My love for the water started a bit later in life.
Let me start off by explaining a bit about myself. I’m a Hoosier…born in raised in Indianapolis, IN. It is a fabulous city and I’m very grateful for my Midwestern upbringing. I have no accent :), all soda is referred to as “Coke”, and I’ll smile to the stranger on the street. However, when it was time to go off to college, I didn’t stray far but to the next state North of me: Michigan. I went to school at Hope College which was a bike ride from Lake Michigan. Now, while I had certainly seen the Great Lakes and oceans before, it was an entirely different experience to live so close. To have the beach at my fingertips whenever I wanted, to eat ice cream on the dunes watching the sunset…I was in love. That was back in 2001 and I am just as smitten with all things coastal and related to Lake Living.
In fact I have traveled all over the world and little old Holland, Michigan is one of my favorite towns ever. Here’s a shot of me and my bestie (also my first Hope College roommate) in front of our old dorm (I’m on the left). I love every.single.thing about those small coastal towns.
Since my college days, I met my hubby and settled down in the Grand Rapids area. And my three kids get (happily) dragged to Lake Michigan on a regular basis. They learned to swim in the freezing cold June waters and we all binge on our favorite cheesy ice cream joint, Captain Sundaes. Then they fall asleep on the way home covered in sand. To me, that’s the perfect summer day.
So What Does the Coastal Cottage Style Even Mean?
So it’s no wonder that I’ve been drawn to the Coastal Cottage style since having my own home to decorate. This style is all things light and airy-think of shiplap, a multitude of windows, and everything bathed in white with pops of blues and greens (or bright reds and navys). Think of shiny polished nickels, seaglass tones, and natural fibers such as sisal and jute. If it looks at home on a beach, you are going to find it in the Coastal Cottage Style.
If you already know you love it, here are some gems from my Cottage Design Pinterest Board Who wouldn’t want to make their home in one of these beauties?
Coastal Cottage Decorating at It’s Best in these Rooms
Notice how even the pendant lights in the kitchen look like they should be bobbing in the ocean? Driftwood artwork, loads of seagrass, and gallons of white paint:
You might think Farmhouse when you see board and batten, but it also works just as well into the Coastal Cottage style (check out nautical inspired fan, seaglass jars, and soft ocean hued bedding):
And in the Coastal Casual style you are going to see pops of green, blue, and turquoise like in this attic turned bedroom:
A Real Life Coastal Cottage Living Room Makeover
So I was thrilled when recently a client who lives in a coastal area (Charleston, NC) contacted me about designing her Living Room. She wanted a Coastal Decor Style but with a more traditional, sophisticated look. She wanted to invest in timeless, classic pieces while still getting some pops of coastal design flair in her room. I always create two different mix-and-match versions for all of my clients. So if you missed it, check out Version #1 of this same room right here:
In that version, it was all about the whites, tans, and soft pale turquoise colors. In this second version of a Coastal Living Room, I still kept her elegant, sophisticated look, but used a classic coastal due of white and navy.
I’m a huge fan of Pottery Barn and I know from experience their sofas are going to last forever (I’m on year 13 of mine). This sectional sofa (#1) has a slipcover but Pottery Barn makes an upholstered version as well. Adding in weathered woods can still look high-end like in this distressed white media cabinet (#2) and this console table (#4). The console table is one of my favorite all time pieces, you can find it at World Market for under $300! But I think my favorite piece is this oversized seagrass ottoman (#9) that is positively dreamy.
When you think of Coastal decor I think of nautical stripes, so adding this beautiful striped pillows from Mazizmuse (#6) with this slightly boho mudcloth pillow (#10) by StichedbyGraceNY brings in some pattern. And don’t be fooled by the high-end look because this distressed Persian style rug from Rugs USA is a steal of a deal (#5).
To truly reference her short distance from the ocean, these navy coral prints from Etsy’s LilaxLola (#3) would be perfect to hang in a grid pattern. When you are designing in the Coastal Cottage style you don’t want to go over the top with the ocean or lake reference. A cute pop of it here and there is nice, but you don’t need to hang starfish and nets from your ceiling to let your guests know you adore the water. Less is more when it comes to this, I promise.
Much like in the Farmhouse Style, the Coastal Cottage decor style loves weathered wood pieces like this mirror (#12) and whale sculpture (#15). But be sure to mix in some white painted pieces as well to keep the room looking bright and airy. This painted white console table (#13) and Pottery Barn white side table (#8) fit right in.
A Little Note about Decorating with Whites:
Whites can be TRICKY! If you have ever tried to choose the “perfect” white from a stack of white paint samples….well, you know what I’m talking about. Same goes with mixing painted white furniture in. Unless you are buying your furniture from the same store (even then it isn’t a guaranteed match) you want to be sure your white pieces look good together. Either try out the pieces side-by-side, or be sure to put them at a distance from each other. Same thing goes when you are adding white furniture to a white room. As a good rule of thumb, softer warmer whites usually work best in a room (cool whites tend to go “blue” and look a bit harsh).
I love using white sailcloth curtains throughout my whole house. So for this project, I suggested using these white cotton Pottery Barn drapes (#22), but Target also has a couple great budget-friendly versions of these. In the Coastal Cottage look you are going to see lots of polished metals: chromes, nickels, and golds-I added a pop of it with these elegant looking gold frames (#18) from Target for her Gallery Wall.
I have been known to choose paint colors based solely on their name.
Case in point I painted my walls at my last house “Sand Between Your Toes”…how charming is that?! In this case, Benjamin Moore has a color called “Sea Glass” (#19) which would be the perfect fit for any beach house. Finish off the room by adding in some sisal baskets (#21) and driftwood (#12) like this mirror. But you can keep it sophisticated with adding in a traditional fabric that pulls in your colors like this pillow from Etsy’s CollectionsbyJeanne.
Coastal Cottage Living Room…In a Different Direction
Above is the sophisticated, traditional twist on the Coastal decorating style. But what if you want to go a different direction? I created this Coastal Casual Family Room Mood Board for Remodelaholic. It is still coastal, but has the more traditional nautical look. You can use this mix of red, white, and blue but always a word of caution: don’t go over the top and get cheesy here friends! I’m sorry to say it, but I wouldn’t hang a boat’s steering wheel or captain’s hat on my wall just to let people know I love the water. But have fun with this crisp, classic palette. I designed this last year and the look still works today.
Want to read the whole post and get the FREE SHOPPING LIST that has all of the links listed? Just check out the original post right HERE and see it all. Start with a timeless neutral foundation like this one with a white sofa, sisal rug, polished nickel sconces, and navy wingback. I promise those will be pieces that will work for your room 10 years from now! And then I added some cheekiness with this lobster pillow (I want!) and red and white striped pillows.
This seagrass wingback chair from Pottery Barn has been in their stores for over a decade for good reason. Back in the day when I was a newly wed working at Pottery Barn and finishing up design school, I had my eye on these chairs. And they still work today.
And artwork is the perfect way to not only bring in some Coastal Cottage charm, but you can be specific. Add in artwork from a place you love, a past vacation spot, etc. This “Big Red” lighthouse is the focal point of my favorite Holland, MI beach.
And one of the biggest things I hear from clients:
“I don’t know how to pull it all together”
I totally get it. How many of us have found the “perfect” room on Pinterest…but then have no idea how to pull it all together in our own house? Or you can look at a beautiful Mood Board but wonder where everything goes. That is why all of my Packages include step-by-step directions and Floor Plans that show you were every single item goes. But the icing on the cake are these 3D rendering (available on specific packages). With these 3D drawings you can see everything pulled together in your exact room. You can imagine what you room will look like before ordering a single thing. Then click away and buy with purpose since you know what your room is going to look like!
Here is the 3D rendering of this Coastal Cottage Living Room:
So maybe I convinced one or two of you to incorporate some Coastal Cottage style into your homes? You don’t need to live near the water to love this crisp, fresh look.
And if you love this look you might also love this recent Postbox Designs Room Makeover
But I would love to hear YOUR favorite design style!
Share with me on Facebook where you can always ask me questions about your house, or let me be the tie-breaker in your decor decision. And whether you are at the starting point of tackling your room, or need the finishing touch, check out my FREE RESOURCE LIBRARY that is full of Mood Boards, Shopping Lists, Guides, Lists and more to get you started on your room makeover.
Til next time!