20 Best Coastal Design Tips of All Time
Take it from the pros: A beautifully beachy home doesn’t require views of swaying palms and gentle waves of aqua (though that’s certainly a bonus!).
Bright, vibrant colors are iconic on the coast. From pink Hawaiian sand to turquoise waters and palm leaf green, the inspiration is endless. Pick a statement area to go bold with color—front doors are big impact and an easy boost to your home’s curb appeal—or deck out the entire house.
Boost Your Fibers
No beach house would be complete without the lush texture of natural fiber. Whether it’s jute, sea grass, or sisal, incorporating woven materials into your décor connects the indoors with the outdoors and brings a casual feel to the home. Try a natural fiber rug, which is super-durable and works great in virtually any space.
Channel the Landscape
To make a room feel connected to the outdoors, greenery is a must. (It’s also a winner for its soothing and mood-boosting qualities.) For big impact with a coastal vibe, choose palm fronds or banana leaves, which are both architectural and reminiscent of the islands.
Add Sass With Grass
Not quite a pattern junky but crave the interest that wallpaper brings? Consider dressing your walls in grasscloth. The subtle, elegant texture adds that extra bit of decorating oomph, without overwhelming a soothing sea-inspired space.
Layer Your Neutrals
An all-white room by the beach is certainly blissful (it's also known to promote a sense of calm and clarity). To keep it from falling flat, vary your shades and textures. In this breezy living room, crisp white walls pair with whitewashed wood ceilings, a bleached natural-weave rug, and slick concrete coffee table. Accents of beige, wood, and greenery help to warm the space up.
Let the Light In
Sheer curtains are the perfect beach window treatment, whether they’re used to close off a porch or shade a bright bedroom. They provide some privacy, yet still keep that airy, light-filled quality we all love in coastal homes.
When it comes to coastal design, the view is key. Instead of cramping the kitchen with bulky cabinets, go for open shelving. It is still functional, yet brings the kitchen’s focus to a more welcoming sight, like a standout view or a stylish backsplash. Plus, it’s super guest-friendly, making it easier for friends and family to help themselves.
In high traffic areas, antique or ornamental rugs can take on a lot of wear and tear. Instead, make the space pop with easy-to-clean painted floors. Solid blue or green adds beachy appeal, while a stenciled pattern creates a more rug-like feel. And as the paint ages, it develops patina and charm.
Become a Mix Master
Just as beach homes are natural fits for bold color, they’re also perfect spots to play with pattern. The trick is to stick with the patterns in the same color family—blue is an obvious choice for a beach home—and layer abstracts, geometrics, florals, or stripes of similar weights.
Don’t Go Overboard
Shells, bamboo, fishing floats, coral, and driftwood are all fine accents in a sea-inspired home, but use with abandon and you might find your home looking more like a seaside souvenir shop. Small touches, on the other hand, can be a coastal game changer. Corral your favorite finds in a woven bowl on a coffee table, or line them up along a mantle for a hint of beachy style that strikes just the right balance.
Get a Sleeping Porch
Really, you should! Beach homes certainly have the leisure thing down, which is why so many of them have sleeping porches. These siesta-ready spaces are perfect for cozying up solo or chilling out on a cool night with a cocktail and a small group of friends. Accommodate lounging and snoozing in all seasons by decking the daybed with extra throws and installing a ceiling fan or space heater.
Be Strategic with Seating
Beach houses often call for impromptu gatherings. To accommodate everyone, choose furniture that can serve multiple purposes, from large upholstered coffee table ottomans to small garden stools that double as seating and side tables.
Red wine drinkers, rejoice! Here’s another solution for combating spills and stains on upholstery: Dress indoor furniture with outdoor fabric. Because it’s made to be weatherproof, it’ll hold up to anything and can easily be wiped clean with a damp cloth. (And don’t be put off by the comfort factor: modern offerings are designed to mimic the texture and feel of indoor fabrics, so your furniture will be soft, cool, and practical.)
Try A Foolproof Color Duo
While all-white rooms are coastal crowd-pleasers, infusing shades inspired by the outside are equally as appealing. “[Blue and green] make a good pair because we’re used to seeing the colors of grass and sky together, and it always feels optimistic and energetic,” said designer Meg Braff. For a foolproof recipe, start with a standout pattern that incorporates the two hues and translate the solid shades elsewhere on furniture, rugs, or walls.
Slip it On
From sandy feet to suntan lotioned legs, coastal upholstery needs to be pretty, hard working, and hassle-free—which is why slipcovers are pretty much every beach dweller’s best friend. They’re versatile and easy to clean, meaning light shades like white or the muted blue-gray linen shown here are fair game, even with kids and dogs in the picture.
Deck the Outdoors in Indoor-Inspired Decor
In a beach house, outdoor living rooms see just as much (or more!) use than indoor ones. So creating a place that’s as cozy as its air conditioned counterpart is crucial. Décor typically used for interiors, like rugs and hanging artwork, give wall-less spaces definition, while covered porches and decks can benefit from things like curtains and ceiling fans.
Wow with Wallpaper
If there's one place you can almost always win big with a bold wallpaper, it's in a powder room. Because of their tiny size, powder rooms often feel like a design afterthought, but a striking wallpaper can make it the star of the house. Try one with a large-scale, repeating motif—we love this gilded puffer fish find—and pair it with metallic accents like sconces and an antiqued mirror.
Instead of installing a classic kitchen vent that hangs above your range, look for styles that are built into your cooktop or counter, suggests designer Bailey McCarthy. That way, you maximize your view without sacrificing utility.
Love hosting a crowd? The best way to maximize sleeping space is using bunk beds—and coastal designers have mastered the art of making them as fabulous as they are functional. Opt for space-saving built-ins, which work particularly well in cramped or oddly shaped rooms, and add fun textiles like brightly colored throws or patterned curtains to each bunk.
Beach homes are beloved for their kick-your-shoes-off vibe, which means treating anything too delicately is more often than not a big don’t (Hallelujah!). “You never want to design a home that feels too precious to really live in, especially at the beach,” said designer Tim Clarke. Use materials with natural imperfections, such as recycled wood, and opt for a less buttoned-up, more chill approach to styling (e.g., a chunky throw strewn over the back of an armchair).