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Scents of salt air and tanning oil mingling with the effervescent surf and wheeling gulls linger in our memories long after they’re experienced. Those memories are artfully formed in California’s coastal chic, unfussy, tranquil interiors.

Effortlessly at home overlooking the blue waters of the Pacific, the coastal chic vibe can be reproduced just about anywhere. In this post, you’ll find out how to design a sophisticated coastal chic home, following some of the style’s most compelling elements.

Sea, Sky, Sand

The color palette for coastal chic abounds with soft neutrals, reflecting the natural environment of the Pacific coast. From the blue water and sky to the buff sands, your inspiration is in the shifting tones you’ll find in these classic coastal elements.

Splashes of terracotta and gold speak to Pacific sunsets and crackling bonfires as the day slips past, bathing it in warm, fiery shades. Deployed thoughtfully, these are shades capable of adding another layer to subtle coastal style.

While the coastal chic palette is decidedly neutral and natural, it’s also relaxed and open to tipping its hat to the transient shades of nightfall and early morning’s peach and buttery yellow tones. Punctuating softer shades with stronger colors brings fresh animation to your decor, speaking of nature’s dynamism.

Sophistication in Texture and Pattern

With such a subtle color agenda, texture and pattern stand as ways of adding visual interest. Fabrics take center stage in this effort, including everything from luxury coastal pillows to sculptural crochet wall art.

Batik may not originate in California, but the international impulse of the Golden State makes room for it. It can be found covering furniture, draped over the backs of rattan loungers, or deployed as window treatments in coastal chic interiors. Unexpected patterns powerfully underscore the freedom of coastal style.

Texture can also be found in traditional keepsake items like handmade quilts neatly laid across beds, adding to the “family holiday” aspect of coastal chic. This style hints at a sweet nostalgia for the endless summers of childhood. Layered, laid back, and casually social, coastal chic embraces your personal memories.

Resist “Kitsch”

Popular maritime symbols associated with beachy decor styles are to be handled with care. In other words: hold the ships in bottles and resist the temptation to place a seashell-covered Kleenex box in your washroom.

Instead, focus on decor items like hemp rope used to tie back drapes. A broad vertical stripe in drapery or furniture fabric, or even wall treatments, is evocative yet subtle. In fact, stripes of all widths, in soft blues, grays, and navy blue with white, are classically nautical. Without descending to the level of “kitsch,” stripes effortlessly capture the spirit of this style.

A Framework, Not a Straightjacket

The sophisticated, coastal chic design is open to interpretation. It’s not a straightjacket but a framework, within which you can create more than one vision. Everyone sees things differently, so this style embodies California’s boldly embracing culture, allowing for a mosaic of interpretative spins.

Add a streak of urban dazzle with LED signs for room decor. Bold and sassy, this style of lighting is a stylistic twist that’s welcome in coastal chic design. Alternatively, choose modern furniture with a seaside patina, naturally distressed, functional, and chicly eye-appealing.

Instead of ship lapping the walls, paint them white for light-reflecting simplicity, or panel them for a seaside cabin look. Blend modernism with the nostalgia of endless summers past. Add the personal touch of your travel history in souvenirs and books stacked on a live-edge wood coffee table. Just a flash of brass is a classic nautical touch that’s referential without being obvious.

Tell a Coastal Chic Story

With California coastal chic, life’s a beach, created organically and yet part of our modern world. This is another way of interpreting the style—from a strictly material standpoint. Materials like rattan, wicker, wood, seagrass, driftwood, and stone all tell the coastal chic story.

Pushing manmade materials to one side in favor of those created organically is baked into the California ethos, making it a hallmark of coastal chic. Express this materiality in furniture especially, remembering that life at the beach offers another level of comfort and another interpretation of it.

The nostalgic yet vibrant aesthetic of California coastal chic allows people to bring their memories of distant beaches home while giving birth to a fresh sophistication in California interior design. Living on the Pacific coast or elsewhere, the call of the surf is close to home with this warm, easy design style.

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