Your Guide to Coastal Style
Simply put, coastal style is inspired by the beach. This leaves a lot of room for interpretation, but the basics are ample light, natural materials, breezy spaces and a casual feel. Slipcovered furniture, woven accents and the colors of sea and sky make for a relaxing atmosphere with wide appeal.
- Breezy. Think light, bright and airy: sheer white curtain panels, whitewashed surfaces, bare wood floors and plenty of open space.
- Natural. Furniture and accessories use natural materials like sea grass, jute, wicker, rattan, linen and cotton.
- Casual. If you can’t imagine kicking off your shoes and putting your feet up on something, it probably doesn’t have a place in a coastal-style home.
- One-note. Coastal, or beach, style can lean contemporary, traditional or somewhere in between. The easy, natural mood is more important than the specifics.
- Heavy. Do away with excess layers. Think of leaving some floors bare and windows uncovered (or lightly dressed).
- Dark. You can find dramatic inky blues in coastal homes, but darker hues tend to be accents, not the main event.
No way. Coastal style is about embracing the mood of living on the coast, not necessarily living in an actual beach house. This breezy, coastal-style space from Clare Kennedy Interior Design is far from the shore in Nashville, Tennessee!
Furniture pieces tend toward comfort and relaxation — think of lounge-like chaises, sectional sofas and hanging chairs. Slipcovers are a practical choice that also telegraphs an easygoing spirit. Wood furniture isn’t highly glossy — weathered driftwood, blond maple, ash and whitewashed finishes are favored instead.
Inspired by ships and the sea, this twist on coastal style is especially associated with areas like New England (think of Nantucket or Cape Cod) that have a long history of seafaring — though you certainly don’t need to live in New England to embrace this popular coastal look.
Nautical accents and motifs for coastal-style spaces:
- Nautical charts and flags
- Rope, sailors’ knots, portholes
- Anchors, stars and whales
- Vintage paintings of ships
- Lantern-style lighting
Coastal homes gather inspiration from the colors of sand, sky and sea. White is a popular choice for walls, making a crisp backdrop for furniture and decor in shades of blue, sea green and sand, though it’s certainly not the only option. Natural materials and textures also look right at home in a beach-style space — think of nubby jute rugs, wicker, rattan, sturdy canvas and fine linen.
Great shades for coastal-style spaces:
- Beachy neutrals. Driftwood, soft beige, white, ocean mist
- Blues and greens. Aqua, sea glass, turquoise, teal, sea green, navy
- Bright accents. Orange, lime, lemon, coral, lobster red
Certainly not! There are plenty of other colors to be inspired by that work well with coastal style. Why not try vibrant coral, juicy orange, sunshine yellow or lobster red as a bold accent hue? Add pop with pillows, throws, artwork or a fun wallpaper.
Inspired by turquoise waters and lush flora, a tropical approach to coastal style nods to the warmth and easygoing mood of places where the sun is strong, the fish are colorful and your drink just might come with an umbrella.
Tropical accents and motifs for coastal-style spaces:
- Shells, coral and sea stars
- Bright color palette
- Bamboo, teak or rattan furniture
- Palm leaves and tropical flowers
There’s no need to display seashells in a beach-style home — just think breezy and summery, and you’ll hit the right note.
Accessories for coastal-style spaces:
- Pale neutral or striped flat-woven rugs
- Jute or sea grass rugs
- Sheer curtain panels
- Beach-inspired artwork
- Rattan, wicker and woven accents
- Glass lamps and vases
Light, bright and open, a coastal kitchen just begs for everyone to gather around the big island while dinner is being prepared. This casual style is easy to love and easy to live with, making it a good choice for families and a smart compromise for couples who can’t seem to get on the same page designwise.
Features of coastal-style kitchens:
- Bold pendant lights. Woven, nautical-style or classic lanterns draw attention to the island.
- Light counters. Marble, quartz or recycled glass and cement all look at home here.
- Beachy blues. Add depth to a white kitchen with a blue island base, cabinetry, stools or accessories.
- Natural texture. Add texture to walls with shiplap, tongue-and-groove paneling or beadboard. Bring in accent pieces with texture — like classic bistro stools or a sea grass rug.
- Glass-front cabinets or open shelving. Open up the space and display everyday essentials that are both useful and beautiful.
A coastal-style bathroom feels breezy and light. To create this effect, consider using a driftwood-colored vanity, quartz counters, open shelving, white window treatments and fixtures with clean lines. One extra-special piece — such as the gorgeous green mermaid tile in this bathroom from Tree Frog Design — will make the space feel like a luxurious seaside retreat.