You don’t need to live by the ocean to channel the easy and breezy aesthetic of coastal style. Inspired by the beach and with a clutter-free essence that inspires nothing but pure bliss, coastal style is luminous, timeless, and effortless. If all those qualities make you fall in love with a space, then coastal decor might be your design matchup. This style guide covers the foundations of coastal design, furniture pieces, and decorative elements that make it what it is. Shall we?
What is Coastal Style?
Coastal style is the epitome of the tranquility we all experience when we gaze at the open sea. It is bringing that beach-feeling to the home. By definition, coastal design has many interpretations, yet the basics always stay the same: ample light, natural materials, and a casual aesthetic. Here, the sea, sand, and sky tones come together to make for a relaxing atmosphere that will never go out of style.
Nautical vs. Tropical vs. Coastal: What’s the Difference?
Coastal style leaves a lot of room for imagination and creativity. Nautical decor is a twist on coastal style. Associated with areas like New England, nautical style is inspired by ships and the open sea. Coastal-nautical spaces will feature accents like nautical charts, rope, anchors, lantern-style lighting, and vintage paintings related to sailing.
Another design twist is tropical style, an ode the turquoise waters and dense flora of tropical islands. Unlike traditional coastal style, tropical design incorporates bright colors, shells, corals, and teak furniture to create a bright and inviting space.
The Key Elements of Coastal Style
The coastal home is loose, blissful, and open. The essential elements of coastal style also make it universal and flexible to adapt to other aesthetics. This is why you’ll see a farmhouse-inspired design or modern glam coastal rooms from down to the Florida Keys, all the way up to Manhattan.
Coastal style is:
- Casual, care-free, and inviting. Making sure every space invites for relaxation is a considerable element of this style.
- All about natural materials, celebrating grass, wicker, jute, linens, and cotton.
- Breezy, bright, and airy with plenty of light coming through windows and reflecting on different spaces.
Coastal style is not:
- Limited or stuck to one-note of style. There are no time specifics tied to coastal design.
- Heavy or overly decorated, layers are often kept to a minimum.
- Dark or dramatic with intense hues and tones scattered throughout.
Colors & Texture
Its crisp, natural color palette is its most distinct feature: varying hues of white and blue, ranging from ivory to eggshell and from seafoam to navy. Believe it or not, color (or the absence of color) is the coastal decor’s signature element. Coastal layers shades of white instead of colors. Cream-colored furniture against architectural white walls or a sandy-colored rug beneath a crisp white table keeps the space bright and adds visual interest. Inspiring color palettes for coastal style rooms include:
- Beachy neutral hues: ocean mist, soft beige, driftwood, and white.
- Sea-inspired shades: navy, aqua, sea glass, sea green, and teal.
- Bright accent tones: lobster red, lemon, lime, coral, and orange.
Natural materials and textures also prevail in coastal homes, with a nubby jute rug, rattan, and wicker making an appearance. Driftwood is a fabulous accessory to consider for any coastal home decor. The stone works well for flooring and accent walls for an infusion of texture that also breaks up the neutral color scheme.
Coastal furniture pieces are all about relaxation and gravitate towards comfort and ease. Think lounge-like chaises instead of streamlined chairs, with sectional sofas and hanging chairs for accents. Coastal furnishings personify the best seaside culture, with classic, no-fuss silhouettes made of traditional coastal materials. Slipcovers are the one thing that distinguishes coastal upholstery, more than a practical choice, it expresses the easy-going spirit of this design aesthetic. Don’t expect to see glossy furniture or reflective coffee tables. Instead, weathered driftwood, blond maple, and whitewashed finished furniture are favorites of coastal style. Natural elements are essential for the coastal home, so furniture like side tables and coffee tables are often solid pieces of wood left untouched to celebrate their organic shapes. Nothing seems to be too perfect or polished, almost as if they just were washed out by the shore.
Coastal decor is quite simple and not extravagant. Coastal decorating is often left to small decorative accessories such as seashells, ship wheels, and marine-inspired objects. Think shells and stones collected and displayed along shelves and tables as well as in a large glass vessel, or abstract driftwood rested upon your mantelpiece for a minimalist addition to the mix.
Still, coastal style can also be elegant and polished. Luxurious decor accents like porcelain vases, plush cushions, linen curtains all play a role in creating that upscale coastal-inspired home. When choosing decor, it is all about breezy and summery rather than strictly seashells and sand.
The Coastal Style House
The coastal house is open, airy, and summery year-round. Both indoors and outdoors, coastal style houses are laid-back, uncomplicated, and combine the best vacation-home leisure and classic, preppy style.
From the moment you open the door, the coastal home greets you with a breath of fresh air. The coastal entryway is by far the most essential room in the house. Because most coastal homes are set by the beach, the entrance genuinely serves a practical purpose. Cabinets, console tables, baskets, mirrors, and hooks are all needed to store any beach shoes or beach accessories. The entryway is sometimes the most used room of the house, with everyone getting ready to head out for the day. Furniture choices here are about practicality more than anything else, so expect to see pieces with hidden storage space and weather-proof materials to stand the test of time.
Coastal Living Room
The living room is often the largest and most used room of the coastal style house. It can be easy to overflow the space with nautical references and sea-inspired accessories. Take a step back and focus on a general theme, whether that’s ultra-bright white layers, soothing greens, or dramatic blue hints over a white canvas. White painted floors or washed-out wood flooring is a very distinguishing element of the coastal living room. Not only does it make the room appear bigger, but it also adds much-needed brightness to the room.
Add a subtle feeling of coastal flair with classic wooden designs in driftwood or white finishes. Chairs with wicker frames will make a more daring beach-themed statement, but a linen couch in coastal colors also works. Remember, when choosing the pieces for your coastal living room, relaxation and comfort are at the top of the list for priorities—soft and plush surfaces reign over streamlined shapes and surfaces.
Coastal Dining Room and Kitchen
A sun-drenched dining room and kitchen are the beating heart of a coastal style home. Not surprisingly, the go-to driftwood accents also appear here, but so do other wooden surfaces. Pair your table with bright white fabric covered slip chairs, or go for communal bench seating for something more informal.
The kitchen is bright and airy, but blue cabinets often make an appearance to create a stunning coastal kitchen, especially when paired with wooden flooring or white tiles. Another element that often finds its way in coastal kitchens is copper pulls, handles, and cookware. The last piece is a statement chandelier. Usually, large glass lantern pendants or wood-inspired lighting fixtures will complete the dining and kitchen area space.
In its essence, the bedroom is the go-to space for relaxation, and that couldn’t be truer in coastal style design. Luxurious bed linens, botanical patterned pillows, plush throws, and bright accents set the tone of the room. A white wood bed frame or an all-white bedding choice will help you keep the space subtle and on-theme. 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.
Coastal bedrooms keep decor to a minimum, letting the different patterns and textures take center stage. Greenery and florals are scattered throughout the space to make it warm and inviting. Sheer curtains allow light to come through the windows for that sun-drenched look and feel that mimics sunrise by the ocean. Overall, the simplicity of the coastal bedroom is set to inspire nothing but bliss.
Ready to See How Coastal Style Looks In Your Home?
The coastal style home is serene, timeless, and luminous. If you gravitate toward a bright, clutter-free, and open aesthetic, coastal style is the perfect choice for your home. Not sure yet? Start a project today and see how coastal style looks in your home. Work with our interior designers to find your coastal-inspired decor. They’ll create a beautiful space and pick only the best selection of coastal style elements to surprise you with a coastal home that sparks nothing but joy.