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Coastal Design: Tacky or Tasteful?

Updated: Jun 18

The answer is both! Let's talk about what makes an interior design "theme" look tacky vs. tasteful...

To be honest, even the word "theme" makes me cringe a little. "Theme" makes me think of a children's birthday party, and birthday party type decoration is exactly what we want to avoid when choosing items for your home.

I completely understand the urge to make a place represent its location, and I think this is a lovely idea, but I want to give you two tips to help your home embody the feeling of the beach without looking like you should be wearing a party hat with an anchor on it.

  1. Think Less Literally - Avoid using actual items or pictures of items from the beach.

When we think of the beach, we think of a sea shells, coral, waves, fish, crabs, nets, rope, driftwood... etc. Although these items do represent the beach, I would avoid literally using them or pictures of them in your decor.

Here are some examples:

  • Rather than a picture of a sand dollar, consider a wall tile with a sandy look.

  • Rather than seashells, check out this white iridescent tile that resembles one.

  • Rather than driftwood, choose a wood flooring that reminds you of driftwood.

  • Rather than an octopus, how about a mirror with a sea-creature-like shape?

  • Rather than wicker, consider a carpet with a woven texture or wallpaper with a simple organic pattern.

^^^ Note: Links for all the images that I used here can be found on my "Coastal" Pinterest board.

2. Think Uncommonly Common - Try using common color and pattern in uncommon ways.

So, we already talked about literal representations of the beach, but there are also very common patterns and colors that represent the beach. There is nothing wrong with bringing watery colors or nautical patterns into a beach house, but I would suggest that using these elements in an uncommon way can elevate your design.

Here are some examples:

  • Rather than a blue bathroom vanity, consider a wall of watery green storage.

  • Rather than a fish pillow, try this tile that hints at the shape of fish scales.

  • Rather than blue on the walls, how about blue on the stairs?

  • Rather than striped curtains, surprise everyone with a striped shower!

  • Rather than a picture of the ocean on the wall, how about a whole wall of waves as wallpaper?

^^^ Note: Links for all the images that I used here can be found on my "Coastal" Pinterest board.

I hope you found these tips helpful. Let me know which style we should talk about next!


When you're ready, I would love to help you remodel or build your dream home! Here are 5 ways we can work together:


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