Coastal kitchens deserve their share of flavorful twists―from pastel pink appliances to splashy light fixtures. We give these cooking spaces five stars for originality and presentation.
Photo: Annie Schlechter; Stylist: Sasha Emerson
It’s all about the ocean in this Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts, kitchen, and the mostly-white surfaces ensure that water and sky take center stage. Even the light fixtures—large, see-through glass pendants—were chosen with the vista in mind.
Two sinks—one overlooking the water and one facing the bar stools—mean that cleanup is a breeze and the view is always a happy one.
Photo: Dominique Vorillon Stylist: Sunday Hendrickson
This Montecito, California, kitchen “has a great sense of symmetry and order, which lends itself well to frequent entertaining," says interior designer Melissa Warner Rothblum. The adjoining outdoor dining and living area, accessible via a pair of French doors, allows for easy flow between indoors and out.
Add the illusion of more space and light by incorporating cabinets with glass fronts.
Get the Look: The walls in the kitchen are painted Glacier White by Benjamin Moore.
Photo: Francesco Lagnese; Stylist: Elizabeth Beeler
With Shaker-style cabinetry on olive knuckle hinges, open shelving displaying pretty blue-and-white dishware, dazzling glazed terra-cotta backsplash, custom hardware made from a mold of an antique pull, and fanciful range hood, the kitchen is this St. Augustine, Florida, home's crowning jewel.
Make the most of Mother Nature. "This room gets great light, and we wanted to take full advantage of it by using reflective surfaces like mirrored finishes and tiles with an iridescent quality to them," says interior designer Andrew Howard.
Get the Look: The backsplash tile is by Mosaic House. The walls are painted White Drifts, and the cabinetry, trim, and ceiling are painted Decorators White, both by Benjamin Moore. The stools are from Arteriors Home. The pendant and ceiling lights are from Visual Comfort. The hood is from Southeast Stainless Fabricators; 904/354-4381.
Photo: Matthew Millman
This Kona, Hawaii, kitchen features honey-hued cabinets and woven barstools for a natural palette that allows the glimmering blue-gray tile backsplash to really shine.
If you love entertaining in the kitchen, make the most of an island by extending it on multiple sides to allow for plenty of bar seating.
Photo: Richard Leo Johnson; Stylist: Elizabeth Beeler
Water-hued plates, mugs, and vases match beautifully with mint green pendant lights in this small Tybee Island, Georgia, kitchen.
If you love cottage style, and easy way to achieve it is with white paint. Here, crisp white walls, cabinets, and shelves make for a clean backdrop for colorful accents, from artwork to rugs and more.
In this Delaware kitchen, ocean inspiration is everywhere, from the polished-nickel light fixtures that reflect the sunlight, to the swirls in the Blue Celeste marble countertops that echo the ocean current, and an ethereal, blue-green iridescent backsplash.
Taking a tile backsplash to the top of the wall can highlight tall ceilings and a view, since the eye is drawn upward along the tile toward the window.
Photo: Emily Gilbert
Walls, cabinets, and floors are painted white to bring in as much light as possible to designer Jenny Wolf’s East Hamptons kitchen.
When it comes to adding colorful accents to an otherwise neutral space, don’t overlook appliances. Here, a cornflower blue refrigerator adds a dose of colorful, retro cool.
Photo: Annie Schlechter; Stylist: Matthew Gleason
Nautical elements, such as the handsome rope pulls and the sailcloth shades, give this tiny Cape Cod cottage kitchen plenty of personality.
Find ways to infuse your home with meaningful accents. The azure kitchen counter tiles are almost identical to ones at the owners’ favorite resort in Costa Rica. “We love having them here because they always make us feel like we’re on vacation.”
Get the Look: The flush-mount lighting is by Visual Comfort. The sailcloth shades are custom.
Photo: Karyn Millet
In her Southern California kitchen, designer Cari Berg swapped the old Formica counters for Carrara marble and installed Shaker-style cabinets.
To make smaller galley kitchens feel larger, white goes a long way. Bring in color with accessories, like a patterned rug or bright stools.
Photo: David A. Land; Stylist: Elizabeth Beeler
Predominately outfitted with light and dark elements, this Long Island kitchen gets an infusion of natural elements from the copper light fixtures and wooden bar stools.
Don’t be afraid to embrace your dark side. Dark countertops and grout between subway tiles creates an interesting balance against light cabinetry.
Get the Look: The barstools are from Homenature.
Photo: Ball & Albanese; Stylist: Liz Strong
An all-white kitchen plays contrast to this Saugatuck, Michigan, cottage’s surrounding, colorful rooms. Pops of primary colors—red stools and a blue stand mixer—add interest.
Consider adjoining rooms when mapping out your kitchen. Here, a large double window was added as a pass-through between the kitchen and the screen porch, where the family spends lots of time entertaining.
Photo: Tria Giovan; Stylist: CJ Sandgren
In our Coronado Showhouse kitchen, designer Betsy Burnham bypassed glossy surfaces in for matte gray cabinetry and a glazed brick backsplash, but the chrome fixtures and an electrified anchor add just the right amount of sparkle to the sunny cookspace.
For a seemless look, consider integrating your appliances with the cabinets, like Burnham did here.
Get the look: The kitchen island is painted Symphony Blue by Pratt & Lambert. The windows are by Marvin. The upholstered chairs are by Lee Industries. The pendants are from Circa Lighting. The fixtures are by Moen. The countertops are by Caesarstone, and the backsplash is by Ann Sacks.
Photo: Jonny Valiant; Stylist: Erin Swift
Reclaimed oak cabinets and a farm sink give this Long Beach Island, New Jersey, kitchen a laidback feel.
Add contrast to a rustic space by incorporating unexpected materials, like these industrial-style pendant lights and the metallic-inspired backsplash.
Choose neutrals for a palette that never goes out of style. Wood tones help balance the industrial appearance of stainless appliances and lend warmth to a room.
Take inspiration from the sandy shores when selecting countertops. The earthy tones of concrete and limestone make them a perfect backdrop for bolder details.
Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn
Design for the future without sacrificing style. Formaldehyde-free cabinetry and doors, low-VOC paints, Energy Star–rated appliances, and an island crafted from recycled wine vats ensure that this kitchen is as easy on the environment as it is on the eyes.
Spice up the kitchen with a beach icon. This surfboard-style island is functional, funky, and definitively coastal.
Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn
Letters etched into frosted-glass cabinet doors make rummaging easy for those who don’t know their way around the kitchen―just look behind door C for the cookies. Or make up your own labeling system and have fun with numbers or beach shapes.
Bring some flash to the kitchen with a stainless steel backsplash. Available in sheets or as tiles, it perfectly complements commercial-grade appliances.
Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn
Give your kitchen a look as delicious as your favorite dessert with a cheerful pastel palette. Custom-painted appliances stand out against a glossy white floor, while two-tone cabinetry introduces another style twist. Highlight the lower cabinet doors and drawers with light blue paint; let everything else be white.
Go bold with colorful appliances and cabinet faces. Pastel hues make a statement without overwhelming the space.
Maintain a cohesive look by repeating an accent color in varying shades throughout your kitchen. Sea-green details―whether on painted floors, small appliances, light fixtures, or dishware―infuse the room with understated coastal flavor.
Striped, polka-dot, or plaid, a painted floor pattern adds spunk to a plain-vanilla kitchen. If a checkerboard is your favorite design, try extra-large diamonds painted on the diagonal.
Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn
Simple and classic, wood walls and crisp white cabinetry never go out of style. Working with new construction? Get the look with reclaimed wood. It adds the character of age and reduces environmental impact. For an informal touch, hang café skirts in place of lower cabinet doors.
Café skirts soften a rustic look. Choose a classic coastal pattern or colors for seaside style.
In tight spaces, make smart use of wall space with slim plate racks instead of overhead cabinets. Opt for track lighting in lieu of bulky mounted fixtures, and leave small windows uncovered to let in light.
Install pendants over the sink for fashionable task lighting.
Make the most of your kitchen’s square footage. Replace upper cabinetry with open shelving to keep the look airy, and coat the walls in white. (It’s the easiest way to make any room seem bigger.) Create a multifunctional work space: An island with a butcher-block top can be used as a prep area or a buffet table.
Cover walls and lower cabinetry with louvered-shutter facing. It lends architectural interest and a strong dose of breezy island style.
Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn
Give your kitchen an extra helping of cottage charm. Beaded board, marble countertops, and vintage appliances set the tone for a fresh, inviting space.
Opt for a monochromatic palette, paired with glass-front cabinets, to make even the smallest kitchen feel more spacious.
Take the traditional blue-and-white scheme to a whole new level. A coastal motif stenciled onto painted wood floors adds a playful touch, while wallpaper reminiscent of a checkered tablecloth draws the eye upward to showcase an enviable cookware collection.
Add height to your space by extending cabinetry all the way to the ceiling. Keep a step stool handy for top shelves.
Today’s kitchen often serves as a home’s primary gathering spot, so plan accordingly. Give family and guests (and pups!) a place to hang out with plenty of bar stools and a cozy built-in daybed. This wide window seat also adds smart storage to the space.
To keep a neutral kitchen from going drab, add eye-catching framed art, substantial furniture, and colorful accessories.
Instead of choosing veined countertops or busy wallpaper, try pattern in an unexpected place. Two oversize drum shades in a crewel-like print do wonders to spice up an otherwise neutral kitchen.
Get the best of both worlds with frosted-glass cabinet faces. They have the less-bulky look of transparent glass with just enough opaqueness to hide anything you don’t want on display.