What is coastal farmhouse style? Interior design experts explain how to achieve this serene aesthetic in your own home

Bringing a breath of fresh air into any space, by the sea or otherwise, with the soothing allure of coastal farmhouse style

what is coastal farmhouse decor style
(Image credit: Mindy Laven / Photography Ryan Garvin / Ryann Swan / Logan Killen Interiors / Photography Jacqueline Marque)

If you're looking to breathe a new lease of life into your home with a fusion of coastal ease and rustic charm, the distinctive coastal farmhouse decor style could be just what you're after. Effortlessly blending the soothing ambiance of seaside living with the warmth of traditional farmhouse design, this is a style made for those who love to relax.

'The coastal farmhouse interior design style is all about creating a space that feels inviting for family and friends,' explains Lick's trends specialist, Matilda Martin. 'Whether that’s through soft furnishings encouraging moments of relaxation or natural materials creating a relaxed and homey vibe. If you’re looking for a home refresh that’ll welcome an elegant, country style, a calming environment and familiar comforts then the coastal farmhouse decor is perfect for your home.' And we couldn't agree more.

Whether you dwell in a beachfront retreat or a city apartment, a home adorned with weathered wood, serene hues reminiscent of the sea and an array of comforting textures will help to provide a sophisticated respite from the demands of daily life. 

To dive in deeper, we reached out to expert interior designers who have mastered the art of coastal farmhouse style.

What Is Coastal Farmhouse Decor?

You're likely familiar with the look and feel of a coastal style. And also pretty used to pouring over inviting farmhouse trends. But what about the union of the two? Enter: coastal farmhouse.

Coastal farmhouse creates spaces that resonate with tranquillity and sophistication. Striking a delicate balance between the laid-back feel of coastal decor ideas with the rustic nature of farmhouse aesthetics, this style captures the hearts of many interior designers. 

'For me, coastal farmhouse decor is typified by many of the same elements of traditional farmhouses: beadboard paneling, simple shaker cabinets, baskets and hooked rugs,' explains interior designer Bethany Adams.

The difference, Bethany explains, lies mainly in the color scheme. 'A coastal farmhouse will lean heavily towards white and blue hues,' says Bethany. 'A sisal or jute rug, a stone hearth, and a slipcovered sofa would round out your coastal farmhouse style.'

From the soft color palette inspired by sandy shores to the use of natural materials like distressed wood and woven textures, every aspect is carefully curated to create a harmonious blend.

Bethany Adams
Bethany Adams

Bethany Adams has over 15 years of experience designing and project-managing high-end residential projects all over the US. She started her design firm in Louisville in 2015 and before worked for several designers and architects over the course of a ten-year career in Chicago.

What Are The Characteristics Of Coastal Farmhouse Style?

1. Open and airy space

plain english design coastal kitchen with whitewashed panelled ceiling

(Image credit: Plain English Design)

Coastal farmhouse decor typically aims for an open and airy feel. 'Think of this style as a blend of the informality of a farmhouse with the airy feel and sense of fun of a coastal home,' suggests Merlin Wright, design director at Plain English Design

'Coastal homes encourage relaxation. Colors should reflect light and enhance the airy relaxed atmosphere with natural flooring for bare feet and sand, and generous windows to let light pour in.'

'In the kitchen, an open plan kitchen space is so often associated with farmhouse living. The two styles combine to provide a very inviting space to relax in thanks to coastal style high ceilings and timber beams,' says Merlin. 'Add a large communal table or kitchen island for sharing meals as well as evening games to maximize the potential for socializing and family gathering,' he adds. 

The use of light colors and open space can make even smaller rooms feel more expansive, while the incorporation of natural materials brings warmth to any environment. Maximize natural light by using large windows and sheer curtains to help enhance the bright and breezy atmosphere. 

plain english kitchens design director merlin wright
Merlin Wright

Plain English was started in 1992 by Katie Fontana and Tony Niblock, and Merlin Wright joined their team almost 20 years ago after someone at a party suggested he might be interested in a job at Plain English. He is currently presiding as the Design Director.

2. A neutral, sandy color palette

coastal farmhouse neutral kitchen with natural woven details

(Image credit: Mindy Laven / Photography Ryan Garvin)

Coastal farmhouse decor often features a light and airy color palette. White, sandy neutrals and wood tones are commonly used to evoke a sense of the beach and open spaces.

'The hallmark of coastal farmhouse decor lies in its use of a soft color palette inspired by the sea and countryside,' explains interior designer Jennifer Davis. 'Whitewashed or weathered wood is a common element, bringing in the rustic farmhouse feel, while blues, greens, and sandy neutrals evoke the coastal ambiance,' she adds.

'Neutral color choices like Beige 01 from Lick pair perfectly with natural materials to create the perfect coastal farmhouse atmosphere in the home, whilst allowing for pops of color to be added through fresh flowers or soft furnishings such as cushions or throws,' says Lick's Matilda Martin. 'Add linen curtains for the effect of a coastal farm breeze when having your windows open during the warmer months,' she suggests.

'For us, coastal farmhouse is a mix of a calm color palette combined with texture and natural materials,' explains Tom Rutt, founder of TR Studios. 'Think whitewashed timbers, clay or soft plastered walls and natural timber accents,' he adds.

Jennifer Davis
Jennifer Davis

Jennifer fell in love with design at a young age and has been working in the industry for over 25 years. She has developed an eye for detail and a talent for creating timeless designs. Jennifer offers a balance of creativity and forward-thinking with a structured, organized, and detailed mentality. Jennifer is driven by her deep passion for design while curating an exceptional client journey, ensuring pure delight from the very beginning to the end.

3. Splashes of blue

coastal farmhouse blue and neutral bedroom

(Image credit: Mindy Laven / Photography Ryan Garvin)

In the same way florals are synonymous with cottage decor, decorating with blue is a classic color for coastal style. The best way to not slip into clichés? Adding touches in moderation and keeping the palette calming and muted. 

Southern Californian-based interior designer Mindy Laven, who designed the tranquil bedroom above, finds herself naturally gravitating towards coastal farmhouse style. 'We tend to mix traditional farmhouse elements like shiplap with coastal colors like watery blues,' says Mindy. 'I love to use white oak and unlacquered brass with a hint of black to blend a seaside style with a nod to traditional farmhouse style,' she adds.

‘Blue is a perfect choice for a coastal ambience and encompasses a wide spectrum of tones,' says Ruth Mottershead, creative director at Little Greene. 'When I think of holidays by the sea and days out at the coast, the myriad of blues seen in nature, from sky to sea, illustrate how  wonderfully blues work layered together. Try the calming Celestial Blue from Little Greene with warm stone and sandy tones for an uplifting interior,' Ruth suggests.

Ruth Mottershead
Ruth Mottershead

Ruth Mottershead is the creative director of the family-run paint and wallpaper businesses Little Greene and Paint & Paper Library, which specialize in creating luxurious paint and wallpaper that represent 300 years of decorative history.

4. The use of natural materials

coastal farmhouse style dining room with rustic elements and natural rug

(Image credit: Ryann Swan)

Incorporating woven and natural elements like a mix of wood, rattan, jute, and other linen fabrics adds depth and interest to any room, while also reflecting the casual and relaxed vibe of coastal living. It's about layering and decorating with textures to evoke a sense of comfort.

'The coastal farmhouse is all about clean lines, warm neutral colors, and plenty of organic inspired natural materials,' says renowned interior designer Kathy Kuo. 'Think reclaimed wood, rattan, jute, and linen, along with mixed metals and beachy materials like capiz shell and seagrass. 

'This is a design style that exudes laidback luxury and draws heavily from the beauty of the natural worlds – from rolling meadows to rolling coastline!' says Kathy.

Weathered and distressed wood finishes are frequently used to tell a story and give furniture and decor items a rustic farmhouse feel. Consider exposing timber ceiling beams or investing in vintage and repurposed furniture to enhance the lived-in charm of the space.

kathy kuo home
Kathy Kuo

Kathy Kuo is a celebrated interior designer and international guru within the home and lifestyle space. She has 20+ years of experience in the design industry. 

5. A subtle nod to the nautical

coastal farmhouse living room space with nautical decor

(Image credit: Logan Killen Interiors / Photography Jacqueline Marque)

To emphasize the coastal theme, add subtle nautical decor such as ropes, anchors, shells, and driftwood to create a connection to the sea. In this cozy yet vast coastal living room above, designed by Logan Killen Interiors, rattan seating and woven fabrics are paired with a rope floor lamp to nod to the seaside.

'Coastal farmhouse decor is a combination of charm and a cool breeze that creates airy atmospheres throughout the house,' says designer Artem Kropovinsky. 'To give character without overpowering, accessories such as nautical accents and rustic decorations are important to give a sense of the coast.'

'The furniture in this decor style often reflects a mix of decorating with vintage and distressed pieces, contributing to the overall relaxed and lived-in look,' explains Jennifer Davis. 'In a coastal farmhouse setting, you'll find touches of woven materials in lighting fixtures and seaside-esque accessories. These elements all contribute to a relaxed and beach-inspired theme.'

Artem Kropovinsky
Artem Kropovinsky

Artem Kropovinsky is an interior design expert and the founder of Arsight, a global award-winning design firm with over a decade of experience in residential and commercial interior design. With a cohesive team of professionals, Arsight specializes in tackling complex projects, including new constructions, complete residential renovations, restaurants, and retail stores. Their designs embrace authenticity and originality, utilizing natural materials and handcrafted elements for a unique and cohesive aesthetic.

Remember, the beauty of coastal farmhouse decor lies in its ability to create a comfortable and welcoming space that blends the best of both coastal and farmhouse styles. When combined well, the two aesthetics bring a simple harmony to your home. Feel free to mix and match elements to suit your personal taste and create a unique, cozy environment in your home.

Charlotte Olby
Style & Trends Editor

Charlotte is style and trends editor at Homes and Gardens, and has been with the team since Christmas 2023. Following a 5 year career in Fashion, she has worked at many women's glossy magazines including Grazia, Stylist, and Hello and most recently worked as Interiors Editor for British heritage department store Liberty. Her role at H&G fuses her love of style with her passion for interior design, and she is currently undergoing her second home renovation in Surrey - you can follow her journey over on @olbyhome