Classic interior design styles and how to light them – 5. Coastal style


Like to be beside the seaside? Continuing our series on the great interior decor trends and how you can use them for inspiration in your own home (with a special emphasis on lighting), here’s a guide to the coastal style…

See also: Classic interior design styles and how to light them – 1. Mid-Century Modern 2. English Country House style 3. Industrial style 4. Eclectic style

Maybe it is because we are an island nation, Shakepeare’s ‘sceptred isle’ surrounded by various seas, channels and oceans, that makes us hardwired to love all things coastal. And although the reality of British weather patterns would suggest that our summers were usually anything other than long, sunny and warm, most of us have memories of childhood beach holidays when the sun always shone and we spent every daylight hour exploring rock pools, building sandcastles and running in and out of the sea, fuelled by ice cream. So, perhaps it’s our inner child who makes us love coastal style interior design. Walk into a light, bright, coastal inspired home and our mood immediately lifts - it’s hard not to break into a smile. As American singer-songwriter Michelle Held, said ‘Don’t grow up too quickly, lest you forget how much you love the beach.’

Clovelly, Devon (Shutterstock)


How to give your home the coastal look

Coastal style is all about light and bringing in as much natural light as possible, to help create an airy, bright feeling. Crest-of-a-wave white, not surprisingly, is a good starting point but, in terms of decorating and furnishings, think about adding muted sea colours, such as greys, blues and greens.

The best materials for coastal design

As with many contemporary styles, natural materials and objects feature strongly in coastal interior design. Look out for furniture made of pale, plain unvarnished wood, rattan and wicker; soft woollen throws, and cotton, jute and sisal rugs.

Image: Structhome

Scrubbed wooden floors and deal tables always work well as part of a coastal design theme, as do white shutters and blinds, and softly floating white muslin or voile curtains, which offer a degree of privacy, while letting in the light. However, you don’t have to overdo it with the nautical accessories. When it comes to coastal decor, light also means light touch. You can be inspired by the dreamy ideal of the beach house or the Cornish coastal cottage, without turning your home into a maritime museum. This sitting room by Alexandra Langdon has a coastal light and palette but remains smart and chic…

Image: Alexandra Langdon


Coastal style accessories

Team blue and white for a few eye-catching accessories, whether you’re choosing cushions and rugs, bed linen or china and crockery. Few brands carry a stronger coastal link than T. G Green’s Cornishware®, with its distinctive blue and white stripes. The range has been in production for well over a century and, thanks to a trio of enthusiasts, was rescued after the original company went into financial administration in 2007. Read the story here. These days, Cornishware® is as popular as ever and, if you want to add a touch of the red ensign to your kitchen, the range includes red and white stripes too - perfect for a more strongly nautical look.

Image: Cornishware

If you are out beachcombing, look out for flotsam, such as pieces of bleached driftwood, which you can use as decorative items or turn into household fixtures. Take this coat rack, for example - just add hooks!


Coastal interior design - room by room

One of the main advantages of choosing a coastal theme for your home is that the emphasis on light can open up small rooms and make them look larger. Coastal themed rooms should be relaxing too, somewhere to kick off your shoes and unwind - and where it’s not the end of the world if you have sand between your toes! Use the colour palette above and keep things simple.

First impressions - the entrance hall

What could be lighter, brighter and more welcoming than this hallway? The white painted wooden ceiling adds height, and the floor, furniture and furnishings bring together a range of natural materials. Add a seafaring feature to a stairway, with decking rope and rope brackets.

Image: Timber Trails


Sit back and watch the waves

Coastal sitting rooms are a combination of style and comfort, not too formal, designed for relaxation and walking barefoot, where it doesn’t matter too much if you still have sand between your toes. Plants are another feature of coastal design and one of the easiest ways of bringing the natural world indoors.


Easy, relaxed coastal dining

Coastal dining rooms are not meant to be too formal; they are definitely designed for relaxed mealtimes. If you have children or young guests, they will love decorating a table with pebbles, shells, and other beach finds (once suitably washed, of course).

Image: JH Designs


Floating away - the coastal bathroom

Although the bathroom, along with children’s bedrooms, can probably tolerate an extra helping of coastal ephemera, sometimes a few subtle touches are all you need. This Australian coastal bathroom, with one dark blue wall gets it just right.

Image: Moore Creative


Coastal cooking

You can definitely have some fun in a coastal kitchen and by introducing some touches of strong colour, such as that bright red and white Cornishware® - but keep cupboard colours light or pale for the right setting. Open shelves and glass fronted cupboards can work well too.

Drifting off - the coastal bedroom

Yes, children do love all things pirate but a bedroom that is too exciting may not be great for settling down to sleep. This bunk bedroom by interior designer Lucinda Griffith, with its touch of the shipshape manages to be both fun and calming. For a grown-up version, keep to whites and soft blues, greys and acquas, rustic style furniture, and minimal clutter. Fall asleep to the sound of waves - real or imagined. Or take a leaf out of The Gallivant Hotel's style, with limewash wooden walls and relaxed tones throughout their bedroom schemes, proving you don't always have to go for the traditional blue and white colour scheme to invoke beach vibes!

Image: Lucinda Griffith

Image: Lucinda Griffith

Image: The Gallivant


Lighting your coastal home

Look out for shades in white and blue and in natural materials, including whitewashed wood and glass. Antique brass lamp stands and fittings offer a nod in the direction of maritime fixtures. Here are a few from the Pooky collection that would work fabulously in a coastal theme...

Cornish strips

The Miyako is a ceramic lamp with delicate hand-painted bands, which reminded us of the shingle colours you might find on a Cornish beach.



Whitewashed wood

Hand-turned wooden lamp bases in a slightly shabby white are as coasty as it gets. Pair with a blue shade for maximum effect - how about a blue Shibori? The Fred bedside lamp and Eclispse floor lamp are just two from our woody collection.

Magnifying the light

We named this wall light after the late and great super sleuth, Inspector Clouseau. The glass within the brass ring is ground into a convex shape, perfect if you are searching for elusive clues, as it gently magnifies the light from behind it. We’re not sure if Inspector C had seaside connections but this wall light is a perfect way to brighten a coastal sitting room, when you have finished watching the sun go down below the horizon.



Liquid light

Topped with beautiful, buttery brass fittings, our Bulbus has an almost fluid feel to it; with the right bulb, it would look stunning in a coastal kitchen or dining area.


Browse all of Pooky’s affordable designer lighting here.