Although water covers about 71% of the Earth’s surface, most people aren’t lucky enough to live near a beach. The coast represents an oasis, a warm, sandy paradise of beachy breezes and cotton candy sunsets. But if you live in a hot, desert region like Arizona or the flat plains of Kansas, an airy beach house filled with sea glass and sandy tones would look pretty out of place.
Luckily, interior design is all about balance. So if coastal style and beachy décor make you feel at home, then we’ll show you how to express your love for the water wherever you live (without going overboard).
Color: Paint it Blue
No matter how much you love Cape Cod architecture or tropical A-frames with big, breezy windows, you’re probably not going to tear your house down and start from scratch just to get beachy style. The next best way to transform it? Color!
Blue is always indicative of water. But the specific hues you use can really alter the type of beach vibe you’re going for. If you’re a lakefront cottage kind of person, you might want to use a rustic palette, pairing deep blue hues with crimson timber tones. For preppy, East Coast style, opt for nautical navy and white stripes and cerulean accessories. For a more Cali-boho feel stray more towards natural sand tones and lighter blues like turquoise.
Blue can feel very natural, but it can also appear highly-saturated. So rather than painting every wall or swapping all of your furniture for blue pieces, create contrast by using a variety of colors in a variety of places. Maybe that means only exhibiting art and decor in shades of blue while keeping your furniture neutral. Or adding an indigo accent wall to go with your white upholstery. Either going monochromatic with blues and whites or using tonal variety will keep your space from feeling overwhelmingly ocean-themed.
Materials & Texture: Nurture Nature
People love the oceans, rivers, and lakes because there’s nearly nothing in the world as organic as water. Ripples and waves are soothing, as are the sandy shores that hug them. So evoking beach style means creating a space that feels truly natural.
Think worn, reclaimed wood surfaces that look like they’ve been washed ashore like a piece of driftwood. For a cleaner look, whitewashed shiplap feels both preppy and coastal. To get the crystal-clear appearance of water or the iridescence of sea life, try incorporating a variety of glassy textures, from seafoam vases and pendant lights to lucite furnishings and rocky marble surfaces.
For a more organic feel, opt for furniture constructed with thick, bamboo rods and decor made from thinly woven strands of rattan. These on-trend materials couldn’t get more beachy. Paired with a jute rug and light, linen fabrics, they elicit the vibes of coastal plants and elements. And because of their neutral nature, they work in any home regardless of design style.
Art & Decor: Something Beachy
As they say, everything in moderation. So be careful about using too many beachy motifs, especially in the form of cheesy quotes. A driftwood sign that reads “Life’s a Beach” doesn’t work well in most beach houses, which means it definitely doesn’t work on the wall of a suburban Tudor home.
Not to worry — there are lots of other ways to incorporate beach-inspired decor. If you want to go bold with pattern, consider a palm-print wallpaper or throw pillows. Marbleized prints that echo the waves and ripples of the sea are perfect for modern and contemporary spaces while stripes and trellises are always a good choice for preppier coastal spaces.
For a subtle take on the style, you can’t go wrong with tropical plants and art dedicated to beach life. Minimalist, black and white photos of waves or retro prints of 1960s beach scenes add a cool edge to a space while abstract art that references the texture of sand, shells, and water creates a refined coastal energy.
Though the occasional shell collection is okay, we don’t recommend using too many pieces of sea life — shells can make a space feel real themey real quick.