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Seaside style for any home

by | Aug 15, 2007 | Decorating Inspiration | 7 comments

On these hot August days, nothing sounds as wonderful as being able to spend time in a seaside cottage taking in the cool ocean breezes. While not everyone has a beach cottage, practically any style of home can infuse a little “Seaside Style” into its decor. By adding a few accessories here and there, your house can enjoy a little beach freshness too!

Something about the sea inspires me — it reminds me of adventure, travel, relaxation, and lazy days all rolled into one. At my own house, I infuse the sea into my style through the use of ships, maps, sisal rugs on dark stained wood floors, antique white plantation shutters, and creamy white serving dishes surrounded by seashells.

Our house is well suited to the British Colonial style. The way I interpret that style gives my house a sense of world travel & adventure, antiques from all over the world and a certain feeling of being on the islands. It is eclectic, brought together over time and has a real sense of history (our history and that of our family’s) because everything in our home has a story of how it came to us or what it represents.

Here are a couple of photos from my house, showing the plantation shutters in my son’s room and one of our ships and small globes from the desk in our living room:


Seaside style for any home

Seaside style for any home

Here are some lovely photos showing ways you can add inspiration from the sea to any kind of house:

In this French style room they have used some well placed starfish, which tone down the formality of all the fancier gilding. By repeating the starfish across the mantle you have more impact. This photo is from Southern Accents.

Seaside style for any home

And if you have an Old World style, eclectic or English style home, adding a few tasteful nautical or island items gives you that “world traveler living by the sea look” like the British Colonial style. Photo from Southern Accents.

Seaside style for any home

I always love stripes for a little casual seaside or island flair. Striped rugs are a personal favorite way to add a little summer by the sea fun to your room, this one from Dash and Albert, but I usually find them in affordable places like Target or Ikea:

Seaside style for any home

If you have a more cottage style house, I found this super cute frame at one of my favorite shabby chic stores Beach Dwelling. It is a bit spendy, but it would be fairly easy to duplicate the feeling on accessories you already have. Adding some subtle stripes to a bulletin board, mirror, frame or piece of furniture would be fairly easy to do and add that little touch of casual flair you get from a beach cottage. And of course, nothing say beach cottage like beadboard on walls or ceilings!

Seaside style for any home

Whatever style house you have, I think a little sea-side inspiration can add just the perfect touch of summer adventure.

Have a great day!


  1. Terri

    I can certainly use a little seaside in my life! ;)

    I have had some internal debate over whether it is cool to have a seaside room when you are miles away (in the Rockies for example). I love the seaside and have a seaside-influenced room in my house (so I can bring back lots of relics from my annual coastal trips). But occasionally I struggle with the idea that a really authentic look would be better, to use local influences from the nearby desert and Rockies. This is one of the reasons why I also love Arts & Crafts – it just seems to work with that whole rustic mountain-town vibe in Calgary…
    But still, I love my seaside room and would rather have a house full of sea references. But like you show, they can be tasteful and quiet and not tacky, so they don’t have to dominate the rooms. Great post!

  2. melissamichaels

    Terri, I completely understand your situation. I agree that you want to be sensitive to where your home is and the flavor of the surrounding area and era of your home. That is really ideal to have a truly smashing home that people will feel completely at ease with when they enter it. But you have to LIKE the surrounding area, of course, or you will be miserable in your own home. And if you don’t put things YOU like in your home you have lost YOUR authentic style.

    Your authentic style is a mix of where your home is, what your home is and everything you love and cherish already. Since you love going to the beach and it is a yearly ritual, bring on the beach stuff! Just maybe keep it a little more rustic or artsy, or maybe sea-inspired and sprinkled throughout the house a bit, rather than cute cottage beach stuff? Arts & Crafts style is perfect. Make your beach stuff hand crafted, natural sort of stuff and not mass market cottage if that works better with your overall style.

    I struggle with the same stuff, I love so many styles I can never decide which way to go! My ultimate determining factor where I am now was my house’s style. When in inner turmoil, fall back on that! That helps avoid confusion in your purchases if you tend to wander too much in conflicting directions.

    No rules, of course, you can do what makes YOU happy! Mixing things up sometimes makes a house look SO MUCH better than the “perfect” everything. That can get kind of predictable and kind of too planned out.

    Ooo, I wish I could come over right now! I love when people think like you do, just trying to be themselves! Makes my job so much fun! :-)

    Thanks for the comment!

  3. Terri

    Melissa, thanks for your thoughtful thoughts :) and also for adding me to your links. You didn’t have to do that, but it is very sweet (makes me easier to find too!). I appreciate all your wisdom and advice. It is nice having someone to “talk” to about all this stuff. Prior to moving into the house in December, I really didn’t worry about decor. I lived in a small place, knew what I liked and didn’t, and bought things that seemed charming to me. They all looked fine in a new *all-beige* condo without a lot of extra effort. But moving into a bigger space means that I am really beginning to explore my style and tastes more fully. i am struggling to identify my style (and like you, there are many that speak to me). I love pared-down traditional and also love minimal modern spaces, so I am working on a merger, at least in my mind’s eye. I know it doesn’t have to be a choice, but rooms really flow and look best, to me, when they are cohesive. I don’t like a jumbled look, so having star elements is important to me. There is so much to learn! I know my tastes but struggle to find things here in Calgary, where the shopping is mediocre. And I am always deciding something, then seeing yet another room I love. I don’t know how you do it, working in this industry – there is too much choice! But I guess each home is different, and like you point out, often it is the home’s bones that speak out and tell you what is needed. We are in a 1970’s split-level and I wanted a character house, so there is that paradigm shift to deal with too. The house tells me one thing, I want another. :)

    Ok, looking forward to future posts and I, too, wish you were here. :)

  4. melissamichaels

    You are so welcome! That is why I love what I do, I can work in different styles all the time! One day I can be a cottage girl and the next I am a Arts & Crafts gal. I get my fix of every style just by helping others with what they like. :-) I don’t claim to know it all, I definitely don’t, I just try to simplify things so we don’t get overwhelmed by choices. I think that is half the battle.

    I know what you mean about the 1970’s split-level, in fact, that is similar to a house I am working on right now with a client. She has a 1970’s split level in a wooded neighborhood here in Portland. We decided to call her house a “Northwest Contemporary” so we could get our heads around her style. She is using some pared down traditional furniture, contemporary accents, with a few antiques mixed in for history and depth, clean & simple lines, serene earthy fabrics, lots of baskets and natural things. It is going to be so lovely! You could have a “Calgary Contemporary”. It might be the perfect merger! :-)
    Take care and we’ll chat soon!

  5. kara garber

    enjoyed “poking through your posts”! found you from blissful home. fun to see what the rest of the creative world is up to.

  6. Becky

    I am fond of decorating with nautical things, too. My boys’ bathroom is done in a Cape Style. Your son’s room looks warm and inviting and that giraffe is too cool! Love that stained glass window, the globe and the Clipper ship in the other photo. Your blog sure is inspiring and the decorating ideas devine! xo, Becky


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