How to Decorate Modern Coastal: Interior Design Tips
When you first hear the term "modern coastal design," it might sound like a bit of an oxymoron. After all, how could the sleek minimalism of modern design possibly apply to the anchor-laden, trinket-heavy style of coastal design?
In fact, modern coastal decor offers a truly unique and fresh design style through the combination of the best elements of each interior design style.
To help create the perfect modern seaside vibe in your home, you'll want to incorporate the following elements: a neutral base color palette, well appointed yet subtle coastal decorating accessories, modern furniture with clean lines and modern coastal wall art to tie it together. Some other traditional elements to bring in would be coastal style throw pillows and natural materials like weathered wood to get the coastal vibe you're looking for.
Let's take a look at how to turn your interior design into a modern coastal home.
What Is Modern Coastal Design?
Through the application of the crisp lines and elegant minimalism of modern design to the relaxed atmosphere of coastal interior design, you can transform your home into a place that feels both homey and chic.
Successful modern coastal design evokes the experience of a beach paradise without being in your face. When you create a modern coastal style in your home, it's more about recreating the feeling of the beach than explicitly filling the space with beachy objects. Just like a well-told story, the modern coastal design style shows rather than tells.
A minimalist bedroom with a coastal vibe. Framed photograph: “Apart” on fine art paper.
How to Create a Modern Coastal Aesthetic in Your Home
There are a number of overarching design themes that you will want to incorporate into your style to achieve a modern coastal aesthetic. Let's take a look at 3 important design themes to keep in mind.
1. Color Palette Minimalism
One of the first things you'll want to consider when creating a modern coastal style home is the color palette. With classic coastal design, you often think of bright nautical blues and whites. However, you'll want to tone it down if you're looking for a modern take.
This definitely doesn't mean you should avoid color. However, consider having a neutral, subtle, and soft base color for your home and look for areas to incorporate a coastal accent color. This will create an elegant contrast with a modern aesthetic.
Though this bedroom has a base of neutral whites and beige, the well appointed use of a bold navy adds a sophisticated modern coastal twist. Fine art photograph: “Seaside Promenade” on acrylic.
2. Incorporating Natural Textures
Coastal design is all about the natural textures found on the seashore and translating them into the home. By combining woven pieces, linen, and found driftwood with clean and modern furniture pieces, you'll create a gorgeous contrast that's both elegant and inviting.
Natural elements in this bedroom: jute rug, white bed linens, rattan pendant lamp. Triptych wall art: “Antelope Island State Park Triptych” on aluminum.
3. Choose Lighter Woods
To ensure that you get the beachy vibe you're looking for, keep the color tones of your woods on the lighter side. Woods that work well: light, white-washed, and lighter grays. Woods to avoid: dark, orange or red toned woods. The mood to keep in mind when selecting woods is light, bright and airy. If you go with darker or warm toned woods, it could take away from the coastal atmosphere you're trying to create.
Creating a Modern Coastal Living Room
When creating a modern coastal living room, you'll want to follow all of the principles outlined in the above section. However, there are some specific considerations for the living room to keep in mind. Here are some general design tips when planning out your seaside living room oasis.
This living room has a good balance of natural elements paired with clean modern lines. The flowing abstract ocean wave triptych contrasts with the geometry of the stripes, coffee table and straight lines of the couch. Triptych wall art: “Wind Wave Triptych” on gallery wrapped canvas.
General Design Tips for the Living Room
One good way to think about designing your living room in this style is to create balance by always mixing natural shapes with geometric shapes and clean lines. Consider how the shapes of the living space interact with each other and create a sense of balance through opposites.
The larger furniture pieces such as couches, arm chairs and coffee tables should be neutral and light colored with simple, clean lines. Add in the natural element with plants, baskets, woven rugs, weathered wood, and other sea inspired accent pieces.
This couch has clean lines and a neutral color, contrasting with the asymmetrical coffee table and the fan palm frond. Fine art photograph: “Soul of the Sea” on canvas with white float frame.
Keep minimalism in mind when decorating the living room. Less is more to maintain that airy, breezy coastal vibe. White linen curtains add an instant “airiness” to the living room, and the more natural light the better. Add in coastal themed wall art as a focal point to tie the look together.
Create a Sense of Place
To create a sense of place in your home that doesn't scream "kitschy beachfront Airbnb beach house rental," you'll want to add subtle nods to the seaside. For coastal decorating, rather than stuffing the room with clutter, carefully select art pieces and objects that really speak to you.
One great way to do this is with a gallery wall. You can artfully create a sense of place in your home with your own mix and match gallery wall of coastal modern wall art.
Gallery wall: black and white coastal photography prints
Get Creative (and Selective) With Your Accent Pieces
Remember, less is more! To achieve a more modern style, consider being a bit less obvious in your nods to the seashore. There's nothing wrong with having seashells and anchors in your home, but be selective and pare it back.
Accent pieces with subtle coastal notes: blown glass bowl with sea glass colors, woven baskets, white lantern. Canvas wall art: “Resting Giants”
Achieve Balance Through Opposites
If you have a beachy piece you want to use in one room that just screams "coastal design," pair it with another piece that's bold and modern. Through the juxtaposition of opposites, you will be combining the design elements of both coastal and modern. Be sure to remain conscious of how you are balancing these two design styles in each room and throughout the house.
In the next section, we'll discuss choosing modern coastal furniture.
Selecting Modern Coastal Furniture
When selecting furniture pieces to complement coastal modern design, stick with modern - simple, sleek, and clean lines. Think minimalism when it comes to furniture to keep the modern feel, which will allow you to incorporate your beachy accents.
For furniture color and finish, stay in the neutral family - white, beige, gray, and light woods. For upholstered pieces such as the couch, another option is to venture into subdued coastal colors such as pale blues and greens.
Dining table and chairs are neutral colors and their design is minimalist with clean lines. Framed abstract wall art: “Coastal Layers”
Modern Coastal Wall Art Prints for Your Home
The best modern coastal artwork for your home will embody the natural beauty of the coast while maintaining a minimalistic coastal aesthetic. By finding tasteful and artistic photographs of the ocean, you can bring the soothing and relaxed atmosphere of the coast look into your home.
When you choose surf and beach images for your wall art and combine them with modern furniture, you're striking the perfect balance between the laid-back beach scene and a more sophisticated modern feel.
A perfect combination of modern and beachy, the cabinet has sleek straight lines and the ocean wave wall art sets the coastal living mood. Framed fine art photograph: “Close Out”
Turn Your Home Into a Modern Seaside Paradise
If you've ever noticed that you feel particularly blissed out after a day at the beach, it's not just in your head. The saltwater, the sun, the breeze, the expanse of the ocean - being immersed in these natural elements has a mood elevating effect. Recreating that minimalistic, beachy atmosphere in your home with coastal modern design can bring with it that soothing effect and a sense of peace into your everyday life.
Are you looking for the perfect coastal artwork to serve as a focal point or to tie your coastal modern theme together? If so, check out our modern coastal art prints here.
Looking for a deeper dive into coastal decorating? Download our free Coastal Decor Guide for a breakdown of six different coastal decor styles including color palettes, design tips, lookbooks and wall art ideas for each style.