Modern Coastal Interior Design 101: Your Complete Decorating Guide

modern coastal interior design

Contemporary Modern Coastal Interior Design: Your Complete Decorating Guide

If I say ‘coastal interior style,’ there’s almost a guarantee that everyone will think of something different. From old-fashioned grandmother-style cottages and beach shacks with anchors galore and starfish beach signs, to traditional and classic coastal interiors found in old money towns, to very luxe and modern coastal interiors in California.

old fashioned coastal interior design
Old-fashioned coastal interior designs

In this guide, I’ll be focusing specifically on contemporary coastal styles, mainly inspired by Californian and Australian designs.

So if you love this aesthetic and are looking for useful tips on how to create the desired look using just the right furniture and decor, as well as plenty of inspiration, let’s dive right in!

How to decorate modern coastal interior design

So, let’s go through all the characteristics that define coastal style step-by-step.

1. What is the definition of coastal interior style?

Coastal interior design style – is all about a relaxing and breezy vibe, where the main idea is to seamlessly bring the peaceful atmosphere of seaside living into your home, with a focus on simplicity, natural materials and textures, and a color palette inspired by the ocean and coastline.

Coastal interiors always feel light and airy; they’re very inviting and feel like a vacation retreat, even if you’re miles away from the shore.

Definition of Coastal Interior Design Style

2. The importance of lighting in coastal interior design

From an architectural standpoint, having plenty of natural light and large windows is crucial because they are defining features of the coastal aesthetic.

However, I believe that even if you don’t have those giant windows and stunning views, you can still enjoy and create the feel of this design style in your home.

Key Element of Coastal Interior design

3. Walls in coastal interiors

I would say that the foundation of any modern coastal design is all-white walls.

Foundation of coastal interior design - all white walls

And despite the sarcasm I often see online, especially regarding Australian coastal interiors that it’s just about painting everything white, I believe there’s more to it.

So, let’s figure out why white is so prevalent and if it’s possible to incorporate different wall colors.

seaside coastal kitchen design

Two reasons for white walls in coastal design

  1. White perfectly reflects light. This is essential for any coastal design to brighten the rooms as much as possible and give them a sunny feel. We all know that white bounces back the most light out of any color, so that’s reason number one.
  2. Secondly, coastal interior design embraces natural materials and earthy, neutral tones. Therefore, having a white background provides a serene backdrop for those elements, allowing them to stand out and pop.
coastal interior design characteristics

Designer's favorite white colors for coastal interiors

I did some research and found out that some of the top white colors interior designers love to use for coastal interiors are ‘Chantilly Lace‘ for a nearly true white, ‘Simply White‘ and ‘Cloud White‘ if you prefer a warm white, and ‘Extra White‘ if you prefer a cool undertone white.

Top White Colors for Coastal Interiors

Beyond white: other color choices in coastal interiors

But of course, coastal interiors don’t stick strictly to white alone. There are other color choices that can work well too.

For instance, delicate hues of pink, peach, and apricot that remind you of a beautiful sunset – colors like ‘Marry Me‘, ‘Mellow Pink‘, or ‘Sunlit Coral

Wall Colors for Coastal Interiors ideas

And, of course, there are also neutrals that evoke sun-kissed spaces and warm beaches, perfect for any coastal home.

Think about beiges, taupes, and greiges – they all fit the coastal vibe very nicely. Colors like ‘Muslin‘, ‘Ashwood‘, ‘Swiss Coffee‘, ‘Maritime White‘, and ‘Cotton Balls‘.

Top Wall Colors for Coastal Interior Design

Consider coastal themed wallpapers

Also besides just plain painted walls, you can consider coastal-themed wallpapers.

They’re a great way to add some interesting texture and depth to your walls while making your place feel like a calm seaside retreat.

You can find tons of beautiful patterns available, from vibrant tropical prints and abstract waves to subtle textured neutrals, allowing you to easily transform any room into a relaxing getaway

Coastal Themed Wallpaper Ideas

4. Flooring choices for coastal style

Okay, now let’s talk about flooring.

Coastal interior design is all about using natural materials, so it’s implied that floors should be made of natural stuff, like wood or natural stones.

But it’s essential to steer away from glossy finishes and opt for surfaces that feel a bit rough and not too shiny.

What is the best flooring for coastal design?

Therefore, glossy tiles or marble just don’t align with the aesthetic of contemporary Californian or Australian interiors.

Remember, the whole idea of this style is to evoke a sense of relaxation, warmth, and invitation, while ceramic tile and polished glossy stones provide a very cold feeling.

Coastal flooring mistake

Or, for instance, gray hardwood floors are also nonsense and out of place in coastal interiors simply because gray timber just doesn’t exist in nature, and gray color always tends to feel cold as well.

coastal floor mistake

So the best options would be light wood floors like oak, bamboo, weathered or whitewashed hardwood, perhaps ceramic wood or luxury vinyl planks that look like wood.

Modern Coastal Blog 15

Or you could go for natural stones with matte finishes and warmer shades like, for example, travertine or limestone.

Coastal flooring ideas

Think about how neutral tones of light wood floors stand out when paired with white walls and plenty of sunlight.

It all comes together to create that airy, relaxed, and welcoming atmosphere. So that’s exactly the look we’re aiming for.

Modern Coastal Blog 17
coastal kitchen ideas
coastal living room ideas

The power of rugs: adding warmth and style to coastal interiors

On the other hand, when you cannot choose or change your floors, you can completely transform your space by adding organic-looking carpets and large rugs.
Consider natural materials like jute or sisal, or any other rugs in soft and sandy color palettes. They will add a very cozy, earthy feel and an organic appearance.

modern organic rugs


coastal living room ideas

On the other side, if your floors are too dark or have a strange color, consider adding rugs in very light shades. This can really brighten up your space and make it feel fresher and more airy


light rug on dark floor

5. Coastal furniture selection tips

The main concept here is that this style is all about comfort and relaxation, but without being too loose and sloppy.

We’re looking for contemporary and modern furniture with clean lines, yet with a laid-back and effortlessly chic aesthetic, if that makes sense.

And texture is key! So, think about organic materials like wood, rattan, wicker, jute, cane, as well as furniture with plaster finishes and matte painted surfaces.

modern coastal furniture ideas
Modern coastal furniture ideas

And when it comes to upholstered furniture opt for easy and relaxed silhouettes in natural fabrics like cotton, wool, velvet, and linen.

And you might also consider using slipcovers for sofas.

Modern coastal furniture ideas
Modern coastal furniture ideas

What you should avoid are high gloss, highly polished, and mirrored surfaces. They’re rarely seen in modern coastal interiors, just as you will hardly find glass surfaces, and usually only a minimal amount of metal or stainless steel.

Tacky furniture

Color choices for coastal furniture and decor

The color palette for furniture and decor also mainly includes whites and warm earthy tones inspired by nature, such as creams, beiges, and grays. But in furnishings and decorations, we can already mix these with soft blues, greens, and pastels.

Modern Coastal Blog 29
light blue chair ideas

Also think about including pops of bright colors like, for example, terracotta or turquoise. By adding a few colorful accents here and there, you can really bring your space to life.

popular accent colors for living room terracotta

Incorporating black in coastal interiors

I wanted to make a separate note about using black in coastal interiors.

It’s typically not a big part of the color scheme and is used very sparingly, especially in Australian designs.

In Californian coastal interiors, you might see black a little more often, but it’s usually in the form of accents rather than large furniture pieces.

Modern Coastal Blog 32

So, be mindful of using black if you want to achieve that real coastal, breezy, and relaxed vibe.

coastal interior design ideas

Overall, remember that coastal style design is all about neutral colors. So, when it comes to color schemes, the key is to keep it very simple and stick to the same neutral tones.

6. Coastal decor essentials

As you know, in any well-styled home, it’s accessories and little things that make it all come together. So let’s talk about decorations.

Look, modern coastal design doesn’t follow clichés. So, it’s best to avoid expected decor like starfish, blue-and-white stripes, anchors, fishing nets, or “Beach House” signs.

coastal decor ideas not tacky

Instead, focus on carefully chosen statement decor pieces made of natural materials.

I’ve noticed that professional designers often use oversized decor, like really big wall art, statement lighting, huge vases, pots, and plants.

Modern Coastal Blog 35

Especially plants – I see a lot of interiors with gigantic pots that you’d think belong outside, but they’re inside with massive plants like Monstera or Palm trees that almost touch the ceiling.

If you enjoy getting crafty and adding personal touches to your space, my DIY palm leaf template is just what you need!

You can add a touch of coastal charm to your home decor with these easy-to-make beautiful palm leaves.

coastal decor ideas oversized plants

Greenery, in general, is a crucial element for any coastal style. So, consider adding lush greenery to your natural palette through plants, or plant-inspired decor items like artworks, prints, or even wallpapers to create that tropical vibe.

Modern Coastal Blog 38

For the rest of the decor, try to keep it simple and clutter-free. Because in this style, less is more. So instead of lots of small decorations, go for big statement pieces.

modern coastal decor ideas

Try to choose your accessories wisely and use them sparingly to make your living spaces look and feel inviting, chic, and relaxed, rather than over-styled and tacky.

Modern Coastal Blog 37


7. Modern coastal style: key concepts and design principles

Alright, let’s wrap up everything and go over the main features of coastal decor.

coastal interior design characteristics
coastal interior design characteristics
modern coastal style characteristics

So, once you add your neutral-toned furniture and accents to a white canvas with generous pops of leafy green, the whole look should come together.

Please let me know in the comments👇 if you like coastal interior design.

Personally, I think coastal interiors are always in style because they’re 100% timeless. 

Hello and welcome to FancyBloom!

I’m Oksana and I love paper flowers and all things paper. Here at FancyBloom I design new flower templates, make paper flower tutorials, and share my ideas and inspiration for fancy and modern craft.

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