Do your fondest memories and planned future vacations always set on a tranquil beach? Does the sound of waves of the sea make you most relaxed? Does your idea of a pedicure involve strolling barefoot in the sand? You would love the coastal style of interior decoration. This way, you might feel like you are transported to the beach even if you are miles away from a shore.
Bright, cozy and breezy, the coastal style of decoration is inspired by the seaside. It’s refreshing, it’s relaxing, and it gives you a sense of serenity.
To achieve this effect in your own home, follow these design tips:
1. Embrace natural light.
Natural light may be the single most important element of coastal style. Think about it, a beach house that feels dark, dim and cramped – it doesn’t look relaxing, right? A true coastal interior spreads and amplifies light. A coastal style home must allow sunshine to flood in with big windows, glass doors and skylights, so if your home is skimpy on these features, you may consider adding these. But if it’s not a viable idea, at least fake it with sconces, lamps and strategic placement of mirrors. If your home is near a body of water, especially a beach, the last thing you want to do is to obscure that view.
2. Adapt a soothing color palette.
White is the base color of a coastal interior. Crisp white rooms reflect the purity and simplicity of the style, but if it looks too boring for you, you can add some layers. Cream, off-whites, sandy tans, soft grays, khaki, and beige are perfect base colors too, as they evoke the subtlety of sand dunes. Barely-there blue is an iconic coastal color too, bringing to the imagination the color of the clear sunny sky and the ocean. Keep the colors soft and chalky by choosing matte finishes. Then, use accent shades that are also subdued to keep the vibe light and breezy. Focus on pastel hues that relate to the beachy colors, like coral and aquamarine.
However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t use bright colors in a coastal style interior. If you’re going for a more Caribbean flavor, you can certainly go and add bright accents. Just keep it consistent, as too many color and design schemes in different rooms may look tacky in the long run.
3. Bring in casual furniture.
Imagine yourself sitting in a luxe velvet armchair in a wet swimsuit or dumping your collected seashells into a fancy mahogany coffee table. The thought makes you wince, right? In decorating a coastal interior, imagine yourself owning a beach house that can withstand salty air, sandy feet and exposure to sunlight. Couches with slipcovers, sturdy wood tables, wicker and glass furniture works well in a coastal home. It doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice elegance – just make sure you find pieces that can take their fair share of abuse and can easily be dry cleaned. Keep your choices clean and casual, and avoid large cabinetry made of dark wood that can overpower the airy aesthetic. As much as possible, pick pieces in white or light colors. Distressed items are also welcome, but keep them to a minimum.
4. Use light, weathered woods.
Coastal style, at least the American coastal style, needs a lighter touch, so choose woods that are light. Think about driftwood – a worn, light, bleached out wood with salt-kissed patina – that’s the look you must go for. Other light, whitewashed or pickled woods for your cabinetry and flooring (like bamboo, ash, blonde maple) suits the design style perfectly. Beadboard and painted planks are common in coastal interiors as well.
Darker woods are also welcome in a coastal interior since they provide contrast against a room full of light colors. You can use them as long as their deep hues don’t overpower the space, so it’s best to use them in the form of accessories and small furniture.
5. Play with textures.
When it comes to coastal interiors, showing how the elements look and feel is important. Going to the beach is not just an experience to the sight, but also to the touch – a beach trip is incomplete without digging your toes into the sand and feeling the rocks in your hands. Layer different textures together, like for instance, by placing a woven area rug on top of a smooth wooden plank flooring. Pick an accent table with a bit of a rough finish and place smooth vases on top of it. Include soft elements, like layers of beddings for your beds, throw pillows for your couches, blankets and throws to make the space look warm, cozy and welcoming.
6. Incorporate natural fibers.
Speaking of adding textures, incorporating natural fibers is a great way to do that. Add organic materials like jute, sisal, rattan, wicker, straw and sea grass in the form of rugs, accessories or furnishing. A few touches of rope can add to the coastal charm. But don’t overdo it in a single place – a wicker chair next to a rattan coffee table on top of a jute rug may be too much. Mix it up with other smooth and plain items.
7. Use crisp and clean fabrics, and keep patterns to a minimum.
Your fabrics of choice in a coastal interior must be simple, crisp, clean and comfy. Choose linen slipcovers, muslin curtain panels, cottony-soft bedsheets and blankets, and sheer curtains that flow with the breeze. Pure white is the best choice, but stripes and washed-out fabrics can fit with the look as well. Tasteful patterned fabrics featuring nautical themes, shells, pineapples, palm trees and the like add cheerful colors, but keep them to a minimal. This applies to wallpapers, too. Solid, light colors for your walls are enough, but you can still add a wallpaper for a wall or two to bring contrast through patterns.
8. Keep the space open.
Like the beach, your interiors must feel breezy, so don’t try to bring in something for every space and corner. Decorate in a manner that your windows will remain clear and sunlight will remain unobstructed. An open space floor plan is perfect for a coastal interior since a lot of walls and dividers negates the breezy feel of a coastal home. Stick to a simple layout and embrace a minimalist approach in terms of furniture and accessory placement. Declutter your home – remember, you won’t feel relaxed and refreshed in a home full of visible random items, right?
Even if your house is not that spacious, it’s nice to feel that it is. If you have the budget, you can remodel your home and expand it, or at least, break down some walls to keep the interior airy. If not, arrange your furniture in a way that will streamline the room. Go easy on decorating, especially if you have a small space, and allow the function of the room to be the center of attraction. For instance, keep your dining table or cozy couches be the focal point for your dining and living room.
9. Add classic beachy motifs.
Since you’ve got a light and simple base through your choices of color palette and furniture, bring in some life through adding classic beachy motifs. Throw pillows, shower curtains and wall hangings with a sea-creature or nautical theme will spice up your coastal interior. Scented candles with lotus, musk or beach grass fragrances help create the coastal atmosphere. Display items like deck chairs, lifesaver wall hangings, bottles full of sand or shells and tea light holders. Classic framed paintings or photographs of the beach and sea animals like starfish will definitely bring in that coastal vibe.
10. Combine modern and traditional accents.
Bring in some modern and traditional coastal touches as final touches to your look. Traditional coastal accents like driftwood crafts, woven baskets, and sand dollars can be blended with more trendy items like lanterns, chevron patterns, and shiplap décor. Don’t be afraid to mix and match trendy, modern pieces with one or two statement items that bring the hint of coastal, beachy nostalgia.
Different Types of Coastal Design
The design elements and tips discussed earlier are based from the American coastal style. But coastal interior design is not limited to that. This style doesn’t have a rigid set of rules – it means different things to different people. Here are the major characteristics of the different flavors of coastal design:
1. American Coastal
This style is defined by comfort and relaxation. The overall look is clean, light, bright, airy, open and uncluttered. It amplifies the abundance of sunlight, warmth and comfort, bringing you a breezy and cozy ambiance. This is one of the most popular interior decorating styles in the country and branches into sub-styles like Contemporary Coastal, Modern Coastal, Cottage Coastal and more. But all varieties of these style still contain the same basic elements mentioned, plus the generous use of whites and ocean hues, weathered wood, soft and casual furnishings, and nautical décor.
2. Mediterranean Coastal
Think of the coastal towns in Spain, Italy and Greece in this one. The Mediterranean coastal style has been used throughout the centuries. Airy spaces with lots of natural light, warm earthy textures, sunbaked colors, heavy woods, black iron, carved detailing, terra cotta and textured walls are the classic design elements of this coastal style.
3. Tropical Island Coastal
This is a livelier, more colorful flavor of the coastal style. Tropical island coastal design is inspired from the islands of Hawaii, Polynesia and other beaches in the Pacific. This style is emerging and becoming popular in homes around the world. This style reflects the colors, culture and customs of the native people in the islands. It still features bright and airy interiors, but uses tropical patterns (like pineapples and palm trees), local woods, cultural décor, and lots of natural elements. Imagine the colors as vibrant as the spice trade – that’s how lively the tropical island coastal design is.