Coastal is another one of our favorite styles here at MWI. There is just something so relaxing about a cozy coastal space! Despite the name, coastal or coastal-inspired interiors are not exclusive to beach homes. Keep reading to learn the essential elements of this design style, and how we used this style in beach side homes and beyond!
History of Coastal Design
A lot of people see Coastal style as trendy, but it actually a style that has been around for hundreds of years. Of course, the style differs based on country, region, and time period but the basic principles are the same! Coastal style is all about drawing inspiration from nature. Specifically, the surf, the sand, the sun, and the sky and other natural elements you find at the beach. This influences everything from colors and patterns to materials and art. The idea of drawing from nature is something that transcends trendiness. It’s a classic principle that is easily adaptable.
Coastal vs. Nautical
Coastal is often confused with Nautical design, so we’ll first explain the differences before moving on to essential elements. The coastal style is more about creating a calm and tranquil environment, pulling inspiration from nature. This style is often more subdued and focuses on creating the atmosphere of the space. So super breezy, bright, and beautiful- bringing the outdoors in. Nautical Style, on the other hand, has more of a literal approach. This is the style where you see more of the coastal-themed objects and patterns such as anchors, ships, ropes, and shells.
Elements of Coastal Style
There are so many interpretations of coastal design that you can find throughout history and in today’s design styles. Think of how different coastal homes look across the US. Homes in Nantucket look vastly different to homes in warmer climates like Malibu and Miami. Despite the differences, all of these variations share many of the same elements that categorize them as coastal.
1. Light and Bright
Coastal interiors should be light, light, light! This helps create a feeling of openness. Large windows and doors are not just for looking out, they help bring the light in!
2. Soft Tones and Colors
White and Neutral walls are an essential part of coastal spaces. Light colored walls work with natural light to make the interiors feel more expansive. If you aren’t a white walls person, play around with the undertones. You can go with a light sand color or maybe even something with a gray undertone.
Accent colors are usually pretty subdued. You see a lot of sandy taupes and khakis for neutrals and light blues, grays, and greens. If you want to put your own take on this style you can play around with the accent colors a little bit. A lot of coastal interiors use darker blues and greens to create more contrast. Darker color schemes featuring dark blues and grays are more common in the northeast– as it reminiscent of the rocky shores and cooler weather. You can also give your coastal space a tropical twist by using bright colors like teal, yellow, and coral as accents. Brighter colors are more associated with the southeast – think about all those vibrant exteriors!
3. Stripes, of course!
Stripes are a coastal design staple. When you think of coastal fabric patterns, you think stripes. It’s a versatile pattern that works well in traditional and modern coastal interiors alike. We love playing with scale when it comes to striped textiles in our spaces. In more traditional coastal interiors stripes are often paired with some gorgeous floral patterns. Contemporary and Modern Coastal spaces tend to feature less pattern all together. They sometimes incorporate stripes and other geometric patterns, but often stick to solids giving the space a simple clean look.
4. Natural Materials and Textures
Coastal Design incorporates a whole bunch of natural elements. To create that breezy look, window treatments are usually pretty minimal. Natural woven shades look beautiful in coastal spaces and pair beautifully with light filtering linen or cotton curtains. Jute and sisal rugs are a classic choice to ground a coastal space. And then we can’t forget about the furniture! You can find an abundance of wicker and rattan pieces to incorporate throughout the design. We also love using lacquered grass-cloth furniture pieces to add some extra texture to the spaces. Wood elements are often white-washed or have a light coloration; however, you can sometimes find darker wood tones used northeastern coastal homes.
5. Beachy Accents
Nothing like accessorizing with that beachy vibe. In coastal style, it’s important not to go overboard with nautical trinkets and accessories (unless you are going for more of that nautical collection style). If you are sticking to the coastal style, woven baskets and trays, sea glass, and some carefully selected shells are perfect to use in moderation. Natural wood objects are also great to use- you can find some pretty cool driftwood pieces that add some organic movement to your space!
In our opinion, Coastal Style is timeless and will never truly go out of style. Of course, trends within the style will come and go, but the general principles of this style will always be classic. You can never go wrong with nature-inspired interiors!
The MWI Team