Beach Cottage ~ 7 Tips for Easy Coastal Decor Style – for your Table

Wed 23rd, Nov, 2011

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G’day ladies!  Welcome to Beach Cottage Good Life Wednesdays & 7 Tips for Easy Coastal Decor Style – for your Table.

Before we go there though, THANK YOU for yesterday…I am so glad I posted about that door…gotta say I love black doors, I think they are chic, classic and simple and ground everything…but really…what was I thinking?…this door is gonna be blue…at least first of all…I have been looking here for blues - as you know I love Dulux paint, it’s good quality and suits my budget…but Porters have some fantastic blues in their range too, as do Farrow and Ball.


Ok so back to tables & pretty things…. according to my inbox and all over the blogosphere, we are getting ready for some serious celebrations…Thanksgiving and Christmas and so what better way to get some table dressing going on….errrm I don’t need much excuse in this department…( ..and get ready for the first Beach Cottage Pretty Christmas Party, kicking off with some fantastic giveaways and a linky party for all us girls who love things white, pretty, with lots of bokeh and a few coastal Christmas decor things thrown in for good measure…get your cameras ready, all can join in, it’s about making our homes pretty, near the beach or not! …more info and a date soon)

But before we get all twinkled up here’s my simple, Thanksgiving Coastal Decor Style table…

I don’t know why, it must be because of the blog-surfing over the years to Thanksgiving posts and because of the Old Country and Harvest Festival…but this theme means apples to me…so a little apple tablescaping and being thankful for my life is what Good Life Wednesdays is about for me this week…the biggest thing I am thankful for right now is my kiddos, gosh it’s harder work now they are not babies than it ever was when they were toddling around (I know people tell you that and you think, yeah right!) but all in all…those three little cherubs rock my socks…Mr Beach Cottage and I, since that day Honeymoon Baby arrived have always believed in the old saying ‘you reap what you sow’…and it’s worked…it’s not perfect ’round here and sometimes there are broomstick moments as you know, but all in all, it’s pretty good, so that’s what I am thankful for…among a million other things…




I recently got this email from Julie so I thought I would answer it on here, because it’s one I get in various guises a whole lot…

Dear Sarah

I recently found your blog after I moved into a house that was the most awful house we could afford in the best area we could afford.  We have worked hard on it ourselves and it is looking ok.  Now though with Christmas coming up I would like to celebrate and have it looking more pretty with some coastal decor, but I feel that money and budget (having none of it!) works against me and I end up feeling so disheartened, since finding your blog and others like it though I have decided to start small and simple, do you have any tips for creating simple coastal decor ideas for the upcoming Holidays and entertaining that won’t cost much even though I live about 300km from the sea? I love the coastal decor look and one day I hope we will retire to the coast.  Thanks so much, I love your blog and ideas   Julie






Well, to be honest, for me, tablescaping and dressing a table really is about doing it on a budget anyway, and I love coastal decor as you know, so I think I can help with this.   I don’t think that going out to shop and buying a million and one things for a totally matchy, matchy table with all the right labels (I mean hello who has a label on their plate anyway?  oh yes, ooops, sorry a lot of people) is what it is about anyway.

For me, spending time dressing up a table, is a hobby (yes my life really is that exciting ladies)…I collect bits and pieces for it constantly…that’s part of the hobby and the attraction for me…on Saturday I went to the secondhand markets around here…had a thoroughly lovely time and collected a striped blue bowl from the Old Country for  a hefty $2…less than a cup of coffee in Sydney and very much going into my tablescaping / coastal decor hoard.



Making the table nice, spending time prettying-up is worth it for me…and even when life is nipping at your ankles, the house is a tip and everything is getting on top of you, sometimes clearing, and prettying up a table can make all the difference to keeping off that broomstick….but it so doesn’t take money…you can do it with nothing…and you can get a chic coastal decor look on a budget…and you don’t have to spend a fortune in those beachy, coastal boutiques….you just have to make the effort…and do it…you will be surprised if you do….




So a few easy coastal decor tips of things to look out for that won’t cost you much at all

1.  Napkins….gather them about your person as if it were the last thing you will ever do…I really only use linen napkins and since I started collecting vintage napkins we use them for every meal, tablescaping, company or not…I look out for napkins all the time and the best place for these at a fabbo price is at Goodwill / charity / op-shops ….the funny thing about linen napkins is that there is some unspoken rule that we don’t use them…that they get given as wedding presents and then stuffed in the ‘good’ drawer and never used…hence you will often find them in charity shops, in mint condition, with free vintage styling and for pennies.  Here’s the secret…washing napkins after a meal in 2011 is a no brainer…yes you can just throw them in…yes, don’t shudder, with a regular wash, no you don’t have to iron them, yes just hang em out in the fresh air to dry and they will rock your world

…..paper napkins…hmmm, personally I don’t do ‘em but the perfect way to dress up your table with some colour and a theme for not much fuss and not much budget…and a great way to add some colour and a pattern for little outlay



2. Coastal decor…I steer away from themed ‘coastal’ decor…since we bought this old cottage, I wanted a vintage beach cottage look with coastal thrown in…so for the table I will go for the look I was envisioning and then pull in the coastal decor theme I love ..that is normally shells, glass, floats, rope, twine, driftwood, shell spheres,  etc….so keep an eye open for shells and coastal accessories, but don’t go overboard…..It doesn’t matter if you don’t live near the sea, you can often find bags of shells in dollar shops and many stores have a coastal decor range (it’s often quite expensive so choose key pieces ) find a lovely way to decorate a coffee table with coastal decor using shells here

…the other coastal decor / nautical cottage trick? add a stripe!  …the quickest, easiest and cheapest way to drop coastal on your table is to add a stripe…a runner goes down beautifully for a little bit of nautical cottage chic, a stripe napkin can be even better…and if you see stripe tableware out and about on your travels, pick the most versatile piece (I like bowls) that will work for you and your lot and work that into other neutral china or your vintage pieces…


3. Vases & Centrepieces…start getting creative!  shop for big chunky vases (you’ll often find vases on offer at sale time) and look out for things you wouldn’t normally associate with a vase…we’re talking big old vintage mason pickling jars, baskets, zinc buckets and pitchers…(these are nearly always available out on the thrifting coastal decor hunt)

…start looking for unusual bottles and jars for the bunching and clumping of flowers…I like to use old jam / mason jars, these are simply saved and washed out…leave them plain like here or tie with something pretty and bunch in a number on a table with a simple colour scheme for big impact…

look at bottle shapes and sizes in your regular supermarket shop (the bottle I used here, was a regular old Elderflower cordial bottle that I liked the shape and label on and got me a few emails as to where I got it)..once you start looking you will find some seriously lovely bottle shapes and sizes…just head to your local bottle shop and the supermarket and start scheming…



4. Tablecloths…start collecting now!  I have a tonne of these…rather too many in some people’s opinion…I stash them in vintage suitcases…mostly I love ones with tiny little details, some embroidery or simple edging and I LOVE linen tablecloths and am always on the lookout for those…my opinion on coastal decor in the tablecloth department is to keep it simple…the coastal look is clean, chic, uncluttered…so keep your base that way…I often just leave the whitewashed table with just a runner, or keep it to a white tablecloth…plus I love to layer up different shades of white and neutrals…if you keep the palette simple, the creative part is much easier
…open up that square tablecloth box in your head…I have used a quilt before, an old vintage curtain, old burlap coffee sacks, oilcloth…but the best thing if you are going for coastal decor on a budget and need to cover up your table is to shop for vintage sheets (op-shop, goodwill, chairty shops are stacked with these)…if you have the time it’s worth waiting ’til you find one of the old thick heavy linen or cotton ones, you can mostly pick these up for a few dollars…the quality is amazing and they look lovely on the table…
5. cutlery & serving ware…shop the department stores for this when it’s on offer, buy a plain and simple style and it will last forever…plus I love IKEA’s simple and budget-friendly cutlery…it’s well designed and comfy and fits in with our lifestyle…intersperse that with collected pieces on your vintage treasure hunting…I always always rummage around on the floor looking through the boxes of cutlery when op-shopping…it’s a virtual treasure trove of vintage delight down there…if you come across, thick, heavy, silver, don’t hesitate to pick it up and buy it…you can gather odd pieces until you have set…vintage silverware is often a dollar or so because there may only be one or two of it…
6. China & Glassesyou don’t need expensive matching china for a welcoming, beautifully dressed table…most of my plain white china is from IKEA but shop the dollar stores too for thrifty serving ware…with that throw in a few vintage pieces or layer up with an old fashioned mis-matched pattern
…best thing for thrifty vintage coastal decor glasses?  mason jars…or old jam jars…you can buy them new  in bulk packs and they work out much cheaper than regular glasses and they look lovely…vintage treasure hunt for old glass….just like cutlery, it’s amazing what you can find, I have found Dartington crystal for 50cents a glass and all sorts of other glass…which is great around here cos with those three cherubs doing the dishwasher it certainly cannot afford to be precious
7. Flowers & Colour for coastal decor….though I obviously like white and a neutral palette, dressed up tables like some pops of colour…I normally add this with flowers….I do treat myself to flowers on a regular basis, I love how they make this old cottage feel…but if you are on an extremely tight budget they can be too much of a luxury, even the regular ones from the supermarket…if this is so for you, use fruit and food for you colour or try adding the colour with the drink vessels (bottles / jugs of brightly coloured liquid look great stashed on the table)
…if you can only afford a cheap bunch of flowers…rather than putting the sad little ‘bouquet’ (you know the ones in the ghastly coloured cello?) strip it open and re-distribute the single stems into a grouping of vintage bottles, or buy a flower with some impact in one colour
…best things for flowers is to get your garden going…or start putting stuff in pots…the sky is the limit once you can raid your garden for free….I have used all sorts from this old Beach Cottage garden for my tablescaping habit….lavender, both dried and fresh, all manner of herbs, camelias, sprigs of greenery…and of course hydrangeas…(find a coastal decor tablescape with camelias for a pop of holiday colour here)
So I hope you get some serious coastal decor table dressing going on Beach Cottage lovelies!  I am planning my Christmas decorating…there’s a trip to IKEA involved, of course, and I have lots of driftwood decs to show you.. guess what I do have in the house…the French cafe chairs…they are a vintage treasure hunting haul…one of the best…for 50 bucks!
 Yowzas!See you tomorrow for a little bit of Christmas food crafting…no don’t shudder and shake, you can do it….Christmas Dump & Go Beach Cottage style, haha…Be off with you
beach decor



you can find more of my coastal decor ideas for your table here...and if you are after some nautical DIY from a real girl…go here….



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29 Responses to “Beach Cottage ~ 7 Tips for Easy Coastal Decor Style – for your Table”

  1. loulou says:

    Hi Sarah

    I love it all and I especially love “proper” napkins, though I’d take anything if I really needed to wipe my mouth :)
    But, I love gorgeous linen napkins and cloth ones. White, and ironed!

    Pretty photos – I need you to remind me where you did your how to on the “fizzy strawberries” in the glasses – I loved that look on a table too.

    Have a wonderful day,

    loulou, hereiamloulou blog


  2. Jen says:

    The table looks perfect–I love it! Thanks for the lovely ideas.

  3. So gorgeous. Love the idea of lots of crisp white for Christmas.

  4. Jen says:

    Ok, now you have me dreaming of summer again…… (shaking it off, Christmas! Onward!) :-) Looking forward to your next post. -PS, Please don’t forget the hydrangea tutorial – save it bit – but before North American spring, ok? Much anticipated.

  5. Alice says:

    Thanks, having christamas lunch this weekend so this was quite timely….It’s reminded me to start planning…Yikes!

  6. Hayley says:

    You make this look so simple. Very fresh and will suit any decor. Might give this a go. Thanks.

  7. I’m so with you on the flowers from the garden. I was appalled when I read about the chemicals used in commercial flower growing and it is so easy to grow a few bits and pieces for enjoyment in the smallest patch. And now you’ve got me obsessing about all things doors – thanks!

  8. Sharon says:

    It looks so relaxing and peaceful. I’d love to pull up a chair and sit for a spell.

    A lovely job as usual. Thanks for all the great ideas.

  9. Melinda says:

    Lovely photos Sarah, just heading outside to gather some fluffy white hydrangas – you’ve inspired me to do a bottle themed arrangement ! I’m going to plonk them all on a huge oval sliver serving dish – pretty pretty I think they will look.

    Oh and I made the banana bread – Fabulicious – have noticed that toasting it really heightens the banana flavour – very good! Thankyou for the recipe xx

  10. tami says:

    Sarah, I wish I could whisk you away for a visit here at my cottage, I really needed you this week! I am awful at photographing table settings, and the day I took my pics it rained all day and was dark and dreary so no light. Anyway, yours is divine! I love using fruit in table settings, they’re great stand ins and stand besides for flowers.
    Also, I like your new door, and know exactly why you’re feeling a bit melancholy over the old one. I love a white door, however if your home is already white, it’s nice to have something stand out. Have you thought of the putty color you use so often? Might be rather nice. Or a nice grey.

  11. Marnie says:

    You really have a talent for this Sarah. I still think you should be styling beach weddings (or any wedding for that matter).
    Thanks for hosting again.
    x Marnie

  12. Kerry Rossow says:

    Thank you for being the hostess with the mostest!
    Kerry at HouseTalkN

  13. Rukmini says:

    Couldn’t find hydrangeas :-/

    And yay! For blue door. I think that’d be perfect.

    Happy Thanksgiving Sarah :)

  14. Tammi says:

    I love these seven tips Sarah you make it look and sound easy enough for even me to pull off :)

    Do you think you could do a Christmassy tablescape sometime soon? Pretty please?


  15. bj says:

    Thanks, Sarah….have a wonderful holiday with your family.
    Your table is lovely.
    xo bj

  16. I’m a big fan of linen napkins too – make every day “best” I say. Do you have H&M home over in Oz? It’s just arrived in London and has really lovely stonewashed linen napkins for £2.99 each which I think it pretty good. And the best bit is they look better un-ironed!

    • sarah says:

      no we don’t, I am very sad about not having H&M here…apparently they don’t intend to either…I used to love shopping in there…and can only imagine the Euro home goodies in there…Zara home would be nice too!x

  17. kirsten says:

    Thanks for the tips Sarah!
    I love the simplicity of this table setting & the way the fruit adds a pop of color.
    I also LURVE the blue that the door is painted in yesterdays post. I’m thinking that ladder in this pic could like nice in blue too!

  18. Luscious photos as always! I love the apples on the plates!

  19. Susan says:

    Great suggestions, and definitely inspirational!

  20. Kathryn says:

    Hi Sarah,

    I just saw a fabulous door painted taupe on a white house, on the USA House Beautiful web blog, it looks gorgeous,……

  21. a mountain cottage says:

    I like water welt and blue bay by Dulux, even 1/2 strength would be ok

  22. Kate says:

    Hi! I am in LOVE with your home and am absolutely dying to know: Where do you get your tan/white striped table runners?!? I need them!!

    Thanks for the inspiration!