My clients are often surprised when I talk about accessories in the design planning stages. They think those “final touches” aren’t important to consider until the end of the project. The truth is, they’re integral to any home interior. And ocean inspired accessories are, in my opinion, crucial to nail the first time around. 
It’s easy to veer into cliché territory when choosing pieces for a coastal interior. So I’ve created a guide to help you choose the best accessories influenced by ocean elements. 
Use my tips to keep your home looking less like your local surf shack and more like your town’s hottest new coastal resort. And to illustrate the point, I’ve included some of my favorite ocean-inspired accessories from our Southampton shop!

Ocean Inspired Accessories: Use Coastal Clichés Carefully

While I love a good nautical theme with anchors and lobsters, you want to be mindful about how you use these coastal clichés in your home design. Think about how you want your space to feel and look in several years. Objects that hint at an ocean theme are more timeless and allow you more flexibility to switch things up and change your design over time.
So use objects that subtly hint at an ocean theme. Coral and sea glass accessories are perfect, as are functional pieces made from sea elements.
Here are three of my favorite ocean-inspired accessories that are anything but cliché:

  1. Brownstem coral. I rarely complete a design project without throwing a piece or two of coral into the mix. The organic shape and texture provide visual interest and a nod to coastal style. This particular coral piece features tightly clustered white tips on top of a brown stem and is perched on an acrylic base. A few of these placed on a large coffee table makes a peaceful coastal vignette.
  2. Seaglass beads. Sustainable and beautiful! These African sea glass beads are made from recycled glass and come in the most gorgeous sea green hue. Use these to add interest to a tray display, perched on top of a pile of coffee table books, or draped wherever you like.
  3. Ocean oyster dish. Form and function, all wrapped up in a perfect package. I love how this oyster dish from Grit & Grace Studio strikes the perfect balance between beauty and utility. Cluster several of these together to corral small objects like jewelry, soap, or even sea salt.

Ocean Inspired Accessories: Try a Subtle Ocean Vibe Using Functional Pieces

If you’re not a fan of obvious beach objects in coastal design, let your functional pieces hint at the sea. Using subtle ocean elements evokes the calm feel inherent in modern coastal design. 
Think about color, texture, and natural materials to get that coastal vibe.
Here are five useful ocean-inspired accessories to consider:

  1. Trays. Use these to corral small items and keep them from floating in space. Look for a tray made from capiz shell or finished in a weathered, driftwood style to get the ocean feel.
  2. Coasters. A functional item with plenty of coastal style options. Take these handspun natural jute Whitley coasters from Blue Pheasant. The natural twisted pattern calls to mind sailor’s rope without needing to shout about it.
  3. Books. Here you could display coffee table books with ocean themes, or go a little more decorative and try something like these white reef books. Place several of these in clusters on your bookshelves for a calm, uncluttered look that’s still firmly in the coastal camp.
  4. Photo frames. Think beyond shells for ocean-themed photo frames. Using natural materials and textures creates subtle visual interest without distracting from your treasured family photos! Our Kemi photo frame made of textured jute in a soothing ocean blue adds to an overall coastal style vibe.
  5. Pillows. The handwoven pattern on these blue geometric pillows by Anaya home conjures up ocean waves without being literal. 

Ocean Inspired Accessories: Don’t Forget to Edit!

As you’re planning out your design, go room by room and decide what elements you want to add. You want to think about scale, color, pattern, shape, and number. 
If you don’t have the actual objects (and most likely you won’t in the planning stages), craft approximate shapes from items you already have. Then, start editing. Take items away, one by one, until you feel they all have space to breathe. 
Move items around, too. A cluster of these mollusk-inspired palm vases in different sizes may overwhelm a side table, but what do they look like on your mantel? Take the time to consider placement, scale, and number.
And remember, you can always add more! It’s important not to go overboard (couldn’t resist!) from the beginning. 
If you’d like a professional eye to help you incorporate ocean elements into your design, why not book a free design chat with me? We’ll talk about how I can bring your coastal vision to life so you can have the retreat you’ve always dreamed of!
March 05, 2024 — Shannon Willey