9 Coastal Living Room Ideas, and Not an Anchor in Sight

living room overlooking a pool
living room overlooking a pool

When you’re by the ocean, you can feel it. The salt clinging to your hair, the sun warming your skin, the gusts from the sea flipping the pages of your book for you. You don’t need a sign in your house announcing “Beach” or a bevy of anchor-adorned pillows to remind you that you’ve arrived. In fact, our nine favorite coastal living room ideas, full of rich color and sleek furniture, pair just as well—if not better!—with the cool ocean breeze.

The Surfer-Cool Coastal Living Room

checkerboard living room
Photography by Mikey DeTemple; Styling by Benjamin Reynaert

When model Zippora Seven and her husband, photographer Terence Connors, transitioned from living on a sailboat to land, they bought a surf shack in Montauk, New York, covered in humble plywood. Drawing inspiration from the grid panels outside of George Nelson’s Holiday House in Quogue, they devised a checkerboard scheme for the living room’s main wall using a combination of light birch and dark mahogany sheets.

The Mid-Century Coastal Living Room

blue sofa in a moody room
Photography by Haris Kenjar

Michel Ducaroy's Togo sofa is a go-to for designers who want to bring some mid-century modern charm to a space, so to see it work nautical wonders in this Fox Island, Washington, home designed by Heidi Caillier is a delightful surprise. It all comes down to the blue and white Scalamandre fabric she had the piece (ottoman included!) reupholstered in.

The Maximalist Coastal Living Room

tropical maximalist living room
Photography by Iaia Coco

British designer Matthew Williamson leaned into island life by doing what he knows best: layering patterns. In his Majorca home, banana leaf and leopard prints, stripes, and ikat collide, and a good chunk of them are on his living room sofa alone. His rule: As long as you’re neat—peep the almost-bare coffee table—the arrangement won't feel overwhelming. “It is a sort of organized bohemia,” he says.

The Moody Coastal Living Room

striped seating nook
Photography by Chris Court

Sibella Court isn’t afraid to admit she has an aversion to white houses. So instead of going the light and bright route in her seaside Australia home, she opted for dark nooks with pooling curtains that double as room dividers (and insulation come winter). Court relies primarily on lamps and sconces for a warm glow; to her, lower light levels feel nurturing.

The Jersey Coastal Living Room

woven living room rug
Photography by Matthew Williams

The reason this Mantoloking, New Jersey, home doesn’t read as your typical summer house? The homeowners told their designers to think New York City. So alongside the groovy rattan lounge chairs are refreshingly contemporary light fixtures. In the kitchen, the tiled island is an unapologetically bold emerald green. “No driftwood and no sea glass,” says Damian Zunino, principal of Studio DB. Still, the space comes with all the practicalities required of a shore home. The clean-lined Crofthouse sofa is covered in indoor-outdoor fabric, so wet swimsuits are no big deal.

The Airy Coastal Living Room

white beachy living room
Photography by Johnny Miller; Produced by Kate Berry

At Winnie Beattie’s crisp white cottage in Amagansett, New York, you will find collections of driftwood and other beach finds, but it's clear the designer didn’t buy them in bulk from a store. Every piece is personal, down to the the textiles sourced on many surfing trips, which automatically takes any cheesiness out of it.

The Modern Coastal Living Room

pink living room and green sofa
Photography by Prue Ruscoe; Styling by Olga Lewis; Interior Design by Hugh-Jones Mackintosh

Shades of blue and cream come to mind first when you picture a beach house, but this space, designed by Hugh-Jones Mackintosh, makes a case for richer sunset hues like salmon pink and mango orange. Further breaking up the seriousness of the concrete architecture: a cheeky rattan palm tree floor lamp. (Psst: Serena & Lily sells a similar option.)

The Not-So-Coastal Living Room

dark blue den
Photography by Kaitlin Green; Designed and Styled by Emily Henderson; Architecture by Arciform

Who says you have to literally be on the coast to have a coastal living room? Emily Henderson’s Portland, Oregon, home isn’t on the water, but that didn’t stop her from filling her navy-colored den with a gallery wall of moody seascapes. Even her Samsung Frame TV (on the opposite wall) features a rotating display of crashing waves and old-timey ships.

The Artsy Coastal Living Room

tie-dye sofa
Photography by Nina Choi; Styling by Benjamin Reynaert

Vacation is 24-7 when you've got Shannon Campanaro and Nick Chacona’s cushy modular sofa. The Eskayel founders, who own a chilled-out surfer retreat in the Hamptons, created the painterly piece from scratch, filling it with eco-friendly kapok and avoiding any hard structural elements. That way, they can constantly reconfigure the cushions for whatever the day brings.