Few people understand coastal style better than designer Tim Clarke. His Santa Monica, California-based office creates work that defines coastal living today. Whether it’s a small beach house on the California coast, or a celebrity mansion in the Mediterranean, Clarke understands that what makes a home look coastal is less about the aesthetic and more about the vibe.
Read on for this amazing designer’s top tips to bringing a coastal look into your home.
Photography: Noah Webb
Q: A lot of people are under the impression that coastal style has to involve a lot of rope, coral and nautical motifs. But does it always have to? How would you define coastal style?
A: I think coastal style is more about a feeling than actual objects and motifs. There is this feeling that’s created when you live at the beach, and it doesn’t have anything to do with shells, anchors, or red, white, and blue. It’s more about easiness, comfort and a laid back casual style.
Q: What are some easy ways someone can bring a coastal feel into their home, even if they don’t necessarily live on the coast?
A: • Stripes: Whether large scale cabana or smaller scale multicolored stripes, nothing says coastal more.
• Bohemian flair: Add a little boho with Indian printed fabric or indigo batik fabric in pillows and curtains. Sometimes I even use it on the wrong side so it feels more faded and hippy.
• Natural fabrics: Solid, textured, natural fiber fabrics like chunky linen for upholstery.
• Barefoot friendly floors: Whether wide plank unfinished wood or slightly antiqued chalky limestone, the floors should make you want to take your shoes off.
• Gallons of white paint: Both matte and glossy. Maybe it’s a reference to boats or just that it looks clean and fresh with the blue ocean, but it always works.
Q: What do you think the 5 most important elements of coastal style are?
A: 1. Easy: Nothing should be too precious, or fussy. No one should be ever be worried they are going to mess something up or that they can’t touch it.
2. Communal living: One giant room with multiple areas for gathering and activities that includes cooking, eating, playing games, and watching TV. Beach houses should encourage togetherness, not solitude.
3. Light: Natural light is a must and plenty of it. Coastal style should embrace nature, not keep it out.
4. Durability: Use outdoor fabrics, natural brass or stainless steel, and wood surfaces that look good as they age. The ocean climate is very abusive and you don’t want to be constantly doing maintenance.
5. Sense of place: Coastal style should come from the coast you are on, not one you visited on vacation. The light, landscape, and views out of the windows are completely different in Hawaii than California and color looks completely different because of that. A house should feel as though it grew from the earth it is on, not plopped on the lot by a helicopter.