Truth: To many, the thought of coastal décor stirs up visions of seashells, driftwood, fish, oars, life preservers, and boat rope gracing every available wall and surface space! While it used to be more difficult to create a coastal inspired look without incorporating an abundance of these sea-associated objects, it is just not true today. Coastal design has come a long way! There are now many more options available that are not so “in your face” beachy, but instead, evoke a feeling of coastal living in a more subtle and chic way.
If you love the sea, but don’t live near the beach, you can still create the comfy and inviting look in your home without going “overboard.” If you want to create a seaside feeling without your home looking too thematic, instead of focusing on the things that you see at a beach, close your eyes and try conjuring up images of what it is like to be at the beach. Do you visualize it as being light, bright, and sunny? Do you think of warm sand and cool breezes? Are you reminded of beautiful sunrises and colorful sunsets reflecting in the blue-green water? Think of those images when you are designing your living spaces.
The single most important element in coastal design is light. When creating a chic coastal living space, it is important to “let the sun shine in.” Keep window coverings to a minimum to allow as much light into your rooms as possible. Flowing sheers rather than heavy fabrics can be used to adorn windows. Soft white sheers convey that breezy beach feeling. Pull-down window blinds can be used with the sheers for privacy. For larger applications, there are now remote controlled shades that can be custom made to accommodate any size window, even sliding glass doors! They come in a variety of fabrics, colors, and textures. I always recommend choosing neutrals when investing in semi-permanent or permanent installations. Neutral shades remain timeless, even when trends change.
Speaking of timeless, there is no color that is more timeless than the color white. Fortunately, for lovers of coastal living, white is the key to bringing light into an area. White cabinetry, rather than wood tones, as well as the use of white bead board as trim, will open up a room in a big way! Once again, for window options, white wood shutters give a clean, simple look and are very practical. Shutters can be opened during the day for optimum light exposure and closed at night for privacy. They can shade a room, creating a cozy feel, without making it too dark. If you have a number of windows to treat, consider looking at the variety of composites that are available. They look and feel almost identical to wood, but are considerably less expensive.
Combining pure white with a palette of sandy-colored neutrals, soft cottons and crisp linen fabrics, lighter toned or bleached wood finishes, and a variety of natural textures and fibers, creates a soothing atmosphere in a room, reminiscent of a relaxing day at the beach. The magnificent hues of a sunset over the water can be captured using accessories. Cheerful throw pillows and artwork are the perfect way to introduce a pop of color and beach motifs as specific as would like in your living space.
Whatever you do, don’t neglect to get personal when adding the finishing touches to your home’s chic coastal designed space. While moderation is the key, it is certainly not overkill to include a gathered collection of seashells or sea glass, a unique piece of driftwood, a conch shell you found at the beach…or even that prize winning tarpon you caught and preserved! These treasures should not be hidden away, but displayed for you and your guests to see and enjoy. They are not only great conversation starters, but the one-of-a-kind contributions that make your house, a home!
by Sandi Wallace