How create a coastal interior vibe, without the clichés.


It’s no surprise why so many people head to the coast for a holiday. The sea air, crashing waves, warm sand, sun, light…the list goes on. So when a holiday comes to an end and it’s back to reality, it’s very appealing to want to bring an essence of the coast home with you but coastal interiors can have a bit of a clichéd feel. I love the coast but don’t really want nautical knots or compass motifs in my home.

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I grew up on the north coast of Cornwall where the beaches are all about surfing, swimming and exploring rockpools, but where are these designs? This gap was the driving force behind my contemporary coastal collection titled ‘You can take the girl out of Cornwall…’ that uses bold, graphic design inspired shapes and colours found in Cornwall. Here’s a little guide on how to create a coastal look that’s up to date without a nautical knot in sight.

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A good starting point is to think about hotel decor in coastal locations (you can see photos on hotel websites and in magazines). They will often have a ‘nod’ to the coast but don’t go overboard but rather have a ‘less is more’ approach. If you see a style you particularly like, work out which elements you are drawn to and see if you can create a similar look. 

Often coastal interiors use white or a pale neutral as a background colour. This works well as a light and bright starting point for adding other colours within soft furnishings and accessories. Blues and whites are classic sea side colours that work well together for a timeless look. Calming colours that area found in nature, such as sand and shells, create a natural shoreline feel too. Adding a bold splash of colour, such as red or yellow, brings a sense of warmth and lampshades and cushions are easy ways to do this.

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Horizontal stripes, echoed in the horizon, waves, cliffs and clouds, are another way to add a contemporary coastal feel. Using stripes in bedding, curtains, blinds and throws are ways to achieve this. As I wanted to create an updated stripe design within my collection used a Breton stripe design  (my husband is half French) and added an iconic cloud motif. This result is simple and stylish look that can work in any room and isn’t limited to a coastal theme either. 

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Remembering the golden rule of less is more, it’s advisable to keep accessories to a minimum. Of course, you’ll want some objects to help create the feel but don’t get too carried away. I like to start with objects that mean something to me, perhaps some pebbles or shells collected from a beach trip. Items that are personal to you will keep the look more genuine and less clichéd. 

Adding different textures and materials such as wood, baskets, rope and stone will help to add a subtle coastal feel. Pieces of driftwood or anything weathered really adds to a washed up weathered atmosphere. 

Hopefully, by following some of the above you can create your own little slice of coastal inspiration that you can enjoy wherever you may live.

Fabric by the metre, cushions and lampshades are all available though my online shop

Helen Baker