Australian Coastal Style – 7 steps to achieve this look

There is something quintessentially wonderful about Australian Coastal Style that is difficult to replicate anywhere else in the world.  Perhaps it has something to do with the laid back persona of the Aussies or just the magnificence of the natural beauty of the coastal regions with their gorgeous sandy beaches and interesting inlets and harbours.

In this post I am going to go through my 7 essential steps to achieve this look so whether you are building or renovating a house near the water or simply want to re-create this style for your home, then this post is for you.

Materials for an Australian coastal style

Australian Coastal Style - 7 steps to achieve this look
Image – Scyon from Hobbs Jamieson Architecture

Texture is the key for an Australian Coastal look.  It is essential that the look is laid back and relaxed and the elements that achieve this well are:

  • Lining boards rather than full render.  This can be traditional weatherboards or for a more contemporary statement, rectangular or square format boards all painted with matt or low sheen finishes – avoid high gloss.
  • Small areas of natural stone that is sourced from the local area.  Don’t make the mistake of falling in love with a limestone stacked format tile if sandstone is local to your area.  Ensure you source locally to get the right look and feel for your environment.  And remember the adage that less is more – don’t overdo it or you end up with a gin palace rather than a relaxed coastal look.
  • Natural timber accents.  Ensure you select good quality hardwoods that will weather naturally to grey and remain stable.
  • Limit the amounts of stainless steel and metal, particularly if you are in a coastal area as these corrode almost overnight.  Select marine grade stainless steel and pay extra for metals approved for coastal regions – it is worth it in the long run.
  • Rendered areas should have a matt finish and be slightly textured.
Australian Coastal Style - 7 tips to achieve this look
Image – coastal-style.blogspot.com

Colour for an Australian coastal style

Australian Coastal Style - 7 tips to achieve this look
Image – Habitus Living

Neutrals are the order of the day when it comes to colour.  An Australian coastal home will often have views, even in the distance, of water and often be surrounded by greenery so the trick is to keep it simple when it comes to colour schemes.  My favourites are:

  • White, particularly for trim and weatherboards.
  • Soft greys which are natural and relatively pale are great used for weatherboards and/or trim.
  • Elements of black work well too if you want to achieve some tonal variation.  Porter’s Palm Beach black is an excellent choice.
  • Introduce colour with local stone and timber elements.
Australian Coastal Style, 7 steps to achieve this look
Image – Scyon, James Hardie
Australian Coastal Style - 7 steps to achieve this look
Image – Porters Paints

Related: My guide to painting eaves

Australian Coastal Style - 7 steps to achieve this look

The outside of an Australian coastal look

Australian Coastal Style - 7 tips to achieve this look

The key to making Australian Coastal style work is to pay as much attention to the outside areas as to those inside.  The look should be seamless with a natural flow between the two areas.

  • Outdoor rooms that are covered work really well.  The Australian climate is such that in many areas you can sit outside all year round – you often just need shelter from the rain!
  • Bring continuity with similar flooring for the inside and outside.
  • Furnish outdoor areas with as much care as your indoor living area.  A true Australian coastal home will have comfortable seating, dining options, outdoor heating and even outdoor rugs and accessories.
  • If you have room for a pool, even better!  This really is the Aussie lifestyle but do think carefully before installing a swimming pool as they don’t always bring the return on the house that you are expecting, so you have to love it and use it!

My recent post on how to link the indoors to the outdoors delves into this in more detail:

Related: How to link your outdoor room to the inside – 5 east steps

Landscaping to create an Australian coastal look

Australian Coastal Style, 7 steps to achieve this look
Image – Peter Fudge

I am a great fan of Peter Fudge and love his coastal style gardens.  These two images conjure up exactly what an Australian Coastal style garden should be:

  • Keep the hard landscaping to a minimum and rather than using concrete for your paths use gravel, timber and natural stone in a stepping stone format.  This is both practical and aesthetic as water will drain away easily and the look remains laid back and simple.
  • Make pathways meander.  Always consider your location and replicate the look of the beach but in a slightly more structured format, so avoid formal straight paths – keep it natural!
  • Consider the plants that you use in your landscaping.  They need to be salt hardy so look at what grows naturally and clings valiantly to the sand dunes – these are the ones that will survive in your garden but will also replicate the Australian Coastal look, even if you are away from the harsh elements of a coastal strip.
  • I just have to also mention Banksias – a coastal scheme just has to have them!
Australian Coastal Style, 7 steps to achieve this look
Image – Peter Fudge

Furniture for an Australian coastal look

Australian Coastal Style - 7 tips to achieve this look
Image – Home Beautiful

Your selection of furniture is important too:

  • Weathered timbers work really well in a coastal look and avoid highly polished and difficult to maintain surfaces.
  • Don’t worry about pieces matching – beautiful consoles, benches and quirky armoires, coffee tables and stools will work better than a suite of matching items that you purchase all together from one store.
  • Keep the look relaxed with surfaces that are oiled or simply scrubbed.
  • Sofas and chairs should be upholstered in natural fibres – linens and cottons work well and slip covers for sofas are an excellent idea
  • Whitewashed furniture or painted furniture in a soft finish like those achieved with Chalk paint also work well.

Related: How to choose the right upholstery fabric

Accessories to complete the look

Australian Coastal Style - 7 tips to achieve this look
Image – Home Beautiful

Your accessories will really complete the picture and I recommend the following:

  • Employ rugs to zone areas rather than formal wall to wall carpets.  If you do want to use carpet in your bedrooms then keep it to a 100% wool or a natural fibre like sisal or jute.
  • Rattan is an excellent choice for the Australian Coastal look and can be introduced in baskets, pendants, stools and occasional chairs.
  • Greenery can be used inside and outside in natural planters – this really is the accessory of the moment but comes into its own with this look.

My recent posts on how to choose the right rug for your space and how to finish a room with greenery may be useful:

Related: How to select the right rug

Related: How to incorporate the greenery trend

Final thoughts

Australian Coastal Style - 7 tips to achieve this look

My final word is to decorate your home and plan your garden for the area you are living in and the look will naturally be right.  Carefully curate your accessories and furniture to ensure that they are pieces you love, contain memories and have a meaning for you or a purpose and get rid of all the rest.  Keep it simple and enjoy the view.

7 steps to achieve a classic Australian Coastal Style

Want to read more about Coastal style:

7 tips for a Neutral Beachside scheme

Love blue in a coastal scheme?  Then of course you can use it but just remember that it can sometimes end up looking more like an American Coastal look – absolutely nothing wrong with this of course – it is one of my favourites – just think carefully about the look you want.  This article may help you to make up your mind and decide which way you want to go.  Remember there is no right or wrong – it has to be what you want!

My top 7 tips for a classic coastal look

I have a board on Pinterest dedicated to coastal interiors for heaps more inspiration.  Don’t forget to leave a comment below with any ideas or questions that you have.

12 thoughts on “Australian Coastal Style – 7 steps to achieve this look

  1. Avatar
    Virginia says:

    Love this article. It is exactly what I have been looking for to complete the coastal look. Could you tell me the exterior colour of the weatherboard house with the black table on the deck near the pool? I am currently trying to choose an exterior colour but cannot make a decision.

    • Samantha Bacon
      Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Virginia I don’t know the exact colour of the weatherboard as this is not a house that I have worked on but it is a nice warm fairly neutral white and I would hazard a guess that something like Dulux White Duck Half may give a similar look so this might be worth trying a sample of to see if it provides the effect that you want. It looks like it is partnered with a fresh Vivid White. Good luck Samantha

  2. Avatar
    June says:

    Hi recently moved now my furniture is to dark for coastal is it decor fashionable to have all white furniture or should I show some timber if I respray WHITE ..thank you

    • Samantha Bacon
      Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi June I think you need to think very carefully about which furniture pieces you spray white as it is hard to come back from that. I like to mix in pieces so possibly a timber piece that is beautiful keep as is and then something that is a bit old or doesn’t suit the look can be painted. It doesn’t all have to be white for a coastal look – you could consider soft driftwood type greys or keep a timber top and paint the legs of a table white to prevent the look from being too heavy. So select carefully and mix and match until you get the balance that you like. I hope you enjoy your new coastal home Samantha

  3. Avatar
    Bec says:

    Hi Samantha – thank you so much for sharing your advice. This has been very helpful! So I’ve got a weatherboard home with Colorbond Windspray tiled roof and gutters. Really like the Aussie coastal feel. Any suggestions for colours for weatherboards and trim would be much appreciated 🙂 I’m thinking along the lines of Dulux Pipe Clay or Natural Wool with 1/4 strength trims?? There are a few merbau timber posts around the house.

    • Samantha Bacon
      Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Bec glad you have found the post useful. Colorbond Windspray is a great roof colour for the coastal look. I think that out of the two options you are looking at that Dulux Pipe Clay is preferable – it is a slightly greener more neutral cooler tone that I think will work well with Windspray – quarter strength of this won’t give you much contrast for trim so you might just consider the aspect of the house – does the front elevation get a lot of strong sun or is it south facing and in shadow? This will affect how much contrast you need to have. You could either opt for a tone darker on the weatherboards with Dulux Putty – still very light when outside – with quarter strength Pipe Clay or if you love the strength of Pipe Clay you can use more of a white for the trim. Make sure you look at large samples out in the sunlight and remember that weatherboards give you a lovely shadow line too. Hope this helps Samantha

  4. Avatar
    Annie says:

    Hi Samantha I found you tips very usfull on the i am building a house by the sea and looking at painting the entire inside white on white with bringing some darker blue in the kirchen and a small amount of timber throughout the house in fixedshelves what do you think ?
    also I have a dark chocolate leather lounge that I am not allowed to get ride of it (lost that battle) how do you coastal style around that

    any sage advice would be much appreciated

    ta

    Annie

    • Samantha Bacon
      Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Annie I feel your pain with the chocolate lounge as we all have pieces of furniture we have to work around – unless you are extremely wealthy this is a fact for most renovators. However, the dark chocolate will go well with the dark blue in the kitchen as this will balance out the tones. I actually love chocolate, white and navy together so I am sure it will be fine. My only concern is the Dulux White on White. It is a great contemporary colour but ever so cold and sleek with a fair degree of blue – this will work with this look but not with the sofa. Perhaps try a white that is a little bit more neutral but still with a touch of grey – perhaps Snowy Mountains Half. Good luck Samantha

  5. Avatar
    Deb says:

    Hi Sam, love your articles! I’m about to completely repaint the exterior of my coastal weatherboard home. I want the look to be very contemporary, but look great with our gum trees and the water view. I’ve decided on painting facia in Monument, the window trims white. I would love advice on a grey for the weatherboard. I prefer neutral or warmer greys, not blue/green/purple base. And not light grey – would like to to be bit darker but also hate that battleship look! Thanks heaps. Deb

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