Easy Coastal Style for That Laidback California Look

There’s something so relaxing and soothing about coastal decor. Even if you don’t live near a coast, you can still incorporate that coastal aesthetic found in these rooms. Today let’s talk about how to achieve easy coastal style for that laidback California look.

coastal style with surfboards
beach house with coastal decor

Coastal Decor via Laguna Beach

I’ve been spending more and more time in California the last six months as my mother eases closer to her end of life. After a particularly sad visit with my parents, my sister and I headed over to Laguna Beach to have lunch and chat. We soaked up the serenity found near the ocean, and strolled through a few of my favorite coastal decor boutiques.

campy and beachy

I love the casual vibe found in coastal rooms and it seems like each coast has their own look. The California coastal design scene is sticking with lighter woods, natural textures, coastal colors found at the shore, and more. I have also noticed a lot of indoor greens and succulents, as the California weather demands that plants be drought tolerant.

As I write this blog post, there is literally a wild fire raging less than a mile away with helicopter sounds overhead as they battle it. Luckily the wind is blowing in the opposite direction, so I should have time to finish writing without having to evacuate. Gotta love Southern California!

coastal decorating ideas

Coastal Theme Accessories

The shops I visited are found on Pacific Coast Highway or just a block off it. In the first two coastal cottage furnishings shops we visited, there were lots of beautiful coastal theme accessories. Here’s what I was seeing:

Sea Glass

Found in not only strings of beads with natural jute, but lamps, vases, pendant lights, and other touches. The light blues of sea glass add a coastal feel to any table scape.

seagrass beads in a basket

Succulents and Indoor Greenery

From palm fronds, to fiddle fig trees, and succulents with green and blue tones, indoor greenery was in abundance. Initially you may not think that succulents aren’t meant to be seaside accessories, but these natural elements fair beautifully in heat and give a boost to a coastal vibe.

coastal decor with succulents

Coastal Paintings

I love the look of original coastal art in a space, especially those found in modern coastal decor. Subjects of ocean waves, with the feel of seagrass swaying in the wind, can bring to memory your favorite beach vacation. Remember to look for these treasures next time you visit a coastal location. Local galleries, antique shops, and boutiques are great places to find them.

coastal decorating ideas

Textured Natural Materials

Adding texture really brings visual interest to coastal interiors. A natural fiber rug, woven coffee table, weathered wood, and subtle texture added to walls or paint finishes can impact an entire room. When choosing textured rugs, don’t forget to remove your shoes and see how it feels on your bare feet. Sometimes natural fibers and woven materials can be a bit scratchy, but the neutral tones make a great focal point in a space.

coastal style

Accessoriess That Mimic Sea Life

Nautical motifs, coral branches, and shells aren’t just for a beach house. Whether a lake house, or away from the water in a landlocked area, accessories that mimic sea life will add coastal design to any space.

palm fronds coastal decor

Natural Finish Ceramics

Coastal theme ceramics doesn’t mean literal beach shapes like a starfish. Coastal decor is characterized by the reflection of natural beachy elements, think sand, surf, and sky. Choose pieces that mimic coastal style in their finish and color. From light blue tones, to sandy beige tones, and classic blue, all these will speak to a greater coastal look.

coastal style ceramics

Weathered Natural Woods

Natural woods can look at home in a contemporary space, to modern coastal decor, and a more traditional space. The key is choosing natural materials that might be found near the beach. Natural light woods, driftwood, and weathered wood will be a key element in creating a relaxed coastal home.

weathered wood walls for coastal style

Beach Decor Ideas

Many ask what is the difference between beachy and coastal décor? Coastal decor tends to be a bit more traditional and refined, whereas a beachy vibe feels a bit more relaxed, like a day at the beach. Both of these looks can be achieved with natural fabrics such as linen, canvas, coupled with a lot of texture. The main difference would be the finishing.

coastal decor stripes

Details in upholstery could lean either relaxed or tailored. Rattan and wicker would feel more relaxed, coupled with blonde woods. Darker woods and structured upholstery will keep a room feeling more buttoned up.

striped coastal style

To achieve the coastal look, infuse sandy beige tones to depict sand, along with a variety of soft blue shades. White stripes are classic, along with whitewashed furniture. I especially love a striped rug as a focal point for a coastal home.

Tips for Easy Coastal Living

My all-time favorite shop to visit in Laguna Beach, California is Camps and Cottages. Molly Hyde English is the proprietor and is a master at mixing high-end coastal art, with relaxed nautical furniture, and just the right amount of peely, chippy vintage. I love the relaxed simplicity paired with the beach house vibe, it is soooooo good! She has written a few books, but this one is my favorite.

coastal decorating ideas shop

I have been a long time lover of vintage art, and if you can find it in beachy themes, all the better. Her shop always has great choices. Choose coastal landscapes, shore flowers, beach house portraits, boats, or anything else that depicts the beach life to you. The art can really make a coastal themed living room.

striped coastal style

Molly also always has great striped cushions and pillows, in neutral tones of linen to deep blues for that coastal feel. There always seems to be a pop of red in her shop, which I really appreciate.

Coastal Decor Scheme By Room

Living Room

The main pieces in your living room are the sofa and coffee table. If you are trying to achieve the coastal look, make choices in finishes that will set the stage for your beach house vibe.

casual coastal living room

Dining Room

Coastal living has a lot to do with coastal dining. When by the beach, we all want to be outdoors. Even if you can’t, you can bring the inside in with choosing beachy wood finishes for the table, and woven materials for the chairs.

coastal dining ideas

Coastal Kitchen

White or light wood cabinets, abundant natural texture, and blue tones will add relaxed simplicity to a coastal kitchen. Pendant lights are a great place to choose something with great texture, a nautical theme, or soft blue glass. Think of rippled glass like gentle waves, or woven materials when choosing light fixtures throughout a space. Don’t forget, outdoor fabrics work great for their durability in a kitchen living space.

coastal style bedroom


Layered bed coverings and squishy pillows will provide the most comfy nights sleep in a beach house or home in the middle of Iowa. Coastal decorating is all about vibe and color, so choose accordingly.

coastal bedding layers

Outdoor Spaces

California beach living is all about outdoor spaces. Think of your outdoors as actual living space, and what decorating ideas would work best in your climate. What works great in Southern California, would need to be tweaked for south Florida, as the bug situation is quite different.

coastal style

Where to Find Inspiration for Coastal Styles

From coast to coast, you can find great coastal accessories in antique shops, which is my favorite source to shop. If you don’t have access to shops that specialize in coastal living, just search for items that align with the colors and textures found in coastal decor.

natural fibers coastal decor

And whenever you travel near a coast, consider bringing home some coastal decor from a local gallery or design shop. This is the one thing I have loved over the years, curating my home decor style in a way that adds to memories we have made. Coastal decorating inspires a relaxed, laidback style, even if you are far away from a coast.

coastal style

Check out this board on Pinterest for coastal decorating ideas, and follow me for inspiration for your home decor style. If you love a relaxed cottage style, check out this post for more ideas.

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