Nautical/ Beach Decorating Ideas

Updated February 21, 2017

Invite the calming, breezy images of the ocean into your home with nautical and beach-themed decor. Nautical decor styles are fitting for every room of the house. Incorporate the beach theme into your home through the creative use of colour, furniture and accessories. Even if you are miles from the beach, a nautical theme in your home creates a sense of relaxation through images of endless shorelines and bobbing sailboats.

Walls and Floors

A nautical colour palette brings to mind images of the ocean and shoreline. Select colours that are light and not oversaturated. Sky blue or pale green walls add a bit of colour while most neutral whites and creams are suitable for a simple palette. Crisp white accents add a sense of freshness to most nautical colour schemes. For example, add simple white crown and baseboard moulding instead of natural wood moulding. For a Cape Cod beach house feel, add white wainscoting up around the room. If you prefer a more playful vibe, a printed wallpaper border adorned with star fish, anchors or drifting sailboats offers a splash of fun. More sophisticated spaces are dressed up by a border designed to look like an antique map or compass rose. Natural wood floors mimic the style of classic tall ships or sailboats; wide planks create a rustic beach house feel while light laminate hardwood brightens the space. Soften wood floors with textured and tightly-braided area rugs in natural fibres and colours like sand, cream or navy blue.


Nautical-themed furniture gives the appearance that it is weathered and well-loved. Create a shabby chic space by selecting wooden furniture pieces with a faux antique or distressed look. For example, a wooden kitchen table finished with white paint is suitable for a beach bungalow dining room. Reclaimed side tables with small chips of paint add a rustic element to a living room or bedroom. Offer wicker seating with blue and white striped cushions in a dining or living room. Select pieces with subtle nautical details rather than elaborate beach-themed carvings or inlays. A bed frame with posters featuring rope-style wood detailing recalls boat tie lines; a coffee table with a simple four-pointed star resembling a compass rose is a classy option for living rooms.


Clever collections of beach-themed accessories add the integral touches of style to a nautical-themed room or home. In a bathroom, line the windowsill with colourful glass fish to match an underwater-themed shower curtain; small vials of sand dotted with miniature shells make a sophisticated accessory for the windowsill above a kitchen sink. Instead of framed paintings, cover walls with reclaimed pieces of boats, like anchors or helms; create scrapbook-style shadowboxes by collecting and gluing various shells into simple white-framed boxes. Select fabrics featuring subtle nautical themes for throw pillows or bed linens; bobbing star fish or sailboats are muted but playful. Avoid busy nautical patterns for curtains or large pieces of upholstered furniture; instead select colours in the appropriate palette or simple navy and cream stripes to evoke the beach theme.

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About the Author

Hannah Wahlig began writing and editing professionally in 2001. Her experience includes copy for newspapers, journals and magazines, as well as book editing. She is also a certified lactation counselor. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Mount Holyoke College, and Master's degrees in education and community psychology from the University of Massachusetts.