Beach Cottage Style Guide

Tara Dickinson
6 minute read

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An Outline For Creating Your Personal Coastal Retreat


This coastal style of decorating gives an honorable nod to the sea, the sand, and the blue skies. A popular look that remains timeless year after year, most likely because it imparts vibes of relaxation, easy living, and stress-free respite. Cohesive design is formed by combining natural textures and adding decor accents that reflect your connection to the coast. To create this dreamy look anywhere, simply follow a few of the guidelines below.



Besides the traditional blue and white striped, ropes, and fish decor beach cottage decor, there are several other styles of beach-themed and coastal decorating looks to consider.

  • Beach Cottage– denotes a smaller, cuter, casual bungalow-style decor.
  • Coastal Farmhouse (also called Rustic Coastal)– here farmhouse meets coastal cottage in a harmonious design.
  • Coastal Chic– a touch of urban or boho personality greets the seashore.
  • Coastal White– a casual monochromatic themed space with layers of texture.
  • Key West– bright and fun colors of tropical vacations in the islands.
  • Mediterranean Coastal– European formality in a seaside setting.
  • Nantucket Coastal– traditional, classic, comfortable, and timeless.
  • Nautical Style– the feel of being at sea without a boat.
  • Shabby Chic Coastal– reclaimed elements and secondhand finds with a feminine twist.
  • Whimsical Coastal– eclectic and quirky on the beach.


As described in the list above, it depends on which beach cottage style you will choose, but they can all be summed up by the palette of shades outlined here. Coastal colors reflect the seashore, the beach, and the sky. Paint is one of the most affordable, versatile, and simplest ways to change the atmosphere of your home immediately. To get that light and breezy feel, try one of the options listed below.

  • White- the most popular color in a beach cottage decor. It brings in light and airiness to any space. For the space to not feel too sterile, explore shades of white in creams, tans, and off-whites.
  • Blue- focus on all the blue shades of water and sky. Combined with clean whites, this can feel so refreshing and grounding.
  • Green- light greens of coastal foliage, seafoam, and moss-covered rocks will impart that ocean element into the room.
  • Tans- beige, brown, sand. These hues also bring the seaside right into your home.
  • Sunset- reproducing the shades of a sunrise or sunset, yellow, orange, red, pink, and purple in small doses and in the right shades can really evoke the feeling of a being on the water's edge.



A beach cottage home does well with tiles, stone, or the new age of vinyl flooring options that are weather resistant. If changing the flooring is not in your budget, adding area rugs is the next best option. They are durable, perfect for high traffic, and can flow from indoor to out. They define a space while adding texture and dimension. Natural open-weave fibers like sisal, seagrass, and jute evoke a beachy mood. They are also easy to replace when you need a change of color or style. The versatility of coastal motifs- stripes, big bold, or colorful designs- is an excellent way to bring your own personality into the design.


Beach cottage style is going for a laid-back, yet sophisticated look. There should be a welcoming, comfortable, “...come in and have a glass of iced lemonade…” feeling. Large furniture pieces for lounging- couches, love seats, recliners, chairs- might work best if kept in the neutral color range. To keep things from being boring, remember to think about texture as well as color. Slipcovers are another perfect option for casual coastal living as they are exceedingly family and pet friendly, being able to toss into the wash as needed. For smaller items, like dining chairs, ottomans, or accent pieces, have fun by selecting a colorful fabric with a coastal-inspired design. Wicker and rattan furnishings are also quite typical tropical pieces to impart a beachy vibe.


Look for lighting that is embellished with sea influences such as twine, brass, wicker, glass, coral, and seashells. A beach cottage with a chandelier made from shells or wicker adds both a warm style and casual comfort.

  • Enhance your lighting pieces with a nautical style by adding brass or rope embellishments.
  • Open windows and natural sunlight are the epitomai of a beachy cottage style.
  • No heavy drapery or dark shades.
  • Naked windows are best where possible.
  • Small table lamps placed on counters, accent furniture, desks, and side tables in your choice of coastal style will complement the soft feeling of a relaxed ambiance.
  • Flameless candles, lanterns, and luminarias impart soft shadows in the evening hours. 



And we save the best for last. Accessorizing your home is the time to have fun, express yourself, and display items that hold meaning to you. Let your personality come out. If it’s bold, paint a reclaimed furniture piece in a glossy bright coral or teal. Or if it’s subtle, organize a display wall or shelf with your favorite items. Mix newer pieces with older items. Personally-made artwork works very well in a beach-decorated home. Stay away from too much of a matchy-matchy look; it will make the space lose its warmth and personal factor. Some more traditional beach cottage style accents include:

  • Barware
  • Baskets- wicker, rattan, canvas
  • Driftwood
  • Island kitchen/drink carts
  • Open shelving
  • Navigational elements (compasses, clocks, maps)
  • Painted wood signs (a great DIY project)
  • Seashells, starfish, sea glass
  • Windchimes made from found natural objects

Be aware of setting the right balance, and not bringing in too many accents that create a sea of clutter so your special items no longer stand out. For example, you can layer sand, sea glass, shells, and coral all in one large glass vase/container.


Beach Nirvana

Sandy beaches, salty ocean breezes, crystal clear blue water; these sights, smells, and sounds infuse our cells with joy and feelings of relaxation. Thankfully it’s easy to bring that beach cottage feel into your everyday life with some simple decorating tricks.


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