access, and border elements in the room.
Finally, your bedroom should be designed to look like a relaxing cove or getaway tucked away in the home. All the same rules apply: white painted furniture works great, as do turquoise and gray paint highlights. Wicker is a great choice for baskets, while large distressed items of wooden furniture will fit right in as well.
Decorating Your Coastal Themed Rooms With Ornaments and Accessories
A huge part of the fun when you are designing your costal décor, is adding the accessories, ornaments, and artwork.
A few large canvas pictures of the sea can really help to sell the idea that this is a proper beach house. This will tie the theme together and open up the room to make it look even more spacious.
Likewise, a large mirror can reflect more light around the home, and help you to make even more use of that view!
There are lots of great ornaments and decorations you can make yourself if you live near the beach. Pieces of driftwood and interesting looking rocks can look fantastic on your cabinets and tables, and especially if they have a great story behind them! Likewise, you can buy other items that fit the same scheme, like salt rock lamps. These create a warm and relaxing glow, look like they belong on a beach, and complement that salty smell of the sea air just nicely!
Likewise, if you have a few old jam jars, these can be repurposed as lamps, or you can fill them with water and float a few candles in them. This is another great place to collect stones and pebbles too.
Shells look fantastic around the room, and you can even get to work crafting with those! Why not make a picture frame from driftwood with seashells attached? This kind of strategy ensures that you are really immersing your décor into the surrounding environment, almost making your home seem like a natural feature of the surroundings!
Aquariums are a great touch and can bring some life into the room. Fountains offer a similar movement, while plants and indoor trees also work well with the natural colors and themes.
If you follow the advice in this post, you will have designed the ultimate modern coastal home. The result is a space that feels like a natural part of the scenery – that blends into those beautiful sea views and makes you feel as though you’re on holiday in a beach house somewhere.
Just remember that you are not a slave to the theme you pick. Being too on-the-nose and too gimmicky can risk appearing clichéd or generic. Instead, think about the things that you like, and think about your personal, practical requirements for your home.
Start with a nautical or coastal color palette, then add some coastal furniture and accessories. From there, make decisions based on your practical requirements and what will work best in this context.
And if you’re stuck for ideas, take a look around Pinterest! The great news is that the coastal theme is very much in fashion, so there is really no shortage of ideas out there!