The traditional concept of the beach house is a nautical extravaganza of white shiplap, seashells, scale models of boats, and anchor decor. Everything is white and what isn’t white is a neutral gray or beige, with perhaps a pop of blue here and there. The idea behind this concept is that the setting—sky, sea, and sand—is the star of the show.
But if you’re the type of person who chooses not to conform to tradition, you’ll probably have no interest in weighing yourself down with anchor decor. You want the casual, fresh appeal of a beach house but not the cookie-cutter version. Let’s look at some ways to flip the script or at least bend the traditional beach house mold to your unique will. These eight smart decor choices for beach houses will help you do exactly that!
1. Choose Bold Color
On the beach or anywhere else on earth, the sun moves, causing shadows to shift and presenting opportunities to see your spaces anew. And when the sun sets, it’s another world. The sky transforms, painted in luminous orange, red, mauve, pink, and indigo. All these colors have a place in your beach house.
Spend some time with the sunset, then introduce it to your home by painting a feature wall. Add throw pillows in strategic locations. Hang art that celebrates the vibrant colors of the setting sun or a cozy wingback in a surprising sunset hue. Deviating from an acknowledged framework gives it new life, personalizing it to your experience and aesthetics. Warm sunset tones add coziness to your beach house, lending it more dimension and character.
2. Add Tropical Touches
The beach is an icon of the tropics, so even if your house is in a remote northeastern town, inviting in a breath of tropical warmth adds interest and whimsy. The casual seaside atmosphere is meant to be enjoyed, so play. Flourishes of raffia and bamboo, and macrame wall hangings are evocative of warmer climes. Imagine a lampshade created in young bamboo or wall mirrors framed with playful raffia. Wood or stone decor pieces acquired during vacations in humid climes personalize the space, creating talking points. Now, picture yourself lazing in an extravagant macrame hammock on the porch, straw hat over your face against the waning afternoon sun.
A touch of Tiki Tiki brings the party vibe. Faux bamboo cocktail glasses on a wet bar fashioned of bamboo and tiki torches lit on the terrace heralding nightfall bring the tropics to your little corner of the world. Hang the pineapple-shaped patio lanterns, light the torches, and mix up the Mai Tais. But save the plastic hula girls for your car dashboard. This isn’t an Elvis movie!
3. Hint at Bohemian Eclecticism
Associated with footloose adventurers and dimly lit gathering places serving liquor and poetry readings, Bohemian Eclecticism is comfortable wherever it goes. World-embracing, Bohemianism Eclecticism provides the home decor enthusiast with numerous opportunities to inject your beach house with the heady freedom of your own adventurous story.
Richer colors hold sway with this style of decor but they needn’t dominate. Express this aspect of the style with large-scale tapestry-covered cushions for guests to sit on. Or try a Persian rug on white-washed floors, evoking the orientalism of the original Bohemian movement. And you needn’t break the bank. Choose a vinyl floorcloth printed with traditional Persian rug patterns. For the active life of a beach house, what could be better?
To the warmer colors implicated in this palette, add a flash of metal. Brass is a key component of both Bohemian Eclecticism and traditional, nautical beach house decor. Leverage metal as a decor element in the eclecticism of Moroccan lanterns set on the floor, on the steps that lead down to the beach, or shedding their diffused light through intricate punched metal designs as swag lamps. A low Moroccan brass table can serve as a focal point. What a great place to sip Spanish Coffee from pottery cups after dinner, sitting on those big, tapestry-covered cushions.
4. Embrace the Rustic
Texture is a key component of any interior. Adding interest and tactile diversity, texture pleases both the eye and hand. Warm blankets to wrap yourself in, battered driftwood transformed into light fixtures and small furniture pieces, the reassuring stability of rock in a wall or floor treatment—all these can change the game for your beach house decor when you embrace the rustic.
A shower tiled in river rock brings the natural world indoors. Exposed copper piping adds a hint of nostalgia, looking suspiciously modern. Bar stools placed at the kitchen island bear the signs of time, wind, sand, and water when distressed, then finished in chalk paint. Without being driftwood, your kitchen bar stools effortlessly echo its weathered, sun-bleached grace.
Woven blankets and vintage quilts warm long summer evenings spent playing games like Monopoly, euchre, or Backgammon. Add beloved family photos to honor simpler times and summers long past. And don’t forget the distressed Adirondack chairs on the porch, looking like your great-grandparents once sat in them.
5. Choose the Zen of Minimalist Elegance
A beach house is a place for peaceful relaxation, far from the rigors of modern life. Minimalism can serve this aspect of beach house life by providing the Zen of uncluttered simplicity. Minimalist elegance takes traditional beach house decor and pares it down to its most evocative elements.
With this decor choice, transform traditionalism by choosing aqua for your walls and furniture in a neutral tone. Add pops of color in throw cushions, lighting, and art. Tables are raw-edged and natural, lacquered to withstand the salt air. What is not functional in your space is removed, leaving only the blank slate of living peacefully, with the sea, sand, and sky filling the frame of your habitat.
Simple, functional lighting solutions, streamlined but imminently inviting seating, and a fussless environment are just what you need to “vacate” your everyday life, plunging yourself into the natural bounty that surrounds you. For hardworking, engaged people, this is the beach house decor choice that embodies the calm rejuvenation you need to return to your labors refreshed.
6. Go South
We’ve already been to the tropics but there’s a lot more to Mexico than humidity you can cut with a machete and palm trees. Artisan touches from south of the border bring Meso-American styling to your beach house, with all the color and life those touches are adored for.
Bring home the creative beauty of Mexico in details like saltillo or Talavera tiles, carved wooden furniture, and star-shaped tin lamps. Mexican blankets add texture, while Otomi embroidered throw pillows boost the comfort and color factor. This decor choice is happy with white walls, punctuated by color-saturated art and artisan pieces like wooden crosses. Or do an entire wall of crosses with a tin and tile mirror as a centerpiece.
A cowhide rug on wood plank flooring hints at distant, Sierra-nestled haciendas, while pine shelving displays the intricate designs and vivid hues of Talavera pottery. With this decor choice, you’re adding texture, color, and a taste of Mexico readily at ease in any beach house. Don’t forget to bring along the Don Julio tequila and those cool shot glasses you scored in Cancun!
7. Sleek Coastal Modern
Modern coastal chic for your beach house is a fresh alternative. Bearing the traditional beach house vibe, coastal modern pushes the envelope, adding elegance and sumptuous comfort. The walls are either white or stained wood. The spaces are sweeping, focused on the open doors to your patio and the beach beyond, your view unobstructed. With this style, it’s hard to tell where the beach house ends and the sand begins!
Whitewash that old stone fireplace, creating a blank canvas. The white you’ll use is crisp, standing as a backdrop for the play of blues, greens, and weighty neutrals (slate blue, jute, pale yellow, mineral gray) you’ll fill the room with. Casual coastal chic is unfussy but pulled together enough to distinguish itself with a well-studied style.
Natural fibers and materials hold sway, prioritizing linen and cotton. Wood pieces, like side tables, are pieces of a tree stump, finished but distinctly organic. And organic is a keyword for this choice. Natural materials are central to the decor style, contextualized by no-nonsense modernism. Large-scale floor lamps softly illuminate your beach house’s beauty by night while standing as pleasing, sculptural pieces that can be appreciated in the light of day. Ground a sitting area with a modernist rug in the colors of the sea, interacting with abstract art that reinforces your theme.
8. Add Vintage, Thrift, and Craftsmanship
Vintage pieces and thrifting finds are a major trend for decor in 2023. Choose the weathered and well-loved. Select the mismatched over the suite. Assert your individuality and the value of reusing older items in your decor to set it apart as yours. For a beach house, there’s nothing more comforting and familiar than opening the door on arrival to your personal brand.
Following on from the vintage/thrift trend, consumers are declaring their rejection of mass-produced furniture and decor objects. What’s desired in their interiors now is craftsmanship, longevity, and quality. Detail is king this year, with hand-tooling, weaving, artisan fabrics, and one-of-a-kind pieces sought after. Forget cookie-cutter solutions. They’re rapidly fading in the rearview mirror.
Homeowners are customizing their vintage and thrift finds, reinvigorating them with modern fabrics, painting them, and giving them new life. Imagine dressing your beach house in the resolute individuality of vintage and artisan items not seen elsewhere. Distinguishing your beloved retreat with unique finds, hand-hewn pieces, and your singular vision lifts it out of the ordinary by reinventing a traditional formula. Enjoy exploring these eight smart decor choices for beach houses!