Bring the Coast to You – Principles of Coastal Design

With an abundance of mood-enhancing sunlight, fresh-air, exfoliating sand, mesmerizing waves, laughter and more, it’s no wonder we all love the beach!

For those of us who are not lucky enough to live by the beach, bringing all those feelings home with a coastal design theme keeps family members connected to the happy memories and natural wonders experienced during a seaside getaway. No matter how landlocked your home, the decorating police won’t keep you from appointing your home in sand and seashells, blues and whites. If friends or family make wisecracks, tell them to “get a life,” or, better yet, reservations by the water.


Those lucky few who own seaside homes mimic the glorious outdoors with beach themed décor. After all, who can compete with the dramatic beauty? May as well spread it throughout the house, creating a seamless experience between the outdoors and in.

A lucky few can pull a room together guided by a theme with little study or planning. The rest benefit from immersing themselves in a few guiding principles before breaking their decorating budget. As boring as it sounds, planning room upgrades with a list and constraints works better than a series of impulse buys. Read through these principles of coastal design to make sure you achieve the mood you’re going for.

The Mood Behind Coastal Design  

Vacationers feel so good in their hotel rooms and seaside cabanas primarily because of the abundant light and easy access to the outdoors. Also, knowing that nothing serious or stressful lurks on the calendar adds to the luxurious feel. The dominant mood behind coastal design must be relaxed and casual. This is not the place for delicate furniture, ornate glass and damask window treatments.

No heaviness allowed in the coastal refuge either. Leave the burgundy and hunter green paisley rugs and pillows in your mountain cabin with the oak chests. People in a seaside cottage have no plans but putting up their feet and watching the sunset. Pull that feel off with structure, furniture, fabric, and décor that lulls people into believing they could step out into the waves if they want.

Key Structural Issues of Coastal Design

Central to coastal design is natural light. Stay away from the cute seashells in the beginning and widen your perspective to start. Focus on maximizing abundant light with available or upgradeable windows and doors first.

Given the view outside is appealing, are there any doors where wood can be replaced by glass? Can a wall be made transparent with cased windows and doors? Sliding patio or track doors enable homeowners to turn one whole wall into glass.

In instances where the existing outdoors won’t complement the beach theme you plan, carefully placed mirrors, beach art, and skylights can compensate. Always place mirrors so they reflect something pretty, either a window to a lovely landscape or art. A large beach painting reflected by a mirror goes far to establish the theme.

The Colors of the Coast

With abundant light optimized, it’s time to arrange your space. Color is the next aspect to consider. For homes already close to the beach, focus on the colors and materials just outside. What can you bring in? Some choose natural stones and wood to accent fireplaces, side tables, shadowboxes, and more. Study these colors to pick your paint and fabric shades.

Those working to create a beach feel in a mountainous area dominated by dark greens and browns still can. The typical colors that set the seaside mood are whites, sandy beige, and blues. Homeowners often choose a pop of color, too, but rich or bright colors can be too jarring. The pop or smudge of color should stay in the pastel hues as in the lightest pinks, greens, and yellows. These should remain accent colors.


Seaside Furniture that Blends

Overly manufactured, veneered furniture clashes with coastal décor as much as highly-processed sugary cereals do with the whole foods diet. As with the dedication to natural light and colors, furnishings should be comfortable and simple. Lots of pillows push the prioritization of comfort over pretension. Convey the reverence of nature with distressed, even whitewashed woods.

The Fabrics of Coastal Design

Can mood be made by fabric? You bet. Coastal themed rooms need fabrics that invite people to prop up their feet and relax. Cotton furniture covers that are easily removed and washed can help relax the homeowner with the dirty-footed guests. Some using the coastal design theme choose outdoor fabrics that clean easily with a hose and resist stains with better results than any other fabric. Again, going for the relaxed feel means incorporating nature. Natural fabrics like linen, burlap, cotton, and terry on furnishings, pillows, lamps, and wall coverings achieve this goal.

Fabrics work over-time, too, when decorating a small room in similar colors. Homeowners add visual interest when smooth cotton fabrics balance terry pillows and linen lampshades. With the plethora of shades in the sand-beige family, decorators can make light and bright thoroughly rich as well.

Coastal Design Accent Decor

Coastal decorators beware:  demonstrate that you love the beach and every gift you receive with a sand dollar, fishing net, or miniature oar set. We recommend these pieces, but only as accents. Too many of them results in overload, and pieces compete with each other for attention.

This said, those with the coastal connection are so drawn to sea glass, shells, and even smooth, wave-tossed rocks that no trip to the beach end without a shoebox full of these treasures coming home. Stay away from clichés like the lamp base filled with a mish mash of shells. Instead, showcase shells’ infinite forms in a divided shadow box.  Use a series of small shelves of the same form on a wall to hold a collection of your best shells. Ceiling fans can be palm frond-y or wicker, but a natural wood like teak or bamboo works just as well.

The Coastal Style Room by Room

Coastal Bedroom Décor Ideas:  Mosquito netting hung from hooks over beds and on windows brings back memories from every movie set on the coast.  White or light sand walls and bedding reflect light throughout the room. Leave the complex colors and patterns to small area rugs, lampshades, and accent pillows. Wicker storage cubes at the foot of each bed for towels and bedding make housework easier.

Coastal Kitchen Ideas:  White or sand-colored cabinets, chairs, and flooring provide the continuation to the dunes outside. Light blue, olive, or light lemon backsplashes, flooring, and seat cushions provide the pop.  Some even make the pastel, vintage refrigerator work in this cozy heart of the home.

Coastal Bathroom Ideas:  A tile floor in a range of ocean blues with a white porcelain tub provides a sense that one is floating over the waves. Many decorators chose a white marble tile in the shower and throughout the bathroom in combination with warm teak cabinets and accents to achieve a spa feel. Unlike many woods, teak doesn’t warp or crack from exposure to water or steam.

Good’s Furniture Has the Distressed Pieces to Transport You Seaside . . .

A glorious selection of whitewashed and distressed coffee tables, dining tables, beds, accent pieces, and more await you in our online catalog. Have a question about a piece? Feel free to call us anytime at 309.852.5656 or leave a detailed message on our contact page. We’ll be sure to get back to you within 24 hours. We look forward to helping you bring the feel and sights of the coast into your home!