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.

This post may contain affiliate links which means that if you click through and buy something I may get a small commission.  But there is definitely no additional cost to 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.

How to achieve Australian Coastal Style

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!
Australian Coastal Style - 7 steps to achieve this
Image: Interior Secrets

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.
Australian Coastal Style - 7 steps to achieve this look
Image: Miss Amara

Miss Amara has a fabulous range of rugs to suit this look – beautifully textured and evoking a walk on the beach, they have a range that will complete the look perfectly. Click Here

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

Australian Coastal Style - 7 steps to achieve this look

Artworks will help to create the mood for the room.  Ensure that frames are kept light and simple with little additional embellishment.

Australian Coastal Style - 7 steps to achieve this look

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.

You might be interested to know that I offer an e-consultation service.  Whether you have just one question about your renovation, new build or weekend decorating project or you need assistance with a full colour scheme, I can help you.  Find out more here.

 

37 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

  6. Avatar
    Mindy Jollie says:

    I like what you said about avoiding using concrete for paths and using more organic looks instead for a better aesthetic. I would imagine it’s important to have a specific aesthetic in mind, regardless of what garden changes you’re making. My husband and I are considering making some landscaping changes, so we may have to get some help designing and making decisions to keep the look unified.

  7. Avatar
    Margot Beall says:

    Hi Samantha- I love the rattan pendants over the kitchen island. Can you please let me know where to find them? I live in San Francisco, CA thanks! Margot

    • Samantha Bacon
      Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Margot they are gorgeous aren’t they? I’m based in Sydney so I don’t know the good suppliers in California however if you do a google search on rattan pendants you should find a local supplier as this Australian Coastal style is so similar to Californian beach style that you would definitely be able to buy them locally. Good luck Samantha

        • Samantha Bacon
          Samantha Bacon says:

          Hi Sian There are a few throughout the post – do you mean the rattan ones? These are quite common now in the shops – even IKEA has some great inexpensive rattan coastal pendants light that might be worth a look? Samantha

  8. Avatar
    Dwell Living Interiors says:

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  9. Avatar
    Stephanie says:

    Hi Samantha
    We are in the process of signing a contract to build on Bribie Island. I loved your article on Coastal Style and was pleased to see two of the pendant lights we have selected shown in your images! We have a dilemma with our external house colours. As our cost estimate has come in higher than expected, we need to revert back to some standard colour selections.
    We had selected Basalt for the Colourbond Roof, White Duck Half as the main render, Raku for the cladding and Silo Grain for the pier (alone with Alpine Mist Feature Stone). However we need to reselect a colour for our Colourbond Aluminium Windows/Doors (was Monument) and Coloured Garage Door (was a Timber look). We’re undecided on whether to go with Surf Mist or Pearl White for the Windows/Doors/Garage Door or match the Garage Door to the Roof Colour?
    As most of the houses getting built in our area have light grey roofs we choose the darker roof to be a little different. Will it still pull off the Coastal vibe or should we choose a lighter pool?
    Looking forward to reading your views!

    • Samantha Bacon
      Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Stephanie the reason most people in your area choose a light roof is for practical purposes to reflect the heat. However Basalt is not dark, it is mid-tone and therefore shouldn’t make the house that much hotter. It is a classic colour and often used for a coastal Hamptons look. Switching to a light window frame will give you more of the classic Coastal look. Pearl White will stand out more against the White Duck Half – Surfmist will just blend in so that may help to make your decision. As Basalt has a blue undertone I don’t think you should use it for the garage door as Raku is a warm purple grey so they may clash. Hope this helps Samantha

  10. Avatar
    Stephanie Gorman says:

    Hi Samantha
    After looking at new houses, we had decided that Pearl White would be the better option as it provides a bit of ‘pop’ and reading your feedback now makes us confident with our selection, so thank you. However we don’t think the Pearl White or Raku will work on the Garage Door so think we will just pay the additional cost for the Savannah (Smooth Finish) Deco Wood Range – Slimline in Bush Cherry that we had previously picked as being the closest match to our Timber Stained Front Door in AWO5VG. Do you think this will look okay? Is there another colour other than Raku that you could recommender the cladding?

    • Samantha Bacon
      Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Stephanie Raku is a gorgeous exterior colour – I think you are on the right track, particularly with your garage door now in a timber look. Hope you love the new look Samantha

  11. Avatar
    Chris Paulsen says:

    Hi Samantha

    Firstly I love your article. We are building a 2 storey traditional coastal home in a new estate at Bokarina. I’m quite torn about paint selections for the exterior. The facade has a rendered retreat, entrance and timber look garage on the lower level and over the garage sits 2 bedrooms which will be weatherboard. I was originally looking at painting the weatherboard with a dark grey possibly Taubmans Viking Grey and the retreat white. The rest of the house in Taubmans Salinger. Looking at all the other houses going up in the area which are a mix of greys, browns and dark greys. I thought of changing to something a bit different. I was thinking of using green for the weatherboard. I have done samples of Taubmans Deep Gorge and Dulux Battle Dress. I’m leaning towards Deep Gorge. Keeping the Retreat white and under the garage and a large wall on a zero boundary in maybe 1/2 strength Taubmans Dragonstone. To keep a bit of the dark grey in my colours, I was thinking of doing a small wall that connects to the retreat and the front porch in contrasting charcoal. We have pebbled concrete driveway and porch with a nice timber post. In our pergola and pool area, we have chosen silver travertine tiles. The back section of our house has weatherboard which would be painted to match the front weatherboard. We are not keen on the Hamptons look hence why I’m trying to do something different. Our house does have a coastal vibe though. The front door is in Corinthian Blond Oak which I would do a light grey stain. I’m trying to visualise it all working together. Our budget to build a custom home has become much higher than we originally expected. So I’m trying to use colour to give us a beautiful relaxed look. If you can give me suggestions, I ‘d be really grateful. Thanks Chris

    • Samantha Bacon
      Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Chris there is a lot to consider here but I would recommend painting large samples of the greens you are looking at to ensure they look good in your environment and are not too bright or too grey and muddy looking. With a coastal vibe you need to keep the scheme fairly simple. Once you paint up the large sample boards place them next to the travertine to ensure that it all pulls together well. Good luck Samantha

  12. Avatar
    Jaimia Ollington says:

    Hi Samantha
    Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us on your blog. It’s been so helpful as I build our new house.
    I’ve chosen Colorbond Windspray for the roof and Dulux Vivid White for the trims and balustrade. The exterior walls are linea board. I’m wanting a warm griege to complement our acreage block. There’s gum trees and views to a lake. Some colours I’ve tested are Dulux Double Royal Beige and Dulux Grey Pebble. I would like something neutral and something that provides a contrast with the white trims. I would really appreciate your thoughts and/or colour suggestions.
    Thanks Jaimia

    • Samantha Bacon
      Samantha Bacon says:

      HI Jaimia you may find that Grey Pebble will be too light I think you are on the right lines here but something similar with a little more depth to give you contrast. Possibly Heifer or Calf Skin? Good luck Samantha

      • Avatar
        Jaimia Ollington says:

        Thank you! Our one hesitation with Grey Pebble was that we thought it could be a little bit light. You’ve just confirmed our thoughts. Heifer and Calf Skin look good online, I’ll give them a go next. Hopefully they look better than they sound 😂

  13. Avatar
    Tricia says:

    Hi Samantha I’m building a Hampton’s style house on the coast. With James Hardie sycon linea board 150 width. I am leaning towards painting the board dulux Spanish olive with white windows and front door and sea spray colourbond roof. Not sure what colour to do the eves would appreciate your opinion on the colours and suggestion for the eves regards Tricia

    • Samantha Bacon
      Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Tricia I love Dulux Spanish Olive – a beautiful delicate green/grey. I think you mean Surfmist roof – I think you should probably do half strength of Surfmist for your eaves as the white trim from your windows may be too bright and could get dirty easily. Hope you love your new home Samantha

  14. Avatar
    Bronwyn says:

    Hi Samantha, We have just bought an apartment in Newport NSW built in 2002. I’m wondering how to get a coastal look working with what we have. The sunny unit has quality carpets, paint and fittings but it is very cream. We have a grey sofa which I think will work with some new throws and cushions in light tones. I have a couple of sentimental old dark timber pieces ( China cupboard, bedside tables and an old cabinet with dropdown desk) that I would like to chalk paint if possible. Any recommendations? My question is what colour base should I use to avoid the pieces looking too stark against the warm tones of the unit?

    • Samantha Bacon
      Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Bronwyn I think you definitely need to think carefully about the white you use with the warm tones. Porters Irish Linen is a lovely white that isn’t too cool or too warm but you would need to get a sample and put it next to your wall colour. You could even consider another colour entirely if you felt you didn’t want to bring in any more creamy white – perhaps something like a duck egg blue? Sometimes these antique pieces look beautiful in a soft colour. Porters has a chalk paint or you could go to a specialist like Annie Sloan who makes a pure white which I find to be warm or her Old White is really quite cream. Good luck Samantha

      • Avatar
        Christine Cronin says:

        Hi Samantha, great article, Would greatly appreciate your advice re colour for exterior for our two storey render and weatherboard home. The roof is bassalt, the windows pearl white and planning to use vivid white trim. There will also be a small amount of limestone rock around porch pillar bases. We are trying to find a soft grey. The samples we paint are either too dark or too white to contrast against white trim. Your advice would be much appreciated. With thanks, Christine

        • Samantha Bacon
          Samantha Bacon says:

          Hi Christine There are so many options that it is difficult to say for certain but you could look at something like Dulux Terrace White. This will give you a soft contrast against Vivid White but without seeing too much grey or underlying colour. It is a blue/grey white and would work with your roof colour. But it is just one idea of many…good luck Samantha

  15. Avatar
    Caroline says:

    Hi Samantha
    Thanks for your article, it’s been amazing. Enjoyed reading your comments too. For something different, I’d like to ask you about colours on a smaller building – a 2.7 x 4.2 She Shed. I have chosen Colorbond Surfmist for the roof and Windspray for the walls but am agonising over the trim and flashing colour. Should the trim be Windspray so that it blends with the walls, or would choosing a constrast like Deep Ocean or Surfmist be a nice contrast? We live near the beach so I’m aiming for a modern coastal look. Thank you! Caroline

    • Samantha Bacon
      Samantha Bacon says:

      Hi Caroline – firstly I am very jealous! How great to have your own She Shed! I think I would opt for Surfmist trim to bring in a touch more white as it is a Coastal property and this will keep it contemporary looking. Hope you love it! Samantha

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