beach house decorThe thing about being by the sea is that for most people it only happens on vacation. They don’t live there. But it is certainly possible to give where you do live the feeling of a beach house, just through the interior design.

Of course, the world is full of variations and any country with a coastline has houses on the edge, which have a certain national character. That could be a stone cottage on a windswept island off Denmark. Or it could be a luxury condo in the Florida keys.

But what we really mean when we talk about a beachfront house is the kind of thing a modern-day Robinson Crusoe would have if he was washed up on a Caribbean island.

For the purposes of this article, our 21st century castaway has the advantage of modern materials and ideas for beach house interior design, plus professionals we can call on if we don’t want to do everything ourselves.

But in fact nothing we’re going to look at requires much specialist knowledge and it’s fun doing a place up if you’ve got the time and are not completely useless with your hands.

And of course it saves a lot of money if you don’t rush to the yellow pages every time you need something done.

The three steps I’m going to show you are pretty broad: it’s more about attitude than specific do-this do-that.

  1. Color me casual
    The colors of nature are our palette for beach house interior design, and particularly nature in the Caribbean. That means sea and sky, both of which are pale blue much of the time, and sand and wood. This is a world where even the rain is warm, and while you can’t arrange that if you live in Seattle or Scotland, within your own four walls such illusions are entirely possible.

    Let’s start with the floor. Tropical houses usually have ceramic tiles, which are cool underfoot and are easily swept when the sand that is everywhere outside comes a-calling. Hard floors are better than carpets in other ways, too, not least because they don’t harbor dust and mites, which is good news for those who are sensitive to such things.

    If tiles are not your thing, how about simple wooden planks? Pale wood is the norm in this respect, and you will find it in your local home improvement center, and if you’re going to do it yourself, you will need some advice. Video helps enormously with this sort of thing.

    If wall-to-wall tiles and wood are not for you, get yourself some rugs that look the part. Earthy, woody colors and textures rougher than the smooth carpets that cover half the world these days.

  2. Chilled out furnishings
    By “chilled out” I mean you’re not fitting out the lobby of a city hotel or Vladimir Putin’s presidential palace. You’ve had a hard day collecting winkles and mussels, or digging clams out of the sand, and you want to collapse into a chair without worrying about making a mess. So you want something that looks a bit lived-in. Again, for beach house interiors you’re looking at rustic colors, but there’s nothing wrong with a bit of blue or even dark red as long as it looks vintage and distinguished.

    Issues will crop up when you have ideas and don’t know how to describe what is in your imagination, so it is a good idea to check out some technical terms using this interior design style glossary.

    You may find yourself going around the secondhand stores and picking up a chair here, a chair there and a sofa that can partner with both of them. Around the dining table, a set of chairs of which one is different looks odd, but if they’re all different, yet complementary, that’s another thing entirely.

    If you don’t have confidence in your ability to pull this off, beach house interior design could certainly incorporate a brown leather suite, brand new but not showy, maybe “distressed”, as they call furniture that has been deliberately attacked with scrapers and sandpaper.

    You see girls modelling jeans like this, with holes in the knees and thighs where the fabric has been rubbed till it breaks down. I’m not suggesting that furniture should look damaged, but faded is fine.

    Remember who you are: a slightly eccentric foreigner who is living the dream on a low budget in an upscale shack by the sea. Nobody knows who you are or how you survive, but they suspect you’re from a wealthy family because you’re not ashamed of looking a bit down-at-heel.

  3. Get your knick-knacks out
    “Found objects” are the order of the day as decorations. Bits of driftwood, sea glass worn smooth by the motion of water and sand. Bricks rubbed smooth in the same way. Old picture frames that were once grand and now exude a timeless, ramshackle faded beauty, like a retired actress who was a sex kitten in her day.

    On a wall you might hang some of those glass buoys which fishermen used to use to moor their boats or mark where their crab pots were. Nowadays it’s all ugly plastic, but you can find the real thing, again in the secondhand stores, or reproductions in regular furniture stores and gift shops.

    The world is your oyster here, and many a happy hour can be spent breezing around the place, looking for interesting stuff.

    What memories does the idea of a beach house bring back to you? Let us know: and if you have a great idea that we haven’t covered here, why not tell us about that too?

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