Designing in Coastal Style

Every day can be a beach day when your home's décor has a light and airy Coastal style. Sun-soaked colors and natural materials and the liberal use of white epitomize the new coastal aesthetic: it's far from the traditional, nautical styling of the past.

With popularity stretching well beyond the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf coasts, today's coastal design is about bringing in colors and styling that call forth a soothing and inviting environment, creating a haven from the hectic pace of daily life. Through the use of natural light, soft tones, organic textures, and a clean look, it's meant to evoke the breeziness of the beach.

Less is more in coastal design, so try for uncluttered interiors in a neutral color palette that reflects and enhances natural light sources. By paring down and opting for a minimalist vibe, interiors will feel light and open, as if there's no boundary between inside and outdoors.

Lighting fixture choices should complement natural light and reflect this breezy, open lifestyle. Lantern-style fixtures, typically thought of as traditional exterior lights are now interpreted for interior lighting, with lighter colors, and large, open designs that cross the boundaries of many design styles. Or, pull in some nautical detailing with industrial fixtures inspired by ship signal lights.

Continue the organic theme of the room's décor with lighting finished with elements hinting of the seashore. Try natural materials such as wicker and rattan as shades on pendants and lamps. Frosted glass, reminiscent of sea glass found washed upon the beach can be the finishing touch on pendants and chandeliers. Touches of stone and wooden elements reminiscent of driftwood adorn island lights and chandeliers. For a traditional Coastal look, add white-washed fabric shades to classic brass wall sconces.

Multiple windows surrounded by white walls will reflect and spread light, making the space feel even airier. Balance this with ceilings topped with exposed beams or leave some wood naturally unfinished, lightly stained, or washed with gray or white to create a warmer, organic feel against the white walls.

Accent with soft color, typically neutrals, such as a warm beige, light blues, greys, and greens. But feel free to adjust the palette according to taste: blues and crisp whites for an East Coast feel; terracotta and sunbaked colors for a Mediterranean vibe; warm whites and pale blue-green shades for a California coastal mix; and natural elements, teakwood and splashes of bright color for a tropical coastal look. A few well-chosen beach accents can give the sense of the shoreline without becoming too kitschy. When it comes to fabrics, pair traditional stripes with unexpected patterns like chevron, florals, or geometrics for a modern take on classic coastal design.

For more ideas and inspiration on the Coastal design style, visit an ALA member showroom.

Photo by Alora