Coastal Home Decor: The Complete Guide

Dreaming of relaxing in a home that is awash with light and all the qualities of seaside living? Then Coastal decor might just be the design style that you are looking for. Long favored by those who long to recreate the serene and comfortable surroundings experienced when on vacation, coastal decor brings the feeling of the beach indoors, without being overt and kitschy.

Coastal Decor is a decorating style that conveys the feeling of being on a beach vacation, without being too literal. The main components are:

  • Lots of Natural Light 
  • Light, neutral colors in pale blues, greens, grays, beiges and lots of white
  • Natural elements like light-colored wood, jute, sisal, and wicker
  • Slipcovers, curtains, and bedding in natural fabrics like linen, cotton, and wool
  • Found objects used as decorative accents like seashells, sea glass, and driftwood

Coastal Home Decor: The Complete Guide

The key to decorating with Coastal is to keep things, clean, simple, and relaxing. This is not as difficult as it may seem. Keep reading to find out all you ever needed to know about Coastal decor, and how to use it to make your home onto the serene retreat you dream of! Also, if you intend to look for Coastal related post, you should check out 20 Tropical Bedroom Designs.

What is Coastal Home Decor?

Escaping from the pressures of everyday life by taking a vacation has long been a favorite pastime of those who can afford the privilege of traveling. According to an article in the Washington Post, in the 1800s Dutch seaside paintings began to encourage people to visit these areas to take in the scenery. travelling to the shore really rose in popularity in that century due to medical belief that bathing in the ocean was beneficial for one's health, as was breathing in the sea air.

In the late 1700s, the future King George IV cemented Brighton Beach as a popular tourist attraction when he visited there to help with his gout.  Britain's upper class soon followed suit, and before long, everyone who was anyone was flocking to the shore. This trend gradually spread across Europe and to America.

Of course, wherever people go, they need a place to stay, so seaside resorts and luxury vacation homes sprang up to accommodate the influx of tourists, and with them, Coastal decor was born.

Today's modern Coastal is a reflection of the sense of peace found at the seaside and the calm, relaxing environment people are looking for in their vacation destination. Homes decorated in this style embrace open, sunny rooms, light, and airy colors, particularly white, blues, grays, and pale neutrals. Natural materials, like wicker, rattan, light-colored wood, linen, cotton and wool are used on furniture and flooring to create a beachy vibe.

It is very different from other styles that one might associate with the ocean, like nautical or beachy. These are more literal decorating schemes, while Coastal is more about creating an overall vibe than a replica.

Types of Coastal Decor

There are several different variations of Coastal Decor: American Coastal, Tropical Coastal, Mediterranean Coastal, Coastal Cottage, and Contemporary Coastal. Each incorporates the same main components, but each with their own individual flair.

American Coastal

This style of decorating is the cornerstone of Coastal decor. It emphasizes light-filled rooms painted in pale, neutral colors. Natural or distressed wood, jute, bamboo and wicker accents and furniture, sofas slipcovered in cotton and duck. Items found on the beach are frequently used as decorative items, like dried coral, smooth-glass, or seashells. All of this is carefully done so as to avoid looking too overtly beachy. You won't find any "Beach Life for Me!" signs or pink flamingos with this style of Coastal!

As you can see in the picture below, American Coastal is open, airy, and easy.

Tropical Coastal

If you want your home to bring to mind the colorful vibes of the tropics, you might choose this style of decorating. While still relying on an abundance of light, easy furnishings, and natural accents, Tropical Coastal packs a punch of color. Walls can be saturated in vibrant pinks, blues, and yellows, or use these colors in a more subtle manner by incorporating them in with throw pillows, accents, or art. Be careful not to go flamboyant or your coastal retreat might end up looking like more like a cartoon beach house.

As you can see from this room, Tropical Coastal is not the Same as Tropical Decor. Tropical Decor is much more over the top, while Tropical Coastal is more of an insinuation of the tropics. Here, a modern Coastal room is brought to life by the vivid colors of the painting but is kept simple everywhere else.

Mediterranean Coastal

Mediterranean Coastal is a blend of all of the traditional elements of Coastal decor but has more rustic or worn elements that are in keeping with the centuries-old civilizations that dot this area of the globe. The use of blues and whites are prevalent, as well as hand made woven or wooden accents, found objects and pottery keep this look breezy and simple.


Contemporary Coastal

Contemporary Coastal is Coastal decor done in a very modern way. It uses clean lines, and neutral colors accented with pops of turquoise, green, orange, or yellow. Furniture is generally mid-century or similar in design to maintain that sense of clean openness. This type of decor is typically more high-end and carefully designed to craft the correct look.

As you can see in this room, the furniture is all very simple, with oceanic notes being added by the wall art, which is carefully reflected by using pampas grass in a vase for a centerpiece. A couple of aged-looking pots adorn the bookcase, and a woven basket sits beside the chair. Nothing in this room scream 'Beach", but the overall tone is soft and relaxing, and very much Coastal.

Coastal Cottage

The polar opposite of Contemporary Coastal is Coastal Cottage decor. Coastal Cottage is easy and playful in its incorporation of Coastal elements. Rooms decorated in this style might be furnished with mismatching flea market finds and large overstuffed sofas dressed in easy-to-clean slipcovers. Some elements are shared with those found in rustic or farmhouse decor, like white-painted shiplap and Shabby Chic-style bedding. It is all about easy comfort.

This living room is a perfect example with its mix of patterns on top of a creamy neutral base. The beachy feel is brought in by the vintage-looking seagull picture and wooden carving, and the woven accent on the wall. Imagine relaxing here with a glass of wine and a good book, watching the sunset over the horizon while dolphins play near the shore.

What Are the Main Elements of Coastal Decor?

The first step in transforming your home into a coastal retreat is to have a good understanding of all of the elements that make up Coastal Decor.

Lots of Natural Light

The very first and most important element is the influx of natural light. Make the most of your windows but using minimal coverings, or even none at all. If you are not comfortable with bare windows, bamboo blinds and white sheers can provide the right air without compromising privacy.

If you don't have a lot of windows, carefully placed light fixtures and lamps with warm bulbs can help make up the difference.

Mirrors can also help make the most of the light that you do have. They reflect light and can also help make a room feel large than it is.

You can really see how lighting can make an impact in this bright and airy room! The room is decorated with shades of white that are brought to life with vibrant blue accents. The windows are completely bare, and recessed lights support the natural light, clearing out any shadows that might be lurking.

Light, Neutral Colors

Coastal decor uses a palette of colors that you might find in nature in a beach setting. Bright white, golden sand, blues, grays, and beiges are the preferred colors. Using natural colors helps evoke the feeling of the beach, without being literal. The light colors also keep a room open and airy, which is vital with the decorating style.

Natural Elements Like Light-Colored Wood, Jute, Sisal, and Wicker

In keeping with the use of nature to create the beach vibes, furniture, rugs, and decorative accents are usually made from light-colored and/or distressed woods, woven jute, and wicker.

Natural Fabrics

Cotton, linen, and wool are all favorite fabrics for decorating a seaside escape. They are relaxed, breathable and easy to clean. Slipcovers are frequently used on furniture, especially in homes with kids and pets. Woven wool rugs are long-lasting and colorful.

Crisp white linens on this bed and window let the light in and the few rustic wooden accents shine.


Found Objects

The perfect decorative items to bring you paradise to life are objects that you might find on a stroll down the beach, like shells, sea glass, grasses, or driftwood. All used in moderation. Fill a bowl with seashells, or, if you are handy, add a piece of glass to the top of large unique chunk of driftwood to make a coffee table.

Create an understated by interesting display for your found objects for that perfect touch of beachiness without going overboard!

What Materials are Used in Coastal Decor?

As we mentioned earlier, natural materials are best when decorating in a Coastal style. Natural fibers, such as jute, wicker, sisal, and bamboo are great for flor covering, baskets and decorative items. Cotton, linen, and wool are great fabrics to use on furniture and window treatments.

Bamboo Bliss

Use bamboo shades to get that tropical feel and provides privacy when needed.

Woven Baskets

This unusual basket style of woven light fixtures adds a beachy vibe without being ostentatious.

Coastal Coral Touches

Found objects, like this piece of sun-bleached coral, look fabulous as the centerpiece for a console table in the entryway of your home.

What Color Schemes are Typical of Coastal Decor?

Soft, muted colors that are reflections of those found in nature are the main colors used in Coastal Decor. There are some very common combinations of these that work really well as the foundation for a seaside retreat.

All White With Natural Touches

One very common color scheme is an all-white room with accents in natural woven or pale wood. This look could be recreated very easily and with a limited budget.

This room is a perfect example of Coastal Cottage with its use of rustic finishes. Mismatched furniture and decorative items that have been painted white keep things light and easy.

Blue and White

What color combination is more reminiscent of the sea than blue and white? All shades of blue, and a variety of patterns frequent coastal homes, but nautical stripes of blue and white are a favorite when done in moderation.

The softly relaxing bedroom uses a couple of different shades of lighter blue-gray to create a look that is reminiscent of the Atlantic sky.

A bright blue sofa pops against the pale blues elsewhere in the room. A more elegant variation of Coastal decor, this room has custom matching rug and curtains.

Cream and White

Cozy and casual, creamy furniture add warmth and contrast to an all-white backdrop.

Wood and White

Bamboo or wooden shades are a great touch of color and are reflected in the warm tones of the wood flor. Creamy tasseled pillows add a boho touch while the mirror on the wall reflects light and creates the illusion of more space.

Stormy Gray and White

Silvery gray and white brings to mind the ocean before a storm and keeps it classy in this Contemporary Coastal bedroom. Paintings evocative of the stormy seas and the amazing tropical view further the effect.

What is a Coastal Style House?

A Coastal Style house is a home designed to evoke the air and style of beach living. Wooden or cedar siding in natural wood or bright cotton candy colors and large wrap-around porches are typical, as well as large windows. Interiors are light and airy, with a premium placed on natural light. Lightly stained hardwood floors dressed with woven jute rugs or other natural fibers and walls are usually painted with either bright white or pale blue, green, beige or sand-colored.

Coastal Style homes are filled with light-colored wood or slip-covered furniture, which can be in a variety of styles from rustic to midcentury modern. Beachy accents in the way of brightly colored throw pillows, paintings, or decorative items add a feeling of being at the ocean without being too literal.

4 Quick Tips for Decorating Any Room In Coastal Style

Decorating your home with a Coastal theme is incredibly easy when you follow these simple steps.

  1. Choose your paint colors carefully. A quick and easy first step is to paint your room with bright white.
  2. Uncover your windows, and let the sunlight in! This decorating style is all about light and airy, so the more sunlight the better.
  3. Dress your furniture in white cotton or linen and add a few throw pillows with a tropical pattern for a pop of color.
  4. Incorporate beachy elements as decorative touches, like seashells, coral, or driftwood.

Coastal Furniture By Type

Finding just the right piece of furniture to create your relaxing retreat is as easy as can be! Below are some great choices to get you on your way to an amazing home!

Coastal Tables

Simple and streamlined, this coffee table is a perfect fit for any Coastal home. With a white wooden base and natural top, it can blend in Cottage Coastal to Contemporary Coastal.

Click here to find this cute table on Amazon.

Reminiscent of silvery, aged driftwood, this Skempton dining table set from Ashley evokes long summer days at the beach without being kitschy. Add a centerpiece of shells or sea glass for a beautiful effect that will be the center of attention in your dining room.

Click here to find this table on Amazon.

Coastal Couch

There is a reason that leather furniture is common in beach homes! Leather is easy to wipe and clean away sand that might be tracked in, which is always an issue with kids and pets. Don't live on the shore? Get the same look and ease wherever you might be with this white leather sectional. Add a couple of blueprint throw pillows and you have an instant Coastal vibe.

Click here to find this sofa on Amazon.

Coastal Chairs

Chic and modern in shape, but crafted from mango wood wicker and washed to give it an aged appearance, this chair from Safavieh Home Collection is a great addition to a Coastal home. Place it in the living room or the corner of the bedroom to add a dreamy seaside flair.

Click here to find this chair on Amazon.

Ahoy mateys! Nautical navy and white stripes can be too overt, but not when they are in the form of a farmhouse-style ticking stripe. The unusual styling of this chair keeps it from being too literal and makes it a fantastic addition to a Coastal living room, without having to track down your pegleg and eyepatch!

Click here to find this chair on Amazon. 

Coastal Beds

This Bermuda white bed is an ideal example of a Beach-inspired piece of furniture. The slatted headboards are reminiscent of shutters, of clapboard siding. Add a pop of color in the bedding, or keep it light with all-white for a relaxing and restful escape.

Click here to find this bed on Amazon. 

Pale aqua and white bedding is a perfect soothing focal point for your bedroom. The delicate patterns dance across the comforter like waves on the shore. Made from 100% cotton this is a great example of Coastal comfort.

Click here to find this bedding on Amazon.

Coastal Decor Items

Coastal flair is found in the finishing touches, so we have found some truly special pieces to help inspire your decorating.

Coastal Lamps

Blue mercury glass is beautiful, and this lamp is no exception! Use it in the living room, or on your bedside tables to bring a sense of found sea glass into your rooms.

Click here to find this lamp on Amazon. 

Seashells are the epitome of beach life, so why not bring the look into your living room with this mother of pearl lamp. The seashell base is crafted in a more modern shape to fit in with any type of Coastal decor.

Click here to find this lamp on Amazon. 

Coastal Rugs

The easiest way to make your all-white living room take on a COastal vibe is to add awoevn jute area rug, like this one from Safavieh.

Click here to find this rug on Amazon. 

If you are looking for a great way to bring the room together, but don't love the rough feel of Jute, consider adding a more modern ocean-look rug instead. Soft and comfy, this white and blue area rug brings to mind the wave on the shore.

Click here to see this rug on Amazon. 

Coastal Wall Decor

Wall art is one of the best places to incorporate some seaside colors into your neutral rooms. Add a painting of the stormy seas that is a wash of blue and white.

Click here to find this painting on Amazon. 

For something a little more abstract, check out this teal sea fan coral picture. Not too obvious, this pretty pop of color is all you need for a little oceanic character.

Click here to find this on Amazon. 

Do you love the coastal design style?

We hope you found this guide useful! You can follow up on the coastal theme by getting more ideas from our article about Contemporary Coastal Living Rooms That Will Inspire You. Still looking for a theme or design style that best suits you? Make sure you read our other design guides t00 -

The Boho Home Decor Guide

The Rustic Home Decor Guide

The Minimalist Home Decor Guide

The Industrial Home Decor Guide

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