Life’s a beach

Some of Next's collection of coastal style accessories
Some of Next's collection of coastal style accessories

LIKE the tides, the seaside trend returns time and time again. Gabrielle Fagan goes beachcombing for home products, so you can dive into the coastal look with style this summer

There’s something special about being close to water, wide expanses of sea and sky, and living with open doors and broad horizons.

Coastal homes are the fantasy of many, and the privilege of few. But so captivating is their style that it returns every year, sending a wave of seaside-inspired looks through interiors both near and far from the coast.

“Cool, calming colours, natural materials, whitewashed floors and soft flowing linens are all indispensable elements of such homes, but so too is a robust practicality,” says Sally Hayden, author of At The Waters Edge, which features 12 glorious waterside homes.

“These are spaces that allow us to be completely relaxed and carefree. They have an informal ‘kick off your shoes’ simplicity that invites relaxation.”

While the trend endures, like ocean ripples, the breadth of interpretation is ever expanding.

It ranges from the jaunty pastiche - with blue and white stripes, seaside signs and nautical paraphernalia - to a sophisticated, understated approach, which relies on natural materials, sun-bleached colour palettes and beachcomber finds.

“Open-plan living is well suited to waterside or holiday homes, which are often places for an escape from everyday life,” says Hayden.

“It promotes an easy flow, as well as optimising the available light and space. Practical, hard-working kitchens extend into airy, unfussy living spaces, which ideally have large windows offering the best vantage point for the surrounding landscape.”

Here, experts in seaside chic share their ideas, to help steer you on a stylish course.


Calming shades which reflect the ocean are often incorporated into coastal colour schemes, to capture the sense of tranquility and harmony we associate with water.

“Large stretches of water reflect the colours of the sky and provide a broad palette to inspire interior decoration,” says Hayden.

“Opt for tones ranging from muted blues through to soft greens and subtle turquoises, which bring to mind the sparkle of water and wide cloudless horizons.”

Greys also work well, she points out, as they’re reminiscent of water and stormy skies. Opt for cooler hues with pale aquas and sea greens, while warmer shades complement stronger colours like navy, terracotta and brown.

SHORE THING: Go into the wide blue yonder with the pale blue First Dawn, Dulux Matt Emulsion, £18.98 for 2.5 litres. Go grey with Dulux Timeless Emulsion in Wishing Well, £21.98 for 2.5 litres, both B&Q.


An all-white interior is an obvious choice for a waterside home, says Hayden, because it creates a cool, crisp and airy environment, as well as a blank canvas against which to display collections of marine treasures.

“White doesn’t have to mean stark and cold. Combine it with natural materials like wood, linen, coir and seagrass, and their sun-bleached tones suggest a summery, beachy palette,” she says.

“Warmer whites and creamy tones work wonderfully in cooler climates, as they have more depth. A neutral scheme offers an opportunity to introduce the odd splash of bold colour, such as deep turquoise or coral pink.”

Resilient, hard-wearing natural textiles will enhance rooms, with cotton an obvious choice. Striped ticking works well too, Hayden suggests, and linen sits harmoniously beside rustic wood and unpolished stone.

SHORE THING: Plantation shutters let light flood in and ensure privacy, or screen an outlook which may not be shore-side! The Shutterly Fabulous range starts from £290 a square metre for standard colours, and from £320 for custom finishes. Alternatively, fake a sea view with a realistic Rocky Sea Roller Blind, from £119, DigetexHome.

Complement a serene setting with Linea’s Rennes light wood furniture range, currently on sale from £299 (normally priced from £369), and a brilliantly appropriate Postcard Cushion, £12.50, all House of Fraser.


The allure of the seaside is also about having fun, and that can apply to rooms.

“Blues are a natural choice for a nautical look. Create the illusion of warm, clear skies in your home, by keeping your walls more muted and adding a bolder blue to the ceiling, for a fresh and dynamic style that will take you away to your dream destination,” says Rebecca Thompson, senior colour and design manager at Dulux.

This can work well in bathrooms and bedrooms, as well as living spaces, to promote a carefree spirit and create a calming environment.

SHORE THING: For a bold feature wall or ceiling, the deep turquoise Striking Cyan Dulux Matt Emulsion, £12.98 for 1.25 litres, B&Q, is ideal.

Alternatively, paint a wall with two colours which echo exotic skies, such as

Sapphire Springs 3 Matt Emulsion and Bermuda Cocktail 2, both £24.99 for 2.5 litres from the Dulux Paint Mixing range. Divide the wall into two and ‘feather’ the join with a brush or roller for a dip-dye effect.

Echo the atmosphere of the seaside of yesteryear with retro-inspired Beach Wallpaper, £150 a roll, and a matching Lowestoft Cushion, £55, Michelle Mason.


The pieces we display are an expression of our individual taste, and they can range from tasteful to witty, says Hayden.

“Sun hats, vintage tennis racquets, wooden oars and other beach paraphernalia can be displayed as decorative elements in a coastal retreat,” she says.

“Maps or navigation charts are popular adornments, while nostalgic postcards have a similar effect. Nautical artwork grouped together can create a dramatic effect on a wall.”

SHORE THING: Float the style without breaking the bank with Sainsbury’s accessories, which include a Tu Navy Beach Arrow Sign, £5, while Matalan has a white and blue Light House ornament, £8.

No shore retreat’s authentic without seagulls, and a couple of Anorak Seagulls Cushions, £37 each, from John Lewis, could add instant coastal atmosphere.

Take the look to the table, ideal for conjuring a coastline vibe, with Seagulls Placemats, £27 for a set of four, Anorak.

Set the captain’s table with the four-piece blue and white striped Ahoy Mug Set, £8.50, from Sabichi.