Ready to get started with coastal design but don’t know where to start? Don’t worry— you’re in the right place!
I’ve had so many chats with clients recently who are energized with the new year and ready to create a coastal inspired home but have no clue what to do first. It can definitely be overwhelming. If you just want to make a few upgrades, it’s hard to know what will make the most impact. And if you’re looking for a complete overhaul, analysis paralysis can strike anyone.
So today’s post is just for you to get you started on creating the coastal retreat of your dreams! I’ve rounded up five easy ways to inject coastal design into your home. The goal is to inspire you to get the ball rolling on a few simple projects so you’ll be living in your dream beach retreat in no time.

1. Install Wallpaper in a Natural, Coastal-Inspired Material

Wallpaper is still very much in, and it’s a fabulous way to get started with a coastal vibe in your home. My favorite material is grasscloth. Grasscloth is actually a catch-all phrase for wallpaper made with natural fibers such as jute, reed, hemp, and more. The fibers are dried in strips in the sun, then hand-woven onto a rice paper backing. The result is a stunningly elegant look that’s also environmentally friendly. 
Grasscloth can be quite delicate, so it’s important to install it correctly, and to use it in low-traffic, low humidity areas of your home. Try it in your beach-style primary bedroom or your dining room. Grasscloth provides plenty of texture and interest in a single color; however a striped pattern would make for a dramatic look on one wall. Just keep the furniture and accessories toned down to avoid overwhelming the space. My top choices for grasscloth wallpaper are Thibaut, Phillip Jeffries, and Schumacher.

2. Repaint Your Home In a Coastal Color Palette

One of the best ways to get started with coastal style. Switching up your entire paint palette can breathe new life and coastal-inspired color in your entire home. This is a great option to consider if your style already leans toward a neutral color palette. By making a few color swaps, you can tip the balance toward beach vibes. And by doing it all at once, you ensure a smooth transition between all the rooms of your home.
How do you decide what colors to choose? You can start with my curated coastal color palettes for done-for-you options. Or take inspiration from them and spend some time at your local paint store. However you do it, it’s important to take your time and try samples on your walls before committing to any palette! 
Consider how the changing light throughout the day will affect the colors. Wait for a sunny day before you make a final decision, as natural sunlight gives you the best balance between the warm and cool ends of the light spectrum. In general, a northern facing room will bring out the cooler tones of your paint choice, while southern light brings out the warm hues. Take a week or two to consider your choices, but try not to get too hung up on the final choice. All rooms have four walls, after all, that face different directions.  

3. Integrate Natural Elements To Get That Coastal Feel

A key feature of any coastal design plan is the use of natural materials. The coastal aesthetic draws inspiration from the ever-changing landscape of the ocean, the sky, and the coastline. Natural materials are the perfect compliment to a neutral coastal color palette as well.
Look to incorporate the following:
  • Rugs made of sisal, jute, or wool
  • Cerused oak or whitewashed natural wood furniture and accessories
  • Glass tile backsplashes
  • Marble countertops
  • Stone tile or hardwood flooring
  • Lighting in natural fibers, coco beads, or shells
  • Lamps made of driftwood, glass, or ceramic
  • Fabrics in linen, wool, silk, or other natural fibers
Adding in natural elements to create that coastal feel is of course a huge undertaking! I recommend you narrow your focus on a single room, sketch a design plan, and start there. Once you get in the flow, the other rooms will come together more easily.

4. Maximize Natural Lighting For an Airy Coastal Vibe


Maximizing natural light is a must when you're getting started with coastal design. An abundance of light creates a peaceful, relaxing atmosphere and connects your home to nature. Coastal interiors should feel light, open, and airy with easy access to your home’s outdoor areas.
Key considerations here include large windows, glass doors, and skylights. Take stock of your home’s natural light first. What rooms feel spacious and airy? What rooms feel cramped or dark? While upgrading windows or adding skylights are larger projects, they’re worth considering, as they make such an impact on achieving that coastal feel. 
That said, you can install window treatments and use artificial lighting to get that open, airy feel. Keep treatments streamlined — roman blinds or curtains in a neutral color palette are good choices. Busy patterns should take a backseat here. Let the eye be drawn toward the view.

5. Incorporate Layers of Texture For a Nature-Inspired Feel

Creating movement and interest by using texture is a coastal style must. There are many ways to approach this. When I start a design project, I start thinking about texture immediately. How am I going to add interest and a unique style to a project? A lot of that comes down to texture.
You want to consider pattern, color, size, shape, and feel when adding texture. I think it’s helpful to start with one room, again, like I suggest with bringing in natural materials. If it’s your living room, for example, take stock of what you already have. Are your fabrics a mix of solid and pattern? Do your accessories have pleasing, organic shapes? If your color palette is neutral, have you built layers and interest with shape and texture? Have a look at my design projects for a bit of texture inspiration. 
So there you have five easy ways to get started on coastal design! If these ideas are getting you energized, that’s great! If you feel daunted or are wondering how to hire an interior designer to help you get started, why not book a design chat? Working with a professional is the easiest way to bring your coastal home dreams to life.
March 05, 2024 — Shannon Willey