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BRIANA: The nautical look has been sailing along for a while, but it seems like it’s really made a splash lately. Liz and Camille’s photos from High Point are full of aquatic creatures (sea see below) and Target’s new Coastal Collection sports stripes, boating motifs and plenty of navy blue. What do you think about this wave of nautical home decor? Is coastal style beachy keen or is it a sinking ship?

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Design Legacy by Kelly O’Neal display at High Point Market

ALYSSA: This is blindingly awful for so many reasons, the first starting with the patchwork denim couch! A few items could stand alone in a beach house, but everything together is just too much. We ran a story about tropical style in the suburbs from the May issue of HGTV Magazine, so I could sound like a hypocrite for saying I like some of the looks in that home, but I think it’s all about not turning a design style into a design theme. AND YES, I know the difference between tropical and nautical. Also, I love a good navy and white stripe (like in Kayla’s mood board) and a big floral print — that’s the kind of preppy southern vibe I’m into.

BRIAN PATRICK FLYNN: Coastal style has timeless appeal because of its relaxed, casual and vacation-like vibe. It will always be in style and relevant as long as it’s played down, relying more on textures and finishes and shapes rather than literal nods like shells, fish and tons of anchors. One weathered anchor will do the trick, then just fill the space with tons of beach textures and muted coastal tones like blue-grey and seaglass green.

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CAMILLE: What’s “naut” to love about nautical?! Beachy accessories are not only fun in a coastal cottage, they’re also a playful way to give a land-locked home a ship-shape update – especially for summer.

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BRIANA: (Bless you for punning along with me, Camille. I feel so shellfish when I’m the only one who does it.)

HANNAH SLAUGHTER: Yep, sorry guys. I can’t hear anything over the screaming denim patchwork. (If Britney and Justin couldn’t make it cool in 2001, then no one ever will.) As for the nautical touches, I guess I’m just a firm believer in authenticity. My in-laws have nautical touches at their house on the river because my father-in-law is a legit fly fisherman. But just randomly adding anchor lights because it’s “in” for a season seems like you’re throwing your money out to sea.

KERI: I am completely with Hannah on this one. If your home is on the water, I love some nautical accessories. But let’s not go overboard (I thought I’d join in on the pun fun). A bold stripe here, and a cool seaweed botanical print there (I’m in love with this one) is all well and good. But there’s a fine line between easy, breezy sea-worthy style and crazy, overdone themed house. I think this house gets it right:

Do you like nautical home decor, as seen in this home from HGTV Magazine? Vote now on HGTV's Design Happens blog!

Photo: Alexandra Rowley for HGTV Magazine

GRANT: Nautical is “safe” for a decorating newbie trying to make his house have some sort of cohesive look. But one day, you find yourself surrounded by decorative fish netting and an array of boat nonsense and you realize, “It looks like Long John Silver’s up in here.” Take it from me, that’s not a cute moment.

JESSICA: I’m scaring the sales team with my cackling over that Long John Silver’s comment.

JOANNA GAINES, guest editor and star of HGTV’s FIXER UPPER: Nautical is fun in small doses. Striped pillows are great and a splash of coral is nice for spring/summer accents. Once it gets too theme-oriented though,  I am out.

Grant, ironically, after I got married and decorated our first little house, it was nautical themed. Sailboats were on my mantle and shelves. Not good.  It is definitely safe to say I was a “newbie.” The ships have now sailed and I learned my lesson on theme-oriented rooms!

KAYLA: This is so applicable to my life right now, you guys. I actually just bought my BF this rope tray from IKEA to satisfy his love for the high seas.

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I honestly think a beach house decked out in anchor, rope, buoy, lifesaver decor is a bit excessive, but that’s just me. I’d prefer to see something unexpected. And I definitely say no to bringing the beach to the city. Buttttt, I did just buy anchor earrings, so…

MARIANNE: I love those trays, Kayla. I love a nautical color palette (navy, white, wood tones, and gold, yessss), but I just can’t with ropes and buoys and Jonathan Livingston Seagull up in my business.

JESSICA: I grew up 15 minutes from the Puget Sound in Washington, so a lot of places just naturally had that nautical feel about them. My sister and brother’s high school had a giant boat propeller sitting out front and field trips were always to the aquarium or the beach. Our skating rink was decked out (sorry, had to) in salvaged rope and wood from the docks – we called it the “skate deck” and I didn’t even know that wasn’t the proper term for a skating rink until I moved to Tennessee. So basically, nautical décor makes me super nostalgic, but I think it can be overdone way too easily.

Full disclosure: I have two sailboat paintings in my living room, a blue and white plastic lobster guarding my laundry room, a picture of a jellyfish in a frame that looks like a submarine window in my bathroom, way too many blue and white striped shirts and dresses, and I used to have a pair of anchor earrings, but I lost them. So, it’s only a matter of time before my hoarding ways get out of control and my apartment turns into the Long John Silver’s Grant mentioned.

HANNAH SLAUGHTER: BUT, you grew up 15 minutes from Puget Sound. You earned your Long John Silver’s stripes, honey!

We’ve argued about aquatic accents, now tell us what YOU think:

28 Responses

  1. […] 10. Nautical Home Decor – Trendy Nautical and Coastal Home Decor source […]

  2. Sharon says:

    Nautical is classic. But don't overdo it. Your entire room doesn't have to look like a stateroom on a yacht. Little accents here and there are fine.

  3. rosewood11 says:

    I don't mind moderate use of nautical-themed decor (as in the picture shown in the gallery), but the first picture in this article looks like Early Long John Silver's. I also want to know what makes perfectly sane people put nautical everything in their bathroom. Every second or third bathroom I enter has little sailboats and fish everywhere. And worse yet is the cheap plaster mermaid Aunt Mary made in ceramics class. How about a few seashells and pictures of people walking along the shore for a change? Subtlety does help.

  4. Lynn says:

    Where do I find the chandelier in the photo?

  5. Dorene M. says:

    In moderation it's classy but overboard is straight up Tacky

  6. DDK1 says:

    Although I can't see the ocean from my house, I live on an island in Georgia. I have ALWAYS decorated in coastal style because it just fits my lifestyle. I have shells, lighthouse miniatures (of those I have climbed), shorebird carvings. and a beautiful set of china on the cupboard with a coral shell motif. I do NOT have a lot of blue, however, and mix some burgundy leather sofas and plaid covered chairs with my nautical items. I put all the shells away when it gets cold outside, though, and display certain items only in the summer when it is more appropriate. Shells don't go with Santas!

  7. Kathryn says:

    I live 30 minutes from the coast of central California and have a 2nd home at the beach. What I love about coastal decor? Relaxed, light-filled, easy and breezy soft colors and finishes. What I hate? All of the silly, cutesy bits that people get hooked in to. In my home you will find the casual and cool feel with high ceilings and lots of light, some hydrangeas from my garden in an ironstone pitcher, books, a candle here and there, a large print of a photo I took at the coast, and some rustic and refined mixed in a fun way. You will never find rope, a line up of shells, boats or lighthouses. That just feels too predictable and fake to me. But that is just me…

  8. joan morris says:

    everything should be done in moderation, therefore making it tasteful.

Briana MowreyBriana is a writer and senior editor for HGTV.com. Her self-described design style is "mid-century modern magpie." She lives in a Brooklyn apartment with her husband, their spoiled dachshund, Chauncey,...


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