July 22, 2013

It is summer. If you live somewhere chilly, you are dreaming about the beach as a place to warm up. If you live on the East Coast right now, you are dreaming about cooling off in the surf.

Either way, it is the time of year when Coastal Style is genuinely appealing.

This way of decorating is exactly what it sounds like: whether you live near the coast or not, Coastal Style brings the easy and relaxed feeling of life at the beach into your home.

How do designers make it work?

Use the colors of the sand and sea and sky. Create small vignettes of treasures picked up during a wander along the beach. Add enough small details so that you can imagine you are at a low-key, fun beach house where you can kick off your flip flops and fire up the BBQ. Keep it simple and don’t go overboard. If you edit it down to a few key details it will feel chic rather than kitschy.

Here are 5 ways to bring Coastal Style Living in your own home:

  1. Layer on the white.

Photo © Woodmeister Master Builders

A gauzy white curtain blowing in the breeze, a band of sunlight across crisp white sheets, early morning light streaming through white painted windows, all of these suggest life near a beach. The trick is to layer the whites. White paint, white sheets and pillows, white curtains. If that’s too austere for your taste, try adding in some of the softer beiges of sand dunes in sunlight. You’ll find the break from bright color as restful as a day lazing under an umbrella.

  1. Try adding accents of sand and sky.

Photo © Workshop/apd

White and blue, beige and blue—these are colors that immediately suggest water, sand and sky. I particularly like the cheeky turquoise in this dining room: it stays away from being overtly nautical but still manages to suggest the bright morning sky over the ocean.

  1. Keep it relaxed.

Photo © Philip Clayton Thompson

Above all, make sure that the spaces you create invite casual relaxation. They should not be so stiff and formal that the idea of sandy feet, or a slightly damp bathing suit would be out of the question. A view of water always helps, of course, but this space could be almost any porch, painted white and left just rustic enough to invite you to put your feet up on the window sill and enjoy that sunset glass of Chardonnay.

  1. Don’t forget the details.

Photo © Growing Wild Florist

Growing Wild is a Manhattan Beach florist beloved by local designers and homeowners for their unerring sense of detail. In their home décor options they often blend candles, seashells, starfish and plants to create perfect accents for the beach home. If you choose not to go to the professionals for your accent pieces, take the same ingredients and experiment on your own.

  1. Show off your treasures.

In a previous post, I showed a collection of treasures gathered from various sources and displayed in a long narrow capiz tray. Finding a sand dollar is a real thrill. Find a way to mix that treasure with other objects that suggest the tang of salt air and you are well on your way to capturing the simple secrets of Coastal Style.

Written by Catherine Holliss

Interior Design Blog Writer,, LLC

Director of Interior Design, Sander Architects LLC.  


Photographs © Catherine Holliss unless otherwise noted. 

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