How to Incorporate Modern Coastal Style


What is Modern Coastal to me?

When we remodeled our home, I knew I wanted  to incorporate more of a modern coastal style. My eye always gravitates to casual spaces that feel serene and calming, just like the feeling you get when you’re lying on the beach. With our busy lives, we need our home to feel like a sanctuary. I have learned some tricks to incorporating this feel into our everyday spaces to give off the same vibe. This is not the bright, beachy-beachy themed type of space. That vibe certainly has its place in decor, but for our family, we long for that feeling of calm, laid back coastal decor in order to make our home a place to escape the busyness of life.

When we purchased the home, the decor was more traditional. The furniture we had when we moved in sort of matched that style. But, we knew we wanted to transition to more of a coastal vibe, and our home is near the coast, with a beautiful view of Topsail Island, NC. As we purchased furniture over the years, we tried to keep that in mind. We were forced to remodel when we experienced some pretty significant hurricane damage in 2018. So, with that remodel, we tried to include selections that would allow us to capture that modern coastal style. I have learned some tips through the remodel and the redecorating process that have really helped to keep this look and feel in our home.

Keep it Light

One of the things that distinguishes coastal decor from more traditional is the use of light-colored woods throughout. For example, more natural finishes or whitewashed finishes for main furniture pieces will certainly give off a more coastal style than more dark-stained wood. This might not mean you have to buy all new. I was able to achieve this by refinishing. You can see that process here. Throwing in a pop of white or white-washed wood can also help to keep the coastal vibe. You can still have flexibility in going for more gray, driftwood type stains, or keeping with more warm, natural finishes. I love how the contrast of warm and natural and cool-gray looks together. This doesn’t mean you can’t have some darker pieces mixed in here and there. However, for the main pieces like large tables, built-ins, etc., keeping it light will help keep the coastal vibe. Even if you want to start small, changing up pieces like picture frames and shelf pieces can also allow you to incorporate more of a coastal style.

For floors, white oak is certainly on trend and is very coastal. We decided to go with a warm gray driftwood-type color. We love it so far, but I love the light look, too. So, if you want a coastal feel, think about lighter-toned woods when you are shopping for furniture pieces or selecting floor finishes, and it will help you to create that serene coastal feeling.

Use Blues & Neutrals

It goes without saying that seeing the color blue definitely gives off a coastal vibe. Blue and white is a classic color combination that has been used in home decor for decades. When you think of the ocean, you can immediately envision a color palette. Keeping with that scheme of blues and greens in home decor helps to recreate the serene feeling that you feel when you are at the beach. There is still a lot of flexibility with this color palette. You can add more tans and creams to create a warmer space . Gray is also a great neutral color that feels serene if you prefer to keep a cooler-toned palette.

Adding white is a great way to just keep the space bright and open. It can be a great color choice for walls, furniture, decorative objects, lighting and trims. Bright white shiplap is a coastal decor staple that has been on trend for a while now and it immediately adds a coastal feeling to any space. Using neutrals and whites are great for furniture and walls, and adding color in smaller pieces like pillows and shelf decor will give you long term flexibility if you decide to go a different direction. Changing the smaller pieces can also be a way to make your space feel coastal on a budget.

Vary Textures

This piece can be a little more tricky, but let me explain this a little further to help to clarify. Coastal textures can include wicker, caning, bamboo, etc. Basically, these materials are natural to coastal environments, and using them throughout decor helps to incorporate that being at the beach feeling. You can use these elements in different furniture pieces like accent chairs, bookcases and tables. And, you can take this even further in elements like lighting and decorative objects. Think beaded chandeliers, decorative trays, baskets, vases, etc. Incorporating a variety of these textures will definitely help to capture a coastal vibe. A few pieces of coral or sea fan sprinkled in here and there can also vary texture and create an immediate seaside feeling. The same goes for palm leaves. They add a textural element and automatically makes a space feel coastal.

If you crave the light, bright and airy feel of being at the coast in your home, try adding some of these components. I don’t have any professional training on this, but I have transitioned our home and have been able to better understand what pieces I had to change to successfully capture a modern coastal style.


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