Coastal interior design offers the ultimate in breezy, seaside-inspired tranquility. A charming evocation of salt, sand, and sea breeze, coastal décor is both relaxed and sophisticated, combining the best of vacation-home leisure and classic, preppy style.
The Characteristics of Coastal Design
Coastal style is commonly associated with the waterfront homes of the eastern seaboard, from beach houses in the Florida Keys to the leisurely opulence of homes in the Hamptons. And while coastal design elements majorly evoke the sights and sensations of the beach, the style is just as achievable in a Midwestern townhouse or a metropolitan high-rise.
Coastal style is most easily identified by its crisp, natural color palette: varying hues of white and blue, ranging from ivory to eggshell and from sea foam to navy. While this tried and true color scheme may seem a bit limiting, there are plenty of ways to keep your coastal space feeling fresh and inspired.
To create a bright, dynamic look, consider layering different shades of white. A cream-colored sofa against winter white walls or a sandy-colored jute rug beneath a weathered white table keeps the space bright and open without feeling too sterile. If you’re craving more color in your interior, incorporate pops of brightness with shades of coral, robin’s egg, or seashell pink.
Coastal Fabrics & Materials
Coastal-inspired materials play a large role in defining the aesthetic, too. Weathered driftwood and distressed finishes pay homage to the sights of the beach, supplemented by other natural materials such as rope, twine, and linen. Glass accents are also a coastal style standby, perhaps inspired by sea glass or ships in bottles.
Natural fibers such as linen, rattan, and sea grass serve as the perfect earthy complement to the classic, preppy elements of coastal design. Area rugs made of sisal, jute, or bamboo have earned their place as a coastal décor staple, due to their ability to provide cool, beachy flair while standing up to numerous encounters with wet or sandy feet.
Coastal furnishings embody the best of seaside culture, with classic, no-fuss silhouettes made of traditional coastal materials and supplemented with distinctive prints and patterns. We’ll show you how to incorporate the coastal vibe through the following household staples.
The coastal look is easily achieved in the bedroom through the use of weathered woods, linen upholstery, and beadboard details. Whether you prefer an all-matching bedroom set or an eclectic mix of pieces, a little distressed paint and natural, weathered wood can go a long way.
The simplest way to add coastal-cool charm to the living room is through a well-appointed coffee table. To add a subtle touch of coastal flair, opt for classic wooden designs in driftwood or white finishes. For a more explicitly coastal motif, choose a coffee table with an all-wicker construction or bold, beachy details.
To continue the coastal look in your living area, add in a sofa or chair that pays homage to the seaside. Chairs with wicker frames will make a bolder beach-themed statement, but you can easily tone down the look with a simple linen couch or a delicate settee in coastal colors.
Coastal decorating is defined by its use of bold horizontal stripes and nautical motifs – think anchors, coral, seashells, and ship wheels. Be careful of over-playing your hand, however. An excess of beachy décor can quickly take a space from coastal to kitschy.
To achieve the look without going overboard, start small with your coastal decorating. A fresh coat of paint in a bright, beachy color might be all you need to achieve your look. If you’re left wanting more, bold striped details, a jute rug, and some sheer window panels provide coastal-cool vibes without going explicitly beach-themed.
Once you’re satisfied with the basics, you can start dipping your toes into even more coastal home décor. Add some gilded coral to your bookshelf, or use a decorative clam shell as a bowl for keys and other small items.
To make an even bigger statement, incorporate some ocean-inspired wall art or an eye-catching coastal area rug. Basic upgrades such as lighting can also add a touch of subtle coastal style. Try a rope-wrapped chandelier or a beachy ceiling fan to add in some coastal flair without making too big a splash.
Using Coastal Design Outdoors
The principles of coastal interior design can easily be applied to the porch, patio, or garden. Incorporate the style through nautical décor and accents, such as rugs, cushions, and lighting, or choose a coastal conversation set or dining table.
Coastal Outdoor Furniture
Outdoor furnishings such as dining tables and conversation sets are easy ways to add coastal style to your space. Choose preppy-casual pieces with outdoor fabrics in shades of blue and white to get the signature seaside look.
Coastal Outdoor Lighting & Heating
Nautical outdoor lighting lends an instant touch of coastal style. Incorporate the look through lanterns, sconces, or outdoor hanging lights. For some all-natural light and warmth, add a coastal-style fire pit.
Coastal Outdoor Decor
For a quick and easy outdoor update, add a handful of nautical accents such as coastal outdoor rugs, pillows, or wall décor. Traditional coastal motifs such as anchors, ropes, sailboats, and marine life are perfect for expressing your seaside style.
Need More Inspiration?
Before you start adding coastal furniture and décor to your own space, check out a few of our favorites for some inspiration. After you’ve defined your coastal style, you can get ready to take the plunge. Anchors aweigh!
We love the laid-back simplicity of this coastal cottage dining space. The stark white dining set is a handsome complement to the sandy walls and deep brown seats and tabletop. Shades of pale blue in the wall art and rug add just the right amount of seaside-inspired charm.
This moody, modern space proves that coastal living rooms aren’t limited to white walls and all-wooden furniture. The light sofa and sandy curtains keep the deep shades of blue from overwhelming the room, and the eclectic mix of patterns keeps the space feeling modern.
We can’t get enough of this elegant coastal bedroom. Weathered furniture and linen upholstery give a nod to coastal design without going too over-the-top. Bold navy accents are the perfect addition to the otherwise-neutral space, and the beadboard walls provide a distinctly beachy vibe.
This bathroom perfectly exemplifies the power of mixed neutrals. Crisp white furnishings meet a variety of sandy accents for a space that’s light and bright without looking too sterile. Woven or linen laundry baskets add an extra touch of coastal flair.