There's something very appealing about the notion of living by the seaside.

Perhaps it's the natural beauty of our beaches and oceans that provide a joyful escape from the stresses of our everyday life or maybe it's the laid back coastal lifestyle that attracts us. Whatever it is, there's no surprise that more and more of us are aiming to turn our dream of a 'sea change' into a reality. 

From the Greek Isles to the Carribean, the Hamptons to the Whitsundays, the typically tasteful design of beach style interiors is evidently as alluring as it is universal. No matter where you live, decorating using coastal style can create the feeling of a living in a beachside paradise all year round.

Throughout history, the sea has long inspired the building of beautiful homes whose main design directive has been to optimise the enjoyment of living by the seaside. In the same way, the principal objective of designers of coastal interiors is to form functional and fresh flowing living spaces that feel subtly connected to the natural surroundings.

 

Architecture & Design
Throughout history, the sea has long inspired the building of beautiful homes whose main design directive has been to optimise the enjoyment of living by the seaside. In the same way, the principal objective of designers of coastal interiors is to form functional and fresh flowing living spaces that feel subtly connected to the natural surroundings.

Key Features:
* Open-plan living areas are an essential part of coastal design,  which provides a sense of calm and unhurried flow,  matching the spontaneous, relaxed and easy-going feel of coastal living.
* Features such as sliding doors, large picture windows, louvers, shutters, white picket fences, vertical and horizontal wooden boards, skylights, balconies, verandahs, decks and patios tend to govern main areas as to take full advantage of  the seaside ambience.

Floors, Walls & Ceilings
Hardy flooring in natural materials like timber or stone are ideal for beach house homes.

Key Features:
*  Light coloured wooden planks or cladding fitted either horizontally or vertically helps establish a feeling of space, harmony and order.
* Natural, polished, painted or whitewashed timber floorboards or beachy sandstone pavers throughout living areas can create a cool openness and flow. Choose darker timbers or polished mahogany for a Balinese feel.

Natural and Artificial Light
The position and types of your windows and doors have a big impact on the type of natural light and illumination your room will receive -  a phenomenon intensified in coastal homes.

Key Features:
* Light coloured verandahs, walls, floors, and ceilings can easily reflect light through the interior but its worth considering how it will impact on your decor.
* Large windows, large sliding glass doors and skylights with minimal coverings or simple louvered shutters reign supreme in beach houses as even when slightly closed in intense Summer months or during poor weather, they will still allow more light to enter, effortlessly evoking a bright, airy feel in your coastal home.
* Keep artificial lighting simple, minimal and don't be afraid to mix and match natural looking table lamps and floor lamps. Avoid fluorescent lighting , instead go for conventional lighting or down lights.

Colours
Part of the charm of living by the sea is the myriad of calming colours that unmistakably define the coastal environment. By using some of these relaxing colours in our homes, we can create a similar sense of  tranquility. Bring the beach home by choosing colours and textures that reflect the natural elements of beach side environment.

Key Features:
* White On White - Classic coastal style is all about casual, relaxed, spacious, breezy interiors.
* Don't be afraid of large areas of white on white. Instead, be inspired by the seashore and indulge in some of the many 'whites' that exist such as:
- natural whisper whites resembling pure white sea shells
- sandy whites reminiscent of warmer toned sandy beaches
- bone whites like the sun bleached shimmer of driftwood
- or blue and green-toned whites recall the tumbling whitewash foam of waves crashing on the seashore.
* White will make your coastal home seem lighter and brighter.
* Combine shades of white from the same group to add diversity and avoid looking cold and bland. Creamier tones of white will warm up a home in cooler climates while grey, silvery and bluish tones of white are great for creating a fresher, cooler oceanic feel.
*Adding different textures in a white-on-white room will also add variety such as whitewashed dining setting, light coloured fabric lounge, a sleek low coffee table and a pale lampshade.
* White interiors provide a 'blank canvas' for displaying art, knickknacks and other articles reminiscent of the theme.

Textures & Materials
Texture has an important role in coastal homes in providing harmonious natural warmth and depth as well as compelling visual interest. Just as natural colours and patterns are suggestive of coastal style, so too are textures of materials inspired by the seashore.

Key Elements:
*Go natural. The classic beach house contains a plethora of textures, specimens and colours reminiscent of the nautical environment. Creating contrast by combining rough and smooth  textures, adds depth and visual interest to a room. Eg lumpy coral on a smooth wooden cabinet, or driftwood pieces placed with some smooth pearly white shells,  
* Furniture, particularly timber, oiled, painted, whitewashed or lime-washed styles as well as wicker cane or rattan add textural variety. A single coat of paint to reveal the grain or better yet, flaking or sanded back to reveal different coloured undercoats produce an attractive weathered look.
* Floor coverings such as rugs and mats made from jute, sea-grass or other natural looking fibres continue the native feel through the home.

Fabrics
Coastal homes are notorious for beaming with nautical stripes and maritime motifs. Soft furnishings that are hard-wearing, high quality and simple in design and mix and match with ease. Start with a design scheme that is based on natural plain textured fabrics - take your cues from nature.

Key Features:
* Quality rather than quantity is fundamental. The materials you opt for must be hardy, washable, and where possible resistant to intense weather conditions.
* Incorporate sky blues, dusky greys and foamy whites in cotton, cotton canvas, linen or hand-knitted fabrics.
* Mixing vintage fabrics with a couple of accent pieces such as a button style cotton cushion covers on a patchwork quilt accomplishes a lived-in look and feel.
* Create a sense of casual relaxation with the inclusion of natural or striped rugs, cushions and throws.

Display & Adornment
Specimens of shells, coral and other past marine specimens are a popular way to bring the beach to your home however they should only be collected with proper regard for the environment. When adorning your home inside and out, experiment with different textures of glass, wood, stone, shell, driftwood, coral, seaweed and seagrass.

Key Features:
* Common shells that wash up on your local beaches can be just as inspiring and attractive as rare and antique marine treasures but less is definitely more when putting them on display. Don't go overboard with decorative nautical paraphernalia, instead exercise restraint to maximise appeal and impact of each piece.
* Arrange a few seashore treasures on a table, tray or bookshelf.
* Half fill a glass gold fish bowl if you have many small ones or add some sand for a real beachy effect.
* An odd telescope, lantern, nautical search light, barometer, nautical compass, angel, buoy, ship's wheel or pair of paint stripped oars announce a nautical theme, similarly cotton canvas striped bunting flags, shipping charts and model yachts offer a playful oceanic feel.
* Turkish or beach towels and straw hats hanging on hooks near the door are a perfect reminder of the casual nature of this home.
* Soft woven raffia baskets, clumps of turquoise colours bottles and nautical artwork or old surfboard propped up against the wall achieves a look of relaxed spontaneity.

 



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