A Comprehensive Guide to Transforming Your Home with Coastal Interior Design

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  • Author Chelsea Cheung
  • Published June 17, 2024
  • Word count 2,101


Coastal interior design embodies the relaxed, breezy atmosphere of coastal living, drawing inspiration from the natural beauty of coastal landscapes and the serenity of oceanfront living. Originating in coastal regions worldwide, this design style has gained popularity for its refreshing aesthetic and tranquil ambiance. In this article, we delve into the origins of coastal interior design, its various sub-styles, its relationship with Tiffany style, essential decorating tips for different rooms, and lighting recommendations to enhance the coastal aesthetic.

Origins and Popularity

Coastal interior design finds its roots in the serene beauty and relaxed lifestyle of coastal regions around the world. Originating in seaside communities and beachfront retreats, this design style embodies the essence of coastal living, drawing inspiration from the natural elements of the coast such as sand, sea, and sky.

The popularity of coastal interior design began to rise in the mid-20th century, coinciding with the post-war era when people sought refuge and relaxation in coastal environments. With the advent of travel and tourism, near-beach regions became sought-after destinations for holidaymakers and homeowners alike, sparking a fascination with coastal aesthetics and lifestyle.

Renowned architects and designers such as Dorothy Draper and Sister Parish played significant roles in popularizing coastal design through their work on seaside resorts and vacation homes. Their use of light colors, natural materials, and casual furnishings captured the essence of near-beach living, appealing to a wide audience and setting the stage for the widespread adoption of it.

As coastal design gained momentum, it evolved to encompass a diverse range of sub-styles, each with its own unique interpretation of coastal aesthetics. From modern coastal retreats to cozy coastal cottages, this design style continues to captivate homeowners with its timeless appeal and effortless elegance.

Sub-Styles of Coastal Interior Design

Modern Coastal:

Modern coastal design blends contemporary elements with coastal aesthetics to create sleek and sophisticated interiors. Characterized by clean lines, minimalist decor, and a neutral color palette, this sub-style evokes a sense of tranquility and serenity. It often feature expansive windows to maximize natural light and showcase panoramic views of the coastline. Furnishings are sleek and streamlined, with a focus on comfort and functionality. Textures such as polished wood, brushed metal, and smooth stone add depth and visual interest to the space, while pops of ocean-inspired hues like aqua, turquoise, and seafoam green infuse the room with a coastal vibe.

Coastal Cottage:

Coastal cottage design embraces the cozy charm and relaxed atmosphere of seaside cottages and beach houses. This sub-style emphasizes comfort, warmth, and a sense of nostalgia, with a mix of vintage furniture, soft textiles, and rustic accents. It often feature whitewashed walls, distressed wood finishes, and eclectic decor collected over time. Furnishings are casual and inviting, with overstuffed sofas, slipcovered armchairs, and weathered coffee tables creating a laid-back vibe. Nautical motifs such as anchors, seashells, and sailboats add whimsical touches, while natural materials like rattan, jute, and wicker enhance the coastal ambiance.

Coastal Grandma Style:

Coastal grandma style pays homage to the traditional coastal homes of yesteryear, with a focus on timeless elegance and classic design elements. This sub-style incorporates heirloom furniture, vintage accessories, and floral prints to create a charming and inviting space. It often feature antiques, heirlooms, and family treasures passed down through generations, adding character and personality to the room. Soft pastel colors such as pale blue, soft pink, and mint green are prevalent, creating a light and airy atmosphere. Delicate lace curtains, chintz upholstery, and embroidered linens add a touch of romance, while crystal chandeliers and porcelain figurines lend an air of refinement.

Coastal Farmhouse:

Coastal farmhouse design combines the rustic charm of farmhouse style with the relaxed elegance of coastal living. This sub-style features weathered wood finishes, vintage-inspired accents, and a palette of soft neutrals punctuated by shades of blue and green. It often showcase exposed beams, reclaimed wood furniture, and industrial lighting fixtures, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere. Furnishings are comfortable and practical, with slipcovered sofas, farmhouse tables, and woven baskets adding texture and warmth to the space. Natural materials such as linen, cotton, and sisal are used throughout, creating a sense of coziness and comfort.

Coastal Mediterranean:

Coastal Mediterranean design draws inspiration from the sun-drenched shores of the Mediterranean Sea, with influences from Italy, Greece, and Spain. This sub-style is characterized by warm colors, rustic textures, and ornate details, creating a sense of Old World charm and sophistication. It often feature terra cotta tile floors, stucco walls, and wrought iron accents, evoking the architectural styles of the Mediterranean region. Furnishings are elegant and timeless, with carved wood furniture, upholstered chairs, and mosaic tile tables adding a touch of luxury. Rich colors such as deep blue, terra cotta, and olive green are prevalent, creating a vibrant and inviting space reminiscent of coastal villas and seaside retreats.

Bohemian Coastal:

Bohemian coastal design combines the free-spirited vibe of bohemian style with the relaxed ambiance of coastal living. This sub-style is eclectic and unconventional, with an emphasis on individuality, creativity, and self-expression. It features a mix of global influences, vintage finds, and handmade accents, creating a vibrant and eclectic space filled with personality. Furnishings are eclectic and mismatched, with colorful textiles, eclectic artwork, and unique accessories adding visual interest and character to the room. Natural materials such as rattan, bamboo, and macrame are prevalent, creating a laid-back and organic feel. Pops of color in shades of turquoise, coral, and mustard yellow add warmth and personality, infusing the space with bohemian flair.

Each sub-style of this interior design offers a unique interpretation of coastal aesthetics, allowing homeowners to create personalized spaces that reflect their taste, lifestyle, and personality. Whether you prefer the sleek sophistication of modern coastal or the cozy charm of coastal cottage, there's a sub-style to suit every preference and design sensibility.

Coastal Interior Design and Tiffany Style

Coastal interior design and Tiffany style share several complementary elements that can enhance each other's aesthetic appeal. While they originate from different artistic movements and historical contexts, their common themes of nature, craftsmanship, and beauty make them well-suited companions in interior design.

Tiffany style, famously associated with the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, is renowned for its intricate stained glass designs inspired by nature. These designs often feature vibrant hues, intricate patterns, and organic motifs such as flowers, birds, and seascapes. Similarly, it draws inspiration from the natural beauty of the seaside, incorporating elements such as seashells, driftwood, and marine life into its decor.

One of the most striking intersections between coastal interior design and Tiffany style is in the use of stained glass lighting fixtures. In coastal interiors, stained glass fixtures can add a touch of elegance and whimsy, capturing the colors and textures of the ocean and shoreline. Whether in the form of pendant lights, chandeliers, or wall sconces, stained glass fixtures can become focal points in rooms, casting a warm and inviting glow reminiscent of sunlight filtering through the waves.

Additionally, the intricate craftsmanship and attention to detail inherent in Tiffany-style stained glass can complement the artisanal qualities of coastal interior design. Both styles celebrate the beauty of handmade craftsmanship and the natural world, creating spaces that feel timeless, elegant, and imbued with a sense of nostalgia.

When incorporating Tiffany-style lighting into coastal interiors, consider fixtures that feature colors and motifs inspired by the sea, such as shades of blue, green, and aquamarine, along with designs depicting seashells, fish, and coral reefs. These elements can evoke a sense of its serenity and tranquility, bringing the beauty of the ocean indoors.

Decorating Tips for Different Rooms

Living Room:

l Embrace a soothing color palette inspired by coastal hues, such as soft blues, sandy neutrals, and crisp whites.

l Incorporate natural materials like rattan, wicker, and driftwood to create a relaxed and beachy vibe.

l Choose comfortable yet stylish furniture pieces such as slipcovered sofas, oversized armchairs, and weathered wood coffee tables.

l Layer textiles with nautical motifs, such as striped rugs, seafoam throw pillows, and linen curtains, to add texture and visual interest.

l Display coastal-inspired artwork, such as beach scenes, seascapes, and marine life prints, to evoke the ambiance of the seaside.

Dining Room:

l Opt for a light and airy dining space with a white and blue color scheme featuring shades of blue, white, and sand.

l Choose a dining table and chairs made from natural materials like wood or wicker for a relaxed and casual feel.

l Incorporate coastal accents such as driftwood candle holders, seashell centerpieces, and beach-themed table linens.

l Hang a statement chandelier with a Tiffany-style stained glass shade to add elegance and visual interest to the room.

l Create a relaxed atmosphere by incorporating natural light and views of the outdoors, if possible.


l Keep the kitchen bright and inviting with white or light-colored cabinetry paired with natural wood or stone countertops.

l Add coastal flair with decorative elements such as glass jars filled with seashells, woven baskets, and beach-inspired artwork.

l Install pendant lights with stained glass shades or metal fixtures reminiscent of vintage maritime lanterns.

l Incorporate open shelving to display coastal-themed dishware, glassware, and cookbooks, adding visual interest to the space.

l Consider adding a breakfast nook with a cozy built-in bench and beach-inspired cushions for casual dining.


l Create a serene retreat with a calming color palette featuring shades of blue, seafoam green, and sandy beige.

l Choose a bed frame and furniture pieces with clean lines and beach-inspired details such as louvered panels or turned legs.

l Dress the bed with crisp white linens, layered with lightweight throws and decorative pillows in coastal patterns and textures.

l Enhance the room's ambiance with soft lighting options such as bedside lamps with fabric shades or Tiffany-style stained glass accents.

l Decorate with accessories such as seashell-shaped candles, driftwood mirrors, and framed beach photographs to evoke a sense of seaside serenity.

Coastal Lighting Fixtures

Stained Glass Pendant Lights:

Stained glass pendant lights are a classic choice for coastal interiors, adding a touch of elegance and charm reminiscent of traditional Tiffany-style lamps. These fixtures feature intricate patterns and vibrant colors that evoke the beauty of stained glass windows found in seaside cottages and beachfront homes. Hang stained glass pendant lights over kitchen islands, dining tables, or in entryways to create a focal point and infuse the space with coastal ambiance.

Metal Sconces with Nautical Details:

Metal sconces with nautical details are a popular choice for lighting fixtures, offering a blend of rustic charm and maritime flair. These fixtures often feature weathered finishes, rope accents, and porthole-inspired designs that evoke the spirit of life by the sea. Install metal sconces in hallways, bathrooms, or outdoor living spaces to add a touch of coastal style and illuminate dark corners with a warm and welcoming glow.

Crystal Chandeliers with Coastal Accents:

Crystal chandeliers with coastal accents offer a luxurious yet beach-inspired lighting option for coastal interiors. These fixtures combine the elegance of crystal with elements such as seashell motifs, coral shapes, or wave-like patterns, creating a stunning focal point that captures the essence of living. Hang a crystal chandelier in a dining room, living room, or bedroom to add a touch of glamour and sophistication while infusing the space with coastal charm.

Fabric Drum Shade Pendants:

Fabric drum shade pendants are a versatile lighting option that complements its interiors with their soft and relaxed aesthetic. Choose pendant lights with fabric shades in crisp white or soft blue hues to evoke the colors of sun-bleached driftwood and clear ocean skies. These fixtures provide gentle illumination and create a warm and inviting atmosphere perfect for living rooms, bedrooms, or reading nooks where you can unwind and relax in coastal comfort.

Rope-Wrapped Table Lamps:

Rope-wrapped table lamps are a fun and whimsical lighting choice that adds a touch of seaside style to any room. These lamps feature bases or shades wrapped in natural jute or sisal rope, evoking the texture of nautical ropes found on ships and sailboats. Place rope-wrapped table lamps on bedside tables, console tables, or mantels to bring a coastal-inspired element into your home while providing soft and ambient lighting for cozy evenings by the sea.


Coastal interior design offers a refreshing and tranquil aesthetic that captures the essence of seaside living. Whether you prefer the modern simplicity of modern coastal or the rustic charm of coastal farmhouse, there's a sub-style to suit every taste and preference. By incorporating coastal-inspired elements, colors, and textures into your home, you can create a relaxing and inviting space that evokes the beauty and serenity of the coastline.

The article delves into the world of modern farmhouse living, tracing its roots from traditional farmhouses to its contemporary interpretations. It explores the distinctions between modern and traditional farmhouse designs, emphasizing key features such as open floor plans, natural light, and sustainable design principles.

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