20 Best Coastal Design Tips of All Time

Designer Amanda Lindroth’s Caribbean-classic style is exemplified in this Harbor Island, Bahamas, home, where bright color and natural textures reign supreme. In the entry, pictured here, teal garden stools provide a pop of coastal color against a neutral
Photo: Photo: Lisa Romerein; Stylist: Liz Strong

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!). But there are tried-and-true design tips that anyone can try to create a coastal look that we all love for its bright and breezy vibe. Interior coastal design makes a connection to the surrounding seascape. Coastal color schemes borrow from vivid sunsets, sandy beaches, deep-blue seas, and lush, tropical surroundings. Another beach house must is adding textures from local, natural materials like seagrass, jute, raffia, sisal, and bamboo that bring in the outdoors while being incredibly durable. Go serene and understated, mix it up with tropical prints and patterns, or land somewhere in-between. No matter what, coastal design always stands up to the elements. Ready for some inspiration? Check out these 20 timeless coastal design and decor ideas from designers that make a home feel like an airy, seaside escape.

01 of 20

Go Bold

Bahamas foyer with coral front door
Photo: Brie Williams; Styling by Liz Strong

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.

02 of 20

Boost Your Fibers

2011 Ultimate Beach House Living Room
Photographer: Tria Giovan, Stylist: Heather Chadduck

No beach house would be complete without the lush texture of natural fiber. Whether it's jute, seagrass, 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.

03 of 20

Channel the Landscape

Photo by Peter Frank Edwards; Styling by Elly Poston

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.

04 of 20

Add Sass With Grass

living room grasscloth walls
Photo: Jessica Glynn; Stylist: Liz Strong

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.

05 of 20

Layer Your Neutrals

An all-white living room mantel
Brie Williams

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.

06 of 20

Let the Light In

The master bedroom is a grand 19 feet by 21 feet with a soaring 18-foot cathedral ceiling, so Balducci and Bennett built in warm details like white-painted beams, shiplap ceiling paneling, and a painted brick hearth. “Woodwork and other textural surfaces
Photo: David A. Land; styling: Lindsey Ellis Beatty and Rachael Burrow

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. Plus, the sheerness keeps the design focus on the rest of the room, from bright color to bold pattern.

07 of 20

Open Up

Coastal living 2016 Hamptons ShowHouse 272 Brik Kiln Ln, bridgehampton, ny bridgehampton/Sag Harbor
Photo: David A. Land

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.

08 of 20

Get Floored

Carolina coast dining room
Photo: J. Savage Gibson

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.

09 of 20

Become a Mix Master

This rounded rattan sofa is reminiscent of one the Duchess of Windsor once had in her Harbour Island home. "When I found it, I knew the living room would have a lot of joy," Lindroth says. "Along with the vibrant tropical patterns, it would invite convers
Photo: Brie Williams; Styling by Liz Strong

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. In addition, layering window treatments, furniture, and flooring in natural materials serve as a neutral backdrop.

10 of 20

Don't Go Overboard

Designer Amanda Lindroth’s Caribbean-classic style is exemplified in this Harbor Island, Bahamas, home, where bright color and natural textures reign supreme. In the entry, pictured here, teal garden stools provide a pop of coastal color against a neutral
Photo: Lisa Romerein; Stylist: Liz Strong

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.

11 of 20

Get a Sleeping Porch

A breezy corner sleeping porch is outfitted with custom cedar beds, which are secured to the siding and suspended with rope to "float" above the floor.
Photo: Brie Williams; Styling: Liz Strong

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.

12 of 20

Be Strategic With Seating

"The views of the Gulf are spectacular here, and the water always seems to be clear," says Powell, who went for frosty blue draperies at Elizabeth's suggestion. "I usually opt for lighter, ivory window treatments, but this blue really draws your eye out t
Photo: Annie Schlechter; Styling: Lindsey Ellis Beatty

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. Choosing durable, stain-resistant fabrics or slipcovers makes socializing even more stress-free.

13 of 20

Weather-Proof It

Photo: Tria Giovan, Stylists: Rachel Burrow and Liz Strong

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.)

14 of 20

Try a Foolproof Color Duo

Blue and green have a natural soulmate thing going. “They make a good pair because we’re used to seeing the colors of grass and sky together, and it always feels optimistic, energetic,” Braff says. “Plus, it’s a good combo for going all in on color—famili
Photo: David A. Land; styling: Lindsey Ellis Beatty and Rachael Burrow

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," says 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.

15 of 20

Slip It On

Inside, they opted for a central living hub, where broad pass-throughs between rooms keep the living room, kitchen, and breakfast nook visually connected. Rustic washed-pine trim frames the spaces and sets a laid-back vibe in line with their beachy locale
Photo: David A. Land; Styling: Liz Strong

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. Slipcovers can be custom-made, but they also now come in all kinds of shapes and sizes to fit your favorite pieces.

16 of 20

Deck the Outdoors in Indoor-Inspired Decor

2010 Coastal Living Ultimate Beach House: Courtyard
Photographer Lisa Romerein

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.

17 of 20

Wow With Wallpaper

"My personality, the way I like to decorate, is a little whimsical," says Elizabeth. "And powder rooms are great places for doing something that's a little bit "out there."" Enter the aqua, watery world of a cheeky, gilded puffer fish "swimming" around th
Photo: Annie Schlechter; Styling: Lindsey Ellis Beatty

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.

18 of 20

Don't Vent

Photo: Tria Giovan, Stylists: Rachel Burrow and Liz Strong

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. Following the same idea are space-saving and guest-friendly open shelving, which keeps eyes on the backsplash and view.

19 of 20

Bunk Up

2012 | Rosemary Beach | Girls' Bunk Room | Designer: Urban Grace Interiors
Tria Giovan

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.

20 of 20

Embrace Imperfections

Organic, unpolished pieces mirror the beach's raw beauty. "Rustic wood furniture implies ease of use," says Clarke. He had the dining table made locally using old wood. "You never want to design a home that feels too precious to really live in, especially
Photo: David Tsay; Styling By Liz Strong

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," says 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).

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