Go coastal with seaside-inspired interiors
- Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
In uncertain times when tensions are high and we feel the occasional need to escape, it’s natural to want to seek the comfort and calm of a bolthole away from it all. And that usually means by the sea.
That’s probably why so many of us make a dash from this landlocked county of ours to the coast the moment the sun breaks over a bank holiday weekend.
And it may also go some way to explaining why there’s such a desire to bring a taste of the seaside into the home when thinking of room makeovers.
But it’s not just the sound of gulls, a slower pace of life and locally made scrumpy or pasties that inspire. It’s the ambiance; the clean air and the soothing colours we associate with sea, sand and clear blue skies.
Around this time of year, retailers tend to pick up on that and promote the coastal look, be it inspirational interior ideas or just signature touches around the house that remind you you’re only a few short months away from your next outing with the roof-rack.
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The best effects are often those that set a mood rather than throw it in your face with over-the-top statements of sea shells, pebbles and fish on the wall.
After all, it’s a living space we’re talking about, not a film set. Any interiors expert will tell you anything that simply and cleanly embraces the seaside elements is a good place to start.
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White - especially in calming shades - tends to be the starting point for most designers. Whitewashed colour scenes immediately add space and light, amplifying it, rather than soaking it up. It also works well as a canvas for coastal art which is having something of a revival right now.
Sarah Antoniou Creative Director of Brightspace whose recent client list included families in St Albans, Harpenden and Radlett, said: “There’s something about nature that is mesmerising and being beside the sea makes people feel better, both physiologically and mentally. So it’s not surprising really that clients often ask me to design their rooms with nature in mind, and the coastal look is never forgotten.
“The colours for a coastal feel are often light and muted, almost sun-drenched or whitewashed. But, that doesn’t mean shying away from colour, just embracing its powerful, calming effects. Blue is always popular, from sea greens and turquoise to pale, duck egg blues.
“Nowadays, with all that is going on in the world, people want a safe haven, a sanctuary or haven at home and to feel relaxed, like they do when they’re on holiday, especially by the sea.”
Sarah has just completed the second phase of a design project for the Per Tutti Italian restaurant on Holywell Hill, St Albans. She has used a striking mural of Venice with sparkling crystal blue water to set the scene as you enter.
She’s currently working on a newly-built home for newlyweds in St Albans. The couple love the Isle of Wight and asked her to draw her inspiration from that.
“They loved the design boards with pale colours, lots of texture and coastal inspiration. It doesn’t have to be blatantly coastal, but just a few interesting touches can really enliven a design.
“White shutters at the windows with a white linen layered over the top creates a tranquil, layered effect. Colourful linens or cottons could also play a part in bringing colour into a room.
“A little tip is to balance the light and dark tones to ensure that they feel ‘comfortable’. Swatches pinned on a board of the different fabrics and colours will help to give an overview of how the space will feel.”
Raft furniture, which has a branch in Chequer Street, has also seen an increase in demand for the coastal look by both shoppers and clients of their interior design service.
“It’s a timeless look, which brings a real sense of flow to spaces focusing on the use of natural materials that are teamed with soft textures and calm colours, resulting in a warm and inviting feel,” said Emily Proctor, head of brand and styling.
“I think it’s partially to do with the fact we are all leading such busy lives now, that when we finally do get home – it needs to be a laid-back, harmonious space that will allow us to unwind properly. With more of us also taking less time off, homes now have to work even harder to provide that stop-gap between work and play.”
Both agree that the trend for open-plan layouts lends itself naturally to helping to create a coastal style. Proctor even saw zoning as a “significant design requirement” these days.
“With the cost of moving and stamp duty so high, many of our customers are opting to have more open plan spaces that can be ‘zoned’ as required,” she said. “The more open plan approach works brilliantly for creating a coastal vibe, allowing for maximum light to enter a room and helping to keep the overall look breezy and fresh.”
She added: “Our ‘house’ style is fairly pared back and relaxed anyway, which works as a great starting point for any coastal design scheme. If this is a look our customers really want to achieve then we encourage them to work with linens for the upholstery that are ‘slubby’ and have a bit of texture, and then add in scatter cushions, which maybe have a stripe, a key colour such as aqua or indigo, or a patterned effect that suggests movement. With our wood finishes, obviously we specialise in reclaimed teak, so that rustic, worn feel is inherent in a lot of our hard furniture pieces.”
Antoniou agreed: “The open-plan layouts which are so popular nowadays are a nod to beach house interiors as they usually allow so much light to flood into a space - crucial for that coastal feel.
“Whitewashing walls, or pale colours will also help to keep it bright. Open plan living also helps to improve communication within families, where like on holiday, everyone in the home can relax, socialise and just be with each other.”