Coastal Home Decorating Ideas

Updated on February 19, 2018

Remember the last time you were at the beach: Walking along the shoreline, your bare feet are warmed by the sparkling sand. A gentle breeze swirls about, tempering the heat of the afternoon sun. In the distance, you spot a sailboat lazily bobbing along the azure water. The only audible sounds are the crash of waves and the plaintive call of a lone seagull…

Remember the sensations of walking along the beach as you contemplate your coastal decorating project.
Remember the sensations of walking along the beach as you contemplate your coastal decorating project. | Source

Whether you currently live at the ocean’s edge or miles away, coastal decorating is the perfect way to recapture that dreamy memory. If you love this laid-back look but are stumped as to where to begin, these ideas may just be the impetus you need to create coastal style for your home.

Color Story

Your best bet is to start with a subdued color palette. Think of the color combinations you find at the beach—blue-green water, crystal blue sky, white and gray clouds, neutral sand and peachy pink seashells. White, off-white, beige, gray or blue-gray are safe choices for large expanses of wall. Since beach sand is typically neutral in hue, selecting a light floor color makes the most sense for your coastal interior.

Something as simple as sea shells can inspire your coastal color palette.
Something as simple as sea shells can inspire your coastal color palette. | Source

Add a secondary or tertiary color to give your rooms visual depth. You can get more adventurous with accent colors, but remember a little goes a long way. If you like vibrant color, splashes of red, orange or lime green are reminiscent of colorful beach umbrellas. Or, you can use more intense variations of your primary color palette to create a soothing and sophisticated beach retreat.

Accessories

Rather than going with a overly nautically themed space, choose items that you would naturally see in a coastal setting. Specialty lighting, coral, seashells, driftwood and sea glass are inexpensive (if you gather them yourself) and make beautiful additions to a home. Candles and are also a nice touch for romantic evenings. Look for candles with fragrances that remind you of your favorite beachy scents like sea spray, cocoa butter, key lime or island margarita.

Using seaside lighting and subtle accessories will give you the sense of living on the beach.
Using seaside lighting and subtle accessories will give you the sense of living on the beach. | Source

Your artwork doesn’t necessarily have to be a literal translation of a coastal environment. However, if you find a local artist that specializes in beach scenes, by all means pick one that you love. As long as the art on your walls ties into the colors you have chosen for the room, you are good to go.

Fabrics

Turn an old couch and chair into something wonderful by using slipcovers. Slipcovers evoke effortless beachside style while giving older upholstered furniture a new life. Denim or cotton duck or canvas in a natural color gives furniture a welcoming look and comfortable feel. You can purchase the ready-made variety, hire a workroom to sew custom fitted slipcovers or make them yourself—provided you are a skilled seamstress.

Pillows are a fun way to add color to your room. Buy pillow covers and down inserts so you can easily switch them out when you’re ready for a change.

This dreamy seaside room contains just the right combination of fabrics, furniture and flooring.
This dreamy seaside room contains just the right combination of fabrics, furniture and flooring. | Source

Breezy panels of sheer cotton gauze are the perfect choice for curtains. For privacy, install fabric or natural woven shades as your first layer and hang sheer accent panels to round out the coastal look.

Furniture

Whitewashed furniture pieces always look right at home in a coastal-inspired room. This is another great way you can use what you have on hand. All you need is paint and sandpaper to transform an old dining room table into a stylish addition to your beach home.

If you are on the hunt for new furniture, consider wood pieces with an ebony finish and details such as hand-carving, frieze drawer fronts, turned legs and bun feet. This will give your coastal home a decidedly British Colonial flair.

Have fun and mix wicker pieces, metal and dark wood finishes to create a British Colonial feel in your home.
Have fun and mix wicker pieces, metal and dark wood finishes to create a British Colonial feel in your home. | Source

Using wicker or other outdoor furniture pieces is another nifty way to give your home the look of a seaside cottage. Pair a vintage dining table with wicker head chairs and metal side chairs for a quirky take on coastal decorating.

Architectural Accents

If you like the look, but don’t need the physical warmth of a fireplace, why not purchase a fireplace surround and mantel to create warmth of design. This will give your living room or bedroom architectural importance. The mantel will provide addition display space and the wall above is great for a flat screen television, mirror or piece of art.

Architectural accents can make a room. This wall features a wainscoting effect and a beautiful blue and white paint combination. This wall has it all!
Architectural accents can make a room. This wall features a wainscoting effect and a beautiful blue and white paint combination. This wall has it all! | Source

Here are a couple of a relatively easy DIY projects: clad the lower half of your walls in white painted wainscoting. You can also use trim pieces to beef up your base molding or create wall frames above or below a chair rail. Consider a beadboard ceiling in the kitchen or bath to give an otherwise plain room that beachy feel in just a few hours time.

Hopefully these coastal decorating ideas have inspired you to bring a bit of the sand and surf into your home!

Questions & Answers

    © 2013 lindacee

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      • lindacee profile imageAUTHOR

        lindacee 

        3 years ago from Arizona

        Chantelle, it must have been fate, right? Best of luck with the rehab--sounds like a fun summer project! Thank yo so much for stopping by for a read and comment! Greatly appreciated!

      • Chantelle Porter profile image

        Chantelle Porter 

        3 years ago from Chicago

        I am rehabbing a coastal cottage as we speak so I am fortunate I stumbled on your article. loved it.

      • lindacee profile imageAUTHOR

        lindacee 

        4 years ago from Arizona

        Thanks for reading poetryman! Yes, good advice to check for creatures inside the shells--quite an awful odor! Take care and best for the new year. :)

      • poetryman6969 profile image

        poetryman6969 

        4 years ago

        I like your sense of style. It's important not to go overboard or someone will get seasick when they walk into your house. A little goes a long way.

        Make sure there is nothing living in those shells before you decorate them. Dead sea things tend to stink.

      • lindacee profile imageAUTHOR

        lindacee 

        5 years ago from Arizona

        vespawoolf, you are welcome! I prefer to rely mainly on nature-inspired colors and accessories -- that way you get an organic rather than an overly-obvious beach look. Good to hear from you! :)

      • vespawoolf profile image

        vespawoolf 

        5 years ago from Peru, South America

        I love Coastal-inspired décor. I agree that we don't want to overdo it, but instead look for pieces that would naturally appear in coastal homes. I also love the palate of colors you describe here, with the complimentary tertiary colors. I hope to use some of these ideas someday. Thanks!

      • lindacee profile imageAUTHOR

        lindacee 

        5 years ago from Arizona

        Kathryn, I've never been to Cape Cod, but would love to some day!

      • Kathryn Stratford profile image

        Kathryn 

        5 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

        Linda, have an enjoyable Memorial Day weekend, as well.

        I live by the ocean, so I can walk along it, but it isn't in a very peaceful area. But Andy and I like to drive a couple of hours to Cape Cod in warm weather, and enjoy he beach environment for a few days.

      • lindacee profile imageAUTHOR

        lindacee 

        5 years ago from Arizona

        @ Kathryn -- I'm a sucker for anything in the home that reminds me of living near the ocean. Someday I hope to do it again!

        @ Rose -- It is a casual and relaxing decorating style that anyone can recreate. I live in the desert now, but still have decorative accents to recall my stint of coastal living.

        @ Mary -- Beach memories are the best! Doesn't take more than a single seashell to rekindle the magic.

        Thank you, ladies for reading, voting, commenting and sharing. Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend! :)

      • tillsontitan profile image

        Mary Craig 

        5 years ago from New York

        I think everyone has fond memories of beach experiences and bringing them home is a great way to keep the memory alive. These are good suggestions for making your home remind you of the beach.

        Voted up, useful, and interesting.

      • rose-the planner profile image

        rose-the planner 

        5 years ago from Toronto, Ontario-Canada

        Great article! I love anything that has to do with the ocean and the beach. There's nothing quite like the visual appeal and the sounds of the ocean's waves crashing and the miles of sugar white sand. It is extremely calming and relaxing so an environment reflective of that feeling, such as coastal decorating, is appealing. You have managed to include some very good tips and ideas. Thank you for sharing! Take care. (Voted up)

      • Kathryn Stratford profile image

        Kathryn 

        5 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

        I love coastal decorating. Anything to do with the water or the beach makes me feel contented! I have some trinkets from my visits to Cape Cod that bring back memories, as well as look presentable.

        I like your ideas, as well as the photos you chose for this article. Thank you for sharing this with us.

        Voted up and sharing.

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