What Is Coastal Traditional Style?

Now that you have bought or are building your dream house by the sea, you will want to make it your own with how you decorate it. You would like to decorate it in a style that shows it off in its best light and is easy to live with. You’ve investigated various possibilities, and now you would like to know: what is coastal traditional style?

Coastal traditional style is the intersection of traditional style, with its timeless, comforting elements, and the beach feel of coastal style, with its color and decor elements that reflect sand, surf, and sky. The result is a classic and livable style perfect for a beach house.

Certain vital elements are essential to creating the classic style and airy luxuriousness that is the hallmark of coastal traditional style. You will end up with a beautiful and functional interior space that is comfortable to live in and surrounds you with the sights and textures of the sea.

Coastal Traditional Style Is Rooted In Tradition

To understand coastal traditional style, we should first review the basics of traditional interior design while emphasizing how to use these in a coastal way.

Traditional interior design draws on conventional ideas of what a home should be like, drawing on 18th- and 19th-century European styles to create a classic, familiar decor style rooted in tradition.

The furniture, textiles, color palettes, and decor reference history are familiar and comfortable. However, this does not mean that traditional homes cannot incorporate modern elements, such as open-plan living spaces and large kitchen islands. You can also incorporate contemporary pieces and bolder colors to create a variation that is becoming known as new traditional.

Don’t be afraid to adapt the basics of coastal traditional style to your location and sense of place. In different parts of the country, the look of coastal style has taken various forms.

The Elements Of Coastal Traditional Style

Coastal traditional is a timeless style, comfortable and familiar, traditional yet not overly fancy, relaxed, and attuned to the rhythms of the sea. It achieves such an effect using certain design elements. We have left out those relevant only to general traditional style and focused on those elements that underpin coastal traditional style.

Furniture, decor, and art are rooted in 18th and 19th century English and French design,  such as Louis the XIV Bergere chairs and Queen Anne furniture, and some Far Eastern elements, such as chinoiserie.

Coastal traditional design draws on these styles but is often more simply finished, with fewer fussy details. Rift or quarter sawn white oak furniture and cabinetry show off the tiger fleck ray pattern of oak and fit in beautifully with the light, harmonious, beach-inspired feel of coastal style.

The layout of rooms focuses on symmetry, with pairs of furniture and objects such as lamps. The overall feeling should be one of harmony. Achieve calm symmetry through matching finishes and balanced pieces of furniture

—design rooms to be functional and family-friendly spaces for relaxed coastal living.

Traditional architectural elements include wainscoting or paneled walls, crown moldings, and sometimes columns. These are generally painted white, although occasionally blue or gray.

The use of sheer white curtains, whitewashed or white painted surfaces, and plenty of light from large windows or skylights create a sense of brightness and airiness.

Textiles And Textures Of Coastal Traditional Style

Wood finishes on furnishings and floors are generally dark in traditional style and light in coastal style, creating tension in coastal traditional style. However, do not hesitate to mix and match dark and light wood, different timber types, and various finishes to create a natural, relaxed, “collected” look. Beach clubs across the world embrace this collected look.

You can go for a sisal or jute rug or skip the rug for bare boards to show luxurious timber flooring in oak or teak. Opt for teak flooring or wide plank white oak boards for a classic maritime feel if you are renovating.

Textiles are generally either neutral or for a more historical look, embroidered or in patterns such as cabana stripes or monochrome florals. Avoid bold print such as ikat. Furniture is slip-covered in hard-wearing fabrics that kids, pets, and wet bathing suits will not damage.

Furniture and accessories use natural materials such as bamboo, wood, wicker, rattan, seagrass, sisal, jute, linen, and cotton to incorporate a calm, natural, relaxed vibe to your space.

Mix and match different natural materials and textures with textiles in marine or neutral colors to reinforce the look.

Adding brass elements adds a touch of luxury and heightens the nautical feel. The warm golden color of brass matches beautifully with different timber tones, resulting in a sophisticated ambiance. Use simple, classic shapes for these brass elements so that they do not overpower their surroundings.

How To Enhance The Look Of A Coastal Traditional Home

Aim to break down the distinctions between indoor spaces and the beach outside to create a sense of seamless living that supports a relaxed coastal lifestyle. Incorporate elements of the natural world from the sea on your doorstep into your interior space, and throw open the division between the two areas with large windows while keeping traditional architectural elements.

An essential part of the look is the lighting. Use wooden bead or capiz chandeliers or rattan pendant lights to give a relaxed, natural vibe, or be more obviously coastal with lamps made from shells or referencing marine life.

Use decor elements such as specimen shells, coral, model ships, blue-and-white china, and nautical or coastal images in a theme: maybe black and white photos of classic yachts or oil paintings of seascapes and sailing ships. Use natural wood or limed frames, or even brass frames for that classic maritime look.

Finish off your living space with traditional accessories such as vintage linen, antique silver, and china sets, used in an edited way to create a timeless rather than a dated look. Take care not to create clutter.

How To Create A Color Scheme For Coastal Traditional Style

General traditional design focuses on warm neutrals with splashes of bold color. However, in tradition coastal design, the foundational color is white (or very light cool neutrals) with some blues and greens like sea glass and seafoam. The color scheme’s overall effect is light and airy with some bold marine colors such as inky navy blue and warm wood.

In other words, the color scheme for coastal traditional style draws from the beach: the sand, sea, clouds, and sky. It is possible to mix in splashes of other colors such as coral pink, lobster red, or lemon yellow in small accents such as cushions and artwork.

Begin by deciding whether you will use a dark neutral to anchor your color scheme. Doing so affects the overall look of your color scheme, with schemes that use a dark neutral having more dramatic contrast than schemes that focus on light neutrals exclusively.

Choose a dark neutral if you are using one: navy blue and black are particularly suited for coastal traditional style. Use it for furnishings such as sofas and chairs and area rugs. Anchor your room with an accent wall in your dark neutral, or choose window treatments and headboards in this color.

We recommend using cool light neutrals (soft grays and light blues) for your lighter tones, as these have the same color temperature as the dark neutrals most suited for coastal color schemes. Using a warm dark neutral such as chocolate or espresso and warm neutrals would destroy the seaside ambiance.

You can also use some mid-toned colors in your color scheme as an alternative to a dark neutral. Marine greens such as seafoam green and greenish blues such as teal and turquoise help create a relaxed beach vibe.

In all cases, use plenty of white or near white in your color scheme to reflect light and give the airy, breezy feel of summer days at the beach.

A neutral color scheme is an excellent base for pops of color from kitchen chairs, artwork, throws, rugs, or cushions. The backdrop of neutral color allows you to add brighter, more heavily saturated colors to create a specific atmosphere. You can swap out these colors when you want to change up the look of your home.

As examples of brighter colors to use, we would suggest the following:

  • The combination of turquoise and coral for an exquisite tropical look.
  • Light turquoise and cheerful lemon yellow for a sunny summer vibe.
  • Red and mid-blue to create a red, white, and blue scheme; this is the traditional palette of a Northeastern summer.
  • Coral and green florals for an old-time look that complements the traditional furnishings.

When using accent colors, use either warm accents or cool accents. Doing so does not mean that you cannot, for example, use a blue and a yellow, but make sure that you use a warm blue such as ultramarine and a warm yellow such as mustard, or a cool blue such as turquoise and a cool yellow such as lemon. Doing so creates a more relaxed and harmonious feeling in your home.

However, you do not have to use brighter colors if you like the restrained look of a simple color scheme. Two examples of highly effective restrained color schemes for coastal traditional homes are all-white with lots of natural or whitewashed wood and navy and white (paired with decors such as blue-and-white china and sea glass). A simple color palette results in a more balanced feel for your home.

What Is Coastal Traditional Style 01

How To Furnish Your Rooms For Coastal Traditional Style

Although there are as many ways to interpret coastal traditional style and apply it to a specific space as there are homeowners, certain elements will elevate your home into a beautiful and authentic coastal traditional paradise. Have a look at the following suggestions.

Create The Look: Coastal Traditional Living Spaces

Use antique or reproduction pieces with ornate details in natural wood against a white backdrop, or emphasize the beach look by finishing one piece in a coastal color such as deep blue (this acts as an excellent ground for classic ornaments such as model ships).

Create a balanced layout with two pairs of armchairs facing each other on either side of the fireplace and a sofa dividing the room; finish the couch and chairs with slipcovers in white, cream, or cabana stripes. Place a limed or weathered oak coffee table in the middle of the area.

In the dining area, use white oak cabinets and furniture. Center the dining table in the middle of the room, with a sideboard bearing a pair of lamps or a pair of mirrors to reflect light into the space.

Tongue-and-groove paneled walls add texture and a sense of craftsmanship to create a traditional, relaxed environment. Or use wainscoting and wallpaper for an old-world look.

Simple white linen curtains with wood or brass curtain rails and rings provide a relaxed ambiance. Alternatively, use striped fabric for a classic beach look. Alternatives to curtains are shutters in classic white.

Create The Look: Coastal Traditional Bedrooms

Use classic yet restrained beds, with the headboard painted in the dark neutral you have chosen for your scheme or in white to enhance the light in the room. You could choose a classic four-poster bed in the primary bedroom as long as you stay away from heavy drapes. In the kid’s bedrooms, bunk beds would make a great choice.

Furnish the bedrooms with antique or reproduction wardrobes, sea chests, and comfortable armchairs. Select patterns such as stripes or florals to emphasize tradition and colors such as seafoam green and royal blue to keep the beach feel.

Decorate the walls with a few classic art pieces that either harmonize with the general color scheme or provide pops of contrasting color.

Repeat the window dressing you have used in the living space for a unified feel to your home.

Create The Look: Coastal Traditional Bathrooms And Kitchens

Coastal traditional bathrooms and kitchens revolve around plenty of white or cool neutrals such as soft grays that add to the light.

White tiles, brass taps and handles, and brass towel rails and hooks enhance the clean nautical look.

Use wood for accents such as the toilet seat and duckboards in the bathroom and items such as the butcher block or island in the kitchen.

In the kitchen, use white cabinets to enhance the feeling of light, with classic brass handles.

In the bathroom, tile the shower enclosure in a maritime color such as turquoise, and use decor such as shells. Create a nautical feel by using beadboard as wainscoting.

Feel free to enhance the look with pops of color or keep to a restrained monochrome look.


Coastal traditional style is a fantastic way to create a familiar, comforting environment in your home and surround yourself with beauty while bringing in the soothing ambiance of the coast and summer holidays.

Hopefully, you are inspired to create a coastal traditional home of your own, one that matches your particular location, sense of style, and unique lifestyle.