‘When designing an interior incorporating coastal decor ideas, subtlety is the golden rule,’ suggests interior designer Emma Sims Hilditch. ‘There are plenty of clever ways to hint at a home’s seaside location, without being swept away by nautical trends and an excess of blue white and red.’ Emma owns a home in Cornwall and has decorated many a seaside pad via her design agency Sims Hilditch (opens in new tab). Her advice is to tone down sailor style for a more pared back seaside aesthetic – here, she explains now to get the balance of beach house ideas right.

Open up the space

To create an airy and spacious feel befitting of a coastal home, Emma recommends knocking through walls where possible to open up the space. That might mean looking at ideas for open plan kitchens or ways to create an open concept living room. But there’s another surprising space that can help nail the nautical look. ‘This is particularly effective when you’re looking at entryway ideas, as it sets the tone for the rest of the home. Applying a rough boarding to the ceiling of this space adds a certain texture and charm, and when painted in an emulsion of 50:50 paint and water, it’s reminiscent of the fresh seaside setting that surrounds the home.’ This might also be the opportunity to connect the inside of your home to the coastal garden ideas outside.

Find your focal point

Oftentimes, a coastal living room that benefits from beautiful views will be centered around the scene outside the window. However, this is not always the best way to organize a room, according to Emma. ‘The sitting room in my Cornwall home has a lovely view of the bay beyond, but I have arranged the furniture in the space using the fireplace as the focal point,’ she says. ‘This allows the view to act as a beautiful backdrop to the room, while remaining a practical, social and inviting space.’ This option works well for family room ideas with fireplaces, allowing you to maximise the cozy get-togethers associated with having a beach house, while still making the most of the coastal setting.

Incorporate coastal artworks

Decorating with art is an excellent way to interpret a home’s coastal location within the interior. You might think of seascapes and beach views, photography of boats and yachts, or artworks that depict seaside plants and flowers. ‘Artwork is an excellent opportunity to nod to a home’s coastal location,’ agrees Emma. ‘Visit local artists, dealers and antiques specialists to find paintings, ornaments and crockery depicting the local area and thread these throughout your home.’ While you will naturally find yourself looking to add art to your living room and bedroom, also think of the more functional rooms of the home – a watery landscape can totally transform your coastal kitchen ideas. 

Add Hamptons-style shutters

If you want to bring a touch of New England coastal style to your home, make a start with the window treatments, suggests Emma. ‘Shutters create a wonderful Hamptons-style aesthetic which is perfect for a coastal home,’ she says. ‘What’s more, they are a great solution to dressing awkward shaped windows in a pitched roof, which simply will not accommodate curtains or blinds.’  The color, shape and size of slats should be taken into consideration for your shutter ideas. For a beach-themed look, the emphasis will be on coastal colors and designs that allow you to regulate and increase natural light in your home.

Curate your coastal color palette

‘A palette of cool whites paired with blue-grey accents works well in a coastal interior,’ says Emma.  ‘It’s worth bearing in mind that the colours will seem to alter throughout the day, depending on how the light hits it, so I recommend ordering samples before purchasing your paint. I used Farrow & Ball (opens in new tab) School House White on the ceiling and woodwork in my Cornwall home, paired with Shaded White on the walls and De Nimes on the joinery.’