'Lean into creating a feeling' – Shea McGee says this is the secret to coastal decor that doesn't look cliché

Channel the coastal design style without going overboard with these expert-approved tips and tricks

A side by side of a living room with an ottoman and Shea McGee's headshot
(Image credit: Studio McGee / Getty Images)

Coastal-inspired interiors are on the rise this year, channeling the great outdoors with breezy, chic style. And while interior designer Shea McGee has proven to be an expert when it comes to old-meets-new, transitional style, she also has a penchant for the beachy look. 

Luckily for those of us looking to go coastal in our own homes, Shea just took to Instagram to share her top tips for getting the coastal aesthetic without going over the top. 

In the family room of McGee & Co.'s Summer Collection photoshoot home, Shea has curated the ultimate coastal escape – it practically screams summer while still maintaining the designer's elevated, pared-back approach. Here's what she had to say about the coastal decor ideas present in this space.

'From the formal living room, you enter into the family room. It is the hangout space of the home, and we really wanted it to feel like the season. It’s summer, and we wanted to design a look that felt like you were on vacation in your own home,' Shea says in a YouTube video exploring the space.  

How Shea styles a coastal-inspired space

'This room’s architecture has a very coastal-inspired aesthetic, and we used that to influence the decisions that we made through the furniture and decor,' says Shea, explaining that the room's color palette is one of the design scheme's main driving forces. 

By tying light blue tones throughout the entire room, there's no need to go overboard with kitschy decor – seashells and starfish would simply be overkill. Shea explains that the color palette contributes to the space's atmosphere – a vital part of getting the coastal look down. McGee & Co.'s Vercelli Rug, which she says has a 'really beautiful blue and natural palette,' acts as a foundation for this coastal color palette.

'There’s hints of green, and a dusty rose color throughout, and if you’re someone that’s drawn to that coastal style but you don’t want to design a room that feels too on the nose with seashells on your pillows, then lean into creating a feeling rather than being so overt with your selections,' she says. 

The sofa's deep blue hue picks up on the rug's color cues, and 'light wood tones and natural materials' bring an earthy, organic feeling to the space. A Gareth Woven Mirror from McGee & Co. ties the whole look together.

'We have this new mirror here that has this organic shape on the outside, and it has this woven, braided jute. I think that this really speaks to that aesthetic, but what I love about this mirror is that I could also put it in a mountain home as well because it just has a really rough texture to it that could lean rustic or coastal,' she says.

Shea McGee
Shea McGee

Interior designer, Shea McGee founded her iconic design firm, Studio McGee, with her husband Syd in 2014. They later launched their e-commerce brand, McGee & Co, and starred in their very own Netflix show, Dream Home Makeover.

An entirely blue and white space is certainly an aesthetic, but Shea relies on some deeper, darker colors to bring this coastal living room back to earth. To accomplish this balance, she opted for a Jarah Lounge Chair from McGee & Co. in the Vintage Soft Camel color.

'I always say that you can squeeze in one more little chair for seating, and this leather accent chair is perfect – we put it at an angle, and it adds texture and warmth to the space,' Shea says.

'Cognac leather can go overboard sometimes if people put it in everything because it’s super durable, but I also really love the warmth that it brings to a space. I think with all these cool blues in this room, this material allows you to break up the linens and also it helps you speak to other materials that are in this same tone,' she continues.

With a tasteful blend of bright whites, cool blues, and grounding browns, Shea has the coastal style down pat. If you're after a beachy interior, her lesson is clear: leave the seashells be.

Abby Wilson
News Writer

I am a News Writer at Homes & Gardens, with a focus on interior design. Most recently, I worked with Better Homes & Gardens, where I wrote and edited content about home decor, gardening tips, food news, and more. Before that, I studied Journalism and English Literature at New York University. I’ve moved around quite a bit in the last several years, most recently making the trip to London, and love transforming each new space into a comfortable retreat that feels like home. When it comes to decor, I’m most drawn to unique vintage finds and calming colors.