Coastal style is great for kids' rooms, conjuring up happy thoughts of holidays, beach-side cottages and sandcastle building, but keeping things calmer and softer than a traditional nautical theme. Coastal style can be muted and soft, evocative of windy walks on deserted beaches and playing on the sand dunes, or fresh and light, reminding you of sunny days on the beach. It won't jar your senses when you're at home, and will put you in mind to book a cottage by the sea for next half-term.
Like nautical style, there is no doubt that blue and white are the two colours that spring to mind, but blue comes in a myriad of shades and your choice will determine the end result you achieve. If you choose dark or navy blue, you'll be nodding towards that traditional nautical style, but softer shades are much more coastal or "sea-sidey".
Soft blue teamed with cream, beige or sand tones: for a calm, sophisticated look.
(Oh! Those lights - see our Cable & Cotton collection!)
Turquoise or aqua and white: clean, fresh and light, and looks great with accents in soft or lime green as in the images below.
Duck-egg blue: another sophisticated option that looks great contrasted with white. Try accents of mustard yellow.
Adding a bit of dusky rose or coral works well and adds a feminine touch for girls; bright red accessories may work better for boys.
Coastal style doesn't have to be based on blue though. For example, pale pink or coral, teamed with white or soft cream, would perfectly suit a seaside cottage.
Once your overall colour scheme is decided, consider other key features of coastal interiors, tailoring them to suit a child's bedroom:
Walls - paint, wallpaper & wood panelling
Soft hues, neutrals and white are the essence of the coastal look, whether you're painting or wallpapering. Feature walls will work well if you're worried about overpowering the room, or try a map wall (see below).
Consider using panelling for walls or the ceiling. Either use tongue and groove panels, readily available from DIY stores, or nail vertical planks of painted pine onto horizontal batons. You could panel half-way up the wall and have a little shelf running around the top, which will be both necessary to hide the raw edges and perfect for displaying seaside trinkets such as little wooden boats, sea-shells or driftwood decor. Alternatively, try horizontal or vertical panelling on just one, entire, wall, with the others painted in a coastal colour of choice. Wood panelling will be a lot of work if your child's bedroom doesn't already have any, but it will instantly transform the room and create that coastal vibe.
Image credits: left: How to Decorate; right: Mias Interiør / New Room Interior: Nicholas sitt rom
Original or reclaimed wooden floors are perfect for a coastal themed bedroom. Either get the white paint out again or keep the wood natural and light. If wooden flooring isn't an option or if you simply just prefer carpet, stick to a plain, neutral colour with a bit of texture. Add a rug or two - natural fibres like jute or seagrass will fit the look but might not feel soft or colourful enough for kids; striped, checked or plain rugs in an accent colour look great too. Check out our range of children's rugs here.
Blinds are a great choice for a coastal style bedroom (although please be conscious of child safety when it comes to blinds and make sure cords are out of reach or reserve this option for older children) and, if you're a dab hand with the sewing machine, there are some wonderful fabrics for children's rooms available at the moment. If making your own is not on the cards, plenty of stores and local businesses offer a blind-making service if you can't find a suitable ready-made. Stripes are a great choice (of course!), although that presents many options - you'll have to decide between wide, narrow, pinstripe, pyjama stripe or ticking stripe! Alternatively, fabrics printed with birds, beach-huts, anchors, boats or lighthouses are popular, or you could use a pretty floral or a checked fabric, or even go for wooden or rattan style blinds.
If you prefer curtains, you could keep them light and floaty (if your little one will still be able to sleep with the sun streaming through in the morning!) or take advantage of the trend for coastal inspired fabrics and have some made.
White painted furniture is ever-popular for children's rooms and works wonderfully with coastal decor. If it's not your thing, an iron bed-stead or old natural pine or light wood work nicely too. Dark wood will conjure up a more formal nautical style remininiscent of the captains cabin on a ship and may be rather heavy for a lighter, brighter, coastal style. If used, keep accessories and bedding light and in muted shades, and walls very pale for contrast.
White bunk beds teamed with blue and white bedding effortlessly conjure the look:
Image credits: left tbc; right House to Home
A suitable bedding set should be reasonably easy to find as the coastal vibe is an enduring favourite, particularly in spring and summer collections. Stripes (again!) are a top choice, as are subtle beach-themed prints, but don't overlook the possibility of a plain coloured or simple white duvet cover accessorised with a quilt, throw or cushions. Don't be afraid to throw in some floral elements for girls or mix up the patterns.
Take a look at our coastal-seaside-nautical range to see if we've got anything that fits the bill.
Where to start? Perhaps with a hook board and shelf above, or a hook-board along the length of one wall. Add in some throws and cushions to pull together your colour scheme and add some texture. For cushions, look out for designs with boats, beach-huts, lighthouses or birds, as well as those which feature your accent colours in a graphic design.
Pop those natural mats or striped rugs on the floor and use baskets for toys and clutter, or make use of stylish storage bags. Avoid plastic crates! They will completely spoil the look you're trying to achieve! See our range of storage baskets and bags (we've got some perfect ones for this look).
Add trinkets such as sea-shells and pebbles your little one collects from the beach or buy little wooden boats, bunting, beach signs and other decorative accessories. Decorations made from driftwood or wicker are easy to come by and will work well.
A nice set of framed prints or canvasses should also be easy to find, or you could buy some suitable postcards and frame those. Perhaps add some large typography on the wall, or add suitable wall stickers.
For lighting, keep it simple with lampshades in a co-ordinating fabric or something natural like a rattan shade. Add some string lights such as Cable & Cotton's cotton ball lamps.
Relevant products from our range are pulled together in our coastal-seaside-nautical collection!
Somewhere to sit
For seating, try a bean-bag or floor cushion or how about a traditional-style wooden deckchair? Kids would love it! Lloyd Loom wicker rattan chairs also work well in coastal-style rooms. They can be picked up second-hand quite reasonably at antiques markets and given a new lease of life with a fresh coat of white paint and a new cover on the seat pad.
If your child's room has a bay window, think about adding a window seat with a storage box under and a seat pad on top. This would also work in an alcove or recess if you don't have the bay window. Add lots of cushions and you'll not only create a feature, but also a great place to hide clutter and a reading nook as well. The images below, with their lovely window seats, don't actually contain anything that's "coastal" in the sense of boats or beach huts (nor are they blue and white!), but the soft palette of colours, neutral blinds and textured rugs still conjure up a light coastal cottage feel.
Image credits: Left tbc; right Kelly Donovan via Houzz
Be creative to inject a little fun for younger children, but be careful not to cross over into a more themed, cheaper look if you're aiming for sophisticated beach cottage style. I recently saw an image of an Ikea wardrobe that had been customised with wood panelling to resemble a beach-hut, but something like this will only add to the room if done well.
Maps are a great option for adding a bit interest and make a striking focal point in a kid's room. So many styles and colour options are available now, in wallpapers, wall decals or canvases.
As coastal style is most often associated with holiday cottages, for children it comes into it's own as a shared room, whether using twin beds or bunks. If anything, it will look better as a shared room! And as it can so easily be made gender neutral it's a great option for boy/girl twins or siblings who share. It's also perfect for triple or even quadruple occupancy bedrooms in extra large families or in a holiday home.
Needs some more inspiration? Check out our "Coastal Kids' Rooms" board on Pinterest!
Any other tips or thoughts you'd like to add? We'd love to hear from you x
First written Sept 2012; updated March 2013, April 2015 and February 2016.