Elements of Nautical Themed Design

Tara Dickinson
7 minute read

Listen to article
Audio is generated by DropInBlog's AI and may have slight pronunciation nuances. Learn more

A Guide For Bringing Nautical Collections Into Your Home


When using nautical decorative elements in your home, they impart a feeling of antiquity, history, and warmth. The unique and interesting pieces from the sea faring world, such as vintage wood oars, rope pulleys, ship wheels, and other salvaged items from old ships and shipyards can transform your home into a coastal haven. By collecting nautical antiques that are rich in history and weathered with time, you can create a beautifully classical look that adds character to any space.



Nautical decor is simply marine elements combined with natural materials from the coast. Furnishings that look as though they traveled around the world by water, taking on the seasonings of time, sun, salt, and sea. Merging seashells, driftwood, rusted iron, with salvaged pieces from old shipping and sailing boats creates a peaceful environment that soothes the psyche like a summer day on the seashore. Elements such as:

  • Buoys
  • Driftwood
  • Glass lanterns
  • Life savers
  • Rope
  • Sea glass
  • Shells
  • Ship wheels
  • Vintage brass items

Combine these decorative elements with natural textiles for furniture and other material from nature and you’re set up perfectly to construct a nautical paradise. 

Glass Fishing Floats

These glass bubbles were used in the old days to keep fishermen’s nets afloat. Such gorgeously colored and different sized glass decorations that have been weathered by the sun and saltwater are authentic nautical pieces to include in your themed design. Sea glass floats have been transformed into table lamps, chandeliers, and other unique accents. If you can find authentic pieces, these floats come from all corners of the world each with a history of their own. It’s a perfect way to capture the colors of the sea.

For a modern touch, look for items that have been combined with silver metals for a combination of old and new.


DIY Sea Glass Projects

  • Sea glass mirror
  • Accent table with sea glass top
  • Sea glass wind chime
  • Clear containers, mason jar or a small lantern, filled with sea glass

Nautical Rope

The thick, braided ropes that are used for all types of reasons in the sailing world, are excellent pieces to incorporate into your nautical decor. This chunky, worn rope is full of texture and character and can be used in a myriad of different decorating ways. These add a natural element that reminds everyone of the sea and days on the boat. Furniture made out of rope is a distinctive way to add the naval touch without overdoing the room with too much nautical decor. Ideas include:

  • Staircase railing
  • Integrated into lighting: statement chandelier, a rope floor lamp, or a rope table lamp
  • Wrapped around picture frames or mirrors
  • Twisted into bundles as floor accents
  • Fishing nets hung as wall decor
  • Coil a thick rope in a large glass jar for an interesting accent piece

Shell Decor

There is a distinctly fine line when decorating with sea shells. Things can get tacky very quickly. Shells glued to all manner of accent furnishings reduces the simple and elegant nature of these gems from the ocean. To keep seashell decor tastefully displayed, less is more in this area. Or placing several shell items all together in one area for a storyboard type of look. Shells are the beach and can be the simplest way to add white and sandy neutrals to your nautical style home. So don’t hesitate to use them, just follow the guidelines to maintain a tasteful look.


Texture, dimension, raw nature. Each piece of driftwood has its own story. Traveling across oceans, weathered by the sea for countless years, there definitely is no better way to bring an element of the nautical world into your home than with a singular driftwood log.


With no two handcrafted pieces ever alike, naturally artistic driftwood furnishings are dramatic yet warm and grounding. They are a unique way to make a nautical room interesting while not cluttering up the space with too many small sea-themed features. Driftwood can also be made into so many different things that are not only functional but also decorative accents to your naval themed home.

  • Art statement pieces
  • Coffee tables
  • Chandeliers
  • Dining tables
  • Driftwood mirrors
  • Floor lamps
  • Table lamps

Nautical Brass

Brass, long valued for its workability, hardness, corrosion resistance, and attractive appearance, is another way to add naval elements in your nautical decor. Marine brass instruments, lighting fixtures, mouldings, boxes, nameplates, and fishing equipment are all so elegant with deep historical sentiments attached. Often salvaged from old ships, these pieces have been proven to stand the test of time in harsh salt environments adding to their allure and enchantment.

Antiques & Rustic Nautical

Scouring seaside and bay area vintage and second-hand shops are the ideal locals to find authentic ship treasures. Rustic nautical decor includes distressed finishes meant to look like antiques, even when the product has been newly crafted. This type of decor adds appeal by incorporating the texture and warm finish of something that might be thought to have quite an extensive history. If you can find maritime genuine pieces, they will add a feeling of a rich nautical flair to any space. Items to search for include:

  • Authentic lighting
  • Copper divers helmet
  • Portholes
  • Rope riggings
  • Ship lanterns
  • Ship wheels
  • Teak ship grates
  • Wood pulleys
  • Weathered oars

Modern Nautical Touches

This popular decorating theme is continuing into the modern age, merging the past well-worn history of the sailing days with the cleaner, modern lines and themes that have developed over the years. To unite the two styles successfully, creating a fresh and interesting presentation, here are a few guidelines:

  • Colors of the sea- seafoam greens, sandy neutrals, and watery blues fashion a soothing modern space.
  • Introduce bold colors in works of art that can become showpieces to center a room.
  • Bleached-white slipcovered furniture with track arms, plus metal legs is a perfect take on converting a classic to contemporary.
  • Directors' chairs with simple clean lines make a statement in any room.
  • A collection of sea fans in metal frames is a modern way to incorporate decor with nautical coastal style.
  • Aluminum ship lights are another modern nautical style accent to include. 


Nautical design style involves using materials that are associated with the sea, beach, and ships, imparting the spirit of adventures. It’s a feeling of sea-breeze freshness, plus the warmth of the beach. Remember to use colors in shades of the sea, of the sky, of the sand: light blue, white, beige, yellow, coral, tans. Natural wood for the walls, floors, and furniture completes the look. Used sparingly, marine prints of boats, fish, steamers, clams, anchors, and steering wheels on textiles are considerations as well. Use a gentle touch when adding your favorite nautical accents, such as an hourglass, a treasure map, steamer trunks, corals, and other nautical life.




#summerdecor #homedecor #summervibes #decor #interiordesign #summertime #interior #shoplocal #shopsmall #seasonaldecor #home #cottagestyle #seafarers #port #handmad #diy #summerdecoration #etsyshop #summerdecorating #merchantmarine #beautifuldecorstyles #homesweethome #beachhouse #beachlife #beach #coastalliving #interiordesign #homedecor #beachhousedecor #coastaldecor  #beachvibes #sailorlife #beachhousestyle #ocean #beachdecor #vacation #design #coastalhome #coastal #sunset #saltlife #beachhome #maritime #ship #shipping #lifeatsea #sea #ships #ocean #merchantnavy #sailor #seafarer #vessel #seaman #instashipping #nautical #marine #sealife #coolmariners #shiplife

« Back to Blog