Time for sea change

JUST the word ‘seaside’ summons up pleasing thoughts of blue skies, sandy beaches and relaxed living. Small wonder then that coastal style, with its crisp blue and white colour scheme teamed with memory-evoking accessories from driftwood to sailing prints, is an enduring favourite for rooms.

JUST the word ‘seaside’ summons up pleasing thoughts of blue skies, sandy beaches and relaxed living. Small wonder then that coastal style, with its crisp blue and white colour scheme teamed with memory-evoking accessories from driftwood to sailing prints, is an enduring favourite for rooms.

But every look needs refreshing or it will become as limp as last year’s seaweed, and this year coastal has changed tack and sailed upmarket. More understated and chic, it conjures the look of a luxury seaside sanctuary rather than a beach hut.

That doesn’t put it out of reach if you’re on a budget, it just means having a light hand on the decor tiller and opting instead to invest in a scheme which will last all year, not just a summer.

“For a modern, stylish interpretation of this classic theme, I’d advise making only subtle additions to a room rather than giving it a complete overhaul,” says Marianne Richards, style advisor for HomeSense.

“This creates a more sophisticated effect, as opposed to obviously following a theme, and means it will ultimately have greater longevity.” The famous beachside homes in New England’s Hamptons region prove that shoreside style can be charming and elegant, and it’s their design-conscious ethos which has, in part, inspired the latest interpretation.

“Tranquility and informality is still at the heart of this look - but the choice is broad,” advises Richards. “You can opt for the rich colours of the Mediterranean with shades of deep cobalt, aquamarine and splashes of sunflower yellow or pick up on our own calming coastal shades of cream, sand, pale blue and sea green.

“Wooden floors with soft rugs, white-painted furniture, large, linen-covered sofas, and windows simply dressed with cotton or linen curtains to allow maximum light are other essential ingredients for a seaside sanctuary.”

Get ship-shape

Blue and white are keynote colours for any ‘seaside’ room but there’s a whole raft of ways to feature them. If you’re opting for the updated classic New England look, wallpaper is a smart choice.

A blue and white stripe pattern - think deckchairs and awnings - is perfect, and using a vertical stripe will give the illusion of more height to a room. Laura Ashley has a Lille Stripe paper, while Ralph Lauren Home has a horizontal stripe paper, Alternatively, add summery blue shades to walls, such as a light Cornish Cloud blue or a deep Blue Anchor.

Cabin fever

Nautical but nice is the essence of ‘seaside’ rooms which should be comfortable, welcoming and have a fresh ‘spick and span’ feel. “There’s universal appeal about beach house interiors as they embody a lifestyle that’s all about kicking back, living with nature, and losing the stresses and strains of city life,” says Debbie McKeegan founder of Digetex.

“The secret to achieving beach style is to take cues from nature, and accent in colours reminiscent of the sea. The current mood is for sun-bleached and eclectic with a splash of vintage style.”

Style ahoy!

Beachcombing during leisurely strolls on the shore is part of the pleasure of a seaside break, but a trawl around high street stores or surfing online companies, which have plenty of goodies on offer, can be just as rewarding.

“Introduce natural textures and materials such as driftwood and statement shells by hanging them symmetrically on a wall or creating a feature area around a fireplace, or on a console table,” suggests Marianne Richards.