In coastal design, a space is infused with marine and nautical design elements. Oftentimes, people who have lived by the coast or in a nautical town are very attracted to this type of design. On the other hand, people who enjoy aquatics and the ocean also love this type of design.
Having been born in a country that is centered on a nautical structure – the Panama Canal – I can completely identify with people who live inland but have an affinity for coastal design. Your home should always be a reflection of what makes you happy. That being said, cottages and homes that are lakeside or near water have the added advantage of an indoor/outdoor transition that is seamless.
Coastal Design Motifs
When we think of coastal design, certain things immediately come to mind – seashells, sand, corals, anchors, driftwood, mollusks and seahorses. It is perfectly fine to add these types of elements with a level of restraint so that it doesn’t appear like you were the winner of a seashell gathering contest.
Yet, I would argue that coastal design is more than these sea-inspired elements. In coastal design, you are literally trying capture a feeling – that feeling that you get when you are at the beach or peacefully sailing on a boat.
The Coastal Color Palette
Not surprising, blues tend to be the predominant hue in coastal design. However, white, off white, sand, green and turquoise also pay a significant role in this design style. When coastal design leans more towards the nautical side of things, you will see a royal blue or navy color palette. However when the design is more beachy, the colors tend to be subdued blues or even aquas.
Coastal Design Patterns
The most commonly found pattern in coastal design tends to be vertical stripes, but that doesn’t mean you should stop there. Starfish, mollusks and even coral reefs can work well in small doses, for instance through drapery trim or on beautiful accent pillows.
Coastal Design Materials
Have you ever gone to a Caribbean country and stayed at a hotel near the beach? Well then you can attest to the fact that one of the most popular materials to use in coastal design is rattan or wicker. These make great side chairs or benches, especially when supplemented by comfy cushions. For sofas or love seats, slipcovers are frequently used since you can simply remove them, wash them and reapply.
When it comes to rugs, seagrass, jute and sisal give an ode to the beach because they are naturally growing materials. In addition, woven window shades assist in bringing the entire look together.
No design project is ever complete without lighting. Coastal design tends to rely on black or bronze light fixtures or ceiling fans. This is not to say that you cannot use brass or silver tones, but in those cases you are really beginning to infuse your coastal look with a modern or contemporary vibe.
The Wood Tones
Since one of primary features of the beach is sand, the wood tones in this particular design aesthetic tend to be on the light to medium side. This includes wood flooring which can be anywhere from a white color to a lighter version of wood.
Meanwhile, if you live in a beach town or near the coast, you might be looking at using tile instead of wood flooring. This will ensure that your floors stay intact if you are dragging sand in every time you open the front door.
Mixing Things Up
In an effort not to overdo coastal design, it is sometimes beautifully blended with the farmhouse style. It is not uncommon to see shiplap walls, distressed stools, and rustic lighting in this design hybrid. If you love both of these design styles, you are in luck since they work very well together. Using transitional and coastal elements, like in the room above, is especially ideal when you do not live near the water. In this way, there a suggestion of coastal but the other design elements complement an inland setting.
Unless you are designing a kid’s room, it is best not to overdo coastal design. One of the things that attracts people to the ocean is that they feel a sense of calm and peacefulness when they are observing it. Oars, lifesavers, sailboats and fish statues all over the place are probably an indication that you have literally gone overboard.
The trick to successfully nailing this style is to have just enough odes to the ocean while editing the amount of motifs. This way your guests understand exactly what you are trying to convey.