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Coastal Decorating Ideas

I often get compliments on my decorating style that I’d consider coastal casual. I have long been inspired by seaside design and love to bring those light and airy feel into my own home. It can be a challenge to achieve a modern coastal design that doesn’t feel nautical or cheesy. I thought it would be a good idea to explore coastal decorating ideas, provide inspiration, and discover what good coastal design entails. Let’s take a look.

modern coastal living room with slipcovered sofa, abstract wall art and blue pillows.
Modern Coastal Decorating

Elements of Coastal Decor

1. Setting the Coastal Scene

Coastal decorating ideas can be as simple or as intricate as you like. You could go with a nautical theme and use brighter colors and flags in your decor. Alternatively, you could create a rustic coastal look with driftwood, old sails, and seagrass rugs. The most popular interpretation is the modern coastal design of casual and comfortable. It’s bright and cheerful aspects that make you wish you were on the shore.

2. Materials and Furnishings

Casual furnishings in neutral hues, weaving textures, and natural fibers are also used in coastal décor. Coastal decor includes wood hues, white wall treatments, bleached wood, and other light and bright colors.

Coastal Living Room

4. Coastal Wall Decor

Add instant coastal wall decor to the walls by adding abstract wall art in blue hues, photos of water landscapes, and other coastal vibes, or hang other natural elements like driftwood.

jute rug with blue slipcovered chair and drift wood bookshelf
Coastal Cozy Corner

5. Beachy Charm

Coastal interiors must have touches of coastal charm. You can add this to any room with natural textured rugs, woven pillows, accessories, and nautical or beach accents. These accents will put the perfect finishing touch on your coastal decorating scheme.

Beach house living room with white slipcovered furniture, demijohns with beaded garland, and bamboo coffee table.
Coastal Living Room

What is Modern Coastal Design?

Beach house living room with white slipcvoered sectional and woven rattan coffee table.
Coastal Living Room with White Sectional

Modern coastal design is a version of coastal decorating that is more contemporary. While you may see many traditional beachy elements in cottage coastal decorating style like seashells and other nautical items, modern coastal design is inspired by these elements without actually using them in the decor. Some examples of achieving this design would be sofa fabric mimicking the canvas of a sailboat sail, abstract art with colors of the ocean, and accessorizing with glass beads that resemble sea glass.

I would consider my decorating style to fall under the category of modern coastal design. I tend to shy away from the more traditional coastal decorating ideas that have a more nautical, or shabby chic feel. I prefer a more contemporary version of coastal decorating that I think is achieved with a more modern coastal design.

Coastal inspired bathroom. Sea Salt painted walls, white subway tile with gray grout and gold accented wall art.
Coastal Inspired Bathroom

What are coastal decorating colors?

One thing about coastal style is that you can achieve it pretty easily by sticking to a neutral palette. A coastal color palette includes muted blues, sea greens, along with muted greens, beiges, and white. There is a large range of colors to choose from within a coastal color palette. Tonal color palettes work really well in coastal decorating, from navy blue to a mute light blue to a cool white like Chantilly Lace. I have a whole post about coastal paint colors and all of these colors would work well together to create a whole house color palette.

How to Make Your Home Look Like a Beach Resort

Serena and Lily coastal living room - neutral colored furniture with white sofa, green blue chair and light wood coffee table.
Serena and Lily Living Room

Casual Furnishings in Neutral Colors

Coastal decor is simply decorating that is inspired by seaside coastal areas. Coastal decor pulls colors that would be found oceanside such as blues, muted greens, white, and other tonal color palettes. Coastal decorating also uses casual furnishing in neutral colors as well as woven textures and natural fibers. Wood tones, white wall treatments, and bleached wood are all elements of coastal decorating as well.

Be Bold Enough to Add in a Few Dark Pieces

Dark colors and sleek metal accents may appear out of place in a seaside home, but they can provide much-needed contrast. Even stronger accents, such as wood pieces with a darker finish or even a striking black console table may fit in if they’re balanced with the remainder of your space. It can be the perfect balance to the softer neutral colors in your home.

blue vintage rug with neutral slipcovered sofa creating a casually elegant living space
Slipcovered sofa – casual elegance

Slipcovered Furniture Creates a Casual Elegance

Nothing says casual elegance more than a slipcovered piece of furniture. Light-colored linen pieces in a coastal-inspired space give your space an air of casual style that is both comfortable and chic. Not only is this type of furniture cozy and stylish, but it also provides a sense of texture and dimension that can make a room feel more spacious.

As a Seaside Inspired Coastal Wall Decor, Consider Abstract Art

It’s important to bring your coastal-inspired decor to the walls of your home. Adding beach prints, like these free printables, or even ones of your own that you have printed and framed is a quick and simple way to add some instant coastal wall decor, however, this isn’t your only option when it comes to wall art. Embrace the ocean with abstract art. For example, abstract pieces that allude to the ocean without replicating it exactly may be a better option.

Serena and lily coastal dining room.
Coastal Dining Room

In coastal decor, light wood tones look great

Light wood neutral tones are common in coastal decorating. Woods that have a weathered look such as teak, mango, and other woods that have been bleached to look weathered are popular in coastal design. You can find furniture pieces to complete casual coastal decor at large home decor stores like Pottery Barn but you can also find furnishings secondhand that have a more unique look. You can also refinish pieces, like bleaching a dresser, to carry out your desired look.

Serena and Lily Coastal Bedroom - white linen bedding.
Serena and Lily Coastal Bedroom

Woven textures and Natural Fibers

Bring the outdoors inside with coastal decorating ideas using woven textures and natural fibers. For a rustic look, consider using rope or chain as accents in your pieces. Alternatively, use reclaimed wood or sea shells to add some elegant charm. These ideas will help fill your home with coastal vibes from pillows to artwork!

With a lot of neutral colors, it’s important to add layers of texture to coastal decorating. You’ll see a lot of woven textures and natural fibers like wicker baskets, rattan chairs, linen, jute, seagrass, and sisal are all common materials used in coastal decorating. Sisal rugs along with jute rugs mimic sandy beaches. Rattan and bamboo furniture paired with crisp whites creates an undeniable coastal vibe. Natural fibers like linen and cotton bring the outdoors in for a complete coastal feel.

Nautical bedroom, seagrass headboards, blue layered bedding, "surf" pillow with crossed ores on the wall.
Nautical Inspired Bedroom

Nautical is not the same as Coastal – Be Careful with the Kitsch

You can have some elements of kitsch in your coastal-inspired home. A seashell or two will do just fine. Be careful not to go too far with the nautical elements in a modern coastal aesthetic. Find evocative furnishings that mimic driftwood instead of adding mini sailboats and seashells. Modern coastal design is fresh and classic so you’ll want to pare down instead of adding more clutter.

Linen on Linen on Linen

All great coastal living room ideas begin with linen! Linen is a sleek and versatile textile that has become a coastal aesthetic signature. The textile is versatile and in a coastal space in warm neutrals – white and beige – it delivers a cozy and comfortable feel. In bedrooms, linen creates a cozy and restful atmosphere.

Blue board and batten wall treatment in coastal themed bedroom.
Blue Board and Batten

Wood Paneling and Other Wall Treatments

Wood paneling, board and batten, ceiling beams, wallpaper, and other wall treatments are all coastal decorating hallmarks. Bringing in natural woods is a hallmark of the coastal design style. The added texture that wall treatments bring gives an element of coziness to your coastal home.

Wrapping Up

If you’re looking to try out modern coastal decorating ideas to your home, consider the topics above and remember that comfort is the most important thing – creating a casual space that you can enjoy.

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