Coastal Interior Design: Everything You Need to Know

As Solis adds, modern coastal design as we know it today has been architecturally driven through an emphasis on large scale windows that expand the view and bring the outdoor landscape into the home. “The style has traditionally framed the landscape as part of the art within the home,” she explains. “Sophisticated materiality choices that beautifully complement and don’t compete with the view, alongside thoughtful architectural details that elevate the relaxed experience are all key tenets of this tradition.” 

Some people will also use “coastal” as a catch-all term for any interior design style that draws inspiration from or is connected to the beach such as beachy, nautical, Mediterranean, or tropical. However, coastal is still understood as its own distinct aesthetic too. 

Defining elements and characteristics of coastal interior design

To better understand the coastal look, consider the elements that go into crafting the aesthetic. “Coastal interiors often focus on a soft, washed, or faded neutral toned color palette paired with natural materials and soft touch experiences such as washed linen, cashmere, wool, and alpaca,” explains Solis. Though not exhaustive, coastal interiors often make use of the following design motifs: 

  • Large windows with an emphasis on natural light and framing landscapes
  • White walls
  • Color scheme that draws inspiration from a rocky beach, including blue, white, cream, green, and gray
  • Clean lines 
  • Construction materials that include natural wood elements throughout, and matte painted surfaces or plaster finishes
  • Woven and natural textures such as rattan and jute 
  • Classic design elements such as sisal rugs, slip-covered furniture, linen, and ticking stripe patterns 

Examples of coastal interior design

For some design ideas that channel the coastal vibe, consider these projects from Hamwey and Solis. 

Coastal dining room 

A coastal dining room designed by Hamwey. 

Photo: Courtesy of Mackenzie & Co

Coastal living room 

The jute rug, organic wood coffee table, and blue sectional all create a coastal aesthetic in this living room designed by Sarah Solis. 

Photo: Shade Degges

Coastal bedroom 

Pops of blue and woven textures on the desk accentuate this mostly white bedroom designed by Hamwey. 

Photo: Courtesy of Mackenzie & Co

How to bring coastal interior design into your home

If your home design could benefit from a touch-up and the coastal aesthetic feels like a fit, Solis and Hamwey have design tips to help you create the look. 

How do you build a coastal interior?

According to Hamwey, it’s best to avoid kitschy or expected decor when creating a coastal interior. “Instead of incorporating elements like shells, starfish, and navy blue stripes, take inspiration from the natural environment for everything from the color palette through to the materials used,” she advises. She recommends leaning into earth tones, natural textures, and thoughtfully layered blues. “This aesthetic is meant to evoke the feelings of relaxation and ease that waterside living brings to everyday life,” she adds. 

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