What is coastal style? If you love beaches and coral and soft colors and driftwood and seagrass rugs then this is the post for you and your coastal self.

I was just at the Pinner’s Conference this weekend speaking on different styles and what they looked like and what defines and style and I got so many questions that it would make your head spin.

Like what defines a style?

And how can you tell if your style is you?

And can you mix styles?

And why did you talk about your toes when you started this blog?

I wrote a book all about style and how to find it called The DIY Style Finder. We traveled all over the country photographing different houses with different styles—like the beach house that’s been in my family for over a century. I thought it might be fun if we took a style a day and talked about it and how to create it and what you can buy to get it and how it looks in pictures.

I’m calling it Style Week.

Today I’m talking about coastal style and how to get it and sharing tons of pictures that didn’t make the book (and a few that did).

What is coastal style?

Oh, good.

I’m glad you asked.

Welcome to style week.

It’s kind of like fashion week for your home.

Every day this week, we’ll be talking about a different style and how to get it.

Today is all about a little coastal.

Elements of coastal style

Just in case you were wondering, coastal isn’t nautical. Nautical is navy and military and anchors and reds and blues and stripes and Gilligan and his hat. Sometimes coastal style has elements nautical, but truly? It’s more about celebrating bringing the outside in. It’s a feeling. It’s a life style. Coastal style is all about the blue skies and the sand and the sunlight and the simplicity of lazy days at the beach.

And the best part?

You don’t have to live next to the ocean to get it.

Here are a few of my favorite elements of coastal style:

  1. soft blues and yellows and grays
  2. seagrass anything
  3. baskets
  4. worn, chippy furniture
  5. adirondack chairs
  6. crisp white linen
  7. slipcovered chairs
  8. jute rugs
  9. driftwood
  10. shells

Coastal style is all about natural elements

(total aside: aren’t these pictures beautiful? These are some of the ones that we didn’t include in the book)

Coastal style is strawberries on a lazy afternoon and sunlight dancing across your toes on an outdoor porch and the smell of fresh flowers gathered from the garden and a glass of sweet tea waiting next to a wicker chair and a really good book.

Natural elements fill a house with life.

Here are a few natural elements you can introduce into your home to bring in a little coastal style:

  1. driftwood
  2. greenery
  3. twigs
  4. stones
  5. shells
  6. branches
  7. grasses
  8. flowers

Coastal style is all about light

If you take nothing else away from this intense discussion on coastal and all its style, remember this. Coastal style is all about light. It’s all about opening up doors and letting the sunlight into your space.  Here are a few ways you can introduce light into your home:

  1. Add sheers to the window instead of heavy curtains
  2. Paint wood floors
  3. Keep walls light and bright and airy
  4. Introduce white into the space with pops of darker colors
  5. Add a screen door to your front door to let the sounds of outside in
  6. Paint furniture light and airy colors

Coastal style is all about texture

When you think of coastal style, just think about the beach. The beach is full of wonderful, incredible, amazing texture. There’s the coarseness of the sand and the texture of the grasses and the rough edges of shells and the smooth finish of rock. Here are a few ideas to introduce coastal texture into your home.

  1. Add texture to the floor with seagrass rugs
  2. If you want to know more about the pros and cons and my big opinion of seagrass rugs click here
  3. Add texture with natural elements, like driftwood accessories or reclaimed wood pieces
  4. Fill bowls with collections, like shells or rocks or driftwood pieces
  5. Tuck a woven pouf or painted wood stool next to your chairs for a simple accessory with extra texture

Add a coastal paint color

One of the easiest ways to add a little coastal to a space is with paint. You can transform a room in a weekend with a new coat of paint in a soft, warm, inviting coastal paint color. When choosing a coastal paint color for your space, think of the elements outside and bring them into your walls. Here are some of my favorite coastal paint colors and the elements that they bring in:

  1. SW Dover White (clouds)
  2. SW Rain (rainy days)
  3. SW Alabaster (afternoon skies)
  4. SW Watery (ocean)
  5. SW Lemongrass (sunshine)
  6. SW Topsail (wind)

How to introduce color into a coastal space

Coastal is all about subtlety and softness, but that doesn’t mean it has to be without color. One of my favorite ways to bring color into our beach house is with accents. If you scroll up and look at the first room I showed you which is the living room at the beach house, you’ll notice all the neutral. The walls are SW Alabaster. The ceiling is repurposed wood beams. The furniture is all woven and neutral. And then? There’s that beautiful slipcovered built-in bench with extra color to add a little happy to the space. Here are a few ways to bring a little color into your coastal space:

  1. Bring in flowers. This coastal kitchen has white cabinets with white floors and white countertops. This bunch of fresh flowers that I brought in from the yard add the perfect pop of color. Hydrangeas are one of my favorite coastal flowers.
  2. Slipcover furniture. Coastal living is all about easy. Add brightly colored slipcovers to your space that you can change out when you want to create a different look for the room.
  3. Add patterned dishes. One of the easiest ways to bring in color to a space is to set a table full of color. Layer in different patterned and colorful dishes with your basic white dishes on the dining room table.
  4. Layer in pillows. Looking to add a pop of color to the room? Pillows are inexpensive and come in indoor/outdoor fabrics that are perfect for the coastal room.

Keep it simple

Don’t overthink the space. If you are living in a coastal environment (or just creating one in your home) think easy. For example, these dishes are plastic. They make the transition from indoor to outdoor and are perfect for big family gatherings. Here are a few ideas for keeping it simple in your coastal space:

  1. Use indoor/outdoor accessories like this plastic dinnerware set whenever possible
  2. Shop thrift stores and yard sales for inexpensive furniture finds that can be painted
  3. Layer in indoor/outdoor rugs and pillows in the rooms
  4. Keep most of your larger furnishings and walls neutral
  5. Collections make adding accessories even easier

Here’s are a few coastal style accessories to inspire you

Click on the links to shop

If you are coastal I celebrate you and your wonderful style.

You are sunshine.

You are welcoming.

You are warm summer days and incredible books and joy and the easy breezy afternoon walk along the ocean.

I love your style.

Let’s be friends. 🙂

PS Be sure and check out the rest of the styles and how to get them in my new book, The DIY Style Finder.

Want to know how to decorate your home for free?
Click here to get my FIVE BEST secrets.


  1. Image for Jenn Jenn

    Oh, those seagrass/wicker chairs...just a glimpse in that first picture. I just love those! I like a bit of a coastal style for outside. Such beautiful pictures! Have a great week!

  2. Image for Chloe Chloe

    I have a coastal style home in architecture, so I incorporate some of those elements, but being former sailors on Lake Erie, I have nautical accents. I think my look is really "old yacht club". With distressed leather chesterfield sofas and a stunning sailboat model that acts as a bit of divider between rooms. Having a true beach house is such a dream, it is wonderful that you have one that has been in your family for years!

  3. Image for Mary Ann Mary Ann

    Still kicking myself years later that I didn't respond when you put out the invite to your readers to meet you on the Cape! Your posts alway brighten my day.


    Love coastal style!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Love the way you explain the elements and give examples!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Brilliant!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Image for Regina Merrick Regina Merrick

    You know, I was really surprised when I took the quiz and DIDN'T get Coastal! I guess I'm just a coastal wanna-be! LOL! I love all things beachy, though. I have my office nook and my bathroom in pure Coastal, but everywhere else is my Farmhouse/Traditional, which was what I was tagged in the assessment! You're so good at explaining and not judging those of us who are a little Style-polar! ;)

  6. Image for Teresa G Teresa G

    This is completely my style. After all, I'm in Miami so it's kind of hard not to have this look. But I really appreciated you talking about the textures, and realize that I'm lacking in that area. So it's off to Homegoods I go!! Can't wait to dive into your new book. I've had it since it's release but had some stuff to deal with first.

  7. Image for Paula Paula

    Love it! I have so many of those elements of coastal and I live in Southern California (not near the ocean) BUT I also have elements of French Country. Is there such a thing as French Country Coastal?

  8. Image for Missy Missy

    Hurricane Florence damaged our home. As we make it livable, I am collecting things to make it "coastal." My SIL misunderstood and bought us GIANT styrofoam crisscrossed flip flops to hang on the wall. I sent her pictures from Ballard Design and now she understands. Habitat Restore and various thrift shops have made it sooo easy.

  9. Image for Teresa Teresa

    Although I am not directly on the water, I am on the East Coast so I love decorating with elements of "Coastal Style" especially during the summer months. I love pairing coral colors with navy, white and turquoise. The one mistake I see often when decorating in coastal style is people over-do it and it comes off looking to theme-y. I think there has to be balance so it doesn't look over-done in beach décor. I also love the "Palm Beach Chic" look which is dressier and usually has elements of chinoserie mixed in. Maybe you can do a future post on that look as well.

  10. Image for Pamela Smith Pamela Smith

    Coastal is my style!! I love these pictures! It looks so wonderful! We are redoing our living room and adding bleached wood floors to go with the other coastal touches. Just enough touches to give the idea of being near the water (even though we are 2 hours away!). Thanks for the inspiration!

  11. Image for Ann C Ann C

    I go Coastal in the summer. I bring out my blue and white accents as well as shells and sand from trips. I have several pieces of art including photography of sunrises and sunsets in Hawaii. The rest of the year I’m more Farm house transitional. And many of the pieces stay even during coastal season.

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