Beach Cottage Decor

Wed 11th, Jul, 2012

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 Good moaning Beach Cottage chicks, how you digging this morning, all good here, I have been out on the deck with a cup of tea – the weather is lovely today, the sun is shining, school is out, muffins are baking and we are debating what to do…will probs involve walking by the sea or something like that…


My kiddos were just saying that there was nothing to do and that they couldn’t be bothered to go in the ocean because they had to put their wetties on!  Hello.  I wanted to tell them about 30 years ago, about a tiny house in England, about the cold but instead I looked up at the blue of the sky, nodded to the sunshine, sipped my tea and smiled to myself.  One day I will tell you about there’s nothing to do.


Anyway, let us get back to cottages…we have quite a few new readers here in Beach Cottage Land for a couple of reasons and because this ratty old place of ours was featured in Cottages and Bungalows magazine recently…this has meant in my inbox some questions and the most popular has been ‘How do I replicate the Beach Cottage look without living by the beach?’

So I have written about this before but thought I would do it on what is current in the Sitting Room at the moment and because I tidied it up yesterday arvo and got rid of some dust bunnies, errrm that would be a whole heap of the things, it was ready and waiting for a photo.

…as you know this look and room changes itself around, as if by magic, by itself ;-) ,  but the bones of it stays there all the time and I spend my days foofing it around depending on the state of my rose-tinted head and pocketbook


Beach Decor

7 Ways for the Beach Cottage Look

1. Nautical Accents

I like to use things with a nautical feel but not a theme – I scour the beaches for old trunks (ahem, have rather a few of them in the garage now, note to self: stop scouring), oars and anything seafaring…on the beaches that is a lot easier than perhaps where some of you may live, you would be amazed how many old oars and surfboards you might see discarded on the side of the road, but you can find them on ebay etc for a good price if you keep your eyes open.

2.  Vintage Things 

It’s great to collect old mirrors both for their aesthetic qualitites and because in this old cottage it’s good to get some light bouncing around.

Any collection can work though, I also like to stack up piles of vintage plates and china, love old books here and there too, have a growing collection kitchenalia and the list goes on…

3. Pops of Colour 

Pops of colour are good with all the white and the stripes…great thing about this is it is cheap and interchangeable if you have a neutral backdrop…right now we are still in the Beach Cottage Aqua Phase, and I am loving pops of blue via cushions, throws and ahem a vintage Mason Jar or six….

4. Old Furniture 

Collecting old furniture and combining it with the white and a few more modern things add some contrast and some texture…I keep my eyes open for natural wood and peely, shabby things…the old green chair is my favourite and I recently found this chair (here if you missed it) to add interest and zap all the white down a bit…

5. Flowers 

I like flowers in the house for just about every reason!  Nothings says lovely like a bunch of flowers plopped in a vase sitting on the side…I budget for flowers in my life but always from the drugstore and always what is on offer but as we have been here a few years now I am slowly, painfully slowly beginning to have flowers growing in the garden to bring in…hello hydrangeas budding outside,  I heart you.

…also bringing in some herbs, lavender and greenery adds a dash of colour…

6. Coastal Stripes 

I don’t need to say much more here other than a stripe goes a long way for the beach decor look….drop it into any setting and it will probs work..

Mix them up and clash them…navy blue and cream for a rug, putty & white on the sofa, throw a few in on your china and bob is your nautical style uncle ;-)

Look for stripes in different colours on different things – napkins, bedding, cushions, throws, curtains and tablecloths…

7. White 

Hmmm, lastly white, contrary to what many think it’s easy to keep clean and actually works as a base for lots of other colour in your life…and it is key to the look going on here because it keeps everything fresh but neutral and allows for the things above when found while vintage treasure hunting to be added and to evolve into a unique look of your own…


and then of course, there is the ceremonial scattering of zee shells, throw a few of these around, your husband will raise his eyebrows but you will, inside, do a little Beach Cottage dance and life will be good ;-)


A few more to have a look through here

[nggallery id=64]

That’s it from me today from the beaches…I am not sure where we’ll end up today, I mean there’s nothing to do here right?  But I know it will involve Barley and coffee

I hope you liked  the ideas…



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38 Responses to “Beach Cottage Decor”

  1. Emma Barrett says:

    absolutely stunning – a warm and inviting living room – when can I move in! :)

    • sarah says:

      I think I would need to get rid of the odd kiddo or two first! it’s pretty tiny here lol x

  2. Hi Sarah….I love the idea of having the vintage mirrors on the wall….the thing about vintage mirrors is there’s so many diffrerent shapes to them…..I totally get the shells I have shells scattered throughout the house as well….my girls even like having some in their rooms…..

  3. Tracey Kelly says:

    I love your house but just a quick question what type of paint do you use to paint your furniture??

    • sarah says:

      Hi Tracey

      If you look at the tabs across the top you will find posts on what I use to paint furniture.

      I always use Zinsser primer


  4. We are also still on school hols here (funny that, we don’t seem to have anything to do around here either?!!) but my house is not looking anywhere near as good as yours! Please may I come and just, well, sit in your pretty room?!?!! I love it. xx

  5. Alice says:

    I now understand why (at least in the particular room featured) you don’t need artwork on your walls…. What is reflected in the mirror combined with the different shapes make them look like artwork! lol… I had to remind my self “no that’s not a picture of a vintage clock or part of an oar or a homey curtain” lol… Very clever Sarah, intentional or not I love it!

  6. Kat says:

    Where do you buy your lovely Mason jars? I have not seen them here in Tas anywhere,

  7. Lovely as usual Sarah! So refreshing to look at after a long day working!

  8. Resa says:

    I happened across your blog this evening….a link from a link…..I LOVE your style – both your writing and your cottage decor! THANK YOU for your blog. You just made my day (night) here in California. I will be checking back regularly.

  9. Amanda says:

    The mirrors and flowers are stunning!I love looking at your home its always so pretty and very tidy just dont know how you manage it!
    School hols start next week here in Norfolk and im sure the nothing to do saying will crop up once or twice so can totally empathise .
    Enjoy your day!

    • sarah says:

      hey Amanda, I always say on there that I only show the good bits lol! …I enjoy foofing the house, it’s my hobby but also it’s often chaos, I have three kiddos and a puppy #reality xx

  10. alison says:

    They raise their eyebrows at us and what we do but you know deep down they love us, weird habits and all. (Weird to them but perfectly reasonable to us.)


  11. Neen says:

    LUUUUUUURVE me a vintage mirror, have 3 hanging in our very small hallway near front door. Aaaah the reflective light aaaaah. Actually I went fossicking for more on the weekend………ooohlala…….are they over priced in antique stores. Lucky me, two were given to me and the other was an auction purchase for $5. back in the day, pre-children!!!! ;)

    • sarah says:

      yep they are so very over-price even on ebay most of the time but if you keep looking they do sure come up..these have been all bought for very little or actualy nothing!

  12. Rukmini Roy says:

    And I thought you live right next to the beach. Clearly, you are the master of beach cottage look.
    Btw, I’d actually choose snow over sea, I have a thing for snow or maybe because I have always stayed here in India. Or maybe because I dont have the perfect bikini figure. Eitherways. But I am a through and through beach decor fan and I’m stealing your tips to give my living room a quick makeover :)

    Very handy read sarah…I just save this picture and I know what I need. It’s not for nothing you are the best.

  13. Julie Johnson says:

    Great decor and pictures as usual. I still think you need to do a book on beach decor. You’re a wizard at it and it seems to come so easily to you.

  14. Megan says:

    Lovely. I also love #7 white but can’t bring myself to do white slip covered lounges. With a clumsy hubby and 10mo bub I think I’d have them permanently in the wash. How do you keep yours looking good?

    • sarah says:

      errrm they aren’t perfect most of the time, I just deal with that and actually these are super easy to throw in the washing machine – easier than any other sofa I have had x

  15. Ellie says:

    I love the collection of mirrors. Might borrow some inspiration from you on that…..

  16. Shar Y says:

    hello!! great post, nice to be reminded of what makes for a coastal look! I love the elegance but comfy of it all. see too many people doing cheesey touristy decor, no not for me. i have a few of those vintage mirrors and like them grouped together, so thanks for sharing.

    And, i just have to say that i am in love with the Barley posts. that puppy is cuter than there are words to say, so keep em coming! Woof!!

  17. Tell the kids to be grateful – as you saw on Instagram today my 7 year old has needed TWO wetsuits to stop him being frozen!!! And that is during SUMMER here!

    Lovely post as always – and yeah for being featured – well deserved :)

    • sarah says:

      yes errrm couldn’t believe it when I saw that and it’s Summer for you lol x

      I thought of you last night as I surfed Orla bags ;-)

  18. how2home says:

    the pop of blue and pink makes the room look awesome! are those carnations?

  19. I love your style and have decided that my pretty big family room is going to be light and cheery with white painted furniture and my formal lounge and dining can keep their inherited antique museum look and hubby can be their curator!!!!

  20. HRH Sarah says:

    I got a lot of eyebrows when I started transitioning from formal living spaces to the more laid back beach cottage look. Mostly because my husband inherited lots of very formal, stuffy home decor from his parents and grandparents… But, I managed to work the things in that really had sentimental attachment (hello, WWII steamer trunk stashed in the attic!) and stash the rest if it didn’t work with the look. Funny thing is, all this change made the whole house happier, and the whole family (all three of us) more relaxed. Our seating is white, gasp! but noone really worries about it. Everything’s a slipcover so it’s easy to change and wash.

    • sarah says:

      I hear you on the white slipcovering and relaxing, it’s a no-brainer isn’t – just throw it in the wash…

      I like the sound of your transformation, I don’t really like formal stuff rooms for me – each to their own I think though!

      hello WWII steamer trunk, I would love me one of those my friend x

  21. Rochelle says:

    Sooo Beautiful! I love mirrors too, especially vintage ones. Normally I’m not a fan of carnations, but hey you have even made them look fandabulous. Soo pretty, I agree, when is that book coming out?

  22. Rochelle says:

    I can’t make up my mind if they are carnations indeed or perhaps peonies? In some shots they seem like peonies which I am mad for. Perhaps they are a different breed of carnation you get in Aussie land. Sorry my curiosity is getting the better of me. ;)

  23. Surely Sarah says:

    Just have to say I’m in love with your art deco mirror. Hell, all your mirrors.
    Adore these decorating ideas – very handy. I need more flowers in mismatched jars and jugs in my life!

  24. Kamini Navin says:

    So pleased to meet you Sarah. We certainly have something in common!

    We both heart shabby chic, flea markets, garage sales and all things vintage!

    Have you come across any good op shops in your coastal town? Have you picked up any treasures of late?

    I am a huge op shop addict, started a blog on Op Shop Diva, and have been very fortunate to link my local community to support their respective op shops, via a series of projects I’ve carried out for the op shops here in Adelaide.

    I hope to host you here in Adelaide soon.

    Look forward to reading more from you!

    Kamini x

  25. This is a very cool look! Love the mirrors and the white. You’re right the pop of pink is great and you could use anything – orange, blue to make change it. Very relaxing! Love it