What's Your Shore Style: Coastal or Tropical?


What if you could fulfill the same therapeutic effect given by a lush vacation at the beach without ever booking a flight or having a road trip?

Shore-based styling is one of the fastest-growing design trends, and why not? It’s easy to fall in love with this decorating style that encapsulates fun-filled days at the beach —mesmerising the baking sun, soft sand, cresting waves and sea breeze on your face— ohh, heaven!

There are different types of shore-based styles including Coastal and Tropical, and both have a few similarities such as a predominance of ocean hues, love of natural light, and use of fabrics and furniture. Both styles bring to mind an ocean side retreat or vacation villa. There are also some differences that make each style unique! Before you decide which style is for you, read on to differentiate these two popular design motifs.

Coastal Styling for a Dreamy Beach-Inspired Home

Inspired by the ocean, coastal styling pairs beachy accessories with traditional fabrics — making you immediately think of a beach or beach house! Light and breezy, this style evokes a warm cottage love with modern sophistication to create that laid-back, casual feel. Coastal style furniture and accessories feature organic, natural, clean lines, and easy-going pieces that recall cozy shacks.


Tropical Styling for a Relaxed Island-Inspired Home

The vibrant palette of corals and greens of tropical styling echoes the chorus of brightly coloured birds and the fresh, salty smell of morning waves — so relaxing! This shore style offers comfort and design that can easily turn your space into a destination resort where you can relax all-year long. Rattan, woven raffia, and crushed bamboo usually make up this style’s laid-back appeal. Plus, it gives off that strong Bali vibes that’s so cozy and comforting.

Now let’s deep dive into the different elements of design and how Coastal and Tropical differ from each other:

Elements of Design




Window treatments are typically white and always sparse and simple, letting the natural light come in. You can also use ambient lighting and lamps to fake the sunshine if you’re short on windows and glass doors.

More concerned with the ceiling fan that provides an island breeze than the natural light.  A wide-paddle fan contributes a faux surfside breeze, and the soothing rhythm of its gentle hum makes it perfect for the tropical vibe.


Pale is the key to a coastal palette. Beige, cream, white and khaki resemble sand dunes that also stir up a warm coastal setting.

Vibrant and colourful — think coral and navy, green and earthen brown.


Calls for crisp, clean fabrics — think cotton rugs, linen slipcovers, floaty sheers, and muslin curtain panels. Stay away from fabrics that are too heavily themed.

Calls for strong, splashy prints — think patterns with tropical leaves, bamboo, and palm fronds. Use them in moderation though so they won’t be too overwhelming.


Gauzy drapes and slouchy slipcovers are perfect additions to a coastal vibe. Driftwood, blond maple, w hite painted planks, and bead boards are also common to this setting.

The tropical design aesthetic loves texture. Think natural — bamboo, jute, and cane fit the design well. Look for furniture made from rattan and wicker, and fill the space with coarsely woven floor coverings.


Add a few touches of rope in the form of a nautical ball, a simple sea glass,  a few sea shells, or a picture frame. Coastal spaces should feel open and airy, so keep your accessories to a minimum.

Add tropical plants — lush green, big, and leafy plants are all dead giveaways of a tropical setting. Look for shutters and try propping them against an interior wall to bring that tropical atmosphere inside.


White timber floors with a textured or a subtly-patterned floor rug. Avoid timbers that have warm red or orange tones.

Darker wide floorboards reflecting the traditional colonial homesteads. Add rugs in natural fiber and textures.


Styling Your Coastal Bedroom

The Bedhead

Large upholstered bedhead — it’s classic, soft, and stylish. Wooden bedhead with an oversized timber frame in a neutral shade will also work.


It’s all about layers of linen and cotton. Embrace white in all its shades and perhaps some blue tones in your accent cushions.


A big, beautiful mirror adds more than a touch of elegance. Beach-themed prints and artwork that mimic the colour palette of the room always look great.


Styling Your Tropical Bedroom

The Bedhead

A cane, wicker or dark timber bedhead is crucial in a tropical bedroom. Feature natural textures and colours.


Think green leafy print or linen cushions. White crisp linens are an easy option here, however bolder prints can work if used in the right way.


Jute rugs can be used on any surface. Make sure you consider the size of the room when choosing a rug — too small and it looks silly; too big and your feature bedhead becomes redundant .

In Summary

Regardless of which design style you prefer, what’s most important is that you were able to provide your space a much-needed sense of calm, serenity, and stability.

Whatever shore style you like – coastal or tropical – Pebble & Palm can help you find the perfect piece to complement your decor. We are a boutique homewares store that specialises in coastal and tropical styling, as well as offering personalised home styling advice. We believe in creating love-filled spaces that reflect those who live and love in them.


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