Coastal Grandmother – why this popular trend is making waves in the interior design world

The Coastal Grandmother look shakes up our idea of beachy themes and offers a sophisticated take on coastal homes

Neutral home decor ideas coastal grandmother
(Image credit: Rikki Snyder)

Inspired by the classic homes of any Nancy Meyers film, the Coastal Grandmother trend is less about the doilies and net curtains associated with a stereotypical grandma's house and more about the elevated elegance and timeless appeal of a coastal home. 

Whilst the idea of following an internet trend may leave you sceptical, the Coastal Grandmother look is fast becoming an aspirational lifestyle for those wanting to live an relaxed, composed life.

Here, designers have offered their opinions on the aesthetic and how to achieve this interior design trend in your home. 

What is the Coastal Grandmother style?

All white living room with wooden round table and sea canvases

(Image credit: Public 311 Design)

The Coastal Grandmother style is the epitome of timeless elegance. As more mature and refined spaces find a broader appeal, especially amongst younger generations who long for a more carefree lifestyle, the trend has taken off on social media. 

Despite its coastal origins, you won’t be finding any shell bowls or anchor–themed decor in these houses. The Coastal Grandmother trend instead incorporates coastal decor ideas more subtly and instead opts for a refined, understated look. 

'Coastal grandmother design is less about an exact formula and more about creating a lived-in, yet welcoming environment in your home,' clarifies designer Sandra Asdourian of Florida-based company Sandra Asdourian Interiors. 'While the easiest path to achieving this could be to argue for lots of white and clean lines, I think the grandmother aspect allows for a lot more flexibility in creating a space with some charm and eclectic elements

This popular trend beautifully melds nautical blue and neutral color palettes with soft linen and knit textures for a deluxe getaway feel. And, alongside its sense of affluence, the aesthetic is sustainable and focuses on heirlooms and reusing vintage and antique pieces.  

Beige dining room with white fireplace and blue side board - coastal grandmother

(Image credit: Sims Hilditch)

‘While we do not rigidly adhere to trends when designing interiors at Sims Hilditch – rather we aim for a timeless and classic style that will endure for generations – occasionally a particular style will come around that speaks to the Sims Hilditch aesthetic.’ explains Louise Wicksteed, design director at Sims Hilditch.

‘‘Coastal Grandmother’ is one such example. Defined by the use of natural light, high–quality natural materials, a soft color palette, and an abundance of foliage and flowers, Coastal Grandmother creates an inviting, effortlessly elegant, and liveable interior that feels like home.’

How to incorporate Coastal Grandmother in your home

Beige neutral bedroom with linen curtains and overstuffed chair

(Image credit: Georgia Zikas Design/Jane Beiles)

To truly achieve the Coastal Grandmother look, you need a neutral color palette, explains Georgia Zikas, founder of Georgia Zikas Design. 'The coastal grandmother aesthetic is all about embracing easy. effortless living in a clean, fresh way. This can be accomplished in so many ways, but the easiest is likely paint/wallcoverings choices, materials and color palette, as well as accent pieces. White or ivory is the ideal backdrop here, as it sets an open canvas to bring in other coastal elements, but don't be afraid of a blue accent wall to tie in that coastal, outdoorsy feeling.'

Unlike coastal design more generally, strong hits of blue and other beach-themed motifs should be avoided in favor of subtle blues and beach themes in abstract paintings. 

‘Artwork is an excellent opportunity to nod to a home’s coastal location.’ explains designer Emma Sims Hilditch. ‘Visit local artists, dealers, and antique specialists to find paintings, photographs, ornaments, and crockery reflecting or depicting the area around your home, and thread these throughout your rooms.’ 

Given the coastal tone of the aesthetic, plush yet breezy materials should be prioritized in the home. Although you do not have to live on the coast to embrace the Coastal Grandmother vibe, flowy linen curtains that could waft in the sea breeze are a must. 

In fact, linen is the texture of choice for your home furnishings and wardrobe argues Georgia, 'Materials and color palette should veer toward the natural and neutral- think jute or sisal rugs, seagrass wall coverings, linen draperies, rattan furniture, etc.'  A piece of interestingly textured driftwood wouldn’t be out of place per se, but should be used sparingly with the risk of leaning too tacky–coastal if it is found in every room. 

Blue inbuilt cabinet with blue and white china on display

(Image credit: Future)

The decor is where this trend really begins to come together. Without it, the space can feel too minimalist. Vintage pieces take the spotlight here with blue and white decor ideas such as fine china, shaded sconces, and ceiling chandeliers. 'Add collected items' insists Sandra. 'Resist the urge to shop the big box stores for all things that may look like they belong to a chic grandma and instead, go thrifting and searching for unique vintage furniture or antique decor accents that will add character to your home'

Incorporate natural materials throughout the room by choosing a beachy jute rug. ‘If a minimalistic style is more your thing, opting for a striped jute rug will create a low-fuss look with the perfect amount of detail- reminiscent of the Coastal Grandmother aesthetic we’re all loving at the moment. Alternatively, a bold rug with thick stripes will add character to your space,’ suggests interior designer and manager of Piglet in Bed, Rhiannon Johns. 

'Don't forget the "grandmother" part of the equation!' Georgia reminds us. Oversized vases and terracotta pots tie in the garden vibe indoors whilst baskets and rattan furniture in conservatories maintain the ‘grandma’ vibe. 'Use your accent pieces to inject some energy into the space - a crystal antique vase, an old world mirror, maybe even a grandfather clock?' she continues. 

Plate displays for your finest china and ginger jars would fit perfectly in this trend and with the rising popularity of open kitchen shelving ideas, this trend goes hand in hand with the current design movement.  

Are you a Coastal Grandmother?

If you love a home and lifestyle that is rooted in coastal minimalism, then you might indeed be a Coastal Grandmother, you just might not know it yet. 

With the lure of living by the sea more popular than ever, it is no surprise that more and more people are turning to the Coastal Grandmother trend as a way to escape their fast-paced or frantic lives. 

The modern Coastal Grandmother look unites the essence of coastal design – a relaxed and carefree vibe – with a contemporary, minimalist feel, where natural textures and simple color palettes take center stage. If this sounds like a lifestyle that you adore, then you are most certainly a 'Coastal Grandmother' – embrace it. 

Chiana Dickson
Content Editor

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for two years, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.