Where I come from, the sea is a 7-hour drive that we would do some summers, up the Gaspésie peninsula to the chilly waters of the North Atlantic and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Or we would drive 14 hours, down to US East Coast, usually southern New Jersey, to enjoy actual sand beaches and warmer tides we could swim in. I now live close enough to the sea that I can walk there.
The water is never warm enough to even dip a toe, but there are beaches where locals have picnics or take walks with their dogs. Many of us dream of living on the beach, with a view of the ocean greeting us every morning, with the sound of the waves lulling us to sleep every night. There is something majestic about the ocean that I never get tired of. Although I can’t live on a beach, I can still bring it home with a little beach-house-inspired décor. Light colors, airy textures and organic decorations are the essential elements of a great beach house décor.
Light colors: white, sand, pastels
When planning a beach-inspired home, use these three colors as a basis. These light and neutral shades will keep your space open and full of light. Choose a warm shade of white, one with a little yellow in it. Off-white also works well. But sand is never truly white; there’s always a tinge of beige in it, no matter how “white” the sand looks. A nice balance between a warm white a neutral beige will provide the perfect base layer for a beach-inspired decor.
Of course, no beach is simply white and beige; add the color of the water and the plants, and you have a mixture of blue, grey and green. Keep the colors dusty and “washed out”; no bright, saturated hues here. Other shades that remind us of the beach include pink, orange, yellow and brown. Begin by using light-colored floors with complementary walls. Warm white wood flooring with a pale, washed-out blue on the walls imitates the beach and sky.
Airy textures: cotton and wicker
Nothing says “beach” like cotton towels and a wicker basket. Light, pale cottons let the light through and wicker’s natural, neutral golden brown fits perfectly with the base colors of your space. For your drapes, use a light see-through muslin with a discreet marine pattern (or none at all). The fabric will let light through and illuminate your space. Avoid adding heavy fabrics like damask or heavy wool, as they will weigh down on your décor and take away the airy ambiance.
Organic items: driftwood, sea stars and sea shells
Nothing says “beach” like a nice vase filled with sea shells and water-smoothed rocks. Although you can buy them in a store, it’s a lot more fun to walk the beach at dawn to find the nicest shells, the most colorful stones and even pieces of sea glass. The naturally neutral colors of these items will integrate seamlessly with your décor.
Another thing that reminds me of the beach is driftwood. Although tropical beaches get less of it, here in the Pacific Northwest, our beaches are home to kilometres of driftwood accumulated over the years. It is a favorite material of local artists and makes for great paper weights, bookends and many other decorative items. With a little imagination and a few tools, a trip to collect driftwood can yield many treasures to be cherished for years.
The beach effect
If I could live in a beach house year-round, I would. There is something so soothing and relaxing about living so close to the sea, and I wish I could get up every morning to greet the day with the sound of the waves and the smell of the salt-filled breeze.
The beach effect is one that reminds me of summer days as a kid, of the innocence of making sandcastles and running fearlessly into the frothing waves. If these memories also call to you, maybe having a beach-inspired décor can bring a breath of freshness into your home. If you can’t get to the sea, bring the sea to you!