There is something quintessentially wonderful about Australian Coastal Style that is difficult to replicate anywhere else in the world. Perhaps it has something to do with the laid back persona of the Aussies or just the magnificence of the natural beauty of the coastal regions with their gorgeous sandy beaches and interesting inlets and harbours. In this post I am going to go through my 7 essential steps to achieve this look so whether you are building or renovating a house near the water or simply want to re-create this style for your home, then this post is for you.
Materials for a coastal style
Texture is the key for an Australian Coastal look. It is essential that the look is laid back and relaxed and the elements that achieve this well are:
- Lining boards rather than full render. This can be traditional weatherboards or for a more contemporary statement, rectangular or square format boards all painted with matt or low sheen finishes – avoid high gloss.
- Small areas of natural stone that is sourced from the local area. Don’t make the mistake of falling in love with a limestone stacked format tile if sandstone is local to your area. Ensure you source locally to get the right look and feel for your environment. And remember the adage that less is more – don’t overdo it or you end up with a gin palace rather than a relaxed coastal look.
- Natural timber accents. Ensure you select good quality hardwoods that will weather naturally to grey and remain stable.
- Limit the amounts of stainless steel and metal, particularly if you are in a coastal area as these corrode almost overnight. Select marine grade stainless steel and pay extra for metals approved for coastal regions – it is worth it in the long run.
- Rendered areas should have a matt finish and be slightly textured.
Colour for a coastal style
Neutrals are the order of the day when it comes to colour. An Australian coastal home will often have views, even in the distance of water and often be surrounded by greenery so the trick is to keep it simple when it comes to colour schemes. My favourites are:
- White, particularly for trim and weatherboards.
- Soft greys which are natural and relatively pale are great used for weatherboards and/or trim.
- Elements of black work well too if you want to achieve some tonal variation. Porter’s Palm Beach black is an excellent choice.
- Introduce colour with local stone and timber elements.
The outside of a coastal look
The key to making Australian Coastal style work is to pay as much attention to the outside areas as to those inside. The look should be seamless with a natural flow between the two areas.
- Outdoor rooms that are covered work really well. The Australian climate is such that in many areas you can sit outside all year round – you often just need shelter from the rain!
- Bring continuity with similar flooring for the inside and outside.
- Furnish outdoor areas with as much care as your indoor living area. A true Australian coastal home will have comfortable seating, dining options, outdoor heating and even outdoor rugs and accessories.
- If you have room for a pool, even better! This really is the Aussie lifestyle but do think carefully before installing a swimming pool as they don’t always bring the return on the house that you are expecting, so you have to love it and use it!
My recent post on how to link the indoors to the outdoors delves into this in more detail:
Landscaping to create a coastal look
I am a great fan of Peter Fudge and love his coastal style gardens. These two images conjure up exactly what an Australian Coastal style garden should be:
- Keep the hard landscaping to a minimum and rather than using concrete for your paths use gravel, timber and natural stone in a stepping stone format. This is both practical and aesthetic as water will drain away easily and the look remains laid back and simple.
- Make pathways meander. Always consider your location and replicate the look of the beach but in a slightly more structured format, so avoid formal straight paths – keep it natural!
- Consider the plants that you use in your landscaping. They need to be salt hardy so look at what grows naturally and clings valiantly to the sand dunes – these are the ones that will survive in your garden but will also replicate the Australian Coastal look, even if you are away from the harsh elements of a coastal strip.
- I just have to also mention Banksias – a coastal scheme just has to have them!
Furniture for a coastal style
Your selection of furniture is important too:
- Weathered timbers work really well in a coastal look and avoid highly polished and difficult to maintain surfaces.
- Don’t worry about pieces matching – beautiful consoles, benches and quirky armoires, coffee tables and stools will work better than a suite of matching items that you purchase all together from one store.
- Keep the look relaxed with surfaces that are oiled or simply scrubbed.
- Sofas and chairs should be upholstered in natural fibres – linens and cottons work well and slip covers for sofas are an excellent idea
- Whitewashed furniture or painted furniture in a soft finish like those achieved with Chalk paint also work well.
Want to know more about selecting the right upholstery? Then you may find this post interesting:
Coastal style accessories to complete the look
Your accessories will really complete the picture and I recommend the following:
- Employ rugs to zone areas rather than formal wall to wall carpets. If you do want to use carpet in your bedrooms then keep it to a 100% wool or a natural fibre like sisal or jute.
- Rattan is an excellent choice for the Australian Coastal look and can be introduced in baskets, pendants, stools and occasional chairs.
- Greenery can be used inside and outside in natural planters – this really is the accessory of the moment but comes into its own with this look.
My recent posts on how to choose the right rug for your space and how to finish a room with greenery may be useful:
My final word is to decorate your home and plan your garden for the area you are living in and the look will naturally be right. Carefully curate your accessories and furniture to ensure that they are pieces you love, contain memories and have a meaning for you or a purpose and get rid of all the rest. Keep it simple and enjoy the view.
Want to read more about Coastal style:
Love blue in a coastal scheme? Then of course you can use it but just remember that it can sometimes end up looking more like an American Coastal look – absolutely nothing wrong with this of course – it is one of my favourites – just think carefully about the look you want. This article may help you to make up your mind and decide which way you want to go. Remember there is not right or wrong – it has to be what you want!