Here's the thing: nautical décor gets a bad rap for being kitschy—and dare we say, tacky. To be honest, we're not raising our sails to a room with striped everything, floor-to-ceiling rope décor, and anchor motifs from wall to wall. But, with some precise navigation, a bit of restraint, and a foolproof route, nautical décor can actually look super chic.
Before you go making your home look like a page out of a yachting magazine, dive in for 15 ideas to make any room look just the right amount of nautical. Time to batten down the hatches.
Find Standout Pieces
A single statement piece can give your space a whole new vibe without making it feel too on-theme. This modern bathroom gets a nautical twist via a gorgeous vintage steam gauge and we love how the brass pairs perfectly with the silver.
Invest in Embroidered Pieces
Custom embroidered pieces have a way of making everything feel naval in an expensive way. The maritime-inspired pillowcases in this guest bedroom feel equal parts Navy barracks and high-end hotel, but nonetheless, add a fancy feel to your home. Your guests will feel like they're in their own private suite every time they come over.
Shop for Vintage Treasures
Vintage imagery has a way of giving any space a worldly charm. Rummage through flea markets and antique stores for paintings of boats and textiles with coastal-inspired embroidery pieces to dress up your existing décor. The final result will be a vintage nautical look that feels Nantucket-grandma chic.
Don't Go Too Literal
When creating a space that stands the test of time, search high and low for pieces that feel theme-appropriate, but don't go too literal. Incorporating materials like woodgrain and rope, a white and blue color scheme, and mixing metallic accessories feels nautical in a not-so-obvious way. This kitchen is sure to make a splash for years to come.
Nail Down Your Color Palette
We don't know if it's the images of cherry wood speedboats weaving through Venice canals or the yacht interiors you see in movies, but cherry wood almost always has a way of making a room feel nautical. Pair that with blue textiles, and you have yourself a nautical-inspired man cave or cigar room.
Make It All in the Details
Nautical décor can be as grand or as modest as you like. If you're leaning more towards the latter, all it takes is a few thoughtfully placed details to get you there without transporting you to, say, Gilligan's Island. This super modern bathroom gets a subtle nautical twist via a trio of gorgeous vanity sconces.
Rope in Your Design
Rope details will always feel unapologetically nautical. A simple decorative sphere woven out of rope instantly ups your interior maritime rank. A jute rug, statement bedside pendant light, and a collection of curated books will tie your entire room together with that seaside feel.
Embrace Nautical Prints
There's definitely a way to embrace a maximalist combination of anchor motifs and nautical stripes without feeling too kitschy. This child's bedroom is coastal chic, and as you can see, it doesn't scream "childish" in the slightest.
Working with a clean white canvas and layering on touches of themed elements help drive home your vision while remaining light and airy.
There's no other interior wall treatment that feels as undeniably nautical as shiplap. It's even built right into the name. The horizontal panels commonly found on water-tight ships look particularly beautiful inside any home. It adds texture to a plain wall, while still looking clean and minimal.
Embrace Old Fixtures
When it comes to renovating and redecorating spaces, the first order of business is usually to remove old fixtures and replace them with new, more modern-looking models. Instead, leave the old fixtures, give them a little polish, and incorporate them into your new design. This vessel sink looks right at home in this nautical-themed bathroom.
Try a Playful Color Palette
While navy and white is the most classic maritime color combo, don't be afraid to introduce unexpected shades into your design. This children's bedroom features a brighter color palette, but thanks to the stripes, abstract wave pattern on the rug, and rope and metal pipe details on the bunk beds, it still feels traditional.
Make Subtle Swaps
The best way to experiment with a theme and still have it fit in your space is to swap out basic items for ones with a bit of pizzazz. For instance, if you have a mirror in your foyer or over a bar, replace it with a dome mirror with gold details instead. The tone will feel nautical without screaming it from the bow.
Incorporate Thrifted Art
If your style is a bit more of an old-world sailing vibe, a gallery wall of vintage and vintage-inspired skiff art is the perfect addition to any room. You can find this type of art in thrift stores, antique shops, and flea markets in almost any region, most of the time for cheap. When displayed together in an interesting composition, the result will always feel cultured and expensive, not to mention nautical, not kitschy.
Create Your Own Design Style
Just because traditional nautical décor incorporates very specific design elements doesn't mean you can fuse all of your interests to create a whole new design style. We love how this living room incorporates pieces from all around the world and includes traditional prints to create a warm, inviting, and lived-in space, while the model sailboat on display drives home the true theme of this space.
Take It Outdoors
If you're going with a nautical look inside your home, don't forget to take the same seaside feel outside. A touch of shiplap under your porch and rope detailing like the one on this hanging bench is just the touch you need for that ahoy feel.