Coastal Chic

A day near the ocean is a feast for the senses. The smell of the salt air, the taste of breeze, the exquisite shift of sand as it moves beneath your toes, the sounds of the waves as they lap the shore and the aquatic gulls as they cry from above. When something conjures so much in humans, it’s easy to understand why we aim to capture it and keep it with us year-round. Coastal living is a feeling, a sense, and a vibration as much as it is a location.

photo via Steven Gambrel

photo via Steven Gambrel

From Nantucket to the Amalfi Coast, the tranquility of the sea captivates and inspires – it begs we land dwellers to linger and unwind. Lucky for us, today’s bend on this perennially popular design scheme has come a long way from the overstuffed kitsch of decades past. Today’s coastal chic is pared down and uncluttered. It features clean lines and natural materials which maximize a sense of light and space. The results are elevated yet casual, and sophisticated yet never fussy.

photo via MeredithMcBreaty

photo via MeredithMcBreaty

Sandy Feet Welcome Here

Starting with a bright, neutral palette, focus on adding comfy seating options. Think slipcovered sofas in high-performance fabrics (we love Crypton) and plush loveseats augmented with stools, poufs, and floor cushions that can be easily moved around the room to perform double duty as side tables, footrests, and extra places to perch. The beach itself is nuanced and full of texture… a coastal-inspired space should reflect that. Ample throw pillows and soft cable-knit blankets for those cool evenings and crisp mornings invite family and friends to cozy up and stay awhile.

Great White!

Far from their antiseptic predecessors, today’s white paints are an appealing and whimsical staple of coastal design. They open a space and reflect the changing colors of the day with an unobtrusive yet striking presence. Whether adorning crisp shiplap paneling or complimenting distressed wood, the perfect white provides a natural haven from the hectic pace of day-to-day life.

Selecting the best paint for a specific space is both an art and an actual science but color guru, Donald Kaufman, simplifies this seemingly monumental task with these steps:

  • judge colors on their own merits rather than comparing them to other colors. Avoid getting caught up in the name of the color and remember that whites reflect the nuances of what surrounds them, so make sure to test them in the space.
  • assess the potential colors in the actual space during different times of the day. Does this color reflect a desirable warmth in the daytime as well as in the moonlight?
  • swatches not chips! Paint a card of at least a 9-inches x 12-inches in your chosen hue and hang it on the wall for a few days. Live with it. Pair it with the materials that will surround it in the space (fabric swatches, wood samples, and hardware) to see if it upholds its promise for your specific room. (See some of our favorite white hues on our Coastal Chic Pinterest Board)

Details, Details, Details

The minimalist color schemes of chic coastal décor leave plenty of room for creativity when it comes to the details of a design-scape. Soft linen touches, blown glass and rattan hurricanes, and subtle allusions to the waves of the ocean all go a long way toward contributing to the aura of low-key elegance and indoor-outdoor living that truly define Coastal Chic.

Always remember that design is a full sensorial experience – scents matter. Our picks for refreshing ocean goodness? Alixx Candles Fluer De Lagoon or L’Air De La Mer. These soothingly natural scents allude to the ease of coastal-life without overpowering.

Photo via Brown Design Group

Photo via Brown Design Group

Before you leave the house take at least one thing off.
— Coco Chanel

The goal of a Coastal Chic space is to seamlessly blend indoor-outdoor living and the ease of the Summer season in a way that feels good year-round. A striking sculptural piece of coral doesn’t need a starfish companion. A ship in a bottle doesn’t need a “Life’s a Beach” sign to drive the point home and a pop of blue doesn’t mean a couch covered in tiny, azure anchors. To quote the indomitable, Bunny Williams, “You need to know when to stop so that rooms aren’t overdone. You need to think of balance.” This is key when it comes to keeping coastal-inspired design modern, classy, and inherently livable.

Shop the look

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