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5 Essential Elements of a Classic Coastal Style

Matthew Binny

Posted on June 12 2017

What defines classic coastal style? Think the beauty and character of the French Riviera, meets the elegance and chic of the Hamptons. The look is sophisticated: crisp linens, impeccably painted beadboard, bold stripes and a distinctive palette of whites, blues, neutrals, charcoal and black.

The style is ‘coastal’ both in name and nature as it embraces the use of beautiful accessories. Coral, specimen shells, maritime instruments, and a vast array of coastal art all combine to create a clean, sophisticated ambience.

Living by the sea isn’t a necessity when embracing a coastal look for your home. With the following simple tips, you will not only achieve the classic coastal look but also bring the wonders of the ocean right to your doorstep.

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Light neutrals and stripes

Painting a room in varying shades of white provides you with the ideal background to show off soft furnishings and accessories. To establish an instant coastal look, we recommend using striped fabric for upholstered furnishings. You’ll achieve even better results with wider spaced stripes.

Paint your alcoves, fireplace surround, and any other standout features of the room in neutral shades. Not only does this break up the varying shades of white, but it also creates a wonderful backdrop for displaying your decorative pieces and artwork.

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Wall art

There’s no doubt that upon completion, you’ll be spending lots of time amidst the beauty of your coastal style room(s), so you may as well have some engaging artwork to look at.

You may already have a specific theme or style of artwork in mind, but if not then it will be a simple case of trial and error until you find what you’re looking for. Gather a variety of nautical images, coastal paintings, abstract art, hanging objects (ship bells, etc.) or whatever else happens to remind you of your love for the seaside.

Frames can be bought cheaply from charity shops, local flea markets, or online via shops like eBay and Etsy. Doing so will not only allow you to stick to a tighter budget, but you’ll also gain a mixture of different woods with a well-weathered aesthetic.

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Window coverings

Roman blinds are a smart addition to any room. Having them made with a mitered border – that matches the paint colour of your walls – adds a stronger sense of definition.

Linen curtains are perfect for a simple, yet elegant look. Whether you want to highlight a high ceiling or compliment soft furnishings and walls with the use of a white pole and a contrasting border. You can also use striped fabric with a plain border to increase definition.

For a timeless look, shutters are a wonderful option. Painting in a neutral colour will prevent them diminishing a fabulous view.

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Furniture styles

Painting a piece of old (or new) furniture is a great way to give it a new lease of life. Make a bold statement with the use of a strong colour – deep blue, for example, is the perfect choice for shelving, tables, or units holding decorative objects.

An ottoman will provide ample seating for houseguests, a central feature for your lounge, or even a base to display an assortment of coral and shells. Also, a traditional Chesterfield leather suite softened with a variety of fabrics in ocean colours, is a flawless combination of elegance and coastal charm.

Combining traditional and elegant layouts and furniture styles will help you achieve the classic coastal look. Slipcovers are a welcome addition to sofas and chairs – white or cream never fails to look upscale and classy, and stripes are always an ideal way to mix it up. Experiment with different ways to add some sophistication to the room, one of our favourite ways to do so is contrasting piping to match the wall colour.  

Materials

Beadboard — or tongue and groove if you’re in the UK— is a style of decorative wood panelling used commonly in coastal homes. Using it – no matter how subtly – is a brilliant way to add a nautical feel to a room, wainscoting in a bathroom for example. Not only does it look great, but also it’s simple to install and can be bought in sheet form.

Useful Tip: A great way to work out the height for wainscoting is to divide the height of the room by three, then cut the boards to two-thirds the height of the room. Therefore ensuring that the wainscoting is the perfect proportion and easy on the eye. Finishing it off with decorative moulding and a coat of oil-based eggshell emulsion for robustness in wet areas.

Natural flooring – such as coir, seagrass and sisal – make great rugs. Finding the right style rug to suit your floor will be a nice touch too, a lighter rug on a dark timber floor – or vice versa – is a fantastic use of multiple shades.

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Here at Cream Cornwall, we are fortunate enough to live in one of the most popular coastal towns in the UK. Luckily for you, the tips in this post will bring the ocean to your doorstep, and help you to embrace the classic coastal style.

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