Coastal style has taken Australia by storm with its elegant beachside charm. More than an interior design trend, coastal style is characterised by an indoor-outdoor living aesthetic that embodies the Australian way of life. We love coastal style because we live and breathe it.
From rustic coastal to Hampton’s style all the way to luxe coastal, there are countless variations of the coastal interior design style. But whether you go boho or lavish, keep in mind that coastal is never clichéd.
Forget bold blue-and-white stripes, anchors galore and fishing nets hanging from the ceiling. Coastal interior design is all about natural materials and neutral tones that pop against a white background.
Whatever your favourite coastal variation, here are 10 guiding principles to help you nail this style’s laidback coastal vibe.
1. Crisp white walls
All-white walls and cabinetry are the foundation for any coastal home. Not only will they reflect light and brighten living areas, but they’ll also make your natural palette pop. Try Dulux Vivid White for the perfect coastal white.
2. Eclectic timber
Timber furniture and accents are a staple of coastal style, but which shades and finishes should you choose?
Be bold and mix different types of timber for a natural, eclectic look. A whitewashed buffet can be paired with dark spotted gum flooring. Once you’ve added your furniture and accents in neutral tones with pops of leafy green, the whole look will come together.
3. Natural materials
Embrace a range of natural materials including stone, bamboo, rattan, wicker, jute, hemp and wool. If you stick to the same neutral colours, you can’t go wrong.
Remember that coastal style is motley by nature (even when it’s luxe), so the goal is to make it look like each item was collected in a different location and has its own special story. Colours don’t have to match perfectly and odd pieces can add interest.
4. Soft textiles
The coastal aesthetic is made up of rough materials and hard edges, so it needs to be balanced out with some seriously comfortable seating and textiles.
A slipcover sofa in a natural tone creates a laidback look and is easy to clean so you won’t have to worry about messes and spills. Your living area should look and feel inviting and lived in.
Add a soft rug in muted tones and a plush throw to keep you warm when the sun goes down on your beach home paradise.
You can also mix functional shutters with billowy curtains in the same room to extend the hard edges/soft finishes dichotomy of the coastal style into the window treatments.
5. Beach accessories
Your coastal style home wouldn’t be complete without some beach-themed accessories. Choose them wisely and use them sparsely to avoid turning your home into a tacky beach shack.
Avoid overdone “Beach House” signs and overly colourful ornaments. You can throw in the odd nautical item – such as a weathered timber oar – but don’t go (ahem) overboard.
You can also collect shells, driftwood, feathers and other natural items at the beach. Place them in bowls or create your own handmade artworks and display them around your home. As with the rest of your coastal décor, less is more.
Take inspiration from Hatch Interiors, who created this gorgeous classic coastal-inspired dining room mood board that eventuated into a real-life project.
6. Feature plants
A well-placed oversized feature plant – think Monstera, Fiddle Leaf Fig or palm – will add a splash of lush greenery to your neutral palette.
Plant-inspired décor items are also de rigueur. Don’t be afraid to go matchy-matchy with a plant, print and cushion in the same theme. Some coastal style enthusiasts even go so far as to cluster these items together to create an eye-catching pop of foliage.
7. Natural light
Natural light should flood every living area and bounce off the white walls to create a bright and airy feeling. Choose window treatments that allow daylight to flow into every room. You may prefer to avoid window treatments entirely in some rooms to maximise natural light.
8. Indoor-outdoor flow
Doors that open completely (bi-fold or sliding) are essential to creating a sense of uninterrupted indoor-outdoor living. You can increase this feeling by connecting your indoor and outdoor spaces with similar interior design styles.
Opt for indoor plants that are similar to the ones growing in your garden and choose coastal outdoor furniture to extend your living room outside.
9. Outdoor shower
Outdoor showers are all the rage, but they’re more than just a pretty showerhead. There’s nothing more enjoyable than rinsing off in the great outdoors after a beach swim and sand will stay out of the house. Even if you’re nowhere near the beach, you’ll love the feeling of an outdoor shower on a hot summer day.
As you design your dream coastal home, keep these three driving principles in mind: simple, liveable and clutter-free. Your living spaces should look and feel comfortable and inviting rather than stiff and over-styled.
Make comfortable and fuss-free seating a priority and keep your styling clean and simple. Opt for one large decorative basket instead of three and a striking feature plant rather than a cluster of them. If you’re wondering whether there are too many decorative items on your coffee table, there probably are.
Every few months, declutter your home to ensure you keep your aesthetic on track. In a coastal home, simplicity is key.
Coastal charm can be yours
Embrace the easy-breezy, laidback vibe of coastal style and you’ll feel like you’re on holidays every day.
Need more coastal interior design styling inspiration? Head to our mood boards inspiration page and products page and search for “coastal”. You’ll find countless mood boards to inspire your coastal haven. We've also rounded up a few of our favourite coastal style mood boards above.