Coastal décor is synonymous with an airy feel, crispy whites, calming hues, and sun-soaked beach vacation vibes. Here is how to bring the interior style to life in your home.
A soothing atmosphere, refined elegance, and a space for rest and respite are what come to mind when thinking about coastal décor. The interior design style takes its cues from the surrounding sea-and-sand beach landscapes, summer vacation homes full of carefree casual simplicity, early sunrise, time spent surfing or swimming in the ocean, and happy memories shared under the sun.
Take a trip to the U.S. West Coast to soak in the tailored sophistication of California coastal décor living with its magnificent homes, where a refined soft colour palette, rattan, and weathered furniture reign supreme. Travel further afield to the vibrant white-and-blue Mediterranean shores of Mykonos in Greece, Tunisia Sidi Bou Said, or Morocco Chefchaouen to explore another version of beach style living. For the more adventurous, head to tropical Zanzibar in East Africa, Indonesia Bali, Cancun in Mexico, Australia, or the Caribbean to explore different yet similar interpretations of coastal décor.
Though you may not live in any of these exotic coastal destinations, you may consider drawing inspiration from their beach-inspired interiors to create a home aesthetic that is distinctively yours.
Together, let the wanderers in us discover the main characteristics that make coastal décor hugely attractive, especially for those lucky enough to live under the sun. Then, let’s look at a few ways in which you can cleverly replicate some elements of the coastal décor style to create a space that is quintessentially elegant and a true reflection of your personal style.
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What Is Considered Coastal Décor?
Coastal décor is an interior design style that draws inspiration from coastline beaches, the architecture, the cultures and lifestyles prevailing in regions close to the ocean, the sea, or a lake.
Like with minimalist design, simplicity is at the core of coastal décor style.
The interior design style conveys a laid-back and tranquil atmosphere full of natural light, an airy feel, crispy whites, creams, neutral and earthy tones, accents of blue, black, grey, and green, and lots of natural materials and textures, and sea-related accessories.
Different Styles of Coastal Décor
Coastal décor is far from being static. It evolves based on different coastal regions of the world where it forms an intrinsic part of people’s daily lives.
In the West Coast of the United States, coastal décor is all about curating bespoke off-white painted homes with high-ceilings, open-plan living, exposed beams, sculptural wood furniture, whitewashed accessories, and natural rattan, jute, sisal, seagrass, and clay materials.
For a colonial twist to America’s coastal home décor, drift to New England Atlantic coastline to enjoy the cottage-style homes of Cape Cod and the resort islands of Martha’s Vineyard. Colonial homes primarily built from wood, based on house styles in England Southeastern counties, are a nod to neutral schemes of white, cream, taupe, and nautical colours and themes. However, homeowners sometimes move away from the conventional New England calming coastal décor style to colour-drench their interiors and exteriors in vibrant hues.
On Mediterranean shores, from Greece, Italy, Portugal, France, Turkey, to North Africa, coastal home décor styles beautifully blend natural stones, terracotta flooring, crispy whites, creams and Azure blue shades with distressed elements. Whilst some homes ascribe to an all-white and neutral aesthetic, many home interiors are punctuated by a few antique furniture pieces, vibrant furnishings, accessories and plants that reflect the colourful landscapes.
As for tropical coastal homes of Bali, the Caribbean, Zanzibar, and Mexico, whites, soft greys, and neutrals with lots of hand carved wood, rattan, bamboo, natural stones, and whitewashed furnishings with tropical plants have taken centre stage. In these coastal regions, however, it is not uncommon to find a departure from such soothing neutrals for more colourful home interiors.
Drawing on all the above coastal décor styles, below are a few practical decorating tips to explore for you to meaningfully integrate a beach-style aesthetic into your home.
11 Best Interior Decorating Tips to Recreate Coastal Décor
1. Start with White and Warm Neutrals
Coastal décor primarily relies on various shades of white, cream, beige, greige and warm neutrals with hints of blue, black, earthy tones, greys, sage, and a few vibrant eye-catchy colours here and there to accent the space.
From the home interiors and exteriors’ walls to the sofas and chairs, the most prominent home features and key pieces of furniture evolve around a white and soft colour palette.
To replicate the look, make sure you choose a similar monochromatic white colour scheme accented by warm neutrals to bring the main areas of your indoor and outdoor spaces to life.
Remember that not all white and neutral paint colours and paint finishes are all equal or reflect light around a room the same way.
Sample different shades of white and neutrals in various paint finishes first to figure out the ones that work best for the surfaces you are seeking to cover.
2. Embrace Indoor/Outdoor Living
Indoor/outdoor living is at the very core of coastal décor. This is a way for people who adopt such an interior design style to better connect with nature and a water source for them to feel more grounded and enjoy a calming and rejuvenating life experience everyday.
Floor-to-ceiling glass doors, large window openings, skylights, and carefully curated open-plan living to easily connect the inside of the homes with outdoor spaces are fully integrated in most coastal homes.
This is particularly useful in warmer climates to allow fresh air and natural light to easily flow in. Wherever feasible, the main seating and dining outdoor areas directly linked to the main house are covered for them to be enjoyed all year round.
Consider adding big windows and doors in some key areas of your home to maximise the use of your home interiors and exteriors throughout the year as much as you realistically can.
3. Let There Be Light
Like in mid-century modern homes, coastal home décor favours minimal windows and doors ornaments and coverings to allow for maximum natural light to flow in. Simplicity here is key. In some coastal homes, large glass door openings are deliberately left curtain free.
For those opting to cover their glass doors and windows, light coloured fabrics, sheer curtains, rattan and bamboo blinds tend to be the preferred options.
This ensures the chosen window and door fabrics easily blend in with the soft colour scheme and accessories already present in the space, avoiding to become the focal point. Moreover, light window treatments ensure the seamless travel of natural light throughout the home.
4. Infuse Natural Materials and Textures
Natural and organic materials, fibres, and textures are paramount to a stylish coastal décor.
To create a sophisticated yet relaxed and calming atmosphere with the main sofas, chairs, and bedding, coastal design extensively makes use of natural fabrics in various textures and finishes. Predominant fabrics that are present in coastal home décor include cotton, linen, wool, boucle, high-performance crypton fabrics, and a little bit of leather in varying soft shades.
To complement the coastal furniture design aesthetic, wicker, rattan, cane, raffia, and wood in light, medium, and weathered finishes add further depth and warmth to beach-style interiors.
As for rugs in coastal homes, they are generally made out of natural fibres such as handmade off-white wool (think Moroccan Beni Ourain rug), jute, straw, sisal, seagrass, and leather fabrics that are shine free and woven in understated design patterns.
Handcrafted earthy and off-white painted clay potteries, seagrass storage baskets, raffia and bamboo accessories add interesting layers and textures to a coastal decor that inspires calm, casual, and soothing vibes.
5. Draw Inspiration from the Beach
A coastal décor will not be complete without some beach and sea-inspired natural elements.
A capiz shell chandelier or decor accessory is a welcome addition to any beach-inspired home. Coral, starfish, driftwood, and a sand-filled DIY glass vase and seashells, all in moderation, will certainly add that touch of fun coastal vibes into your home.
If you are more daring like the Mediterranean, consider painting your doors in striking Azure blue (think Chefchaouen, Morocco’s blue city) to contrast with your lime washed crispy white walls.
for a country coastal home décor or a tropical coastal look, mix warm whites and neutrals with accents of coral blues and emerald greens.
6. Create an Accent with Shiplaps
Borrow Cape Cod coastal home décor vibes by adding some beaded shiplaps panels to your walls to create visual interest with a wall accent. Shiplap boards feature interlocking joints that allow the planks to connect with each other seamlessly, making them relatively easy to install.
Choose to either go from the floor all the way up to the ceiling with the shiplaps, or simply add them mid-length on your chosen walls.
Alternatively use shiplaps as part of your custom cabinetry making for the kitchen, the mudroom, or your outdoor areas. All will help add character to your space for a more visually appealing experience.
7. Invest in your Outdoor Spaces
Spending time outdoors is intimately embedded in coastal living. Whether you have a tiny balcony, a deck, or large outdoor areas, your coastal décor will benefit from a bit of outdoor tender loving care. On this occasion, you will need to work with the outdoor space that you have to create that laid-back atmosphere at home.
For those with large open outdoor areas, it might be worth creating different zones. These may include a distinct living and a dining space, a swimming pool area with lounge chairs, and a daybed zone, if your budget and space allow for it.
If you have a small deck or balcony, consider adding a hanging chair and a flexible outdoor living space for entertainment. Throw in lots of potted plants, and decorative outdoor solar or battery operated LED candles and lights for beautiful ambient lighting. If possible, put a roof built with natural materials over your small deck or patio area to enjoy it year round.
8. Keep Clutter Away
Creating those soothing vibes and an airy feel in coastal homes require that you keep your rooms free of unnecessary clutter. Aside from a few decorative accessories, most items in coastal design serve both form and function.
When designing your coastal home décor, it is therefore important to look at clever ways to maximise storage spaces in all your rooms to avoid unnecessary items floating around. The real trick here is only to invest in items that you need, and get into the habit of spring cleaning and decluttering every corner of your home at least once a year.
9. Install Natural Flooring
The floors in a coastal décor have texture and personality of their own, and do not necessarily follow a rigid set of rules. The key principle here is to go for a natural or a natural-looking flooring option that ties in with your design style.
Work with the local materials you have at your disposal wherever your coastal home is based. Real and engineered wood in light and medium shades are generally great for bedrooms and the main living spaces that do not come regularly in contact with water.
For high traffic areas such as the bathrooms, the kitchen pantry, and the laundry room, a variety of flooring options are available. Consider white or grey cement tiles and waxed concrete that are hugely popular right now. For a Mediterranean coastal décor, terracotta tiles (or lookalike porcelain versions) will work beautifully in the kitchen and some small outdoor spaces . For a very durable high end look, natural stones such as slate tiles or limestone tiles are solid options for you to check out if your budget allows for it.
10. Blend Elegance with Laid-back Atmosphere
Find ways to cleverly bring together in your coastal home décor, modern and contemporary furniture pieces with vintage and thrifted items to fully bring your space to life.
Learn from Parisians how they astutely marry the old and the new with family heirlooms, antiques, and more contemporary art and furnishings in their Parisian apartments to best reflect their authentic selves.
11. Bring in some Stripes
Draw inspiration from a nautical theme to add a few stripes here and there in your beach-style home. No, the stripes do not necessarily have to be navy or marine blue. Go for the colour scheme that best enhances your calming coastal home aesthetics.
If you are bold and brave, add a beautiful stripe wallpaper on a blank wall to create a feature, go for these beautiful pleated headboards on velvet bed frames. For those who would like to keep their options open and have greater flexibility with their coastal décor, napkins, pillow covers, quilt, duvet covers, or small rug are some avenues to explore to play with the stripes theme.