Coastal kitchen ideas – 12 ways to embrace seaside style

These coastal kitchen ideas will help you bring the serenity of the seaside into your home

three coastal kitchen ideas
(Image credit: Future)

What's not to love about coastal kitchen ideas? From their dreamy blue and cream color palette to the use of weathered, natural materials, coastal decor is a favorite in homes up and down the country. 

So whether you're honoring your geographical location, or simply want to bring a bit of seaside serenity to your landlocked abode, these coastal kitchen ideas are sure to help you incorporate some coastal decor into the busiest room of the home.

Coastal kitchen ideas

As with any room of the house, the look and feel of our kitchens should be defined by our passions and the things we love – whether that's an enthusiasm for bold colors; a soft spot for vintage chic, or, in this case, an exuberance for all things coastal.

'Coastal style relies on a soft, light color scheme prioritizing blue, white, and light brown. It also incorporates natural elements – you might consider some light jewel tones reminiscent of sea glass or shells, with natural driftwood accents. You can evoke more traditional nautical or coastal themes through the subtle use of patterns like horizontal stripes or shiplap,' says Grace Baena, interior designer at Kaiyo.

Once you've decided on your favorite coastal kitchen ideas, take inspiration from the best kitchen designers about how to decorate a coastal home.

1. Choose a coastal color-scheme

Blue painted kitchen floor

(Image credit: benjamin Moore)

Coastal kitchen ideas are defined by their color schemes. There are two different approaches to this. The first look draws on laid-back Boho kitchen ideas where soft blue will be met with multi-toned driftwood and sandy creams. The second favors bright white kitchen ideas paired with sky blues – possibly with red accents –  making for a more energized and lively scheme.

To decide between the two, firstly see which style you naturally gravitate towards, one will speak to you more than the other – this is the one you should choose as you can't go wrong with something you love. If you are still unsure, then look at the other rooms of the house – it is likely that one style will suit your existing decor far better than the other.

2. Dress wall with paneling

coastal inspired dining room

(Image credit: Neptune)

For an instant hit of coastal charm, wall paneling is a must. ‘Tongue-and-groove paneling is a mainstay of coastal design and it sits very well with Shaker-style cabinetry.  A rougher, more textural shiplap paneling can help create a rustic feel and contrasts with the eggshell finish of the cabinetry. Shiplap wall ideas can be painted in any color, but it is important to dilute the paint so that the texture of the timber shows through. Paneling is also very effective on ceilings,’ says Simon Temprell, interior design manager at Neptune.

3. Avoid nautical decor

White kitchen with blue range cooker, shabby chic stool and coastal decor on shelves

(Image credit: Future)

'Coastal design is not nautical design, so leave the seashell and anchor decor at the beach. Coastal design is more focused on a light color palette with soft blues, navy, and sea glass tones,' explains Rebekah Correll, founder and designer at Transparent Interiors. 'To make your kitchen more coastal, think light, bright, airy, and casual. Bring the beach to you with some seaside-inspired artwork. Think about how you can incorporate pieces that will be functional, but also light and airy.'

For more kitchen decor ideas, draw on the color palettes and accents seen in coastal living room ideas to give your kitchen a lifestyle edge. 

4. Create a beachy-feel with light wood flooring

tonal white kitchen with warm wood flooring

(Image credit: Georgia Zikas Designs/Jane Beiles)

The appearance of kitchen flooring is often overlooked with the focus being on its durability and stain resistance, however, it has a huge influence on the look and feel of the space. 

A staple of beach house decor, blonde woods are a natural choice for coastal kitchen ideas, evoking the soft shades of sand underfoot. 'Light to mid-toned flooring provides a neutral canvas around which the rest of the design can be built,' explains Alex Behrens, co-founder of Amria. 'You can then build up the color by opting for countertops with some blue or green accents and layers of textiles and woven elements to provide a cozier feel.'

If you're considering whether wood flooring is suitable for kitchens, then there are some practical elements that you also need to consider. Engineered wood or reclaimed wood is typically better suited to the moisture and heat in this high-traffic environment than solid woods. Alternatively, wood-look tiles are a great low-maintenance solution that will achieve a similar aesthetic. 

5. Emphasise natural light

white country kitchen with white window drapes

(Image credit: Future)

When you think of the seaside, your first thoughts are of the summer, with the sun beating down and everything full of life. This is the feeling that you want to emulate in your coastal kitchen ideas – it is nearly impossible to create a coastal-style kitchen in a dark space. Start with increasing natural light – incorporate as many windows as possible, and consider adding skylights, roof lights, or patio doors. Minimizing window dressings and opting for lightweight fabrics will also let in plenty of natural light.

Complement this with artificial kitchen lighting ideas, such as pendants with rattan shades or bulkhead wall lights which will always create a coastal vibe. 

6. Coastal artwork 

Neutral home decor ideas

(Image credit: Rikki Snyder)

While beautiful art ideas are an essential component of living room styling, hallway ideas, and bedroom ideas, it is often overlooked when it comes to the kitchen. However, when seeking a coastal theme, how better to achieve it than with kitchen art featuring glorious ocean scenery? 

Whether you opt for a lifelike painting, artistic photography, or something more abstract, decorating with art can provide the touchstone for your whole scheme. In this kitchen designed by Becca Interiors, the colors of the paintings on the walls have been drawn on in the furniture and fabrics in this cute dining corner to create a cohesive, coastal space. 

7. Dress windows with shutters

Grey kitchen cabinets and white tiled backsplash and shutters

(Image credit: California Shutters)

There are many different approaches to kitchen window ideas and your style of window treatment will predominately depend on the window's size and where it is situated. For windows away from the main preparation areas fabric blinds or even curtains in watery hues can provide a soft backdrop to the scheme. 

However, for windows that are closer to the cooking areas – such as behind the sink – then consider low-maintenance shutters.

'As well as looking great, shutters are also very practical as unlike fabric blinds and curtains, they are easy to maintain and keep clean – importantly, they do not trap cooking smells in the kitchen, either. For smaller windows or those facing a road or public space, consider café style shutters which offer a mixture of privacy and light control in your kitchen and dining space,' says Chrissie Harper, operations manager at California Shutters.

8. Draw inspiration from the sea itself

kitchen with white cabinetry, light wood flooring and navy blue iliv stove

(Image credit: MBC Interior Design)

'Coastal kitchen ideas are all about evoking a feeling of being near the water. Color palettes are lighter and fresher and finishes are kept fairly simple. The approach we often take is to start with a clean, classic backdrop and then add in those standout details that give each design its own unique spin on the seaside concept,' explains Mary Beth Christopher, founder of MBC Interior Design.

'For this Cape Cod-inspired kitchen, the midnight blue and brass Ilve range is no doubt the star of the show and gives this traditional kitchen a classic, nautical sensibility. A bold blue color on the island and the contrasting leather counter stools really pop against the crisp white cabinetry, giving this California farmhouse a contemporary, coastal feel.'

9. Embrace a laid-back atmosphere

banquette seating area in kitchen with marble table and green velvet bench

(Image credit: Karyn Millet for Andrea May)

Coastal kitchen ideas are as much about feeling as they are about aesthetics. Coastal decor isn't just a color scheme or accessories, it's about embracing the laid-back and relaxing atmosphere of the beach. Traditionally the beach is somewhere you go to spend time with family and to have a good time together, so it is important to incorporate this ethos into your design by factoring in areas where you can sit and spend valuable time with those you love.

'When I design a coastal kitchen, I like to reference the water and outdoors with soothing colors like washed-down blues and greens.  When possible, I like to include ample counter seating as well as a cozy kitchen nook for family dinners, homework, or game night.  Whether the kitchen will be used by a family or an empty-nesting couple, I prefer user-friendly performance textiles. There are so many great textures, patterns, and colors available and, best of all, they can withstand anything from a glass of red wine to sticky little fingers,' says Andrea May, founder of Andrea May Interiors 

10. Accessorize with stripes

kitchen with green panelled wall and shelf displaying blue and white ceramicware

(Image credit: Mark Bolton)

Nothing says coastal kitchen ideas quite like a stripe. When decorating with stripes, it is essential to exercise control, or your space will quickly become overwhelmed. Take inspiration from the bold blue and white stripes of traditional Cornishware and opt for ceramicware with a characteristically coastal flair. 

When not in use, incorporate your coastal tableware into your decor by displaying it on open shelving or a dresser to add decorative detailing to the space.

11. Decorate with organic materials

Kitchen with grey stone tiles, large wooden dining table and white fitted cabinets with wooden worktops

(Image credit: Polly Eltes)

When looking for inspiration for your coastal kitchen ideas, take a stroll along the seafront and you'll inadvertently be surrounded by potential decor. From driftwood washed up on the beach and the glinting pastel tones of sea glass to the woven lobster baskets – they all have the potential to be incorporated into your scheme. 

We love rattan pendant light shades for a coastal kitchen, paired with displays of glass and ceramic vases and wicker baskets.

12. Incorporate weathered wood

Kitchen table with an embroidered tablecloth and a dresser in the background displaying china dishes and jugs

(Image credit: Future)

Not all coastal kitchen ideas channel the clean-lines look, some homeowners prefer to draw influence from rustic kitchen ideas favoring weathered woods and worn antiques to bring warmth and character to their space. We love this built-in dresser which has been constructed from reclaimed wood and displays a collection of rustic pottery in blue, white, and earthy tones.  The blue tiled floor gives the whole space a watery base, too.

What is coastal kitchen style?

'Creating a coastal-inspired kitchen is all about the color palette. Try choosing a neutral, light, and airy base then add cool accent colors like blues and greens. Light wood tones and natural elements will also add to that seaside vibe! Make sure to include accessories made from organic elements, like a ceramic vase, straw mirror, or seagrass basket,' says Jennifer Verruto, founder and CEO of Blythe Interiors.

How do I make my kitchen look beachy?

You can make your kitchen look beachy by incorporating coastal kitchen ideas into the space. One of our favorite ways to make your kitchen look beachy is to embrace a white and light blue color palette accessorized with lots of rattan and organic decor.

Holly Reaney
Content Editor and Sub-editor

Having graduated with a first class degree in English Literature, Holly started her career as a features writer and sub-editor at Period Living magazine, Homes & Gardens' sister title. Working on Period Living brought with it insight into the complexities of owning and caring for period homes, from interior decorating through to choosing the right windows and the challenges of extending. This has led to a passion for traditional interiors, particularly the country-look. Writing for the Homes & Gardens website as a content editor, alongside regular features for Period Living and Country Homes & Interiors magazines, has enabled her to broaden her writing to incorporate her interests in gardening, wildlife and nature.