How To

How to Create a Coastal Boho Living Room

Perhaps two of the most enviable styles in 2022 are coastal chic and the relaxed boho aesthetic. Both inspired by beachside living, one is a little more put-together, where the other takes a carefree approach. So, if your vibe is laid-back sprinkled with a little beachy luxury, why not blend the two?

Together, coastal and boho styles create the perfect fusion of colours and textures, evoking the tranquillity of the seaside in a way that’s totally on trend. There’s no better time than right now to turn your living room into a peaceful paradise. To help inspire you, our team of knowledgeable stylists have put together their guide to all things coastal-boho, including 12 must-read tips for at-home stylists.

What is coastal furniture?

Coastal furniture is, first and foremost, inspired by the beauty of the beach. Traditionally, it’s the kind of furniture you’d find in seaside apartments, beach houses and adorable sandy shacks all over the world. Its core elements are derived from the sea, sand and surf – the colours and materials you’ll find in nature, including white, a spectrum of browns and tans, blue, green, and yellow. So, it’s no surprise that it fits right in with current trends as we see the ‘neutral aesthetic’ continue to rise in popularity.

Coastal furniture is typically wooden, and often, is made of woods that are found close to the beach, including rattan, jute, and cane. Because these pieces were a fixture in homes that got pretty salty and sandy, they’re incredibly durable, supported by weaving techniques like wicker.

The Mila 3 Seater Sofa is the ultimate example of the ‘shabby chic’ approach where comfort and a soft silhouette meet.
The Mila 3 Seater Sofa is the ultimate example of the ‘shabby chic’ approach where comfort and a soft silhouette meet.
The Mila 3 Seater Sofa is the ultimate example of the ‘shabby chic’ approach where comfort and a soft silhouette meet.
The Mila 3 Seater Sofa is the ultimate example of the ‘shabby chic’ approach where comfort and a soft silhouette meet.

What signifies boho furniture?

Boho furniture has a lot of the same central tenets as coastal style – it’s influenced by nature, has a cosy feel, and incorporates wooden elements. What sets it apart is its ‘shabby chic’ approach, which favours rustic furniture and leans even further into comfort with softer, less structured silhouettes. Boho pieces are also usually constructed out of wood, and pair this with floaty soft furnishings in light, bright colours. Boho sometimes splashes out with a bit more colour, but when paired with coastal, the end result is a little more pared-back than when it’s being interpreted on its own.

Twelve steps to a stunning coastal boho living room

Blending these two like-minded aesthetics will result in something beautiful – a laid-back and serene environment that takes inspiration from nature, and has an elegance to it whilst still remaining pretty fuss-free. When you’re ready to take the leap and bring coastal boho decor and furniture into your home, and specifically your living room, use these 12 go-to pieces of advice from our stylists as a guide.

1. Start with a neutral base

Something that’s central to both boho and coastal style is the importance of a neutral canvas. Whether you’re all about clean whites, browns and beiges, or prefer pops of colour, starting with something very pared-back is crucial. This will create a malleable jumping-off point for every furniture piece you choose, and every decor decision you make.

To establish this, be sure you’re working with white walls (preferably warm-toned) and as neutral a floor as possible. Coastal style in particular will jibe very well with light or mid-toned wood or vinyl flooring, or a simple white or tan carpet. Of course, we understand not everyone can alter their home, whether it’s out of the budget or you’re in a rental – so if this is you, look to later steps in our how-to guide like adding rugs to create diversions from tones that are too bright or dark.

2. Channel laidback luxe

Before you begin selecting furniture and homewares pieces, it’s important to have a solid idea of what you’re trying to achieve – and in the case of coastal boho, as we’re calling it, the vibe is laidback luxe. As you’re deciding on items to add to your space, channel comfort and cosiness, and a relaxed feel that’s evocative of beachside living. But, don’t shy away from adding pieces that might be considered more modern or traditional, either. Coastal definitely has an element of elegance to it, and adding these slightly higher-end pieces (whether they’re actually high-end – it’s all about the illusion!) will tie everything together and create the look we’re going for with this style.

3. Add beachy cane furniture

Starting with key furniture pieces, one approach in a coastal living room is the ultra-popular rattan and wicker look we’re seeing everywhere. There’s a reason it’s so well-loved: rattan furniture looks gorgeous, has been trending for decades now, and really has that relaxed yet upscale feel we’re chasing. And, it ties perfectly into both the coastal and boho aesthetics – a win-win!

One watch-out when using rattan, cane or wicker furniture is to not oversaturate. Because it’s so beautiful and intricate, many of us fall into the trap of going all-out, but to keep things timeless and subtle – and to ensure the longevity of your styling – try to select two or three pieces in this design at most. For instance, you might like to opt for an entertainment unit with rattan cupboard fronts like the Caledonia Rattan Entertainment Unit, and pair it with a statement-making cane end table or coffee table. Then, pair these with other pieces in a classic light wood or whitewashed wood to balance everything out and create a classic boho lounge room.

Raw textured wood make a petite working from home space ooze boho appeal.
Raw textured wood make a petite working from home space ooze boho appeal.
Raw textured wood make a petite working from home space ooze boho appeal.
Raw textured wood make a petite working from home space ooze boho appeal.

4. Or take a rustic wooden approach

An alternative way to tackle those big furniture pieces like coffee tables, TV units, side tables and bookshelves is to lean into the rustic look. We’re talking driftwood-inspired tones with a rough finish that really elicit that chilled-out, almost vintage boho vibe. Just like styling rattan or cane, adding rustic wood elements in your space should take a subtle approach.

Select a couple of pieces that really show off those raw and earthy features, and then designate other furniture items in the space as background players. Perhaps you’ll opt for a boho coffee table in a stunning raw-textured wood, or a sideboard or buffet in a similar style. Being a little selective will really establish a modern boho living room style without being overwhelming. We love pieces like the Shamal Round Coffee Table and the Martin Small Sideboard for the ultimate rustic look.

5. Keep it cosy yet chic

With wood out of the way, your soft furnishings like sofas and armchairs are the other major consideration. In a coastal boho space, you’ll really want to prioritise structured comfort – furniture pieces that have that luxurious air about them, but are also plush and cosy, perfect for sinking into at the end of a long day.

A range that really embodies this style is Palermo, which features sofas, armchairs and sofa beds that have an eye-catching slouchy linen look, but upon close inspection, still retain a chic shape and that touch of elegance. The Palermo 3 Seater Sofa in Corinthian White is the ultimate coastal boho sofa, with its overstuffed feel, ample cushioning, and cloud-like aura. A tip when choosing a sofa as a focal point in your space is to opt for a light colour – this will add to the clean coastal look, and it’ll also create an adaptable canvas for styling with pops of colour. If you’re selecting additional seating items for the living room like armchairs and ottomans, you’ll achieve the coastal boho furniture look by favouring soft, pillowy pieces that complement your choice of sofa.

6. Don’t let functionality fall

As we near the halfway point in this go-to guide, now’s the time to stop and check yourself. When you’re trying to style a room according to a particular aesthetic, it can be easy to let pretty overtake practical. But, something that should be central to every design decision you make – in the living room and beyond – is functionality.

Assess your coastal boho living room or plan as it stands. Does it fit with your family or household’s needs? Ask yourself if you need more storage, comfort, versatility… chances are, if you’re not on the right track, something will jump out at you. With this in mind, you’ll then be able to revisit any additional furniture pieces you might require and channel them in a coastal boho-friendly way. You might like to incorporate some additional seating with the Bosco Ottoman, or add a beautiful bookcase such as the Monterey Hamptons Style Bookcase to create some more functionality in your living room.

7. Prioritise spacious comfort

Before we wrap up furniture and move onto decor, the final thing to consider in your coastal living room is the configuration of the space. Depending on what you’re working with, there’ll be a number of furniture arrangements that suit, and perhaps one or two that just feel right.

Unlike modern or Scandinavian style, boho furniture configuration can include an element of closeness, but be careful not to overstuff the space. Instead, make it a priority to cover all of your needs and add flair, but in a way that still feels spacious. As a rule, large furniture pieces (such as the coffee table, sofa and entertainment unit) should have at least 30cm of space between them.

The 60-30-10 colour rule seen here with 60% white and cream neutrals, 30% wooden and tan tones and 10% pink as an accent colour.
The 60-30-10 colour rule seen here with 60% white and cream neutrals, 30% wooden and tan tones and 10% pink as an accent colour.
The 60-30-10 colour rule seen here with 60% white and cream neutrals, 30% wooden and tan tones and 10% pink as an accent colour.
The 60-30-10 colour rule seen here with 60% white and cream neutrals, 30% wooden and tan tones and 10% pink as an accent colour.

8. Use the 60-30-10 colour rule

With all of the bigger puzzle pieces neatly in place, it’s time to fill in the gaps with decor. The homewares items you choose will ultimately be what help your space to take shape, really reflecting the coastal boho vibe you’re going for. Your decor is where you’ll be able to add in colour, texture and fun focal pieces that show off what your style is all about.

When you begin looking for those smaller pieces that’ll give life to the living room, try to keep a 60-30-10 colour palette in mind – in fact, this should inform every design decision you make as part of this project (or any project!). This rule essentially means you’ll decorate with one primary colour for about 60 per cent of the room. In this case, chances are that colour is white or cream. Then, you’ll pick a subtle, complementary colour to use 30 per cent of the time, and something a bit more standout for the remaining 10 per cent, which will be the accent colour. Some great combinations for a coastal boho room include white, beige and royal blue, or white, brown and sage green.

9. Modernise your coastal charm

To juxtapose all of the clean, bright white and beachy vibes in the space, many home designers are also turning to modern-inspired elements in coastal boho homes, simply as accent pieces. Depending on your home and your unique style, there may be opportunities to add a little modernity, through metal accents – brass is always best to keep with the warm yet rustic tones – as well as pops of black, which pairs really well with rattan. For a traditional coastal look, incorporate these contemporary features through decor items like lamps, candlesticks, vases, and trinkets. If you’re feeling bold, you might even like to channel this vibe through a small piece of furniture, such as the Caledonia Rattan Bench in Black.

10. Create a calming oasis with decor

Although decor is for aesthetic purposes, so much can be done to lift the mood of the space, and position your living room as a calming paradise. Add coastal boho home decor that has a secondary purpose – for example, beautiful woven pots to house your favourite plants, or scented pillar candles that happen to sit atop striking white candlesticks.

Art is also a central decor item in any space, and can really add to the way a place feels. There are lots of options that’ll reflect your coastal boho decor choices, including beach scenes, minimal, textural paintings, or whitewashed prints. A hot tip is to use your accent colour and translate it into wall art to tie everything in the room together seamlessly. The Eucalyptus Print has a very tranquil, natural feel, especially when paired with a white frame.

After a cosy feel? A blanket is a must!
After a cosy feel? A blanket is a must!
After a cosy feel? A blanket is a must!
After a cosy feel? A blanket is a must!

11. Include creature comforts

Emphasise a comfy and cosy feel by including those little must-haves that amplify the moments you spend in your space – we’re talking blankets, throw pillows, candles and other lovely additions that can raise the mood tenfold. These also present opportunities to include your complementary and accent colours in tasteful yet striking ways.

A creature comfort we can’t go past is a coastal boho rug. A must especially for those of us that have wooden floors, rugs give a space warmth, texture, and a lived-in feel that’s very central to this style. Rugs are also a great way to neutralise any colours or materials in the space that don’t reflect coastal style. Because it’ll take up quite a bit of surface area, you’ll want to go for something pretty neutral, in a white, sand or cream tone. Create visual interest by opting for something textured, such as the gorgeous Staten Natural Jute Wool Rug.

12. Finish with pops of greenery

The finishing touch in your coastal boho living room is, without a doubt, plants! We consider greenery a non-negotiable decor element, and this is particularly pertinent when you’re trying to create a beachy look in your home.

We’ve all got our favourite plant babies, so it might just be a question of which ones to migrate from the next room. But, if you are starting from scratch, now’s a good opportunity to pick up some plants that really enforce the coastal look and feel. The most obvious is the humble fern, which will add some LA-inspired flair to your home, but other go-tos include monsteras, fiddle leaf figs, birds of paradise, and other tall plants that add dimension and height.

Ready to turn your coastal boho dreams into reality? Shop hundreds of furniture pieces today with Brosa, including much-loved coastal pieces that’ll give your home an enviable beachy flair. If you need a little more guidance on styling your coastal boho living room, get advice from our expert stylists virtually or at one of our Studio spaces.