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Coastal Living Room Decor ~ 12 Great Tips

At Seashell Madness we have a lot of experience at beach decor (you could say it’s a bit of an obsession).

Lately that experience has been channeled into several detailed buyers’ guides, and today I would like to suggest 12 Tips for Coastal Living Room Decor.

[note: we have a few hundred specific recommendations for beach decor. If you’d like to see them, click one of the menus below the main article.]

  1. Feel the Blues
  2. One of the things which takes a little of the pressure off when you start in on a coastal decor project: the color palette is pretty universally accepted. And that color palette has a lot of large bright white spaces accented with blues & teals.

    No matter where your beach house is located (or whatever house you would like to look like a beach house is located) doesn’t really matter. A sandy spot in the Bahamas or a cozy cottage in Nantucket — we’re still talking lots of whites, blues and teals.

    Blues work really well in coastal decor, like with this wonderful blue chair available from Sophisticated Interiors on ETSY — check the Seashell Madness page on Beach House Chairs for more suggestions

    So when you are on that mission to decorate that coastal living room be sure to keep an eye out for art, furniture and accessories in those colors. By the way, the blues are usually also rather soft blues, though a good way to stand out from the crowd may be to throw some darker blues into the mix.

  3. Get a Little Sandy
  4. Though blues & teals will likely dominate your coastal color palette, that doesn’t mean that you have to be completely puritanical on that point. In fact, something in sandy colors will often work quite well in that environment.

    After all, a big reason that you want to be at the beach is… the beach.

    Add a sandy look to your decor with something like this seagrass rug, available from nuLOOM on Amazon — check the Seashell Madness page on Beach House Rugs for more suggestions

    So having at least some of your decor invoke the color of that wonderful sandy beach outside the door can often really hit the spot.

  5. Weave Some Rattan
  6. The Polynesian Islands spawned some of the earliest beach communities, and since long-ago times, items like baskets have been woven out of things like banana leaves and palm fronds. So it is only natural that something like rattan works really well in coastal decor.

    (by the way, if you are confused about the difference between wicker and rattan: wicker is the form of weaving used, while rattan is the material. According to the Wikipedia entry: “Rattan is the name for roughly 600 species of old world climbing palms belonging to subfamily Calamoideae.”)

    Rattan can be woven and bent into lots of beautiful shapes, like with this colonial-style chair available from Rattan USA on ETSY — check the Seashell Madness page on Beach House Chairs for more suggestions

    Rattan is also very lightweight, yet strong when woven well. It can be used indoors or outdoors — that set of rattan chairs would look equally good out by the pool or next to the couch in the coastal living room.

  7. Cast off with Nautical
  8. Though technically there is a difference between beach decor and nautical decor — the main difference being boats — going with the nautical look is quite often just the thing for that coastal living room.

    When thinking nautically, think anchors, ropes and netting.

    Rope gives a naturally nautical feel, like with this monkey’s fist lamp, available from Jonathan Y on AMAZON — check the Seashell Madness page on Beach House Lamps & Lighting for more suggestions

    There are a lot of wonderful art and home furnishing items which feature anchor designs. And as for rope… rope can be used in multiple really neat ways in home decor. It can be wrapped around edges, it can be incorporated as handles and pulls, and the practically endless variety of knots which can be tied can be used in all sorts of artistic ways.

  9. Be a Beach About It
  10. Use actual visuals of the beach. I know that perhaps that seems a little obvious, but sometimes we get so wrapped up in the concept of evoking the beach that we forget that an actual image of the beach does the invoking really well.

    You can have the ocean on your floor, like with this ocean rug, available from Periwinkle Possum on ETSY — check the Seashell Madness page on Beach House Rugs for more suggestions

    And when I’m talking about using images of the beach, I don’t mean only using it in your wall art. Now, there is a tremendous amount of great wall art out there featuring images of the beach (and I’ve written more than one post on beach art) but these days we aren’t limited to that.

    These days, the art of screen printing has evolved by leaps and bounds, so that a photographic image or a very detailed painting can be very finely printed on just about anything — from rugs to pillows to sofas. So don’t discount using the beach when decorating for the beach.

  11. Get Classic or Go Modern
  12. One of the great things about beach decor is that classic styling still works. You probably wouldn’t decorate a big-city townhouse in the same way that a townhouse was decorated 100 years ago, but beach house decor from a bygone era still looks wonderful today. The blue/teal/white color palette has been with us for quite some time, and that big overstuffed blue-pinstripe couch that looked so great in the beach house of a silent movie star will fit right in for your beach house today.

    You can’t go wrong with a classic sofa design in a classic color combo, like this one available from WAYFAIR — check the Seashell Madness page on Beach House Sofas for more suggestions

    But you aren’t tied to the past with coastal decor. In fact, many decorators prefer to go with contemporary styles for a beach house for one reason: to not distract from the beach. If you use a sparse set of minimalistic furniture set against stark white walls, then your visitors’ eyes will naturally go toward that window with the ocean view!

  13. Collect Some Driftwood
  14. A really great part of being in a beach house is the ability to do a little beachcombing. It can be a real thrill to walk along the coastline and happen upon a beautifully twisted branch of wood which has been worked over and smoothed by the sea.

    So it makes a lot of sense to incorporate some driftwood into your coastal living room decor.

    It is amazing what a great artist can do with driftwood, like with this driftwood coffee table available from Montauk Drift Co. on ETSY — check the Seashell Madness page on Beach House Coffee Tables for more suggestions

    Lucky for you, there are a lot of artists and designers out there who use driftwood as a medium to create wonderful pieces of art and beautiful furnishings. Or… you could always take that piece of driftwood that you found and create your own artwork for display. You could discover a new talent!

  15. Sail on an Ocean of Resin
  16. If you’re not familiar with resin art, then you are in for a real treat.

    The flowing nature of resin works wonderfully for creating oceans, like the one covering this table top available from Chessie Goes Wild on ETSY — check the Seashell Madness page on Beach House End Tables for more suggestions

    The medium that the artist will start with is epoxy resin — in other words: glue. Now glue may not seem to be the most promising medium to start with, but when it is colored, the particular properties of resin make it a perfect way to depict oceans.

    Resin flows as the artist works with it, allowing wonderful water-like shapes to be made, and once it is dry it is very shiny, giving it another quality that you see in water.

    So a resin ocean… you heard it here.

  17. Reclaim Some Wood
  18. In addition to reclaiming wood being just a good idea in general (each piece is a piece that is kept out of a landfill), reclaimed wood has character.

    There is just something about the look of reclaimed wood that brings a special warmth and sense of comfort to a room.

    Reclaimed wood can make some beautiful, warm furniture like this coffee table available from Doug and Cristy Designs (who specialize in reclaimed wood) on ETSY — check the Seashell Madness page on Beach House Coffee Tables for more suggestions

    Maybe it’s that comfort which makes reclaimed wood work so well in coastal decor (after all, you usually do want to be relaxed at the beach). Or maybe it’s the fact that reclaimed wood often evokes the feel of driftwood. I’m not sure, but I am sure that reclaimed wood works really well in coastal decor.

  19. Illuminate the Way
  20. Like any space that you decorate, you’ll want to have the proper type of lighting to fit with your decor.

    And when we’re talking about coastal decor, we are often talking about using lamps. Why? In addition to the feel of intimacy that a lamp provides, the lamp itself can make a statement beyond just casting some light on the room.

    There are essentially limitless options for beach house lighting, like this wonderful driftwood lamp available from Vandue on ETSY — check the Seashell Madness page on Beach House Lamps and Lighting for more suggestions

    All of those other considerations that we’ve talked about can be applied to the base of the lamp. You can go with predominately blue and teal colors, you can use some rope, you can use some seashells, you can use some resin, you can use some driftwood, you can…

  21. Light Your Fire (electrically)
  22. Though when we think of coastal areas we often think bright, sunny & warm, yet still many beach locations are in zones where the temperatures can drop a fair amount at night.

    While stocking a lot of comfy throw blankets is always a good idea (especially if you want to get all snuggly with someone at the beach) an electric heater can be very practical.

    Electric heat can look really cool, like with this electric fireplace available at WAYFAIR — check the Seashell Madness page on Beach House Fireplaces for more suggestions

    Unfortunately, historically the look of space heaters has run from bland to horrible. No more. Not since the recent advent of so many fantastic electric fireplaces. You see, there’s not actually any fire, but the facade of the unit has been done to recreate the look of a fireplace.

    Which is a lot more convenient than ripping a hole in your roof so that you can install a real fireplace.

  23. Speak in the Abstract
  24. Abstract art was practically born for the beach.

    A good artist can take a few colors, work some magic and come up with something that evokes the feelings of the ocean while not actually being the ocean.

    Which is neat.

    Even a pillow can sport a wonderful abstract painting, like this one available from Alricc on AMAZON — check the Seashell Madness page on Beach House Pillows for more suggestions

    I’ve long been a fan of abstract oceans — I’ve probably viewed thousands of them, and I’ve written more than one article reviewing some great abstract oceans. One of the great things about abstract images is that they can be used to accentuate all different sorts of decor. For instance, you may want to hang a great abstract painting from the wall, or you may find a wonderful pillowcase which evokes the feel of the sea, or you may find a great area rug which makes you feel like you are floating on the surface of the sea.

    You have a lot of options.

And with that, we’ll finish off our quick guide of 12 tips for Coastal Living Rooms. I hope that one or two of these pointers helps you out in your coastal decorating project.

And remember to check out the rest of Seashell Madness, where we’re all about “beach art, beach fun, beach everything!”

Coastal Living Room Guides:

Be sure to check out these Seashell Madness guides when you tackle that coastal decor project!

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Beach Aesthetic

The Beach Aesthetic is a way of life, submerging yourself in the beach vibe from art to clothing to phone cases makes the beach aesthetic real.