13 Interior Design Elements for Your Modern Summer Beach House

At your beach home, it feels like summer all year long. The typical style is called American coastal, and it features a mix of natural themes drawn from the sea, sky, sand and nautical elements. Whether you live by the coast full-time or you just visit periodically, the point of owning a seaside home is to create an air of calm and relaxation, and you want to feel that inside as well as outside. Here are thirteen key interior design elements to incorporate into your beach-side abode.


1. Open Spaces with Lots of Light

Natural light is essential to the coastal aesthetic. Lots of large windows, sliding glass doors and skylights allow you to adorn your space with large splashes of real sunlight for most of the daytime. Interior glass doors allow you the option for some privacy while still lending to the modern, well-lit open floor plan. If natural light isn’t abundant in your home, you have an opportunity to use functional decor with colorful lamps and sleek, modern light fixtures.


2. Minimalistic Nautical Décor  

Jars of sand art and seashell photo frames definitely lend to the beachy aesthetic, but they can quickly overwhelm the space and make it look cluttered. A few artistic pieces are wonderful, but you don’t want to feel engulfed and bogged down by stuff when you’re on vacation, so keep the tchotchkes to a minimum and use your essentials like paint, upholstery, linens and functional pottery to bring in those tasteful beachy themes.   


3. Built-in Shelves

If you’re like many beach homeowners, space is limited. Part of the charm of a vacation home is that it’s small and easy to maintain, so bringing in large, bulky bookshelves takes up vital space. If you need a spot to display your favorite photos or cookbooks, consider built-in shelving.


4. White or Sand-Colored Walls

Blue may be the color of the ocean but it can easily overwhelm the laid-back feel you’re going for with your beachy style. Instead, stick to a soft white, natural or neutral color palette for your walls, and bring in pops of color with your décor. White paint also helps to reflect natural light and floods your rooms with bright, joyful brilliance.


5. Simple Furniture

Wall to wall wicker furniture against pastel-colored walls is beachy, but a bit dated. For a modern look, stick to simple pieces with clean, straight lines. Nautical interior designs are supposed to feel warm, relaxing and happy. Don’t shy away from beautiful dark woods—after all, that’s what ships and sailboats were made of. Couches, chairs and beds should be purposeful, but above all, comfort is key.


6. Shiplap

One of the most complimentary designs to coast style is shiplap, pieces made from horizontal slats traditionally used as siding for sheds and barns. However, due to the clean lines created by the wide planks, shiplap is a perfect option for modern beach house furnishings.  


7. Organic Fibers and Textures

Don’t bring your leather sofa to the beach. Key features of nautical décor include soft striped linen, cotton and muslin as well as ocean-inspired accent pieces like ship wheels, rowing oars and jute ropes. Don’t be afraid to get creative and mix up your textures with luscious rugs, flowy sheer curtains and woven baskets.


8. Rustic Driftwood Accents

There’s nothing more oceanside than the wood that has drifted ashore after being smoothed by seawater. You can collect your own driftwood and turn it into unique pieces to adorn your beach house, or you can purchase wooden art pieces from local artists.


9. Bits of Blue

You can incorporate the traditional seaside look into your sleek, modern beach house with simple pops of color. Some navy-blue striped throw pillows against a white linen couch are a gorgeous way to bring a nautical touch to your space without going overboard. In your kitchen, spring for some turquoise cookware or silicone utensils and let your functional wares fulfill your decorative needs as well.


10. Mirrored Pieces

Especially if you have a small space to work with, using mirrored walls or furniture allows you to create a visually larger room while maximizing the reach of your natural light. If you don’t have much space, a large framed mirror propped against a wall will do wonders for livening up your home.


11. Plant Life

Even though you’re in the land of sun and sand, a little bit of green is an awesome way to bring balance to your home. Consider a succulent or two for your table. They provide a pop of color, and they require very little maintenance and some, like aloe vera, may even be useful for those days you come in from the beach with a little too much sun on your shoulders.


12. Coastal Kitchen Displays

Speaking of functional décor, you’ll need a way to display your brightly colored kitchen wares if you want to show them off. Instead of whitewashed wooden cabinets that hide all of your beautiful pottery, think about using open cabinetry or glass-fronted cabinet doors. This lets you showcase your favorite things while keeping your space orderly and clutter-free.


13. Beachified Bathroom

One of the easiest rooms to design is the bathroom. For a modern look, simplicity is key. All you need are nautical-themed towels in a trendy rope basket, a wood-framed mirror and some classic beachy prints to adorn the walls. Bring in as much or as little coastal color as you prefer with your toothbrush holder and soap dispenser, but don’t go nuts trying to make your bathroom look like the beach when you can just step outside your door right into the sand.


Your American coastal home is designed to make you feel like you’re close to the ocean, but your beach-inspired décor should complement your surroundings, not mimic them entirely. For a modern interior design aesthetic, keep the sea creatures and ocean motifs to a minimum and embrace the clean comforts of fresh air and a sea of sunlight.


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