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Interior trends: what is nautical decor style?

Nautical decor living room

WordsMegan Lambert

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Ahoy there! If you’re all at sea over what exactly nautical decor is (and how it differs from coastal decor), we’re here to put your worries at bay. We’re really pushing the boat out with this one, from the history behind the trend to its key characteristics and how you can implement it in your home. So if you’re ready for things to get a little nautical, read on:

What is nautical decor style?

Not a fan of this peppy intro? Well, that’s sort of what nautical decor is all about. Defined by a natural colour palette inspired by the sea, unlike coastal decor, which reflects the natural elements of coastal living through your interiors, nautical decor focuses more on its motifs. Think cabana stripes, seashell accents, and maybe even a lifebuoy hung on the wall (more on that later). You get the idea. There’s an upbeat, preppy energy to it. It’s Dad in a Captain’s hat on his annual two-week boating holiday. And just like Dad, you can’t help but love this trend.

The history behind nautical decor

Originating in the holiday homes of the Hamptons, New England, and Cape Cod, nautical decor had a real moment back in the 1980s. But with modern-day homeowners gravitating towards the great outdoors, more and more people are turning their holiday homes into their primary homes. It’s no surprise then that the trend has seen something of a resurgence in recent years. Only this time around, it’s a little less kitsch and a lot more chic. Gone are the ceramic shell soap dispensers or light pulls (you know the ones). The contemporary nautical decor trend hones in on a natural colour palette combined with layered textures and organic materials.

Key characteristics of nautical decor

Blue, white and red colour scheme

When it comes to your colour scheme, you want to go a little bolder than coastal decor. Whilst you can still incorporate a neutral colour palette as your backdrop, be sure to use lots of bold blues against bright whites, with some warming reds and coral-inspired terracottas to prevent it from looking cold. Remember, this doesn’t have to all be implemented through your paint colours. You could go for warming White 05 walls, with a sink-into navy blue sofa and red and white striped cushions. Find out how to make a mood board so you can create the look at home. 

Nautical decor Lick paint colour palette

Stripes, stripes and more stripes

Speaking of stripes… Whether you’ve got a home in the Hamptons or not, a tasteful use of stripes will emulate that instantly recognisable Hamptons style. Avoid going overkill by being sparing with where and how you use them and avoid being too ‘matchy’. Time-tested fabrics like ticking stripe or Breton stripes will give your home a fresh yet lived-in feel. If you want a look that will hang around, why not consider striped wallpaper.


Nautical references

Gone are the overt nautical references. Instead, contemporary nautical decor is about more suggestive nautical representations. This could be anything from supporting local artisans with coastal-inspired artwork or sculptures made from driftwood or shells. Or again, what about incorporating the theme through your wallpaper with our range of sea-inspired wallpapers.

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