Can coastal decor work for inland homes?

You don't have to live on the beach to bring the coast inside. See more beach pictures.

Bringing coastal design into your home is like buying your own beachfront property -- even if you're land-locked. You don't have to live on the beach to decorate with an ocean or coastal theme. Creating a beach shack look in your game room or painting a lighthouse mural in your dining room is a nice break from the familiar -- and possibly drab -- scenery around you. If the view from your window is an uninspiring glimpse into your neighbor's kitchen, take heart. Your interior spaces are more about creativity and your personal style than geography. Head for the coast, even if it's just in your imagination. Think of it as creating a vacation home you happen to live in year round.

Decorating with a water or coastal theme isn't just about hanging up a few life preservers and investing in one of those shadowboxes filled with nautical knots. Although color and texture play a big part in pulling off this look, the biggest attraction is water. You can add ocean-themed oil paintings and framed prints of colorful sailboats, but one of the most potent ways to create a dynamic focal point is with an actual water feature.


This sounds more alarming than it is. You don't need to spend a fortune on a swimming pool or a hot tub -- although a nice fish pond wouldn't hurt. You can use a small indoor or outdoor fountain or even an aquarium to bring the sound and sparkle of water to your décor. Water features are big business these days, and they're easier to install and maintain than ever before. From a table top water garden powered by a recirculating pump, to a large, wall-mounted meditation fountain in your entry, there's a water feature out there for almost any budget. The babble of running water, the reflection of light off its surface and the ambiance of a little H2O gone native can add a lot of authority to your coastal design efforts.



Tips for Creating Effective Costal Decor

A water feature makes a very effective focal point, but you can use any number of other elements, instead. A dining room mural will work, and so will a nautical bedspread, shower curtain or kitchen wallpaper pattern. The only potential problem is an embarrassment of riches. There are so many motifs available that it's easy to go overboard. Ever seen a decorative theme so overstated that it looks campy? You never want to do that -- unless it's Halloween. This is a partial list of potential coastal motifs that work in moderation. You may want to stick with three or possibly four that reflect the elements in your focal point. More than that and you risk overload:

  • ships
  • sailboats
  • lighthouses
  • shells
  • bells
  • dinghies
  • oars
  • surfboards
  • brass lanterns
  • driftwood
  • docks
  • treasure maps
  • sea gulls
  • pelicans
  • starfish
  • buoys
  • life preservers
  • ocean fish and mammals

Color will play an important role in making your coastal décor pop. If you're going nautical, try tans, deep reds, navy blue, medium blue, medium grey, bark brown and eggshell. A distressed look works really well when creating a fishing village vibe. If you're after something more Mediterranean, build on wonderful sunset colors like mauve, pink and lavender. Want something reminiscent of the tropical breezes and fruity drinks of your cruise fantasy? Use bold colored accents like lush reds, oranges and turquoise. Coupled with rattan furniture and potted plants, this one makes a startling and effective design on a deck or patio.


Don't wait for your next vacation to indulge yourself. Give your home a coastal makeover. If you long for salt spray and the mournful call of distant foghorns, geography shouldn't be a barrier. Feeling the pull of the tide, even in the middle of a cornfield, is your design prerogative.


Lots More Information

Related Articles

  • Better Homes and Gardens. "New Decorating Book." Meredith Books. 2007.
  • Coastal Living. "50 Comfy Cottage Rooms. Undated. (3/29/11).
  • Decorating Coach. "Breezy Coastal Decorating." Undated. (3/29/11).
  • Home Depot. "Decorating 1-2-3." Meredith Books. 2000
  • Ocean Styles. "Product Categories." Undated. (3/29/11).
  • Super Home Ideas. "Creative Ideas for Decorating a Living Room with a Nautical Theme." Undated. 3/29/11).
  • Themed Home Décor. "Coastal Decorating." Undated. (3/29/11).