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Coastal Decor

Grace Garret

Coastal is the most popular trend because of its relaxed seaside vibe. It’s also a recurring one because so many of us live in cities not far from the ocean and its influence is always there. Every time the coastal look is strong, it has a different vibe. One year it might be Mediterranean in style with bold blues, crisp whites and pure greens; another year it could be more south of the equator, with watery blues, greyer seaweed tones and less distinct aquatic shapes.

Wallpaper is big this season and the motifs are many and varied. This year’s coastal look, of course, features things found in and near the sea: sand, stones, pebbles, driftwood, ropes, anchors, fish and seabirds. Some of the motifs are a lot less predictable, such as cuttlefish, mussels and blue green algae. You’ll find these in wallpapers and fabrics that can often be custom coloured. That means a myriad of colour ways, from soft pastels to strong brights as an option.

Other colours to watch for 2016 are dusty grey pints, peach/coral, grey lilacs and inky blues. Yellow is still holding its own, as is aqua and teal. Lots of visual texture is key. And don’t limit the wallpaper to walls; you can take small sections and frame them like artworks, an inexpensive but effective way to create a lot of interest.

Contemporary coastal is cool as ever, with blues and greens from the middle of the spectrum against a backdrop of white and wood. It also mixes genres. That means taking something like traditional Hamptons style – wicker or cane furniture with slipcovers in natural fabrics and a touch of rope – and shaking it up with a hint of tribal, for example. This could be a wallpaper or cushion fabric with an abstract tribal motif and perhaps a few accessories made from natural fibres. Overlapping the two trends is easy do as using complementary patterns and similar colours or tones will tie it all together.

Another key look is coastal meets tropical, which brings in last year’s leafy motifs. Try a small amount of nautical (perhaps a stripe) with a few oriental ceramics and florals (in both fabric form, such as a lampshade, and even real topiary). Keep it all in the one colour family – apart from natural green foliage in the room – and link it all with pops of contrasting tan or orange.

Refreshing your home in contemporary coastal is all about mixing. Start with a hero print in a wallpaper or tablecloth or bedhead fabric and work from there. Let it guide your choice of wall colour and accessories and don’t forget to include an element of surprise, such as a vivid aqua ottoman in a sea of soft blue.


Grace Garrett has worked in the design industry for 20 years. She teaches colour at Sydney Design School and has extensive experience as a colourist and designer in Australia and overseas. She was recognised by Porter’s Paints for excellence in colour and surface design, and has been a finalist in the Australian Dulux Colour Awards, the Designer Rugs Awards (with two designs selected) and the Fred Hosking Surface Design Awards. She was recently featured in Australian House & Garden magazine’s Women in Design for 2015 and House & Garden’s design awards for the past two years.

Breakout box:
Lampshade Workshop – limited places so book early!
Date: Saturday 20th February
Time: 2-5pm
Venue: Steal the Limelight @ 1/269 Harbord Road, Brookvale
Description: Expert crafter Stephanie Nichols and textile designer Grace Garrett take you through each step to creating your own lampshade as well as giving you a few helpful tips to ensure you walk away with a stylish design. Choose from our select range of fabrics or bring your own fabric to make a 40cm diameter drum shade. At the end of the workshop you will leave with a unique, handcrafted piece. The cost of the workshop includes all workshop materials, and detailed instructions for making more lampshades on your own at home if you wish, plus a glass of bubbly at the end!
Cost:     $165 for 1 x 40cm drum shade
             $185 for 2 x bedside shades
More information: / Grace 0403 016 421 / Stephanie 0417 439 459

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