What it is: If you wanted to split hairs, you could argue that coastal style is as individual as its location: a saltbox in New England, a Mediterranean villa, a tropical cottage in Belize. For this guide, though, we'll stick with what's commonly called American coastal -- the style that probably springs to mind when you think "beach house." Light and breezy, with a palette drawn from sand and shells as much as sea and sky, it whispers "summer" all year round.
Why it works: Coastal style is at its best when it sets a mood rather than hitting people over the head with its beachiness (oars! fish! life preservers!). Although seaside motifs feel apt and appropriate, you don't need to scoop up every piece you spot with a sand dollar on it; a coastal space simply evokes the easy, carefree feel of boating and beachcombing. And the bonus? You can pull off the look even if you're hundreds of miles from a shoreline.
Want tips for incorporating coastal style in your home? Visit Houzz.