inspiration5 min read

Interior trends: what is coastal decor style?

Coastal decor dining room

WordsMegan Lambert


If you’ve ever returned from a holiday by the sea and thought about how you’d like to instil a bit of that laidback living into your home: you’re not alone. Fortunately, you don’t have to live by the sea to recreate the calming qualities of a coastal decor home. Not to be confused with nautical decor, which is all anchors and cabana stripes, the coastal decor trend reflects natural coastal elements—sea, sand, and sky—by reflecting them in your interiors. If you’d like to find out how you can get this look in your home, read on:

What is coastal decor style?

In much the same way that biophilic design brings elements of the great outdoors into our homes, coastal decor incorporates key elements of coastal living through its clever use of colour, texture, and materials. Channel a bit of that coastal chic in your home with white-washed walls, distressed wooden accents, and calming coastal palettes of whites and blues. It’s all about recreating that weathered and faded look that goes hand-in-hand with living by the sea.

The history behind coastal decor style

Around for hundreds of years—or as long as people have been holidaying by the sea—coastal decor originated in the Hamptons in the 19th century. From sailing clubs to holiday homes, this aspirational trend soon made its way across the USA. With different iterations from state to state, in colder, more northerly areas, the trend was for darker varnished woods; whilst in more tropical and Mediterranean climates, like Florida and California, it was for lighter, weathered woods. Ultimately the overarching principle remained the same: to echo that carefree, coastal living feel within your home. Today, the style has evolved into the decor trend we know and love. A style you can hone in your home, whether you live by the sea or not.

Key characteristics of coastal decor style

A light and airy nature-inspired colour palette

If you’re trying to recreate that breezy coastal aesthetic, you can’t go wrong with a neutral colour palette. It is soothing and easy on the eye and will instantly give your home a relaxed feel. Then again, if you want to inject some colour, try using coastal colours like sky blues and sea greens or pops of navy. Try adding some texture to your walls by learning how to create your own shiplap cladding wall panelling.

Take a look at our colour expert’s 2022 colour trend predictions to take a look at these nature-inspired palettes.

Embracing open space

The sea speaks of little else but an open expanse. Though it might not be possible to recreate that same sense of endlessness in your home, the aim with coastal decor is to channel it. Embrace open space by blurring the lines between the indoors and outdoors. Floor-to-ceiling bi-folding doors are a great way to create that indoor-outdoor style of living—just fling them open on a warm summer’s evening and let the sound of the ocean do the talking. Don’t live by the coast? No problem. Art is a great way to not only make a decor statement but also to channel that coastal aesthetic in your home. Support local artists by visiting galleries in your favourite coastal spots for original nautical-inspired pieces.

Natural materials & textures

When it comes to your furnishings, think rustic, weather-worn, or white-washed woods, along with wicker and rattan finishes. Textiles are natural, like sisal and jute rugs, woven Roman blinds, and cotton upholstery. It’s all quite muted with an organic feel, so you won’t find lots of shiny finishes like glass or chrome. Whether in a bedroom or living room, long, billowing linen curtains can create that feeling of space. Make a statement with driftwood artwork, dried palm fronds in rustic pots, or snake plants growing out of a seagrass basket. Combined, these key coastal decor elements will make you feel like you’re on holiday year-round.

Emphasis on natural light

When it comes to coastal decor: let there be light. From Cornwall to Cape Cod, if you’re lucky enough to live on the water or enjoy a sea view, make the most of those vistas and those unparalleled sunrises or sunsets by arranging your home in an ‘upside down’ style. This means placing the bedrooms on the ground floor and the living areas on the first floor to make the most of natural light and the best views. Even if you don’t live by the sea, embrace natural light with skylights, floor-to-ceiling windows, and a light and airy colour palette that bounces natural light around your home.

Relaxed, comfortable feel

Ultimately, coastal decor is about recreating that holiday feel at home. One key but often overlooked element is to make sure that you feel relaxed and comfortable in your living areas. Choose family-friendly pieces that can withstand a bit of wear and tear. Imagine a kitchen or living area where you could get changed from your swimmers without anyone getting into trouble. You get the idea.