There's one decorating style that never seems to go out of style. Coastal decor—known for its soft colors and natural textures—is perennially popular because of the relaxed, casual feeling it evokes. Whether it's the ocean, one of the Great Lakes, or a smaller inland lake, people flock to beaches around the world to enjoy the calming effects of water.
Fortunately, it isn't necessary to have a cottage in the Hamptons or a house in Malibu to achieve the same sense of calm and tranquility that the coast offers. There are ways to bring the beach home with you other than with sand in your shoes.
5 Elements of Coastal Decor
First, there are five elements that make up the backbone of a coastal-style room.
Think Blue: It's practically impossible to imagine a coastal space without at least a little blue in it. Use a variety of shades of blue to evoke the colors of the water and sky and to add more interest and depth to your space.
Casual Furnishings: The beach is nothing if not laid-back. If you want the true feel of the beach, go for hard-wearing materials such as wood floors and slipcovered furniture.
Accessories With Texture: The beach is full of textures: smooth stones, rough sand, driftwood, shells, a wooden dock...our senses come alive at the beach, and textures help that happen. Add sisal, seagrass, and rope to evoke the natural textures of the beach.
Elements of Nature: Actual artifacts collected from the beach such as driftwood, shells, and sea glass are a no-brainer in a coastal-inspired space and add the perfect finishing touch. You can certainly collect authentic items and use them to make wall art and other types of home decor. Or, you can fake your versions of beach artifacts using craft techniques and paint finishes.
Here are some great examples of coastal home accessories you can make yourself.
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Driftwood Candle Holder
Look for interesting pieces of wood that have been weathered to a smooth finish by the waves the next time you're at the beach. It's easy to turn driftwood into a tea light holder with just a special drill bit. A coastal candle holder such as this one looks great on a deck or as part of a beachy vignette on a coffee table. If you're lucky enough to find a longer piece, you could add several more tea lights for a stunning centerpiece on a long dining room table.Continue to 2 of 8 below.
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Sea Glass Centerpiece
Thanks to a relatively new spray paint finish, you can turn plain glass bottles into stunning sea glass. Save up your empty oil, liquor, and wine bottles—a variety of shapes and sizes work best—then give them all a coat of sea glass paint, which dries to a realistic-looking frosty finish. Put the bottles in a basket such as this one or arrange them on a tray. Although they look beautiful on their own, these artificial sea oat stems are the perfect finishing touch.
Brush up on the dos and don'ts of spray painting before you begin!Continue to 3 of 8 below.
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DIY Starfish and Sand Dollars
Starfish and sand dollars are some of the beach's most beautiful treasures, but they can be hard to find. Or maybe your beach of choice is a lake, in which case beachcombing is limited. You can make ocean artifacts, though, with simple baking soda or salt dough. Then, frame them in shadow boxes or put them in bowls or vases.Continue to 4 of 8 below.
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You can buy antique glass fishing floats, but it would be pretty expensive to fill a basket with them such as this one. Luckily, if you love this look, you can fake it! Plain glass globe vases and a paint finish replicate the look of old floats. Add a net using twine and a simple macrame technique for an authentic feel.Continue to 5 of 8 below.
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Beach Vacation Memory Jar
Remember the sea breezes and sand in your toes long after your vacation is over by making a memory jar. Fill a large glass vessel with sand, artificial seagrass, rocks, driftwood, or other treasures that wash up on the shore. Other items you could add for extra interest include a favorite family photo taken on the beach, a postcard from the area you visited, or a replica of the local lighthouse from a tourist shop. Just don't make the scene too cluttered. Top it off with a chalkboard tag hung with rope.Continue to 6 of 8 below.
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Nautical Rope Lamp
This knotty lamp is a DIY dead-ringer for one from Pottery Barn. Made from rope, it adds just the right kind of texture to a nightstand or end table in a coastal space, giving a nod to a nautical theme without going "overboard." Novelty table lamps can go tacky pretty quick (think lamp bases shaped like lighthouses), but ones made from driftwood or rope are a simple and elegant way to light up a coastal-style room.Continue to 7 of 8 below.
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Coastal Wood Picture Frame
Add the perfect touch of patina to a coastal-themed gallery wall with a DIY picture frame that replicates the look of reclaimed wood from old boats. The chippy finish, weathered edges, and colors in this frame would highlight a family picture from your vacation beautifully.
Want to hang a piece of one-of-a-kind art that looks expensive? Take pictures on the beach and turn them into digital watercolors using the Waterlogue app.Continue to 8 of 8 below.
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It's against the law to collect real coral from the ocean floor, but nothing's stopping from you making your own! Start your project in the aquarium aisle of your local pet supply store, where you can find lots of coral figurines for fish tanks, but often in garish, unrealistic colors. Simply spray paint your "specimens" with white paint in a matte finish for a look that's true-to-life, or try a glossy red for a more trendy take.