Add Nautical Style in a Modern Way

Discover 10 ways to bring contemporary coastal flair into your home.

Oversized Nautical Prints

Many fabric manufacturers take classic nautical prints and enlarge the scale as much as 300 percent to create something true to its original form but modern in size. The red, white and blue geometric design used in these pillows was drastically increased to put a fresh spin on a timeless pattern.

Capiz Shell Lighting

Capiz shells, popularly used for many different decorative purposes, come from windowpane oysters, which are found on muddy shores near bays, coves and lagoons. The shells are harvested and transformed by artisans into one-of-a-kind organic works of art. To create this oversized pendant light, hundreds of capiz shells were gathered, shaped, cut to size, then inlaid to a steel frame. Once illuminated, the shells cast a filtered pearlescent glow throughout the space.

Model Sailboat

Model sailboats are excellent alternatives to sculpture. Ranging in size from just under six inches to heights above six feet, model sailboats are a great way to instantly add a focal point to just about any space in the house. Consider using them as centerpieces on dining tables, or put them on display in or near windows.

Rope Accents

Spools of sisal rope inspired the design of these end tables and can add a clever touch to living rooms or family rooms. While many manufacturers sell these, a do-it-yourself version can be made by picking up discarded spools from salvage yards, then purchasing rope by the foot from a local home improvement store.

Buoy Markings

Fashion designers often use buoy markings and nautical stripes as inspiration when creating coastal collections of menswear and womenswear. This trio of candleholders was given nautical flair with red buoy stripes randomly painted at different heights.

Repurposed Import-Export Packaging

Repurposed coffee bean and rice sacks are commonly used to make eco-conscious pillows, bags and framed art. A similar idea with nautical style uses discarded import-export packaging as upholstery fabric. The three occasional ottomans seen here are made from a combination of Union Jack fabric and recycled burlap sacks.

Cruise Ship Lighting

Nautical style often fits well into industrial-modern spaces, especially when it comes to lighting. Porthole sconces are graphic, affordable and readily available through most home improvement stores. For a more clean-cut look, consider porthole fixtures made of chrome or polished nickel. Black or raw steel finishes work best for rough, industrial interiors.

Hamptons Patterns

The preppy look of the Hamptons is both nautical and casual. Consider a “modern preppy” approach to decorating with wall covering or fabrics featuring overscaled gingham or plaid patterns.

Linen Shades

Linen is one of the most iconic fabrics associated with casual, beach-inspired style. Add lighting overhead with linen drum shades outfitted with pendant kits. While leaving the shade as-is creates a less-is-more look, adding tape trim or gimp along the edges can elevate the shade to a higher-end level of design.


Driftwood provides one of the most textural approaches for adding nautical style. Many lighting manufacturers offer table lamps and floor lamps made from driftwood; you can also try your hand at a do-it-yourself version using a lamp wiring kit from a home improvement store. In addition to the driftwood and the lamp wiring kit, you’ll also need a drill, drill bit and a handsaw to cut the driftwood to size and create a hole through which to thread the wires.

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