There’s usually a moment on a perfect beach holiday, when the thought ‘I wish I never had to leave’ begins to sound very tempting. And while you might not be able to stay, that doesn’t mean you can’t bring the beach home with you.
Coastal decor has come a long way from seashell frames and lamps. Instead, a modern coastal aesthetic is often more subtle and stylised, and can work no matter how far you may be from the closest sunny shore.
Here are some of our favourite ways to invite coastal style (and all the summer vibes that come with it!) into the home, especially the bedroom, living room and dining room.
1. Opt for a simple layout
This look is all about recreating the zen and relaxation of being by the sea - so starting off with a clean, minimal layout provides a great palette to build on.
Begin by choosing a centrepiece for your space, whether it’s a cosy sofa, a large bed or a dining table. A few principles apply: look for simple lines and rustic finishes, and opt for lighter tones to create airiness and elegance. Light stained oak and off-white are particularly great choices here.
The main aim is to create a stylish space that is simultaneously unfussy and functional. So it’s best for the flow of the room to be uncluttered, and as open plan as possible. Design your room with the furniture at its centre, and then incorporate as much negative space as you can afford, so there’s a sense of expansiveness and ease.
2. Dive into deep blue (and white!)
Blue and white have always been classic choices for beach decor, evoking the ocean and sunny skies, and pairing beautifully to boot. Traditionally, the shades of choice have tended to be lighter blues like turquoise and aquamarine, but for a 2019 update, go for darker tones, ones that are closer on the spectrum to indigo and navy.
With a look this deceptively simple, layering is key. To avoid a space that looks flat, use different shades of white and cream to create a luxurious, welcoming base (for instance, with bed linens or when selecting a sofa) and then add rich shades of blue for a calming, ocean-based palette. This can be in the form of pillows, chunky knits or placemats, and even the choice of paint!
For a statement wall with a difference, a half painted wall that has sailor blue contrasted against crisp white takes its cue from marine inspirations and also creates a sense of height in the room - important when working with the constraints of an urban home or apartment.
3. Update summery, coastal prints
We did promise that this would be an updated take on coastal decor, but one element of this look has never gone out of style: stripes.
A summer classic for a reason, stripes also look good all year round, and easily fit into a contemporary beach-inspired home, especially in navy and cream or white. Incorporating this print in different rooms can create cohesion, and tie the theme together - from striped cushions and rugs in the living room, to the casual beach towel doubling as a throw on the bed.
Another way to play with prints and inject sunny holiday vibes is with tie dye. But! We’re steering away from the psychedelic versions of the 60s, opting instead for the subtler charms of shibori, an ancient Japanese dyeing technique. Shibori’s distinctive indigo patterns have the carefree look and feel of tie dye, but with a contemporary, chic twist - try using it for a playful print in the living room, or as unexpectedly elegant napkins when entertaining.
4. Embrace natural textures
Being at the coast is a very sensorial experience - think of the sand between your toes, the wind in your hair, picking up shells and driftwood. So when designing and planning a contemporary coastal-inspired home, texture and organic elements are a central part of getting it right.
And it’s not just about how these materials feel, but also how they look. Linen, rattan and jute all add both visual and tactile character, creating contrast and interest, and bringing in a bit of the wildness of nature and the outdoors.
There are many ways to do this: rattan chairs or a wicker pendant can immediately add a tropical feel to the dining room, while a jute basket and rug, or a strategically placed plant can create warmth and dynamism. The important thing is to make it feel natural, so if you’re worried about overdoing it, it’s best to start small and add decor and smaller pieces that can be moved around.
5. Amplify warm, natural light
Lastly, we might not be able to enjoy the long days and bright light of summer year round, but we can do our best to maximise what we do have.
Leave the windows minimally covered, or use translucent curtains in order to really get the most natural light into your home - and of course, there’s always the tried and tested method of adding a mirror right opposite your largest window to amplify the light you do get.
Light oak and white finishes are wonderful light diffusers, especially when they’re the main furniture in the room. They’re also good colours to use on the floor and ceilings, both of which are important - but often forgotten - when trying to attain that elusive sense of space and airiness.