All at sea when it comes to decor

As an island nation, it's hardly surprising we're drawn to the sea, and the trend for coastal style decor returns with the regularity of the tide every summer.


It’s clean, crisp look is so appealing, and lifts spirits by bringing to mind memories of sun, sea and sand holidays.

Happily, taking the plunge and conjuring this easy-on-the-eye look isn’t difficult, and it’s a perfect way to revamp rooms suffering a decor winter hangover.

So get on board and cruise into a full-on captain’s cabin look, complete with anchor motifs and a ship’s wheel, conjure the sand-between-your-toes informality of a beach hut, or simply be inspired by the natural landscape of the seashore with a neutral palette and swooping seabirds imagery.

Salute a classic coastal look with a sea-spray white and blue scheme, with nautical touches.

“The spirit of the British seaside is alive in our coastal collection, where the warmth of nostalgia is given a fresh, modern update,” says Caroline Driver, designer at John Lewis.

“Relaxed textures, simple stripes and plainly crafted pieces reflect the comfort and informality of a home by the sea. We’ve enjoyed reminiscing about our childhood experiences of the coast and visiting British seaside towns for inspiration. We’ve included marine motifs, such as ropes, anchors and sailing boats, on all sorts of pieces, alongside fabrics with classic deckchair stripes in whites and blues.”

DECOR TIP: Surf supermarkets for style - this season they’re awash with pieces: by Sainsbury’s Authentic By The Shore Embroidered Cushion, with an anchor design, is a bargain at £14, and available in stores and online.

GET THE LOOK: Generous-sized seating’s key for a space where relaxed informality rules. John Lewis’ Nelson Sofa, from £699, can be upholstered in a pale blue Selva Pacific fabric and teams well with a Holkham Armchair, in a deep blue Solva Blueprint fabric, from £1,199. Bring in stripes with a Padstow Footstool, from £299, and a Coastal Stripe Throw, £49.

Navigate carefully through the vast array of nautical accessories - too many could capsize the look into kitsch - so select a few simple statement items. An Anchor Table Lamp by Jonathan Adler, with a price tag of £345, is definitely for those with a serious coastal crush. Pay a more affordable nod to the style with a Porthole Style Chrome Mirror, £75, Next. Cream Cornwall’s brilliant Maritime selection has Mackerel Lampshades, £48-£196, and beautiful bone china dinnerware: a Packet Ship Dinner Plate, £17-£24.

Sun-bleached neutrals and driftwood grey tones conjure an unpretentious beach-hut sanctuary.

“Opt for a pared-back style with a muted colour palette, which reflects all the shades of the sea, from stormy steel to high-noon azure. The addition of bleached woods and pale textiles will create a living area that’s as calm and cool as an ocean breeze,” advises Andrew Tanner, head of home design at Sainsbury’s.

“The essence of our coastal collection brings together organic forms, reactive glazes and matte tactile surfaces. Bring in detail with sea-green bubbled glassware, model sailing boats, beachy artwork, and interesting textures provided by wicker storage and pottery in driftwood-hues, to add further charm and personality.”

DECOR TIP: Coast away from conventional lights and opt for a quirky Vegas Metal LED Circus Light - Anchor, £39, Cult Furniture, and monochrome Sea Shell Votives, £6 each, with a choice of a coiled shell or sea snail design, from Monty’s Vintage Shop.

GET THE LOOK: Stripped floorboards, white painted tongue and groove panelling for walls, and weathered furniture are essential ingredients for a shoreside retreat. Sainsbury’s Coastal Living includes Glass Bottles, from £5; a Bird Cushion, featuring white seabirds on a grey background, £12; tasselled Coastal Bird Throw, £14, and Blue Ceramic Vase, £12.

No yacht - no problem! Simply accessorise with a wooden Linea Ships Wheel, currently reduced from £40 to £20, House of Fraser, and dress up a sofa with a Super Soft Printed Heron Cushion, reduced from £8 to £4, George Home.

Evoke a gentle, seashore setting with a soft palette of pale, watery blues.

“This trend evokes the romantic notion and escapism of life at sea, and our collection’s influenced by the tantalising tales and legends of the ocean life,” says Julie Varma, senior design director at George Home.

“This season sees the conventional coastal colour palette take a theatrical turn, with the introduction of inky blues, hints of soft pastel blue and smoky grey hues and lilac. Thoughtful details, such as rope, rustic linens, classic sailor stripes, emulate the beauty of an antique cabin.”

DECOR TIP: Add a touch of luxury with metallic silver to evoke the enigmatic glimmer of the ocean. Mermaid Antique Mirror Tray, £10, George Home.

GET THE LOOK: Ensure a clear blue horizon with walls papered in an Ombre Wallpaper, £15 a roll, Next - ideal for a serene bedroom setting. Get on board with George Home’s highly original swallow-print bedlinen collection, featuring appropriately naval tattoo-style designs with swooping birds, anchors and a ‘faith, hope, love’ slogans: Swallow Print Double Duvet Set, £16.

Details count, and I love the witty ‘Seas The Day’ Wall Art, £6.50, The Contemporary Home; a Boat Scene Cushion, reduced from £20 to £10, John Lewis, and a Coastal Clock, £14, by Sainsbury’s.

A Paddle Tripod Floor Lamp, whose three legs resemble oars, £130, Pagazzi, makes an interesting addition.