Bring the Seaside Indoors With Coastal Decor and Design

Ginny Bartolone
Written by Ginny Bartolone
Updated March 28, 2022
Living room decorated in a coastal style
Photo: Pieter Estersohn / Corbis Documentary / Getty Images


  • Coastal design reflects the casual and minimalist energy of a beach home by the sea.

  • Natural and neutral hues balance with pops of color from your local seaside flora.

  • The style showcases fine, unfinished materials typically found by the shore.

  • Reflect coastal design in small elements like linens or larger ones such as kitchen countertops.

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Whether you live by the ocean or were simply inspired by a recent trip to the beach, coastal design is a way to welcome that shore energy indoors. Coastal interior design includes details both large and small—from distressed hardwood floors to the color of your bedsheets. 

Curious what coastal design entails and if you can pull it off in your home? Let's look at how this highly Instagrammable home style can transport you to a day on the beach.

Key Elements of Coastal Design

Let's start off by saying that coastal design is just as interpretive as say, boho-chic or eclectic home design. Modern coastal design creates a feeling and follows a general aesthetic—instead of following a rulebook. 

When standing in a room with coastal decor, you should have the same carefree, expansive sense of calm as you would standing on the beach. The style is casual yet organized and streamlined yet soft.

Seaside Color Palette

Coastal design reflects the soft, ethereal hues of the beach and ocean. Most spaces start with a base of white, sandy beige, gray, or deep brown. 

On top of this, designers layer blue, cerulean, pale green, and light pops of pink. While coastal design should not be confused with nautical design, it may bring in nautical colors like navy blue and yellow. 

Regional Varieties

The colors, accents, and finishes in a coastal home will differ depending on whether you live on the eastern seaboard, southern California, or on an island in Key West. Your color palette may include a few bolder colors like pink, bright green, and orange if you live in a tropical region, for example.

Calming Simplicity

Home interior decorated with neutral colors
Photo: topntp / Adobe Stock

The coastal style borrows a few tips from minimalism as well. Much like the open quality of a beach, coastal interior design is simple and uncluttered. It focuses on reflecting natural light, showcasing natural materials, and creating an open space.

Natural Materials

There is a raw, unfinished element to the coastal style typically reflected in the choir of materials throughout the room. Hardwood floors, often in soft beechwood-inspired hues, pair with complementary wooden dining and coffee tables, seating, and cabinetry. Sisal, wicker, and driftwood all make an appearance, as do bare metallics like silver, brass, and gold that reflect light.

Seaside Details

So what sets a coastal design apart from a sand or blue-hued room? In addition to the focus on simplicity, light, and overall softness, designers incorporate small nods to the ocean. Ocean-focused artwork, loose driftwood, and mercury glass can dot the room without crossing into fully nautical or beach-inspired home ideas.

How to Incorporate Coastal Design Home Design Into Your Home

You don't need a view of the ocean to opt for a coastal-style home. Incorporating natural hues like blue, beige, and white reflect nearly all views outside your window. The coastal aesthetic also opens up a space, welcoming in air and light. Here are some ways to get started.

Embrace Shiplap

Beach house bedroom with shiplap walls
Photo: KCULP / Adobe Stock

In addition to making it into nearly every reality show home design, you'll find endless shiplap wall ideas that work both as an accent or to fill a whole room. And while it may seem a bit on the nose to include shiplap in a coastal-style home, there's a good reason for this. Shiplap reflects that exposed, natural quality of the aesthetic and it often matches other natural woods in the room.

Choose a Home-Wide Color Palette

Open floor plans and bay windows may be the dream when it comes to coastal design, but they're not necessary to pull it off. Choose a color palette with a similar base from room to room. Shake things up in each room by playing with different accent colors. A baseline of white, gray, sand, or beige, however, will give your home continuity, even if it's broken up into small rooms.

Add a Seaside Light Fixture

Light will play a large role in providing the tranquil energy of the seaside, especially on cloudy winter days. Opt for a chandelier, sconces, candelabra, or table lamp made with a rope frame, beechwood, white beads, or even capiz shells.

Layer Soft Textiles

Throws, pillows, and billowing curtains offset the bare wood and floors to create that curl-up-and-take-a-nap energy you find in a beach house. Opt for floor-length curtains to accentuate the airiness of the space. 

Highlight High-Quality Materials

Coastal style is an excellent opportunity to keep things simple by showcasing fine materials. If you're redesigning your kitchen, for example, opt for white marble or quartz countertops that are easy to pair with your cabinet color scheme. Higher-quality finishes on areas like the kitchen and bathroom counters, hardwood floors, and even in decor focal points mean you can do less with more.

Have Fun With Overlooked Spaces

Main living spaces like the bedroom and living room get most of the attention in home redesigns. Opt for seaside-colored tiles in your bathroom, beach-inspired materials and imagery in the foyer, and coastal Adirondack chairs on the back patio.

When you pick a home design that aims to reflect an overall energy, it's very helpful to have a local interior designer on your team. They can help you determine the most cost-effective ways to alter both the larger elements and call in an interior decorator for the final touches to pull off the unique coastal look.

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