Bright and breezy, coastal style transports you straight to the beach no matter where you call home

Bright and breezy, coastal style transports you straight to the beach no matter where you call home


Fresh out of journalism school, I fell into decorating media and immediately… More »

So Your Style Is: Coastal

Bright and breezy, coastal style transports you straight to the beach no matter where you call home

What it is: If you wanted to split hairs, you could argue that coastal style is as individual as its location: a saltbox in New England, a Mediterranean villa, a tropical cottage in Belize. For this guide, though, we’ll stick with what’s commonly called American coastal — the style that probably springs to mind when you think “beach house.” Light and breezy, with a palette drawn from sand and shells as much as sea and sky, it whispers “summer” all year round.

Why it works: Coastal style is at its best when it sets a mood rather than hitting people over the head with its beachiness (oars! fish! life preservers!). Although seaside motifs feel apt and appropriate, you don’t need to scoop up every piece you spot with a sand dollar on it; a coastal space simply evokes the easy, carefree feel of boating and beachcombing. And the bonus? You can pull off the look even if you’re hundreds of miles from a shoreline.

You’ll love it if… You never miss a Jimmy Buffett show. A pedicure means strolling barefoot in the sand. You chose your silver pattern for its shell motif. In your world, it’s always linen season. It’s not a question of whether to vacation at the beach, but which beach you haven’t explored yet.

More ‘So Your Style Is': Traditional | Contemporary | Transitional | Cottage | Eclectic | Industrial

Style Secret: Abundant Light

Light may be the single most important, yet most overlooked, element of coastal style. Think about it: When is the last time you entered a beach house that felt dim and cramped (and if you did, how fast did you want to scoot out of there?). That’s one reason white is the hallmark color of coastal interiors: It spreads and amplifies light rather than soaking it up.

Coastal interiors blur the line between indoors and out or remove it altogether. Plentiful windows, glass doors and skylights allow sunshine to flood in, so if your home is skimpy on these elements, consider adding them. If that’s not an option, at the very least fake it with lamps and sconces. Window treatments should be spare and simple enough not to muffle the glow — and if you’re lucky enough to have a home near the water, the last thing you want is to obscure that view.

Something different: While coastal interiors aren’t known for shine and shimmer, a few carefully chosen accents can help to diffuse light even further. Consider a mirror mounted opposite a window or a glass-topped table in a sunny breakfast nook. Just be sure not to bring in so many high-gloss notes that you lose the cozy ambience.

Style Secret: Crisp, Clean Fabrics

In coastal interiors, fabrics are simple, unassuming and put-your-feet-up comfy. Think linen slipcovers, cotton rugs, and muslin curtain panels or floaty sheers that billow in the breeze. You can’t go wrong with pure white, but washed-out pastels or tailored stripes fit with the look as well.

Something different: The market is loaded with shell- and nautical-print fabrics — many of them tasteful and chic — so go ahead and give in to temptation. But don’t layer them to the point of kitsch. Keep these patterns minimal: a pair of throw pillows, perhaps, or a single side chair. (The same goes for wallpaper, incidentally.)

Style Secret: Pale Neutrals

Did we mention that white is key to the coastal palette? When they’re done right, crisp white rooms are arresting in their purity and simplicity. But if they feel too austere or one-dimensional to suit you, branch out a bit. Layers of cream, beige and khaki evoke the subtlety of shifting dunes. Matte and honed finishes, rather than shine and glimmer, give the colors a soft, chalky spin.

Barely-there blue is a close runner-up as an iconic coastal color, calling to mind the essence of ocean and sky. It’s a classic choice for bathroom tile and bedroom walls, but it can function as a neutral anywhere, especially when you keep it tone on tone.

Something different: Does this mean you can’t have brights in a beachy interior? Nope. While a high-octane mix of persimmon, turquoise and lime might seem more like the Caribbean than the Eastern seaboard, you could certainly go in that direction if you don’t mind sacrificing the serene feel. Another strategy: Bring in varying shades of a single color, such as coral. Or add hints of classic nautical hues — navy and white, for example, looks as fresh as a sailor’s just-pressed uniform. The key is to stay consistent; too many color schemes in different rooms add up to too many personalities for a single house.

Style Secret: Natural Fibers

Organic materials such as sea grass, straw and jute, in the guise of rugs, furnishings and accessories, bring a natural warmth and texture to coastal interiors. A few touches of rope — nautical balls, cabinet and drawer pulls, even stairway spindles — add lighthearted appeal yet stay true to the theme.

Something different: Break up organic surfaces with contrast. A wicker coffee table next to a rattan chaise on top of a sisal rug might be a bit much. This dining area juxtaposes a sleek table with woven, cushioned armchairs to streamline the space.

Style Secret: Light, Weathered Woods

While exotic hardwoods may jibe with tropical interiors, American coastal style dictates a lighter touch. Picture driftwood: worn smooth and bleached out, with a salt-kissed patina. That’s the look you’re after. Whitewashed or pickled woods, blond maple and ash, or bamboo — on flooring as well as furniture — feel pitch perfect. Painted planks and beadboard are coastal classics as well.

Something different: Darker woods have a place in this style, but they’re generally the exception rather than the rule. A walnut chest or teak armoire can look stunning against a room full of light colors, as long as the deeper tones don’t overtake the space.

Style Secret: Open Space

Like the beach itself, coastal rooms should feel breezy, so don’t stifle them with a surfeit of furniture and bric-a-brac. Decorate with an eye to maintaining clear vistas and sight lines — accent the periphery of a space rather than clogging its center. Even if there’s no briny air to blow through the house, it’s nice to feel as though it could.

Something different: Our advice? Don’t deviate. As with light, there’s really no substitute for an expansive interior. If you have the budget and the inclination, you could consider remodeling to open up a home that begs for some extra breathing room. If not, arrange furniture in a way that feels as streamlined as possible and go easy on the accessorizing.

Style Secret: Casual Furniture

Imagine flopping into a velvet armchair in a wet swimsuit or dumping shells onto a gleaming mahogany table. Did you wince? Coastal furniture should give the impression that it can stand up to salty air and sandy feet, even if you actually live on a suburban street in Dallas. Slipcovers, sturdy wood tables and case goods, wicker and even thick glass fit the bill.

Something different: Casual doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice elegance. You’ll find lots of high-style pieces in materials that can take a little wear and tear. For upholstered furnishings, consider outdoor fabrics, which come in designs and colors that look as spot on in a living room as in a screened porch.

Style Secret: Beachy Treasures

What did you bring home from your last trip to the shore? Odds are, you filled your tote bag with shells, sea glass, bottles, maybe an old ship’s cleat or two. Take inspiration from these finds in choosing small accents. The key word is restraint. One or two starfish on a shelf look striking and sculptural; baskets and vases full of them can be overkill.

Something different: Bring in a few objects that have a foot in coastal design but venture into broader territory. French glass wine jugs or Japanese fishing-net floats, for instance, hew to the look yet aren’t cornerstones of American coastal style. Or experiment with new ways to display old favorites — instead of filling a lamp base with shells, frame them solo or in pairs and hang them in a grid.

More ‘So Your Style Is': Traditional | Contemporary | Transitional | Cottage | Eclectic | Industrial

2011 Ultimate Beach House Room Photos – Coastal Living

2011 Ultimate Beach House Room Photos – Coastal Living.

2011 Ultimate Beach House Room Tour

Check out our East Beach Idea House in Norfolk, Virginia. It’s packed with fantastic decorating ideas–all yours to steal!

2011 Ultimate Beach House Porch

Photographer: Tria Giovan, Stylist: Heather Chadduck

Beauty at the Beach


You’re not the only one who dreams big—we have grand plans, too. This year, we went to Norfolk, Virginia, and invited some of our favorite design stars to build a seaside retreat from the ground up. The result is a shingle-style home chock-full of pretty decorating ideas and smart design finds. Keep clicking for a room-by-room tour!

2011 Ultimate Beach House Living Room

Photographer: Tria Giovan, Stylist: Heather Chadduck

The Exterior


Inside-Out Palette: Aqua walls and navy shutters not only reference the house’s waterside surroundings but also offer a preview of the cool shades inside.

Cement Siding: Planks and shingles made of reinforced concrete have the charm of traditional wood siding but will stand up to the coastal environment longer with less maintenance.

HOT TIN ROOF: With the same appeal of historic metal roofs, this steel version deflects as much as 90 percent of the sun’s heat, thereby keeping the house cooler.

NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH: Double-decker porches framed by bright white columns create a welcoming facade and encourage interaction with neighbors in Norfolk’s East Beach community, where houses are clustered along pedestrian-friendly streets.

2011 Ultimate Beach House Living Room

Photographer: Tria Giovan, Stylist: Heather Chadduck

The Living Room


Nautical Palette: Crisp blues, whites, and yellows are a nod to Norfolk, with its active boating community and history as a Navy town.

Statement Piece: With its dark background and large scale, this simple, powerful photo of an albatross is the perfect dramatic art for the otherwise airy space.

Top Brass Lamp Shades: This seaworthy metal is more practical (read: easier to keep clean!) in a beach house than fabric shades. Bonus: A pair of floor lamps frees up space on the end tables.

All Washed Up: The ceiling’s gray-white wash (paint thinned with water) resembles driftwood that’s floated ashore.

Attention to Detail: Extra touches, such as the square blocks added to window casings and trim layered in a wainscot pattern, create the look of custom paneling without the high price tag.

2011 Coastal Living Ultimate Beach House Dining Room

Photographer: Tria Giovan, Stylist: Heather Chadduck

The Dining Room


Booth-like Benches:  The banquettes, which comfortably fit two people, are a casual and streamlined way to seat a crowd without the busy look of so many chairs.

Mirror Image: Fanned-out paddles are a sculptural, cheeky take on the classic round mirror.

Custom Job: Can’t find a striped fabric that floats your boat? Try piecing together solids in the width of your choice for a graphic color-block effect, like that of the banquette slipcovers.

Sheer Bliss: Pleated linen draperies filter bright seaside light and lend an ethereal quality to the space.

Sky Blue Hue: The dreamy wall shade is a soft backdrop for the starker contrast between the navy and white upholstery. Tip: Vary blues for a more sophisticated, less matchy-matchy look.

2011 Coastal Living Ultimate Beach House Kitchen

Photographer: Tria Giovan, Stylist: Heather Chadduck

The Kitchen


Double-decker Cabinetry: White paint and glass doors on the upper cabinets brighten the room, while the polyurethane finish below stands up to wear and tear without chipping.

Marine Scheme: The deep blue recycled ceramic-tile back-splash and durable enameled cast iron cookware echo the shades in the adjacent living and dining spaces as well as the bay.

Seamless Stainless: Appliances such as this dishwasher that can be installed flush with cabinetry lend a streamlined look.

Planks with Patina: Watered-down gray paint gives the wide-plank oak floors a worn, weathered finish that’s as beautiful as it is durable.

Eye-catching Lighting: Bigger is better when it comes to above-island pendants. This stainless steel fixture is more than 3 feet long!

2011 Ultimate Beach House Breakfast Nook

Photographer: Tria Giovan, Stylist: Heather Chadduck

The Breakfast Nook


Sunny side Up: Make the most of a single, cheerful color by mixing motifs, such as the chairs’ bold ikat print, the cushions’ tailored piping, and the rug’s classic stripes.

Everyday Art: Find beauty in the ordinary by curating a collection of similar items, like these brightly colored flip-flops framed in Lucite boxes.

Double-duty Built-Ins: Space-saving bench seating is even more efficient when there’s room for storage below.

Outside In: The banquette cushions’ weatherproof fabric can be wiped down with a sponge, making white a safe choice for the dining area.

2011 Ultimate Beach House Master Bed

Photographer: Tria Giovan, Stylist: Heather Chadduck

The Master Bedroom


Charted Territory: Antique, hand-colored nautical maps of the Mid-Atlantic coast and a pair of fish-eye mirrors frame the bed and bedside lamps (above right) with a graphic, symmetrical arrangement.

Lighten Up: A pair of balustrade-shaped bedside lamps, typically made of wood, take an airy turn in translucent glass.

2011 Ultimate Beach House Master Bedroom View

Photographer: Tria Giovan, Stylist: Heather Chadduck

The Master Bedroom View


Sea Foam Chic: A variety of textures (grasscloth wallpaper, lacquered side tables, sheer shades) and patterns enliven this single-color scheme, which doesn’t compete with the room’s panoramic view.

2011 Ultimate Beach House Master Bath

Photographer: Tria Giovan, Stylist: Heather Chadduck

The Master Bath


Louvers Lane: The shutter-inspired, slatted detail on the bed and the tub surround lends a touch of island style.

Checkmate: Made from square tiles in different sizes and colors, the bath’s mosaic floor is a fresh update on a classic checkerboard pattern.

2011 Ultimate Beach House Master Porch

Photographer: Tria Giovan, Stylist: Heather Chadduck

The Master Porch


Multitasking Ottoman: Thanks to its generous proportions, this light-weight wicker piece functions as a coffee table, a spot to prop up feet, or an extra place to perch and take in the ocean view.

Durable Surface: Made of a synthetic material that looks like wood, this porch floor is resistant to mildew, moisture, splitting, scratches, and stains.

Window Dressing: The shutters’ rich navy color and off-beat hardware make them worthy of a double take. They’re functional, too—they cover the windows’ entire width to offer storm protection.

2011 Ultimate Beach House Guest Bedroom

Photographer: Tria Giovan, Stylist: Heather Chadduck

The Guest Bedroom


The Fine Print: Using small-scale prints on the upholstered bed and the curtains shows off their silhouettes.

Dimensional Decor: Antique creamware plates and a set of whitewashed antlers are a 3-D alternative to typical artwork above the bed.

2011 Ultimate Beach House Guest Bedroom Sitting Area

Photographer: Tria Giovan, Stylist: Heather Chadduck

The Guest Bedroom Sitting Area


Easygoing Green: A mossy shade is pretty but strong, making it a great choice for a guest bedroom.

Tailored Treatment: Arabesque-shaped valances, which highlight the room’s high ceilings, take a preppy turn when framed with trim in a contrasting fabric.

2011 Ultimate Beach House Guest Bath

Photographer: Tria Giovan, Stylist: Heather Chadduck

The Guest Bath


Geometric Sequence: Honeycomb concrete tile on the bath floor is a graphic, mod anchor in the light, airy space.

Reed Between the Lines: The vanity’s fluted detail resembles the rattan reeds used to make furniture commonly found in coastal locales.

2011 Ultimate Beach House Children's Bed

Photographer: Tria Giovan, Stylist: Heather Chadduck

The Children’s Bed


Snuggly Surfaces: Sleepover guests will feel welcome in richly upholstered twin beds.

Graphic Design: Buttons and piping (upholstered in a contrasting shade) give the headboard a preppy, graphic punch.

2011 Ultimate Beach House Children's Room

Photographer: Tria Giovan, Stylist: Heather Chadduck

The Children’s Room


Cozy Color: Saturated camel and hot pink lend happy sophisitication to a kids’ retreat.

Texture Message: The nubby burlap wall-covering adds casual comfort and visual interest.

2011 Ultimate Beach House Children's Bath

Photographer: Tria Giovan, Stylist: Heather Chadduck

The Children’s Bath


Groove Thing: V-groove planking placed in a chevron pattern and highlighted in soft gray paint adds intricate detail to the simple flat-panel bath door and cabinetry.

2011 Ultimate Beach House Side Yard

Photographer: Tria Giovan, Stylist: Heather Chadduck

The Side Yard Dining Area


Concrete Courtyard: These man-made pavers are engineered to withstand the harsh coastal elements while maintaining their warm color and natural-looking texture.

2011 Ultimate Beach House Side Yard Living Area

Photographer: Tria Giovan, Stylist: Heather Chadduck

The Side Yard Living Area


All-Weather Wonder: Sturdy teak seating (previous slide) and aluminum-framed wicker, which can endure through rain and chill, let this outdoor space be used like an indoor one all year long.

Made in the Shade: A retractable awning and manual roller shades made of weatherproof fabric offer protection from bright sunlight and strong sea breezes.

Eco-Chic Rug: With wide stripes, super-soft ribbing, and 50 percent recycled content, this indoor/outdoor rug is good-looking and good for the environment.

Hedge Fun: A row of tall, slender elm trees creates a privacy screen (with enough height to shield the second floor, too!); silvery green maiden grass beneath softens the fence with beachy texture.

2011 Ultimate Beach House Carriage House Kitchen

Photographer: Tria Giovan, Stylist: Heather Chadduck

The Carriage House Kitchen


Mini Kitch: Plain-Jane cabinetry gets a luxurious look with navy blue paint in this super-functional galley kitchen.

Top Shelves: Their openness offers easy access to everyday items such as dishes and stemware.

Tile Style: The irregular texture of the glazed white bricks on the backsplash is a rustic twist on porcelain subway tile.

2011 Ultimate Beach House Carriage House Living Area

Photographer: Tria Giovan, Stylist: Heather Chadduck

The Carriage House Living Area


Day Into Night: The daybed, which is nearly the size of a double mattress, is the perfect piece for this efficiency apartment tucked over the house’s garage.

Lighting the Way: A pair of pendants are like spotlights over the counter workspaces in the kitchen, while a pair of swing-arm sconces provides just enough light for reading.

Printed from:

20 Finds Call to Mind Coastal Cottages and Salty Sea Breezes from Houzz

True Blue Beach Retreat / Shore Things July 2011

By now, you know I adore coastal style, nautical anything and beach casual. These Coastal Living blues add instant coastal casual style anywhere! Combine these inspirations to any of the “Shore Things” items for July 2011 (bottom of this post) and you’ll feel like you’re on vacation even if you’re stuck in the city.

True Blue Beach Retreat

Azure skies, hydrangeas, and sea glass inspired designer Frank Randolph’s creative coastal decor for this  Kiawah Island home in South Carolina.

Decorating With Blue

Photographer: David Hillegas

Decorating With Blue


Natural blue hues perfectly reflect the colors of the ocean in this seaside home. Designer Frank Randolph took his cues from the Kiawah Island landscape, bold blue dinnerware, and the bright white forms of the Loop chair, designed by Frances Elkins (pictured at center) to create a backdrop for an innovative mix of patterns.

Mixed Textures

Photographer: Annie Schlechter

Mixed Texture Breakfast Room


Randolph brought a touch of the ocean to the breakfast room with pillows covered in lively John Robshaw prints and a Lee Jofa ikat. The pieces bring softness to the otherwise industrial furniture.

Graphic Warmth

Photographer: Annie Schlechter

Graphic and Warm Dining Room


The dining room credenza has the weathered texture of driftwood, bringing a warmth to the space. The graphic splatter-print fabric on the chair backs by Hickory Chair adds personality.

Blue Details

Photographer: Annie Schlechter

Blue Details


Frank chose Ikat-print dinnerware by VivaTerra for a modern element on a traditional table setting.

Ocean Inspiration

Photographer: Annie Schlechter

Ocean Inspired Kitchen


Form meets function in the kitchen, where even everyday items such as cookware and canisters act as bright blue accessories.

Beachy Elegance

Photographer: Annie Schlechter

Beachy Elegant Living Room


In the living room, a bleached oak armchair from John Rosselli is coverd in a casual, striped linen fabric by Peter Fasano.

Printed Blue Den

Photographer: Annie Schlechter

Printed Blue Den


In the den, shades of blue and various patterns harmonize without being matchy. A 19th century grotto chair (on the left) shares the stage with a 1930s Frances Elkins Loop chair.

Stand-Out Bathroom

Photographer: Annie Schlechter

Stand-Out Bathroom


The powder room’s bold paint-splatter wallpaper is like a Jackson Pollock painting.

Designer Frank Babb Randolph

Photographer: Annie Schlechter

Designer Frank Babb Randolph


Washington D.C.-based designer Frank Babb Randolph is known for his unstuffy approach to tailored interiors. “I wanted to give these typically buttoned-up rooms a more beach-casual feel,” he said about the Kiawah home.

Printed from:

Shore Things

Get a daily dose of shore style in July! We’ve round up the best products daily that’ll turn your home into beach chic.