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.