How’s your summer going, Gentle Readers? Swimmingly, I hope.
If you’ve picked up a design magazine over the past several months, you undoubtedly have seen an article or two about “coastal style.” Have you noticed that the pictures are ALL THE SAME?
White walls, white slipcovered sofas, navy blue pillows and lamps, seagrass rugs, blue and white rugs, rattan furniture…and the MOTIFS! Sailboat motifs, seashell motifs, coral motifs, anchors, crabs, lobsters…you get the idea.
There’s a reason coastal style is so popular. If it doesn’t get too kitschy via the aforementioned motifs (and pillows embroidered with sayings like “life is better in flip flops”), coastal style can be pretty!
Navy + white = nautical = seashore = breezy = refreshing = summery. As a bonus, because it’s so familiar, it’s relaxing. There’s nothing confusing or challenging about coastal style as we know it.
But we can do better!
Imagine how different coastal style would be if navy blue were banished! Could it even be called coastal style? I say yes! We currently are redecorating the lake house of lovely clients who FORBADE us to use a navy and white palette.
Here are a few new ways to achieve costal style.
DITCH THE NAVY BLUE
I’m all for light and bright spaces. So we can keep the white walls, but we don’t need navy blue to create a crisp room. Black with white is more sophisticated than navy. Or how about dark green with white? Or yellow with white? Mint green in a seaside bungalow sounds pretty divine, too.
DITCH COLOR ALTOGETHER
Can you believe I just wrote that?! A house layered with warm neutrals can be extremely lovely, though — and interesting if you layer textures, too.
SPREAD OUT THE NATURAL MATERIALS
Natural materials are intrinsic to any interpretation of coastal style, but let’s spread them out. The room below is really pretty, but I’m counting a sisal rug, natural woven shades, possibly not one but two baskets flanking the fireplace, and a woven side table next to the chair. It’s a lot.
INTRODUCE CAMEL-COLORED LEATHER
It’s super durable, looks beautiful with bright whites, works great with linen, and, critically, it’s not navy blue.
DITCH THE MOTIFS
You don’t need ’em. I promise. Not in your artwork, not on your pillows, and definitely not on your lamps.
The bottom line: please feel free to embrace coastal design, Gentle Readers, but do it creatively. I have faith in you.
Annie Elliott Design is based in Washington, DC, and we have offices in St. Michaels, Maryland, and Middlebury, Vermont. Be sure and catch our advice in House Beautiful about transitioning between design styles!