Coastal decor is a perennially popular interior design style, and for good reason. The soothing blue and green hues, weathered woods, and natural textures evoke feelings of tranquility and relaxation. Going for a gray coastal living room is especially lovely, as the cool, neutral gray palette creates an airy, beachy feel. Whether you live on the coast or far from it, you can give your living room a breezy makeover with gray walls, coastal accents, plenty of sunlight, and the right mix of textures and materials.
In this blog, we’ll walk through how to get the light and airy coastal look by using cool gray tones, natural elements, and strategically placed windows and lighting. Read on for plenty of tips and inspiration to transform your living space into a relaxing seaside oasis.
Choose Cool Tones for Your Gray Walls and Trim
The foundation for any coastal-inspired space is light, airy gray walls. Cool-toned grays work especially well to evoke misty ocean hues. Consider a very soft gray like Benjamin Moore’s Horizon or Sherwin-Williams’ Raindrops for a breezy, beachy vibe. For a moodier scheme, try Farrow & Ball’s Hague Blue or Benjamin Moore’s Gray Cashmere in a dark charcoal tone.
Painting the ceiling and trim crisp white will create contrast against the gray while keeping things light and bright. White wainscoting can also lend a cottage feel. Be sure to choose white paint with cool undertones so it doesn’t clash with the tranquil grays.
Shades of Gray for Coastal Interiors
|Benjamin Moore Horizon, Sherwin-Williams Raindrops
|Benjamin Moore Gray Owl, Sherwin-Williams Mindful Gray
|Farrow & Ball Hague Blue, Benjamin Moore Gray Cashmere
Incorporate Natural Textures and Fabrics
Coastal decor relies on natural textures and fabrics to create a relaxed, organic feel. Incorporate jute, cotton, linen, seagrass and wood furnishings to add warmth and a sense of the sea. Woven rugs provide dimension underfoot, while cable knit and chunky knit throws lend cozy layers.
For gray coastal living rooms specifically, natural fiber rugs and throws in creamy neutrals and light blues will complement the cool grays nicely. Adding baskets made of seagrass or rattan is an easy way to work in beachy texture too. Choose furnishings and accessories made from natural unfinished wood as well for a casual, weathered look.
Coastal Textures to Include
- Jute rugs
- Cable knit throws
- Woven baskets
- Rattan furniture
- Linen or cotton slipcovers
- Seagrass poufs
Display Weathered Natural Wood Pieces
Wood furnishings and accents lend a coastal living room warmth and a sense of nature’s organic shapes. Look for pieces made from driftwood, whitewashed wood, or reclaimed barn wood to complement the beachy grays.
Salvaged wood coffee tables, side tables, shelves and media consoles work beautifully for coastal gray interiors. Mix in some darker woods like mahogany for contrast. Add authentic beachy flair with genuine driftwood pieces if you live near the ocean. Aged, weathered woods in organic shapes create visual interest and texture.
Coastal Wood Accents
- Driftwood table centerpieces
- Reclaimed wood media console
- Whitewashed wood shelving
- Salvaged barn wood coffee table
Include Coastal Themed Artwork and Accessories
From beach landscape photography to prints of seashells, coastal-themed artwork is a must for gray coastal living rooms. Hang large canvas prints of crashing waves or seascapes to really set the scene. For shelves and tabletops, accessorize with shells, starfish, anchors, model sailboats, glass floats, and candles inside whitewashed glass hurricane lanterns.
Ceramic pieces in white, aqua, and pale beach glass colors also make charming additions. Add visual interest by grouping items of varying heights and textures together. Just be sure to keep things looking airy and serene rather than overly cluttered.
- Starfish decor
- Glass float bowls
- Ceramic beach cottages
- Vintage model sailboats
- Sea shell frames
Use Furnishings with Casual Coastal Style
The furniture and seating you choose for a coastal living room should exude a relaxed, weathered vibe. Look for slipcovered sofas and armchairs in linen or cotton fabrics for an unfussy feel. Incorporate wood furnishings like coffee and side tables made from reclaimed driftwood. Distressed hardwood flooring also complements the coastal aesthetic.
Woven abaca, wicker or rattan chairs lend natural texture and French-inspired flair. Avoid anything with polished metal or plastic – the jute sitting on top of that teak frame is much more beachy. Create a casual seating area with a deep cushion sofa paired with slipper chairs or ottomans.
Coastal Furniture Finds
- Jute slipcovered sofa
- Reclaimed wood coffee table
- Woven abaca armchair
- Rattan side table
Embrace Lots of Natural Light and Greenery
Abundant natural light is key for gray coastal living rooms to feel truly airy and sun-washed. Position furniture to face large picture windows, French doors or skylights. For window treatments, skip the opaque drapes and go for breezy linen sheers or plantation shutters. The light filtering through will keep the space feeling bright and open.
Houseplants are another great way to inject life and vibrancy into gray coastal spaces. Lush potted palms, snake plants, philodendrons, pothos and ferns add organic texture and a boost offresh air. Place them in natural woven baskets to complement the coastal elements.
Best Plants for Coastal Living Rooms
- Snake plant
- Potted palms
- Boston fern
Add Pops of Color with Pillows and Throws
While cool grays and whites might dominate a coastal living room, adding pops of color through pillows, throws and accessories will keep things from feeling washed out. Look for toss pillows in shades of sea glass, aqua and soft mellow yellows. Inviting textured throws in creamy ivory or light blue layered over chairs provide cozy warmth.
A handwoven wool dhurrie rug in pale blue and green hues can also anchor the space. For additional splashes of color, select a coral painting or driftwood sculpture for the coffee table. Just be sure the colors feel tranquil rather than neon bright.
Coastal Color Pops
- Sea glass green pillows
- Sunny yellow ceramic vase
- Ivory cable knit throw
- Coral glass table lamp
Create Design Contrast with Rustic and Modern
The relaxed coastal look can work beautifully with other styles when done right. Mixing modern and rustic elements prevents a space from feeling flat. Try pairing a reclaimed wood dining table with sleek leather or acrylic chairs. Or use a woven jute pouf as alternative seating next to a streamlined sofa.
Black metal lanterns feel modern yet beachy next to a weathered gray wood side table. Contrast makes a room more visually stimulating. Just stick with lighter toned woods and metallics to retain the peaceful ambiance. The key is finding pieces with coastal charm that also have a contemporary edge.
|Salvaged wood table
|Glass pendant light
|Reclaimed wood shelves
Transforming your living room into a soothing, coastal oasis is totally possible by applying the right light gray palette, natural materials, and breezy decorative touches. Use our tips to give your space a relaxed yet refined ambiance reminiscent of lighthouses, salty air and calmer climes. The mix of grays, texture and strategic lighting will help you create a gray coastal living room that feels open, airy and serene.
The gray living room makeover will take you to the beach. Always keep seaside serenity in mind as you evaluate furniture, fabrics, and accents. Before you know it, you’ll feel like you’re relaxing in your very own beach cottage – no ocean required.