Classic Coastal Interior Design Style

classic coastal foyer

Classic Coastal: What Is It?

Classic Coastal seems like a no brainer, but it’s really important to get the balance right with coastal and nautical themed decor. You don’t want to go overboard or you will start to look less classic and more trendy. The foundation of Classic Coastal is Simply Classic or Classic Transitional, but it’s more than just throwing some seashells and lighthouses into the mix.

One of my favorite designers who does a lot of Classic Coastal looks is Barclay Butera. When you look at his portfolio, you can see classic pieces of furniture and accessories blended with contemporary pieces, natural fibers, coastal artwork, and beautiful patterns.

Another iconic example of Classic Coastal style is Diane Keaton’s Hamptons home in the movie “Something’s Gotta Give.” If you look at images of the house it’s clear that it is a coastal home, but there’s not a lot of overtly nautical or beachy decor.

Some common elements you might find in Classic Coastal are natural fiber rugs, seagrass or wicker furniture, raffia or grasscloth wallpaper, cotton and linen fabrics, stripes, and minimal art and decor with a gentle nod to nautical or coastal themes.

If you want a cohesive and classic look to your home, make sure you download a copy of our cohesive style guide, and sign up for our news letter.

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Typically, Classic Coastal color palettes fall into one of three categories: Neutral, Muted Aqua and Coral, or Red, White, and Blue. As with all of the Classic design styles, the walls will be light and neutral and serve as a backdrop for the furnishings, textiles, and accessories.

Classic Coastal design style foyer


In Classic Coastal style you will find a blend of contemporary and traditional furniture. Slip-covered upholstered items are a an easy win for Classic Coastal. Case goods and tables can be painted, distressed, light woods, or dark woods. You will also find a lot of caning and rushing on tables and chairs in a Classic Coastal look.


As I said above, don’t go too crazy with nautical and beachy decor. Don’t use a lot of tchotchkes! Let the textures and colors tell most of the stories.

Rugs can be simple sisal or jute rugs, but striped cotton or wool rugs will also look great. Art work can be antique maps, Audubon prints, and paintings or photography of costal landscapes. Simple prints of lighthouses, ships, or sea creatures are fine, but don’t go crazy with these and keep the color muted or neutral. Don’t use cartoony or themed items.

Also, Classic Coastal is a great place for tongue and groove or shiplap on the ceiling or walls. If you follow my blog, you’ll know that I am not a fan of the indiscriminate use of shiplap, but when used to create a coastal look, it can be appropriate… just don’t overdo it!

If you want to learn about the other classic styles, make sure you check out the posts for Simply Classic, Classic Transitional, and Classic Eclectic. Want to take the quiz and see which type is your type? Download the Sophisticated Living Guide to Cohesive Style and take the quiz!

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