Modern design and coastal design may seem like a bit of an odd couple. After all, modern design is known for its crisp lines, bold shapes, and sleek minimalism. And coastal design—with its vibrant colors, beachy prints, and kitschy décor—is known for just the opposite.

But, combine the two, and you end up with something truly special. “Modern coastal design is a fresh, simplified take on traditional coastal décor,” Ariel Schuster, sales and design consultant at Artaic, says. “It leans into the visceral experience of being in a coastal environment without being so literal.”

In other words, you end up with an aesthetic that feels like the beach, so much so that you don’t need décor telling you where you are.

What Is Modern Coastal Design?

Modern coastal design blends the sleek minimalism of modern design with the beachy feel of coastal design. The result is typically a space filled with clean lines, coastal colors, and subtle nods to the beachy surroundings.

Modern coastal design evokes the feelings of that beachy lifestyle without the obvious kitsch,” Kate Shaw and Betsy Moyer, co-founders of the experiential design firm Retreat, say. That means fewer surfboards, fewer ocean photographs, and fewer fish-lined patterns. On the whole, you can expect to swap statements for subtleties. Focus on suggesting a sense of place to your guests rather than shouting it at them the moment they walk through the door.

Of course, balancing two conflicting aesthetics is always a challenge, but there’s no need for overwhelm. Instead of getting intimidated, scroll down to see some of our favorite modern coastal interiors—and bookmark your favorite modern coastal design ideas from the bunch.

Simplify Your Palette

A modern coastal bedroom, filled with white and off-white pieces and two modern brass table lamps

If you want to craft a space that feels both coastal and modern, a great place to start is with your palette. Though classic coastal spaces are often filled with deep blues and bright oranges, modern interiors demand a more minimalist approach.

That doesn’t mean forgoing color entirely, but if you’re trying to craft the sleekest space possible, it might mean keeping your base color soft and subtle.

Bring in Natural Textures

A modern loft filled with textured pieces, including a woven floor lamp, a braided basket, and a vase filled with pampas grass

Coastal interiors are full of texture, and that’s because the spaces they’re evoking are also full of texture. Classic accents—like seagrass rugs, driftwood pieces, and seashell mirrors—come directly from the ocean, and woven pieces nod to some of the plants you’d find along the beach.

By bringing these elements into your home, you can make your space feel cozy and coastal, even if your walls are lined with exposed brick as seen above

Put a Modern Spin on Coastal Favorites

A dining room with modern wooden furniture, a sleek striped rug, industrial pendant lights, and a coastal photograph

One of the most recognizable patterns in coastal design? The “classic ticking stripe,” Schuster says. Take one look at that print, and you’ll feel like you’re at the beach. A classic way to incorporate that motif into your décor scheme would be to pair the print with some of your sleekest modern furniture.

If you’d prefer a less obvious approach, consider snagging a slightly different striped piece—one that nods to the ticking stripe, but puts a modern twist on it.

Favor Abstract Art

A wooden console table, decorated with abstract art and several woven baskets

When decorating a coastal interior, it can be tempting to stock up on beachy photographs and realistic-looking art. But remember, these aren’t your only options.

“You can nod to the ocean or the sand without being literal,” Schuster says. “For example, the ocean does not have to be depicted by crashing waves and sea life.” Instead, you can favor abstract pieces that allude to the ocean without replicating it exactly.


Add Warmth With Woven Accents

A dining nook with woven chairs, black and white pillows, and industrial pendant lights

No coastal home feels complete without a few woven pieces, and that holds true, whether we’re talking about a modern coastal home or a more classic one.

Of course, some woven accents are more versatile than others—jute rugs have no trouble looking contemporary, for instance. But, even traditional wicker chairs can look modern when paired with an elegant marble table and some sleek industrial lighting.


Give Your Home a Sense of Place

A dining room with sleek wooden furniture, a large surfboard, and a gallery wall made of ocean paintings

“Oftentimes with coastal décor, the urge to over-style is difficult to resist,” Schuster says, adding that starfish, anchors, and nautical décor abound in coastal design. “After all, you want to pay homage to the location.”

But, there are ways to give your home a sense of place without flooding a room with clutter. Consider simplifying your gallery wall to include just one category of décor and invest in a couple statement-makers that signal location without crowding your space.


Load Up on Linen

A linen-lined accent chair in a room filled with white and off-white textiles

Few fabrics feel as synonymous with the coastal aesthetic as linen. The textile is sleek, soft, and versatile, and when rendered in classically coastal soft neutrals—like crisp whites and warm beiges—the fabric should be able to cozy up even your most contemporary pieces.

Resist the Urge to Get Costumey

A coastal dining room, decorated with yellow modern chairs and two printed pillows

There are plenty of blueprints for what coastal décor “should” look like—and many of them are filled with seashells, wicker furniture, and fish-covered curtains. But, don’t just dress your space in the costume of coastal décor you’ve seen before.

“The modern coastal design style is all about evoking the spirit of the beach without it feeling like a beach theme,” Shaw and Moyer say. So, focus on the motifs you associate with the beach. The color yellow isn’t in every coastal palette, but if it transports you to your childhood summer vacations, it should be in yours.


Sprinkle in a Few Dark Pieces

A black console table, decorated with coastal artwork and a large snake plant

Dark colors and sleek metal accents may seem out of place in a coastal home, but they can add a touch of welcome and much-needed contrast. When balanced with the rest of your space, even bolder accents, like a striking black console table, can fit right in.


Turn Your Bathroom Into a Statement-Maker

A modern coastal bathroom with striking tiled floors

When many of us decorate our spaces, we neglect one of the most frequently used rooms in our homes: the bathroom. This is a grave mistake. To start, your bathroom deserves as much love and attention as the rest of your space, and according to Schuster, bathrooms are a particularly great candidate for a modern coastal makeover.