3 Surprising Elements of Coastal Style

When you think of coastal style, there may be a few traditional ideas that immediately jump to mind—a sea-inspired color palette, light airy spaces, and plenty of natural elements. Maybe your mind conjures up nautical blue, brass anchors on the walls, and sailor’s rope. Coastal style can definitely include all the above—but today I want to talk about the surprising elements of coastal style. 


Let’s go over 3 design elements that you may be familiar with, but that you may not associate with coastal interiors. My goal is to show you how versatile coastal design is and how you can use these elements in your own coastal-inspired home! Let’s get started.


1. Shiplap creates clean lines in coastal style


Popularized on home remodeling shows, most people associate shiplap with modern farmhouse style. But it’s actually a perfect feature to use in both coastal cottage and coastal farmhouse designs. 


I love it because it creates texture in an uncomplicated way. It’s warm without being fussy, as seen in this entryway from our modern coastal farmhouse project:

In your own home, you can use shiplap, beadboard, or wainscoting to create clean lines and add warmth to your spaces.


If your style leans toward coastal cottage, think about pairing shiplap with a rag or woven rug in your color palette. Complete the look with your lighting fixtures—keep it cozy with a turned wood floor lamp. If you want your design to pack a punch, use shiplap as a ceiling treatment. This helps draw the eye up, creating the illusion of a larger space.


2. Whitewashed wood brings the outside into your coastal home

Whitewashed wood furniture is one of my favorite elements of coastal design. This feature may not be well-known in coastal style, though, and many associate it with modern or transitional interiors.


The fact is, whitewashed wood is inherent in coastal interiors. The faded look calls to mind driftwood and weather-faded coastal exteriors, and blends in seamlessly with any coastal color palette. Did you know that lighter surfaces reflect more natural light? Whitewashed wood contributes to the airy, calm, and soothing feel of coastal-inspired interiors.


The possibilities in your own home are really endless. For full effect, most of your large furniture pieces should be light-toned or whitewashed wood. You don’t need to buy all new pieces, though! With a little work you can transform your dark wood furniture. See here for a how-to. For flooring, you could go with white oak—it’s on-trend and helps keep your home airy and light-filled. If you’re in the market for a full remodel, we offer many beautiful furniture options in our shop, like this washed oak 4-poster bed.

3. White is the often-overlooked color in coastal style

With all the emphasis on the neutrals, blues, and greens of a coastal color palette, white often gets overlooked. But it’s a key element in coastal design that should be just as considered as the rest of your colors. White is a perfect contrast for those who like a nautical feel. It acts as an ideal accent to natural, neutral textures. White is also an ideal partner for the soft blues and greens that create a coastal vibe.


In our Sag Harbor Coastal Modern project we used white, along with grays and blues, to create a serene, modern feel. 

Using white in your color palette helps reflect as much natural light in your home as possible. And that is definitely a key element in coastal style! 


White is actually the hardest color to choose for most people. If you choose a white that’s too stark your home can end up looking sterile. Too warm and you risk bringing in yellow undertones. Find several white samples you like and compare them against each other. And always test them out in the room you’re painting! You’d be amazed at how light affects white paint.

If you have any questions about these 3 surprising elements of coastal style, I’d love to hear them. Or better yet—why not book a free, 15-minute design chat with me? I’d love to help you create the coastal retreat of your dreams!

meet shannon

Creator of coastal retreats for families to feel good in, lover of beach walks, and sustainable living.




  • 60 Most Popular Living Rooms Showcased On One Kindesign for 2022
  • If you have a tiny laundry room or just a laundry nook somewhere in your home, these brilliant space-space ideas will help you refresh your space. It’s important to keep this small space organized and efficient, with laundry essentials being stored correctly. We have plenty of amazing tiny laundry room ideas for you below to help you get started.
  • Sea glass beads - drape them in a beautiful bowl on your coffee table. #coastaldesigntips #coastalstyle #coastalaccessories #seaglass #seaglassbeads #africanseaglass


Holiday Sale Pop-up(700 × 500 px)


What’s Your Coastal Style?

There are 5 unique design aesthetics that make up coastal design. Which style suits your taste? Take Our Quiz To Find Out!