One of the hottest trends in both fashion and home decor is the coastal grandma style. This trend (?) is inspired by the classic beach cottage aesthetic of the coastal grandmother, but with a modern twist. And of course, timeless Nancy Myers sets are drenched in it. For me, it’s basically all I’ve ever loved without the toile. (So of course, I throw the toile back in.)
Coastal grandmother style is all about water and whites, but also open to some degree of interpretation. I like to throw in some red here and there, though it’s not strictly to the style, I realize. The colors are inspired by the sea and sky, and they create a feeling of peace and tranquility. Nautical motifs can be popular in this style, as well as shell and seahorse decor, but to stay true to the aesthetic we keep the kitsch to a minimum and stick with tradition and taste.
If you love the coast, wax nostalgic, and want to bring a touch of the seaside to your home or wardrobe, then a coastal grandma vibe may just be for you. I learned my coastal ways living in San Diego, Pensacola, Northeast Florida, Anacortes, and Seattle (PCS, anyone?) – all very different but still a common thread when it comes to aesthetics and style. The water seeps into my every design choice.
The Look: Coastal Grandma Decor
The look of a coastal grandmother style is all about mixing modern furnishings with classic décor, such as a vintage sofa or armchair. Think traditional and timeless pieces paired with contemporary accents. The style skews coastal, but you’ll also see the occasional wildflower print or chintzy floral fabric to add a bit of grandma chic. (If you’re at my house, we pass on the chintz and throw in all the toile because I like my coastal grandmother with a French bend.) Wicker furniture and vintage rattan are great for creating a breezy beach feel. Rattan, wicker, cane, and seagrass are all natural materials that evoke an old-school coastal vibe. Neutral(ish) tones like white, beige, grey, seafoam green, and navy blue are the mainstays for this style, but pops of peach, lavender, and pink are also popular (my aforementioned red is not as popular, but I love it nonetheless).
Our favorite coastal grandma brands include Tommy Bahama and Bixby & Ball.
Start by adding a white base and then layer in texture, color, and pattern. Natural and nautical accents like shell clusters, driftwood, and nautical mirrors can help bring that beach feel into your home but sparingly, please. Other accessories to consider are seagrass baskets to store blankets, wicker light fixtures, vintage beach-inspired wallpaper and fabrics, and rattan furniture. Adding the right lighting is essential in creating the perfect coastal vibe. Copper or brass fixtures and hardware and coastal grandma lamps will perfectly complete the feel. Throw in some vintage and provenance, as this style lends itself to romantic and timeless pieces and loves a good story.
Try to stick to muted colors and textures, like chambray, cotton, wool, and linen. Don’t be afraid of art – punchy prints, abstracts, landscapes, and vintage frames are all great ways to add visual interest. And don’t forget statement pieces, like an antique mirror or an accent chair upholstered in a bold stripe. Just because it’s traditional doesn’t mean it’s boring.
The Look: Coastal Grandmother Fashion
Women of all ages have been jumping on the grandma-style fashion train. This style is all about timeless, classic pieces, with or without a modern twist. Think cardigans, turtlenecks, striped tops, and wide-leg trousers. It’s not all summer wear, beaches get cold, too. Anchor prints and sailor details can be added for a fun nautical feel but again, kitsch to a minimum to keep things understated and tasteful is always my preference.
Look for breezy pieces like floral dresses, straw bags and shoes, and flowing earrings. Tones of blue and white, romantic details, and airy, natural fabrics such as linen and cotton are key ingredients to nailing the perfect coastal grandma style. If you’re looking for fun, giant sunglasses and fabulous hats are always in style.
Coastal Grandma: The Final Personal Touches
Finally, finish your coastal grandma aesthetic with a personal flourish. Otherwise, it can feel like a Pottery Barn catalog. (Nothing wrong with PB, but yawn when it’s copied…) A few strategically placed personal, meaningful, antique, reproduction, or vintage pieces add comfort and character to a room or an outfit. Examples include antique furniture, vintage rugs, cozy throws, needlepoint pillows, family photos, and vintage paintings. For the ultimate transport, throw in home fragrances that evoke the scents of the sea, like sandalwood or sea salt. This style should invoke a sense of clean, welcome, peace, and tranquility, all of which are the very best things about our coastal grandmother.