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Classic Coastal Interior Design Ideas

By Rachel Wallace
Combining the rustic comfort of a seaside shack with the relaxed glamour of a high-end retreat, these interior design ideas complement  Australia’s laid-back coastal areas as well as harbour- and beach-side homes in and near the city. Modern and light-filled, try design elements that embrace seaside living.


To bring comfort and warmth to the cooler colours associated with a coastal home, use plenty of soft furnishings, including throws, cushions, rugs and wall hangings.

In terms of ornaments, consider items that may have washed ashore or make a maritime reference: blue, white and grey coral; shells (including nautilus, red helmet and tiger cowrie); gnarled pieces of driftwood; mats and baskets made of woven grass or rope; hurricane lamps; an old oar or ship’s steering wheel; a telescope; or a maritime map.

This stunning coastal retreat designed by award-winning interior design firm Hare + Klein references the local environment using driftwood, coral, natural timbers and woven lamp shades. Photo by Simon Kenny.


Timber works well in these environments, be it weathered, stained or painted white. Consider timber dining tables and chairs, coffee tables, bookshelves, stools, side tables and bedheads – any room in the house can benefit from a beautiful wood finish.

Couches should be plump and comfortable – calico and linen fabrics add great texture. Incorporating an upholstered chaise, leather ottoman or rustic wooden armchair can add character and additional room for family and guests.

There is no shortage of comfortable seating in this lovely Palm Beach home. Hare + Klein paid homage to the nearby coastline using plenty of stone and timber, and a muted grey colour palette. Photo by Jenni Hare.


For the walls, painted weatherboard or a woven wall covering like seagrass wallpaper can add a decorative element to what is essentially a pared-back style.

Hare + Klein combined the simplicity of painted weatherboard with the natural finish of polished timber floors in this coastal retreat. Photo by Simon Kenny.

Try polished or painted floorboards in high-traffic areas, while tiling is most practical in wet areas. In bedrooms and living rooms, natural woven carpets – made from sisal, seagrass or wool – add comfort and warmth.

In this tranquil bedroom, Justine Hugh-Jones has introduced warmth through an upholstered bed and natural-coloured woven carpet. Photo by Nick Watt.

Using natural materials found in coastal areas – like limestone and granite for tiles and benchtops – connects the home to the surrounding environment.


White is the hero in a coastal interior, reflecting sea foam and the bleached Australian sand. Steer clear of whites with too much yellow in them, as this can create an antique feel as opposed to a fresh, light-filled finish. Shades of white can work on the walls, floors and ceiling.

Coastal colours such as blues, greys and aquas are also popular. To soften the colour scheme, try carpets and rugs in sand, taupe, cream or brown.

Justine Hugh-Jones has softened the crisp white finishes of this coastal bathroom with decorative taupe and blue floor tiles and rustic seaside ornaments. Photo by Nick Watt.


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