In recent years, modern farmhouse was all the rage.  Prior to that, beach homes were hot, hot, hot.  Today those two design styles have merged to become Coastal Farmhouse and what an amazingly beautiful style it is.

Two story living room styled with coastal farmhouse decor

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Today is the second edition of the Designing Women Tell All and our topic is everything to do with the living room, family room or great room – whatever your preferred title is, we have it covered.  My three interior designer friends will also be sharing all their tips, expertise and experience designing, styling and renovating living rooms!

**Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Should you decide to purchase any of the items, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

What is coastal farmhouse style?

Coastal farmhouse style is a beautiful blend of a neutral color palette, with natural wood tones, clean lines, and simple patterns to create a light and airy feeling in your home.  This may sound like simply farmhouse but add in some soft shades of blue, ocean type elements such as sea glass and natural stones, along with wicker baskets, lots of books, fresh flowers, and slipcovered furniture and now you have taken farmhouse to an elevated coastal farmhouse style.  

Stacks of books with heart basket, wood vase and heart stone on a beaded loop

This is not anywhere close to the former beach house style, so do not incorporate the typical beach decor into this style. I will have a list of what not to use later in this post. 

Some refer to this as “Coastal Grandmother” which was inspired by one of my favorite movies “Something’s gotta give” with Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson.  I have to admit the home in that movie is my all time favorite home.  All the years leading up to building our own house, I dreamt of that home, hoping to one day recreate it.  If you haven’t already, please click here for the story behind our home design all while taking a tour of our home.

Beach house from Something's Gotta Give

How can you achieve the coastal farmhouse look?

Light & Airy

Start with crisp whites or creamy white walls.  Add light colored hardwood floors with a natural fiber rug such as a wool or sisal rug to form the basis for this style.  

If you are designing a new home or are carrying out a large renovation, large windows or lots of windows are necessary as the style requires an abundance of natural light.  Around those windows, flank them with sheer, light colored curtains made of cotton or linen that are easily caught and moved by the gentlest of breezes.

Two story windows in beach house looking out to pool and lake

Light fixtures should be of a large size, but subdued.  No glitzy, flashy chandeliers, but rather a beautiful aged chandelier in soft creamy neutral tones or a natural fiber chandelier made of wicker.  A dimmer switch on this light would is also a must have when it comes to coastal farmhouse because this style is all about creating a relaxing setting.  

Lighting above the bookcases or recessed into the shelves can also create a feeling of wealth.

Bookcase filled with coastal farmhouse decor
Bookcase filled with coastal farmhouse decor

Let’s read

Speaking of bookshelves, walls of book cases are also symbolic of this style and don’t forget lots and lots of books!  Don’t just keep the books on bookshelves, they can be on coffee tables and side tables, in baskets, under decor, etc.

Make it natural

Then add a couple of baskets made with natural fibers, a plant or two, a few vintage pieces and you will achieve a timeless, serene feel.

When it comes to furniture, stick with light woods and light colored, textured fabrics.  If you don’t have this type of furniture, you are in luck because slipcovered furniture is an ideal and easy way to update your furniture and perfect for this style.  

Remember to add neutral colored pillows and a beautiful blanket such as one made from cashmere.  If this seems like it may get boring, don’t worry.  An easy fix is to use a variety of textured fabrics and vintage furniture.  If you don’t have any vintage furniture and don’t want to make an investment in it, be sure to check out flea markets or your local thrift store. 

Rattan basket with textured blue blanket and rattan candleholder and wood heart

Black and white photos of your vacations or memorable events are also a great way to add interest.

Less is more

When it comes to the coffee table, keep it simple.  A nice vase of fresh flowers, a stack of books and a lightly scented candle are all that is required.  

Ottoman with rattan tray with starfish and stack of books

The point of this design style is to replicate the ease of carefree coastal living.  Don’t make it complicated with too much coastal decor or cheesy beach decor.  

The good news here is less is more.  The end result should be an elevated Hampton look. 

What paint colors should you use to achieve a coastal farmhouse look?

A full spectrum of whites from pure white to creamy white, grays, beiges, soft blues or a very light aqua type green.  The key is to use muted colors of the sea, sand and sky. Here are some Benjamin Moore colors I would suggest:

Simply White OC-17

Mountain Peak White OC-121

Swiss Coffee OC-45

Ashwood OC-47

Silver Gray 2131-60

Taos Taupe 2111-40

Ocean Air 2123-50

I just read a whole post on the best coastal paint colors by Morgan at Paint Color Project and it was fantastic. Click here to read her post.

My favorite shops for coastal farmhouse decor

If I had lots of money, I would be replacing most of my furniture with pieces that I think are perfectly coastal farmhouse, like this beautiful living room furniture from Pottery Barn. It checks all the boxes – large lighting made with natural fibers, natural wood coffee table, black and white vacation photos, furniture that is all the shades of sand from light creamy colors, to greys and browns all on top of a muted area rug.

Pottery Barn coastal furniture

They succeeded in providing a setting that would instantly relax you when you got home. For information on each of the products, just click on the items below and you will be taken to the product.

Chairs on the left

Slip-covered sofa

Large round mirror

Striped pillow on left

Chambray pillow (blue coral)

Wood coffee table

Ceramics on coffee table

Brown leather swivel chairs on the right

Large pendant lights

Looking for an interesting coastal style end table, this one from Pottery Barn is fantastic. Click here for a link to the product.

Pottery Barn side table

Another favorite brand that I love is Serena & Lily. Their furniture is exquisite and timeless. Check out how they put together a serene coastal living room that could be in any Hampton home. Note the light curtains, white walls, large windows, slipcovered style furniture, vintage style ottoman/coffee table, hints of blue, lots of books and fresh flowers. Well done!!!

Serena and Lily white sofa with blue pillows, beige ottoman/coffee table and brown chair

Slipcovered sofa


Striped pillow

Floral pillow

White rectangle pillow

Now how about this gorgeous room. I love how they have paired a beautiful traditional sofa, with curved swivel chairs and a rattan chandelier. It is refined and elegant yet still comfortable.

Serena & Lily blue sofa, neutral colored coffee table, white chairs and rattan chandelier

Here are links to the products in this photo:

Blue sofa

Coffee table

Beaded chandelier

Swivel chairs

Side table

What not to use

Just in case you were wondering, there are things to definitely stay away from and they are:

  • vibrant beachy paintings,
  • nautical motifs on everything,
  • word signs about beach life,
  • anchors,
  • wood seagulls,
  • sea life in the way of figurines (fish, coral, treasure chest)
  • shell encrusted mirrors, etc.

Think elevated decor, not the type of decor you find while on vacation at a tourist store.

Let’s sum it up

The goal of coastal farmhouse style is to make you feel relaxed and serene. It:

  • is a traditional look with natural elements added in.
  • gives the idea of a well traveled and well read life.
  • tells the visitor that you enjoy the finer things in life like fresh flowers, luxurious materials like cashmere but you are not above keeping a bowl filled with special rocks from every beach or adventure you have been on. It should tell a story of who you are!

It should tell a story of who you are!

I hope you enjoyed this post! Thank you very much for being here. Now…

It is time to check out what the rest of the Designing Women are up to!

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Kristy from At Home with Kristy is from Texas is a homebody at heart and very passionate about creating a warm & welcoming home environment for family and friends. Kristy has a BS Interior Design and has worked as an Interior Designer for 35 years specializing in Residential Interior Design. She is a planner, perfectionist, & big picture thinker, but also loves getting lost in the weeds perfecting every detail. Kristy loves sharing her knowledge and expertise to inspire, encourage and empower others.  This month Kristy is sharing her design elements of a modern French country living room.

Living room by Kristy showing white sofas, gray armchairs, fireplace and bookshelves

Sheri from Savvy in the Suburbs is also from Texas owned and operated a successful interior design business for most of her adult life.  Now she is enjoying fluffing her own nest, spending time with her family – three married children and five grandchildren, and growing in her relationship with the Lord. As she joyfully enters the last season of her life, she relishs family time and believes in the old adage: God first, family second, all else third. She is enjoying the opportunity to share this truth as well as her years of design expertise and love of all things home.  This month Sheri is sharing all her tips of how to create a French country farmhouse family room.

French farmhouse living room with beige sofas and chairs, coffee table and patterned curtains

Lynn from Living Large in a Small House lives in north central US. Lynn has a BA Interior Design and was the owner of a full-service interior design studio for over 10 years. Specializing in high-end residential new build and renovation interior design, working as a team member with architects and contractors. Since 2000 she has consulted exclusively for friends and family.  This month Lynn is sharing all her tips on how to decorate with vintage decor.

White mantel with candlesticks, stack of old books, vase of roses and a painting above

What do you think?

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  • Kristy Mastrandonas
    May 9, 2023

    I absolutely love your beautiful home and its breathtaking views, Crystal! I simply adore how you’ve decorated your home with a Coastal Farmhouse vibe; it’s so warm and welcoming! And all of your decorating and styling advice on how to achieve this look is spot on! By the way, “Something’s Gotta Give” is one of my all-time favorite movies too! I could watch this movie over and over!

    • Crystal
      May 9, 2023

      Thank you very much Kristy! I am so happy to hear it is one your all-time favorite movies – it is mine too! One day we should watch it together and drool over the house lol!!!

  • Sheri
    May 10, 2023

    Wow Crystal! Great tips and advice for this beautiful look. Very thorough info. LOVE those huge windows and that amazing view.

    • Crystal
      May 15, 2023

      Awww thanks so much Sheri!

  • Susan
    May 11, 2023

    Great post Crystal. Very informative. I always love to read your posts.

    • Crystal
      May 15, 2023

      Thanks Susan! You are so very kind!