Vintage Coastal Style

Use these 68 design tips and decorating ideas to add antique appeal to your home.

Highlight Architecture

Matthew Gilson

Highlight Architecture

Antique fixtures such as a pendant lamp and cabinetry hardware lend a schoolhouse feel to this breakfast nook. Dark painted trim highlights the architectural details in the space.

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Add Storage with Vintage Finds

Brian Vanden Brink

Add Storage with Vintage Finds

Natural wood, simple linens, and an aged patina give this bedroom a timeless feel. A stack of suitcases adds storage and acts as a reminder of the spirit of travel that has drawn people to the coast for centuries.

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Use Antique Garden Gates

Photographer Jean Allsopp

Use Antique Garden Gates

Metal gates create unique headboards in keeping with the antique vibe of the room.

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Age a Home with Wood

Photographer Jeff McNamara

Age a Home with Wood

Rough-sawn oak plank walls that have been sanded down and lightly whitewashed nod to this house’s age but also give this attic bath a light feel.

See More of this Vintage Connecticut Cottage

Integrate Historic Salvage Finds

Photo: Tom McWilliam

Integrate Historic Salvage Finds

The focal point in this kitchen is the remains of a pole once used as a practice mast for members of the Life-Saving Service (the Coast Guard's predecessor) to rehearse rescues more than a century ago.

Include Classic Silhouettes

Photographer Grey Crawford

Include Classic Silhouettes

Use classical shapes in modern ways for a chic look that’s steeped in history. For this dining nook, an antique table was painted white and lacquered. The upscale plastic chairs add elegance with antique lines but keep the space childproof.

Install Wood Walls

Photographer Jean Allsopp

Install Wood Walls

Wood walls give an instant vintage appeal to a room. Even a wood accent wall can lend an old-time look to your space.

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Go Vintage with Weathered Finds

Photo: Deborah Whitlaw Llwellyn

Go Vintage with Weathered Finds

Antique knickknacks and weathered furniture give this kitchen cozy, rustic charm.

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Mix Old and New

Photographer: Lisa Romerein, Writer: Rachel Bertone

Mix Old and New

Sleek, contemporary dining room chairs stand out against the rustic wooden farm table. Vintage lighting and a nautical art display give this room coastal personality.

Use Bamboo Furniture

Photographer Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

Use Bamboo Furniture

The vintage Heywood-Wakefield bamboo furniture set on this porch feels crisply shipshape with cushions covered in marine blue fabric and white piping.

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Salvage Old Fixtures

Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

Salvage Old Fixtures

This homeowner refurbished vintage light fixtures to achieve an aged look and save natural resources.

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Highlight Antique Treasures

Rob Melnychuk

Highlight Antique Treasures

Paint shelves white to display collections of vintage pieces to their best advantage. Choosing the same white for both shelves and walls allows prized objects—such as these antique cameras―to stand out.

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Use Exterior Finishes Inside

Photo: Annie Schlecter

Use Exterior Finishes Inside

Using an exterior finish on an interior wall makes the space feel like an addition to the original home. Interior shingle-style walls add a vintage feel and suggest timeless New England life in this room.

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Go Traditional with Historic Symbols

Photographer Jeff McNamara

Go Traditional with Historic Symbols

The posts on the bed in this guest room are topped with tiny pineapples, symbolizing hospitality.

See More of this Vintage Connecticut Cottage

Use Warm Wood Tones

Photo: Celia Pearson

Use Warm Wood Tones

Go for luxury nautical elegance with warm wood tones. Antique heart-pine floors and a varnished wood ceiling make the space feel like the inside of a vintage yacht.

See this Maryland Home Makeover

Play with Color

Photo: Annie Schlechter

Play with Color

Vintage furniture, colorful fabrics, and island-inspired decor recall a 1970s tropical resort. Metallic accents add just the right amount of glam to the room.

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Create Classic Vintage Character

William Abranowicz

Create Classic Vintage Character

Tongue-in-cheek vintage character and pattern pair prettily with more traditional antique sailboat photographs and ocean-themed accents.

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Warm Up a Space with Antique Accents

Photographer: Dominique Vorillon, Writer: Perry Del Favero

Warm Up a Space with Antique Accents

Classic white cabinetry and tile won’t seem overly sterile if you include lively vintage accents, such as a farmhouse sink and retro metal barstools.

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Reference Early Americana

Photographer Tom McWilliam

Reference Early Americana

Pine plank floors and exposed framing pay homage to early American architecture. Mosquito nets hung from overhead beams create the look of a four-poster bed while allowing the drama of the ceiling to speak for itself. Weathered wooden pieces, such as the large pine chest and tree trunk coat rack, enhance the rustic theme.

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Whitewash to Highlight Texture

Photo Sophie Munro

Whitewash to Highlight Texture

Whitewashed wood in this kitchen shows off the natural material’s texture and imperfections—creating a lived-in-for-years look.

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Install Vintage Appliances

Photo: Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

Install Vintage Appliances

Give your kitchen a nostalgic feel with vintage appliances. A refurbished stove, manually operated toaster, and dial phone will lend an old-school vibe, while a retro clock will ensure your culinary efforts cook to perfection.

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Mix Your Wickers

Photographer Troy Campbell

Mix Your Wickers

Natural pine floors, walls, and ceilings preserve this cottage’s retro, lived-in look. Vintage wicker furniture in different designs adds to the casual feel.

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Try Vintage-Style Accessories

Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn; Styling by Brian Carter

Try Vintage-Style Accessories

Skirted cabinets and a vintage produce scale add extra charm to this small kitchen.

See More of this Beach Bungalow

Incorporate Real Antique Materials

Photographer David Tsay

Incorporate Real Antique Materials

Reproductions are wonderful, but real vintage finds add character to your home. In the home's bath, new fixtures were added around vintage hand-painted zigzag tile.

See more of this Restored Coastal Cottage

Include Mid-Century Classics

Photographer Jean Allsopp

Include Mid-Century Classics

Use furnishings in classic mid-century designs, such as this tulip table and Bertoia side chairs, to give a decidedly retro look to your space.

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Look for Affordable Accessories

Richard Leo Johnson

Look for Affordable Accessories

Vintage doesn’t have to be expensive. Plentiful and iconic blue Mason jars give a sense of history to this tablescape.

See this Restored Island Home

Use Vintage Finds in Unexpected Ways

Use Vintage Finds in Unexpected Ways

Use Vintage Finds in Unexpected Ways

Let a showstopping sink take center stage. Set a colorful enamel bowl atop a vintage washstand, or mount it on a countertop as an attention-getter.

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Try Texture

Jean Allsopp

Try Texture

Use texture to add vintage interest. Beaded-board walls with vertical stripes and distressed cabinets make this kitchen feel established.

More Decorating Ideas from Designer Tracey Rapisardi

Opt for Coastal Colors

Photographer Tria Giovan

Opt for Coastal Colors

Coastal can be formal, too. The sea-inspired colors of this lush canopy make the space cool and breezy instead of stuffy and straitlaced.

See Our Editors’ Favorite Rooms

Look for Global Inspiration

Photo: Dominique Vorillon, Writer: Brett Bralley

Look for Global Inspiration

Encourage your little explorers and add vintage charm by displaying a favorite collection of antique globes and maps in a playroom.

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Show Your Color Personality

Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

Show Your Color Personality

Get creative with appliance colors. Think black, white, and stainless are your only options in the kitchen? Think again! Colored appliances are a great way to add a retro feel to your cooking space.

See more of this Colorful Kitchen

Add Character with Built-ins

Photo: Tria Giovan, Stylist: Heather Chadduck

Add Character with Built-ins

Built-ins and alcoves add historic character to a room. This window seat not only provides a nice place to curl up and read, but it also adds storage space.

See this North Carolina Home

Install Reproduction Fixtures

Jean Allsopp

Install Reproduction Fixtures

A farmhouse sink, beaded-board accents, vintage-style pendant lights, and floors with an authentic hand-scraped appearance give this kitchen a classic beach cottage look.

See this Texas Idea House

Rethink Functionality

Paul Wicheloe

Rethink Functionality

An oversize French chest functions as storage as well as a sink console in this bath.

More Vintage Decorating Ideas from Designer Kay Douglass

Integrate Antiques

Photographer: Annie Schlechter

Integrate Antiques

Work vintage pieces into a space, like this headboard and trunk, to give a room a sense of place.

See this Nantucket Home Restoration

Mix Styles

Photo: Roger Davies, Writer: Kelly Brown Tomas

Mix Styles

Don’t be afraid to mix antique eras. Mid-century chairs freshen up the look of this antique table, and bookcases lend a library feel to this dining room, while glass French doors let the light shine in.

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Add an Antique Shower

Photographer: Laura Moss

Add an Antique Shower

You needn’t give up the shower to have a classic footed tub. These homeowners made a shower curtain that surrounds the antique tub by soldering copper piping and bolting it to the interior roof rafters.

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Limit Your Palette

Photographer Jean-Philippe Piter

Limit Your Palette

Keep your space neutral to highlight antiques. Instead of artwork on the walls, these homeowners incorporated eye-catching antiques and ethnic furniture. The standout pieces also help to bring the all-white room to life.

Include Cheeky Accents

Photo: Annie Schlechter

Include Cheeky Accents

Quirky accessories, such as a mounted game fish and a shell chandelier with an antique finish, add personality and casualness to a beach house dining room.

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Display Family Treasures

Philip Clayton-Thompson

Display Family Treasures

Family heirlooms and collections will always add personality and a sense of place to your home. This owner showcases her father and grandfather's hats and fishing baskets, as well as antique duck decoys.

See this Tiny Island Home

Implement Oversize Statement Pieces

Jean Allsopp

Implement Oversize Statement Pieces

Use large antiques in unique ways. Overhead, an antique canvas kayak reminds homeowners that the water is just steps away.

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Repurpose and Salvage

Photographer: Annie Schlechter

Repurpose and Salvage

Use salvaged pieces to make new things. This homeowner designed her kitchen island using antique table legs and salvaged butcher block.

See this Nantucket Home Restoration

Make a Sleeping Porch

Photographer: Tria Giovan, Writer: Rachel Bertone

Make a Sleeping Porch

Before air-conditioning, coastal residents would often take advantage of the sea breeze with a sleeping porch. This antique iron bed and vintage-style bamboo furniture look beautiful on the screened porch.

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Rethink Classic Architectural Features

Tria Giovan

Rethink Classic Architectural Features

High wainscoting is a hallmark of an Arts-and-Crafts style home. A light paint color keeps the woodwork from feeling too heavy, and the coastal hue gives the room a beachy look.

See this Home with a Beach Inspired Palette

Use Photographs

Photographer Jean Allsopp

Use Photographs

Re-create an antique look in any room in your home without an expensive overhaul by hanging black-and-white and sepia-tone photographs. Salvaged frames in various widths and texture add an authentic feel to aged pictures.

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Use Materials As-Is

Richard Leo Johnson

Use Materials As-Is

Don’t feel like you need to strip and refinish reclaimed wood. These boards were salvaged from an old home and used just as they were.

Get more Decorating Ideas from Designer Jane Coslick

Show It Off

Eric Roth

Show It Off

Use paint color to highlight antiques. Paint exposed pipes or ducts the same hue as their surroundings to trick the eye and make the utilitarian objects appear less prominent. To focus attention on a single object, such as this antique sink, paint adjacent surfaces a softer, creamier white.

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Decorate for Cottage Comfort

Photo: Jean Allsopp

Decorate for Cottage Comfort

Wood-planked floors and cozy quilts made of light, sea-colored pastels honor the rustic feel of this century-old cottage, embracing the charm of the setting and the house.

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Examine the Architecture

Photographer: David Tsay, Writer: Rachel Bertone

Examine the Architecture

A streamlined sectional sofa and pair of swivel chairs lend a 1960s vibe to this living room that complements the home's architecture.

Try Vintage Print Wallpaper

Photographer: Dominique Vorillon, Writer: Perry Del Favero

Try Vintage Print Wallpaper

The simple addition of whimsical wallpaper on the ceiling and walls diverts the focus from the retro peach tile and breathes new life into this room.

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Use Exterior Architectural Salvage Indoors

Photographer Richard Leo Johnson

Use Exterior Architectural Salvage Indoors

In this room, a screened door in a muted blue makes a breezy statement as the pantry entry.

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Include Rope Details

Photographer: Annie Schlechter

Include Rope Details

Nothing says vintage nautical like chunky rope accents. This converted attic bunkroom has six beds, each hung with nautical rope that was braided by a local fisherman.

See this Nantucket Home Restoration

Choose Familiar Patterns

Photo: Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

Choose Familiar Patterns

Use a classic quilt like this one in a familiar pinwheel pattern. Details such as a metal washbasin and straw hat lend sunny country appeal to a room decked in sleek, modern lines. A vintage postcard collection keeps the space inviting and inspiring.

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Remember the Details

Photo: Brian Vanden Brink

Remember the Details

Little things, such as cabinet hardware, help reinforce vintage style. These classic bin-style pulls offer a chic and antique look.

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Add History with Distressing

Photo Annie Schlechter

Add History with Distressing

Distressed walls, lighting, and cabinetry give this kitchen a sense of depth and place. Try distressing techniques such as sanding furniture, or scour flea markets for goods with an aged patina.

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Opt for Nautical Style

Photographer Sophie Munro

Opt for Nautical Style

The exposed beams in this loft space are reminiscent of the interior of an old ship.

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Furnish Outside the Box

Photographer Roger Davies, 

Furnish Outside the Box

Cut decorating costs by reimagining new homes for pieces you already own. For instance, an old apothecary chest is a rich, charming substitute for countertops and cabinetry.

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Paint Your Floors

Photographer Michael Skott

Paint Your Floors

Painted floors are low-maintenance and age beautifully. Scratches and scuffs only add character.

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Use a Historic Hue

Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

Use a Historic Hue

For generations, Southerners have painted their porch ceilings a soft blue shade called haint blue because it makes ceilings appear higher and is rumored to deter wasps.

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Try the Luxury Liner Look

Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

Try the Luxury Liner Look

Knotty pine walls reminiscent of old beach homes and wooden sailing vessels combined with saturated blue, green, and white fabrics create the classic look of a luxury liner.

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Be Authentic

Roger Davies

Be Authentic

This casual dining area features a freestanding custom replica of a ship’s table surrounded by banquette seating. A retro-nautical light fixture hangs overhead.

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Use Reclaimed Wood

Tria Giovan

Use Reclaimed Wood

Lend a sense of history to newer homes with salvaged or reclaimed wood. It’s environmentally friendly and provides a welcome contrast to newer building components.

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Perk Up Lackluster Walls

Paul Wicheloe

Perk Up Lackluster Walls

Look for unexpected nautical finds that can be used as art, such as these antique oars.

More Decorating Ideas from Designer Kay Douglass

Recycle Ship Sails

Recycle Ship Sails

Dacron sails are impermeable to water making them excellent alternatives to traditional shower curtains. Their durability matches that of commercial-grade upholstery, but they’re weathered enough to feel as soft as pillows.

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Fill Your Space with Antiques

Brian Vanden Brink

Fill Your Space with Antiques

Old books, buoys, and antiques lend history to this coastal cabin. Glass-pane doors extend the space visually and ensure plenty of natural light.

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Hang Retro Signage

Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn

Hang Retro Signage

Vintage signs are a proven way to add vintage charm and give your space a graphic punch.

More Retro Decorating Tips

Use Cabana-Style Details

Photo J. Savage Gibson, Stylist Heather Chadduck, 

Use Cabana-Style Details

This pool umbrella is retro-chic. Not only is the pink color a beach club trademark, but its squared-off scalloped edge is a classic cabana detail. The treatment isn’t limited to outdoor furniture. Try the same edging on a drapery valance or bed skirt.

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Recapture the Essence of the Good ole Days

Photographer Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn, 

Recapture the Essence of the Good ole Days

Switch out drywall for beaded board. Trade in your stainless steel sink for an old farmhouse version. And sand off a few coats of paint from your cabinetry for a well-loved feel.

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