9 Coastal Interior Design Styles That Stand the Test of Time

coastal interior design styles

When it comes to interior design styles, the old adage, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” couldn’t ring more true. What works for one person, may not work for another. Same goes for each home’s unique lines and style. You want a style that reflects the overall look and feel of your home, while still ringing true to what makes you feel happy. You’ll also want to consider the climate and location of your home.

We’ve discovered that interior design styles are a bit like fashion design. What’s popular today may not be fashionable tomorrow. Here at Cottage & Bungalow, we’ve discovered a few fashionable, yet timeless interior design styles. No fads here! Simple style that can stand the test of time.

Coastal Interior Design Styles to Love

California Casual

california casual

When one thinks of California living, an image of light and inviting spaces comes up. Neutral soft tones on furniture, walls, and accessories best define this timeless interior design style. It focuses on merging the indoors and outdoors to create ease of livability and comfort.

If you are inspired by this timeless home design here are a few things you can do to incorporate it into your home.

Go for an Earthy Color Palette

Creating the California interior design style requires you to choose colors that resemble the sea, sky, and sand. These are mostly whites and off-whites for walls and ceilings, neutral upholstery and light woods for furniture to achieve the light, airy and open spaces. Avoid dark woods always as they may feel heavy and may not flow with the color palette.

Bring in Plants

Remember the goal is to bring the outdoors in. Incorporating plants adds life, energy, and color to your room.

But don’t just pick anything, the variety you choose should be determined by the amount of natural light your space can provide. With this, you also get to bring in unique handcrafted pottery to help tell your west coast style story better.

RELATED: 6 Ways to Include Home Decor Inspired By Nature

Woven Textures

The texture is a vital component of all interior design styles, but it’s especially common for California casual. Fortunately, there are numerous ways of adding texture to your living space. Texture adds an extra dimension to your home décor. The good news is that literally, every surface in the room is an opportunity to add some texture. The bad news – mastering texture requires practice to get it right. As is always the case with most interior design styles, start texturing from the floor. A roll-out rag is an easy win. You can try layering multiple rugs. But for the best results, try adding woven elements.

A good example is a woven basket. In addition to adding texture, the basket will also double as storage space. Other creative ideas are to replace your kitchen pendant lights with basket lights. Lastly, you can add a throw blanket alongside throw pillows to finish the look.

You could also layer them on top of each other with contrasting textures and subtle patterns to give them a more minimalist approach.  Go for really textured wall hangings such as wooden beads or woven art. Consider an upholstered headboard and layer, layer, layer!

Opt for Natural and Organic Materials

Natural materials will help in making your space clean and pure. Get sisal rugs, and linen or woolen throws and pillows to bring warmth, texture and add color to make your space airy and light. Choose furniture made of raw woods, woven rattan or with live edges to make it more rustic and natural.

Comfort is Key

With this style, everything should tempt you to sit down and relax. The furniture should be soft and comfortable with easy to live with fabrics like caramel leather and linen or cotton – something easy to care for and relaxed.

California casual with its minimalist yet serene and welcoming appearance is appealing to any laid back, carefree spirit who is all about good vibes and well-balanced space.

Pieces to consider:

Modern Coastal

Image: HausPhotoMedia.com

Modern coastal is lighthearted and relaxed, if offers the tranquility of a traditional beach home through a contemporary lens. No overstuff sofas here! You also bring in serenity through a minimalist color palette. Think soft whites and the colors of the sandy and sky. With modern coastal you’ll experience crisp, casual fabrics and plenty of natural elements. How the design elements look like they feel — is crucial with modern coastal.

Here are the elements you should seek out when emulating a modern coastal interior design style.

Soothing Color Palettes

Modern coastal leans toward keeping colors together. Once you decide on a soft scheme, play around with different hues, tints, and tones to achieve a beautiful living space. The same element is used throughout the room from the carpet to the furniture. You can extend this to the artwork and wallpaper. This interior design styles allow the subtle organic texture to stand out. It involves the use of natural hues inspired by the colors of the beach.

Minimalist Accents 

In modern coastal design, less is more. Stick to fewer accent pieces than you would use in a more traditionally coastal home. Choose texture-rich accent pieces which channel the textures you’ll find at the a beach. Look to natural fiber rugs, rope accents, shells, palm leaves, seagrass, and sea glass to impart a calming vibe.

Clean Furniture Lines

Sleek silhouettes and clean lines define modern coastal. Infuse coastal elements such as tapered legs, weathered wood, linen upholstery, and wicker. Here you’ll want to avoid the oversized feel of slipcovers, nautically patterned fabrics, and overly detailed construction.

Modern coastal is comfortable and fuss-free, it’s clean and comfortable.

Pieces to consider:

Cozy Cottage

Image: Golden Boys and Me

Cozy cottage is less of a design style and more of a feeling. Cottage-style interiors have a happy informality, not bound by rules. These spaces often get a dose of nostalgic charm. Think vintage looking fixtures, woodwork details and a carefree lived-in space. Cozy cottage boasts weathered paint, warm stained wood and touchable finishes. In a cozy cottage you can’t help but want to curl up by the fire and read your favorite book.

Here are elements common to a cozy cottage interior design style.

Warm Woods

From wood-plank hardwood flooring to sturdy beam, warm woods abound in a cozy cottage. Wood underfoot adds warmth and texture. Wood above adds texture and dimension. Unveiling, rather than hiding, the structure of a cozy cottage only helps to bring out the soul of a home. If a home is devoid of a wood structure, you can incorporate warm woods through pieces such as sturdy dining room table, kitchen counter top or a beautiful buffet.


Cozy cottage rooms offer plenty of nooks and alcoves that offer both curl-up daydreaming spots and space-saving built-in storage. Here you’ll find trimmed out cubbies, awkward corners and entire walls filled with purposeful shelving.

Painted Floors

While wood is a lovely centerpiece to any cottage floor, don’t be afraid to infuse a bit of creativity. We’ve seen gorgeous painted floors in various patterns, in soft color palettes, and even in simple white with pops of accent colors.

Planked Walls

Joanna Gaines was onto something when she made shiplap popular through her HGTV show. Long before Joanna made this style popular, wood boards made for cheap and durable walls for hard-working rooms, a look that has endured, thanks to its casual, homey appeal.

Cozy cottage is a feel-good throwback style that is still timeless. When you walk into a home with this style, you’ll immediately feel at-ease and who couldn’t use more comfort in their life?

Pieces to consider:

Nautical Design Style

Image: William T. Baker

When exploring coastal interior design styles, a nautical look almost always makes the list.  The traditional nautical look of navy blue and white, jute rope and sea glass decor is a quintessential nautical style with an absolute timelessness to it. It is easy to go overboard with this style, however, so we suggest a light touch with well-placed items to finish the maritime look.

Here are some suggestions for getting you going with the nautical design style.

Add Stripes

It’s simple to add that maritime feeling to any space – indoors or out – by adding stripes. Navy blue and white or red and white stripes are as nautical as you can get. You can incorporate stripes through accessories such as rugs, pillows and window coverings.

A Touch of Whimsy

Adding coastal themed accent pillows can bring whimsy to your nautical decor. Choose your color scheme and mix and match until your captain says “Aye!”

Anchors & Boat Accessories

Anchors aweigh! Nautical spaces would not be complete without an anchoring element. Introducing anchors and other boat accessories into your beach home decor will not only give that special touch to make the nautical look complete, it’ll will keep you grounded.

Natural Pieces

Rope, driftwood, and seashells are all common elements of a nautical decor scheme.

Nautical decor is inviting and calm, even as it evokes thoughts of the sea and all that surrounds it. Be careful not to get too kitschy, it can be easy to overdo it. Simply layer in some of your favorite pieces and build from there and before you know it, your space will be shipshape ready!

Pieces to consider:

Classic  Coastal

classic coastal interior design style

Classic coastal style infuses a bit of cozy cottage with modern sensibility. It is defined by relaxation and comfort. With a classic coastal interior design style you’ll find lots of natural light – as well as purposeful layered lighting, warm whites and ocean hues, reflective surfaces, soft furnishings, and nautical decor. It is a welcoming environment. When it comes to creating classic coastal interiors, it’s all about organic textures, seaside hues, and nautical touches. It is both chic and comfortable.

Here are some ideas for getting a classic coastal look.

Layered Lighting

Layer lighting is one of the most common interior design styles used to improve a room’s visual appeal. It involves using three layers of light, namely, the ambient, accent, and task lighting. You can combine task lighting and ambient lighting to create a shadow-free workspace. Accent and decorative lights create drama and pull focus to a particular part of the room. Take full advantage of the shorter fall days to showcase your layered lights. Switch off the overhead lights in the evening and let ambient and accent lighting take over. Lighting tapered candles are surprisingly useful.

Coastal Art

Bring the outside in through coastal art. We love seeing nature through the eyes of an artist and how these pieces can liven up a space. You’re certain to find artist elements to a classic coastal design.

Combining Textures & Patterns

To create dimension and texture, you’ll want to vary the colors and patterns along with the color. It doesn’t have to be busy, so if you don’t like bright colors, don’t use them. It’s the different layers and choice of patterns that make a space impressive.  So, you can have a colorful room – even all white! – and still, use a variety of elements to bring that extra pop. Try mixing patterns to add color and depth, but various patterns do need to go together while not necessarily matching.


Classic coastal decor tends to infuse varying shades of blue – akin to the sea. An international, sensational color symbolizing wisdom, intuition, and spirituality, blue can cause the body to release calming chemicals and is even said to increase productivity. Some blues are bright and dynamic while others are more subdued, giving you an array of shades and effects to choose from.

Classic Accents

Here’s where you can really showcase your style! The accents you choose for your classic coastal home can reflect upon any design style. Consider a nautical mirror, a striped rug, or incorporate seashell decor.

Classic coastal is everything you want it to be, comfortable, calm and steeped in pieces that make you happy.

Pieces to consider:


Low Country Cottage

Low country is another excellent option to consider and many inspiring looks can be found along the southern coasts.

The low country cottage is all about casual, comfortable, easy living, and that is reflected in the decor. White washed walls, and wide-plank wood floors make up the canvas. Outdoor living is essential in a low country cottage, with porches acting like any other living space and an effortless congruence of bringing the outdoors in, and vice versa. Furnishings and accents span the spectrum of browns from sandy tans to rich chocolates. The low country look also features lots of floral accents and foliage throughout the home.

Pictured above: Low Country Bed Swing with Sides

New Orleans Style

cottage style decor - new orleans
Source: Architectural Digest

New Orleans is not only home to the French Quarter and Mardi Gras, but it also features one of the country’s most dynamic cottage styles. If you want to decorate cottage style, you would be remiss to not consider the remarkable taste and texture that can be accomplished with New Orleans cottage decor. A blending of styles from French Country to Creole, every New Orleans cottage has a unique look and feel.

Opulent fabrics, eclectic furnishings, charming lighting, and inspired artwork are hallmarks of this romantic style of cottage. You’ll find brick and wrought iron throughout the city, along with both painted and rustic furnishings. New Orleans is a city that is full of energy, which helps to punctuate these diverse, neo-classical cottages.

Pieces to consider:

Key West Inspired

decorate cottage style - key west
Source: Mary-Bryan Peyer Designs Inc.

Key West cottages are the ultimate casual beach bungalow and the best possible inspiration sources for a coastal interior design style, while also creating a tropical getaway. Key West is all about relaxation and creativity in a sand and sun kind of way.

Key West style is a lot of fun to create because color rules. Paint your walls in fun bright blues, greens, pinks, and yellows. Natural elements such as bamboo and rattan are the best way to tie it all together. Lush foliage, seashells, and coral sculptures are all classic go-to’s. Art can be tranquil and beachy or fun and funky which is what is so great about the Key West style.

RELATED: 4 Beautiful Beach House Color Schemes to Inspire a Refresh

Nantucket Interior Design Style

nantucket style living room
6th Street Design School

Nantucket, a small island off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts, has long been an inspiration for anyone trying to accomplish an intimate coastal look in their home. Nantucket is known as a beachy retreat for New England Residents, and the Nantucket cottage style showcases the calm retreat they are seeking.

This is clearly outlined in the more subdued color palettes you see in Nantucket coastal cottages. Warm browns, sun-bleached whites, foggy gray blues, and berry reds sweep across these cottage walls. Typical accents you will see throughout Nantucket, include lighthouses, boats, and nautical highlights. Plush cable-knit throws, brick fireplaces and exposed sand-worn woods all speak to the seasonal beach locale and are part of what make the style so unique.

Pieces to consider:

There’s no doubt about it if you want to explore a coastal interior design style, your options for inspiration are endless. The greatest quality of coastal design is that the looks are versatile and dynamic, and comforting and quirky at the same time. From beachy bungalows to French and fabulous, beach style is the one of the most sought out across the U.S. Which one is your favorite?

Recommended Articles