No matter what your design aesthetic is, if you’re like me you want your bedroom to have a serene, relaxing feel. A room to retreat to and drift away to a deep, restful sleep. Today’s beach-style primary bedrooms are all about getting that dreamy vibe from a neutral color palette and natural elements that bring the outside in. 
So in this post I’d like to share with you four key tips for creating your own dreamy coastal bedroom. Not ready for a full remodel? That’s ok! This guide will help you bring in coastal elements that work with your existing bedroom layout.

Creating a Beach-Style Primary Bedroom Step 1: Decide Your Coastal Style

The first step in getting the beach bedroom of your dreams is to decide what your unique coastal style is. This helps you narrow down your ideas and get a cohesive look. 
There are five coastal interior design styles most people gravitate toward:

  1. Traditional
  2. Transitional
  3. Modern
  4. Cottage
  5. Eclectic

One way to decide what you are drawn to is to take stock of your current bedroom design. Is your furniture primarily dark wood with ornate detail? You might lean toward traditional coastal style. Or do you favor clean lines and minimal furnishings? Then a modern coastal style might be right for you. Maybe you prefer a more relaxed, cozy look with painted furniture that reflects a coastal cottage style.
Not sure what your coastal style is? Take my quiz here to help you discover it! 

Creating a Beach-Style Primary Bedroom Step 2: Maximize Natural Light

Now that you’ve got your unique coastal style dialed in, it’s time for the fun to begin! Lighting is the foundation of coastal design. 
The benefits of natural light for good interior design cannot be overstated. We draw inspiration from the sea, sand, and sky in coastal design. Plenty of sunlight in a room enhances coastal color palettes and reflects the light, airy vibe inspired by the beach. It also makes indoor spaces appear larger and makes artwork and architectural details shine.
Not only that, but natural light is good for your mental and physical health! It helps regulate our sleep cycles and provides a mood boost all day. Finally, natural light is environmentally friendly! Bringing in as much sunlight during the day as possible reduces the need to use electricity.
To create the light, airy interior coastal style is known for, I start by assessing a home’s natural light. You can do this for your coastal primary bedroom as well.
Consider the following when looking at the natural light in your bedroom:

  1. What directions your windows face. North-facing windows give off a cooler-feeling light, while south-facing windows allow more direct sunlight.
  2. Sunlight patterns throughout the day. Observe different moments during the day to understand how the light works in your bedroom. 
  3. Additional options to bring in natural light. If your bedroom doesn’t get much sunlight, is installing a skylight an option? This is especially important in the winter months, when access to sunlight is limited.

Once you have natural lighting maximized, complement with lighting fixtures. It’s important to have options for low lighting in your primary bedroom. Bedside lamps and dimmer switches on overhead lighting are good choices. You can dim the light closer to bedtime which encourages a good night’s sleep. Too much bright light at the end of your day can confuse your circadian cycle and interrupt sleep. So don’t skip this important step in your primary beach bedroom!

Creating a Beach-Style Primary Bedroom Step 3: Choose a Color Palette

Helping my clients choose the perfect color palette is one of my favorite services I offer. Color preferences are so personal and can impact your mood to such a degree that it’s important to get it right.
You want to be especially thoughtful about color in your beach-style primary bedroom. Think soothing colors that will help you drift away to a deep sleep. Choose a low VOC paint as well to avoid harmful off-gassing that may impact your health and your sleep. We often use Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams, both of whom offer low VOC options. Other good choices for eco-friendly paints with beautiful colors are Pure & Original and C2 Paint.
Here are my best tips for choosing your coastal color palette:

    1. Find the colors you’re drawn to. Coastal colors are inspired by the sea, sand, and sky, but within those elements there are so many choices. For example, if you love blues, are you more drawn to lavender or a blue with green undertones? You can narrow down your choices by finding inspiration in what you already have. Your favorite rug, a painting, or the clothes in your closet can all help with your decision. You can also search Pinterest for inspiration.
    2. Gather samples. It’s tempting to jump right in once you’ve decided you want a primary bedroom with sea green, crisp white, and a neutral sand tone. But trust me when I say to get samples first! Hang paint swatches on all your walls so you can see how the light affects color. Gather fabric swatches and finishes for your furniture as well. Group them together so you can see how they complement each other.
    3. Use the rule of three. An easy way to achieve color harmony is to use this rule. Choose a main color to cover 60% of your bedroom, a secondary color to cover 30%, and a third cover for the final 10%. Generally, your wall color will be the main color. Choose a secondary color for bedding and drapery, and a third color for throws, pillows, and accessories. Keep in mind though that in design, rules are made to be broken. ;) Think of it less as a rule and more as a guide to help you achieve color balance.

My final tip for choosing a color palette is to have fun with it! Experiment, explore, and enjoy the process of choosing colors for your coastal primary bedroom. If you’re still not sure where to start, I’ve created some beautiful color palettes for you here. You could use any of these to achieve the bedroom retreat of your dreams. 

Creating a Beach-Style Primary Bedroom Step 4: Layer on the Texture

Texture is a key feature of coastal style. The sea, sand, sky are full of movement, and I draw inspiration from these natural elements by creating layers of depth in my designs. 
I know I keep saying how important each of these elements are in coastal design, but that’s because it’s true! If you nail natural lighting, color, and texture then you can’t go wrong. Let’s go over how to add texture to your bedding, furniture, walls, and more.

Creating Texture: Bedding

Here you could go a few different directions. You could start with a fairly neutral duvet cover, such as the Everly Collection from Avasa Home. This set would look great in a coastal modern or transitional bedroom. From there, create a feeling of coziness with pillows and throws. Don’t be afraid to add some contrast. The geometric pattern of these Hanami pillows provide just enough color and texture to a neutral base.
If you want more pattern and color, consider an option like this coverlet from Boyce. The oversized diamond pattern and soft squishiness create a warm, inviting feel.

Creating Texture: Walls

There are so many choices these days for adding texture to your walls. 
One option is Pure & Original’s Marrakech paint. This is what we used in our Southhampton design store. The Sea Salt is a gorgeous soft white with a hint of green in it that’s perfect for a coastal aesthetic. There are even detailed instructions on the website if you feel a little intimidated about applying a paint with texture.
A bolder choice would be to create an accent wall using grasscloth or patterned wallpaper. I love the texture and sophistication this brings to a room. I often use this feature on the wall behind the bed to create a dramatic focal point.
A final way to bring character to walls is to use shiplap. Shiplap painted a crisp white and used as an accent wall breathes so much life into a room. It’s a perfect option if your style leans coastal cottage. You could even use it on the ceilings for greater effect.
Keep in mind that texture on the walls creates a dramatic look. Limit patterns on bedding, etc. to avoid overwhelming your bedroom.

Creating Texture: Furnishings

When it comes to furnishings, you can bring in character a few different ways:

  1. Whitewashed wood. The process of whitewashing or “cerusing” highlights the beautiful grain of the wood used. It creates movement and depth in a rustic yet thoroughly sophisticated way. This Carlyle dresser is a prime example of the kind of texture this process can bring to your furnishings.
  2. Reclaimed wood. Reclaimed wood is wood that has been salvaged or repurposed from its original form. We try to use sustainable materials in our design projects whenever possible, and reclaimed wood is 100% environmentally friendly!
  3. Patterned wood. Grooved lines, carvings, and insets add interest and character to your coastal bedroom furniture. I will typically use these elements for clients who favor coastal cottage or coastal traditional design. I love how the fluted lines and whitewashed finish on this St. Lucia nightstand add interest to what would otherwise be a standard piece.

Creating a Beach-Style Primary Bedroom Step 5: Tying It All Together

The above tips are what I consider the basics for transforming your primary bedroom into a beautiful coastal haven. Now it’s time to add the finishing touches! These details give your cozy sanctuary a final beachy boost. 

  1. Lighting fixtures. Let your personality shine by using dramatic lighting in your primary bedroom. A chandelier makes a statement, and you can choose from capiz shells and abalone to coconut fiber and coco beads. Ro Sham Beaux is one of my favorite lighting companies, and their Malibu chandelier is a perfect option to add a little glam to your bedroom.
  2. Window treatments. For smaller bedroom windows, I suggest roman shades to keep the look streamlined and the focus on the view. If you have floor-to-ceiling windows or French doors, layer drapes for more texture and interest. I like to pull in a pattern from the rest of the room, then layer with a neutral color.
  3. Rugs and accessories. Complete the cozy feel in your primary bedroom with a rug to warm cold toes in the morning. The soothing blue and neutral pattern in our Newport rug adds interest without overwhelming. Place it at a perpendicular angle under the bed so your feet have a soft landing. Finally, you can pull in a few accessories, but I would caution against too many. A small vase of flowers on the nightstand, a sculptural element on the dresser, etc.

I hope you found this guide to a beach-style primary bedroom helpful! I’ve given you all the tips I use in my design projects to help clients create their own dreamy coastal retreats. 
If you still need help, I’ve got you covered! Click here to book a free, no-pressure design chat.  
March 05, 2024 — Shannon Willey