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Coastal Style Guide

What American coastal decor is all about

Charming coastal cottages, dreamy beach getaways — ah, coastal style is everything a beach-goer could get used to. For trendy decorators, there are many different coastal styles to choose from: relaxing and comforting American, Polynesian beach hut, Mediterranean manor.

Each has their own nuances, but express similar feelings only found in this overarching design style. In this guide, we’ll go over the most popular style in the U.S. — American coastal. So kick off your sandals, grab a glass of wine, and let’s get down to business!

Coastal design elements

Coastal doesn’t need to feel like your great aunt’s kitschy (but kinda cute!) house in Florida. Yes, a seashell and beachy motif works, but it doesn’t need to define your space. The goal is express the carefree, “sand beneath your feet” feel of a long walk on the beach.

Today, we’ve come far from Aunt Margaret’s style and into a more modern, adaptable approach to sun-kissed decor, regardless of how far you are from the beach!

Generous Natural Light

It’d be hard to give off beach vibes without plenty of natural light. Imagine a beach house that felt dreary and enclosed, no thank you! Abundant sunshine from windows, reflective surfaces, glass doors, and skylights welcome the light and airy feel that says “summer” all year around.

Open Spaces

With natural light comes open, breezy spaces. Beaches are far-reaching and open air. Make sure there’s plenty of breathing room in your space by keeping the center uncluttered, furniture low-lying, and organized so there’s no distractions for the eyes.

Organic Materials

Natural materials including jute, sisal, seagrass, and wicker bring texture and warmth to coastal spaces. Use natural rugs, furnishings and accessories like rope to add sensual appeal that holds true to coastal nautical theme.

Weathered Woods

When you walk along the beach, what wood do you see? Dark, exotic hardwoods? Or smooth, worn, and beautiful driftwood. The latter — in coastal decor, you want to go for that style.

Honey-hued cedar board, pickled or whitewashed woods, French wood, and even blonde maple feel right at home on flooring or furniture. Lightly painted boards and patina-stained planks are true to style as well.

Shoreline Finds

Beach glass, sea shells, a fishing net? Sometimes collecting beautiful beach relics are essential during sunset strolls. Don’t be afraid to incorporate these into your coastal interior, after all, it’s what defines coastal living! Use moderation, otherwise we’ll end up with Aunt Margaret’s super-kitsch, non-Instagrammable beach hut we’re trying to avoid here.

Casual Furniture

Aim for furnishings to accentuate the rooms natural light. Stay away from elegant elements such as velvet or mahogany. Casual furniture, like homeowner Marco Badalian’s caoba wood platform bed, gives an ode to the rooms gentle palette and breezy surroundings of Isla Holbox.

Simple, Light Fabrics

Nautical and beach-inspired fabrics have their place, but don’t forget about simpler fabrics! Slipcovers, chambray linen, sheer drapes, or anything light that welcomes the gentle sea breeze. Pure white is always a go-to, but don’t forget about pastels, stripes, and other minimal patterns also.

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Coastal color palettes

Calm and airy atmosphere is the goal when deciding on coastal color palettes. On top of your list, bright white — the cornerstone of coastal design. But you can have fun with other palettes and neutrals too!

Capture the look with palettes including:

  • Beachy-aqua and white with surrounding neutrals
  • Two-toned palette - then use shades of each
  • Coastal turquoise to bright tropical shades
  • Light grey, soft blues, pale neutrals

Textiles and materials

Patterns & prints

  • Stripes
  • Florals
  • Ikat dots
  • Damask
  • Polka dots
  • Plaids

Materials & textures

For coastal interiors, chunky, knitted, worn and distressed are key to complete the look. Use rope, sisal, or woven cords to add textural interest to the space. When paired with other coastal elements like driftwood and salvaged metal, these materials give off a relaxed, beach-going vibes.

Materials:

  • Rattan
  • Sisal
  • Rope
  • Salvaged Metal
  • Worn Wood

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Coastal Design Tips

The Bath

  • For extra storage, use woven baskets made from sisal, seagrass, wicker, or jute for an attractive, on theme solution.
  • Use your own hidden treasures as accessories to show your personal style and coastal journeys.
  • Layer textures.
  • Instantly, a coastal area rug will define your space. Lay atop natural wood floors for a beautiful, textured look.
  • Bring the outdoors in with ample windows, glass doors, and mirrors for sunshine to radiate throughout the room.

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