How to Live in a Coastal Cottage (residing many miles inland)


Create a seaside cottage ‘look and feel’ and live the beach life you love. There are about 10 interior design rules to follow to create a ocean side beach environment and lifestyle, that have nothing to do with smelling the ocean water. Here they are:

How to Create a Beach Feel in your Home

When we think of coastal cottage, seaside and vacation, we think, white, teal & aqua. In other words, we think in ocean hues. So rule #1 in creating a cottage look, is to paint your walls in these colors, and look for similar colored items to match. As well, think sun-bleached, aka pastel versions of these hues. Use lots of whites. When deciding on any color in your color scheme, and can’t make up your mind: choose (off-) white.

Rule #2: lightness of being. A beach cottage is for vacation, so choose decorative items and furniture of a style that are overall light in weight (as well as color), and that are not too serious.  Think white-painted rattan, but don’t stop there.  Sand-colored  sisal rugs are another way to create that lightness of being, and create the illusion of a beach. And the list goes on.

Photo by k2photo

Photo by k2photo

Rule #3: create a family home. Create a collection of beach-found items that tell a story.  Consider collecting several pieces of driftwood, great souvenirs from family vacations and long walks on the beach, when you were actually there.  Group family beach vacation photos in hand-embellished frames made with  beach shell printed frames.  And include several paintings depicting … the beach, YOUR beach.

Rule #4: pair down. One of the delights of beach living is living simply. So, either give away, sell or simply hide your modern gadgets.   Place all electronic tools in closed cupboards.  Minimize your belongings.

Rule #5: add cheek & whimsy.  Paint the inside of cabinets in bold contra-colors, line the shelves with polka dots or shell patterned cupboard paper.

Rule #6: be thrifty and craftily recycle. This is really part of rule #5. What makes a beach cottage a beach cottage, is handmade napkin rings created from pieces of driftwood, planters made of wheel barrels wrapped around with sailors’ rope and/or other practical inventions made with beach recyclables.

Rule #7: decorate with nature: shells, driftwood, sand, rocks … to name a few obvious objects.  However, don’t forget some tropical houseplants for in and around the house, flowers, or sea grass.  Palm plants are great to create a sense of the tropics.

Photo by Francois Carstens

Photo by Francois Carstens

Rule #8: as with any design project:  stick to a style, theme and color pallet. So, it’s either ‘blue, white and red’ marine colors with anything boaty; or it’s all about fly fishing in off-whites and browns; or, it’s ‘aqua’- pastels with beach pebbles and shells, but don’t mix them.

Rule #9: create water ornaments inside and outside. Seeing & hearing water will add yet another layer to the sense of being at the beach. Also purchase a few CD with crushing ocean waves and leave them on during the day.

Rule #10: let go of rules and make sure you have the space, time and tools to play. After all, it’s your beach house.  Invite your friends and bring out the easy cocktail entertaining set with the martini and ice.  Or go it alone: kick up your feet and relax with a cosy cup of tea and a great novel. 

Bonus tip: 

Get the lighting right. Lamps lighting up create a relaxed atmosphere, while lamps facing down create good light for reading.  Don’t for get candles; any beach house needs them!!


What will be next? Beach Crafts.

Check back this week for some fun summer beach crafts, either to decorate and create that wonderful beach home, or to simply have a good time with the kids, at the beach or … at the ‘pretend’-beach in your garden:

How to decorate with Seashells and create this DIY Seashell Centerpiece
DIY ‘Beach in a Pot’
Seashell Bejeweled Pots for a Beach Cottage Garden
DIY Waterproof Picnic Blanket for the Beach
Bed Sheet with Beach Shell Print – Easy Home Craft
Seashell Prints, free downloads


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