Coastal Design Style 101

Easy-breezy and laidback, coastal style can give even a landlocked home the beach house feeling of vacay, every day.

June 08, 2021
Coastal Dining Room With Oars

White Coastal Dining Room With Oars

This dining room punctuates its crisp white base with blue and white patterns, tabletop topiaries and blue oars on the wall. A round window recalls the porthole of a ship, a fun nod to the home's coastal design and beach town location.

Photo by: Blackband Design

Blackband Design

What Is Coastal Style?

Eternally popular, coastal style sets most of us dreaming of seaside getaways but, by following our pointers below, it's easy to bring the beachy-chic look home. Just pair watery hues with natural textures, like rope, driftwood or wicker, and mix in a few nautical touches like anchors, oars or shells. Whether you live by the sea or miles from the nearest body of water, incorporating just a few beachy decor touches can give any space a cool, coastal vibe.

Coastal Style Is Casual

Comfortable, relaxed and ready for lounging, coastal style invites you to unwind, kick back and put your feet up so furnishings that wear well are a must. For upholstery, consider performance fabrics, like Sunbrella or Crypton, or slipcovers, which can be easily washed, and durable, woven rattan which can stand up to kids, pets ... and sandy feet.

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RX-HGMAG021_New-Old-House-136-a-4x3

©Lucas Allen

Lucas Allen

Or, Coastal Style Can Feel a Bit Formal

High-gloss navy paneling + a bamboo mirror + woven accents and pops of coral = a high-style and colorful coastal look in this dining room. To keep the room from feeling too fussy, designer Kevin Isbell substituted a playful rattan sphere for a standard chandelier and lined the table's center with scavenged seashells.

Photo by: JULIA LYNN

JULIA LYNN

Coastal Style Includes Shades of Sand + Sea

Watery hues of green and blue pair perfectly with the bleached and natural oak finishes in this cozy dining nook. Pale wood tones, like driftwood, sun-faded teak or even white-washed wood, are a perfect fit for coastal style's weathered look.

Coastal Dining Area

Coastal Dining Area With Blue Banquette

This dining area feels friendly for big groups and small with a large banquette that wraps around the table. Glass-front cabinets are airy-looking storage.

Photo by: Amber Thrane

Amber Thrane

Or, Coastal Style Can Include Tropical Tones

Bright coral wallpaper in a bamboo trellis pattern gives this petite powder room major tropical style points. To keep with the theme, designer Gen Sohr included a mirror (from Ballard Designs) whose ruffled frame is reminiscent of sun-bleached sea coral or a clamshell.

Photo by: David A. Land, David A. Land, David A. Land

David A. Land, David A. Land, David A. Land

Designer Tip:

"Coastal style emphasizes lighter tones in shades of blue, green, beige and white to communicate a relaxed feel. [It also] embraces casual furnishings slipcovered in neutral layers to create a cozy interior while welcoming sisal rugs, sea glass details and gauzy linen drapery."

Chair of the ASID National Board, designer Kerrie Kelly

Coastal Style Can Be a Bit Nautical

Nautical nods like brass ship's bells, captain's wheels, colorful signal flags or boat oars are a common (and fun!) feature of coastal style and when hung on the wall, they're a great stand-in for standard art.

Coastal Bedroom With Oars

Coastal Bedroom With Oars

An X made of oars is a fun visual focal point in this Cape Cod-meets-the-West Indies bedroom. Rattan headboards and the wallpaper's graphic print add to the yummy layers of texture.

Photo by: Ryan Garvin

Ryan Garvin

Coastal Style Is Easy to Source on the Cheap

As this beachy vignette proves, coastal finds are easy to find at flea markets, yard sales and secondhand shops and lend themselves to a perfectly collected-over-time look. Take a tour of this budget beachy home featured in HGTV Magazine.

Eccentric Dining Room

Dining Room Filled With Eccentric Accessories

HGTV Magazine takes you inside a home that takes the phrase "finders keepers" to a whole new level. Folding table: The second Linda caught a glimpse of this slim folding-leg table at a Texas flea market, she was convinced it would be perfect as a console in her dining room. Sign: Linda felt this metal notice was a sign in more ways than one: “When no one bought it from our stall, I knew it was meant to come home with me.” Model boat: Nautical finds, such as a handcrafted pond boat snagged at an antiques show in Idaho, reference the cottage’s coastal location. Tub and crate: With closet space at a premium, a galvanized laundry tub and a wood crate were put to work holding blankets, books, and magazines.

Photo by: Lisa Romerein; Styled by Liz Strong

Lisa Romerein; Styled by Liz Strong

Coastal Style Honors Mother Nature

Take a stroll along the shore to gather found, natural elements, like seashells, driftwood and beach glass, for the easiest (and cheapest!) way to give any space a coastal vibe.

A coffee table features carved birds, shells, and flowers.

Coastal Coffee Table with Shells, Flowers and Books

A tabletop tableau references Sea Island's five miles of private beach with volumes of lavish collections and a bowl of the whorled wonders themselves. Vivid hydrangaeas, in turn, evoke traditional cottage style.

Photo by: Emily Followill

Emily Followill

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Get crafting to turn those seaside souvenirs into DIY beachy decor.

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