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Tile by Style: Coastal Kitchens That Play It Cool

By Ted Ryan

Tile by Style: Coastal Kitchens That Play It Cool

Over 40% of Americans live in a coastal area. And even if you don’t, it’s easy to recognize the charm of a coastal inspired interior. Humans have always been drawn to the coast for its beauty and bounty, so it's no surprise we’ve come to take so much direction from the ocean when it comes to decorating our homes. From traditional to tropical, there’s many ways of capturing the seaside spirit.

A coastal chic kitchen gives your home a sense of place, whether you live by the water or simply long to. We’ve collected some of the most inspiring coastal kitchens to help you design a seaworthy space.

Tile Shown: Mist in 4x8 // Design: EJ Interior Design // Image: Brad Knipstein

What is Coastal Style?

You know the calm, relaxing feeling of a beach vacation? That’s exactly what a coastal design style is intended to evoke. Light natural neutrals and cool blues and greens reflect the palette of where land meets the sea. Wood accents mimic driftwood, ship decking, and piers reaching into the bay while braided rope, anchors, buoys, and sailcloth capture the symbols of maritime life.

Coastal style is as diverse as the coastlines of America, ranging from colonial New England, surfy Southern California, subtropical South Florida, Polynesian Pacific Island, and nautical Pacific Northwest.

Woven textures like sisal, jute, burlap, and linen all help to bring organic dimension, and indoor flora brings in the natural elements of the area. Pick an evergreen for northern seas and a hibiscus, bird of paradise, or ficus for more temperate climates. Color schemes change with latitude too, with dark greens and navys suited for colder regions and azure blues and bold coral and sunset colors where it’s warm.

Read on to see how you can take your kitchen decor on vacation year-round!

Rhapsody in Blue

Your kitchen doesn’t have to be dressed floor to ceiling in blue to give it a coastal vibe. We’d even argue that just the slightest touches of blue can be enough to get the seaside style you’re looking for. Recessed shelving behind your stovetop or sink is the perfect spot for a statement backsplash. Sprinkle in a mosaic of blues and a colorful border for a rippling effect that’s sure to turn heads.

Adriatic Sea and Sand Dune Triangle Tile are the perfect surf and sand combo in this California kitchen.

Bethany Fay Design 6

Tile Shown: Sand Dune and Adriatic Sea in 6" Triangle // Design + Image: Bethany Fay Designs

Bold Blue Velvet Chaine Homme backsplash tile, matching blue cabinets, and modern pendant lights that remind us of seashells, Noz Design nails this modern coastal kitchen with a classic blue and white motif.

Kitchebn Backsplash Chaine Homme in Blue velvet

Tile Shown: Blue Velvet in Chaine Homme // Design: Noz Design // Image: Colin Price Photography

Coastal color doesn't have to come from your tile. Feature a sunny neutral backsplash against blue cabinetry and window dressings for a well-balanced nautical theme.

3x6 White Wash kitchen backsplash

Tile Shown: White Wash in 3x6 // Design: Mark D. Sikes // Image: Coastal Living

For a coastal look that feels a touch more contemporary, try a sleek glass backsplash. It’s also a great way to play off organic textures that might be found in cabinetry or decor.

White Glass Tile Kitchen Backsplash

Tile Shown: Egret Matte in 4x4 // Design: Victoria Ninette Interior // Images: Victoria Ninette

Shoreline Shapes

Want to add a little shape to you your backsplash? Try a playful shape to bring out the fun side of coastal style.

Our wave tile is a natural fit for beach-themed kitchens, to give a rhythmic look to an ocean-colored backsplash.

Naples Blue Wave

Tile Shown: Naples Blue in Wave // Design: Fernanda Conrad

A Fireclay favorite, our Ogee Drop tile features a fish scale pattern to resemble colorful fish and mermaid legends. Shown in Tiki Blue, this modern kitchen is primed for paradise.

Tiki Blue ogee drops kitchen backsplash

Tile Shown: Ogee Drop in Tiki Blue // Design: Kerri Fukui // Image: City Home Collective

Rippling Paseo Tile in a deep water Aegean Sea sets the tone for chef and blogger Kaity Farrell's bohemian Nantucket kitchen.

Paseo in Aesegan Sea Kitchen Backsplash

Tile Shown: Paseo in Aegean Sea // Design + Image: Kaity Farrell

Coastal Patterns

If you’re looking for a coastal look that feels a little more classic, a herringbone pattern in white can lend a timeless look to your space that feels both refreshing and refined. We love how it adds a crisp contrast to this kitchen’s deep blue cabinetry.

Zigzag Studio

Tile Shown: White Wash in 2x8 // Design + Image: Zigzag Studio Design

This picture-perfect poolhouse kitchen features a two-tone blue backsplash and matching hexagon tile floor for an undeniably aquatic motif and well-appointed artwork to finish the space.

Coastal Living Pool House Kitchen

Tile Shown: Crater Lake in 2x6, Crater Lake in 6" Hexagon // Desing: Meg Braff // Image: David Land, Courtesy of Coastal Living

Driftwood Triangle Tiles pair with white shiplap walls to give this kitchen a modern maritime look.

Legum Design backsplash design

Tile Shown: Driftwood in 4" Triangle // Design: Legum Design // Image: three gems creative

Have an urge to dress things up? A decorative tile backsplash is an easy way to bring seaside-inspired flavor to your kitchen decor. A traditional blue and white theme gets a refined detail with a handpainted Malta tile backsplash.

Frost and handpainted kitchen backsplash

Tile Shown: Frost in 4x8, Malta in cool-motif // Design: Diane Gordon Design //Image: Elisabeth Gordon

Regional Renovations

Glossy Glazed Thin Brick in bright Olympic matched with forest green and wood grain cabinets capture a coastal look that's distinctly Pacific Northwest. The rugged brick matches the rugged coast with a color palette of pine forests flowing to the sea.

Brick Kitchen Backsplash

Brick Shown: Olympic // Design: R Titus Designs // Image: Kip Dawkins Photography

A Cabo vacation is one part leisure, one part luxury. This coastal condominium kitchen captures both with a bright and airy install that's perfect for entertaining. The herringbone brick backsplash is just one of the highlights of this stunning space.

El Encanto de la Laguna olympic brick kitchen backsplash

Brick Shown: Olympic // Design: El Encanto Design and Construction Services // Image: El Encanto de la Laguna

Bold colors, exposed wood beams, and citrus accents set the tone for this California kitchen with an edgy Escher backsplash that steals the show.

Naples Blue Small Diamond Escher kitchen backsplash

Tile Shown: Naples Blue in Small Diamond // Design: Myri Dujovne, SOF DESIGN // Image: Myri Dujovne

A Waikiki tile backsplash sets a tropical tone in this sunny contemporary kitchen that was Coastal Living's 2016 Showroom Kitchen.

waikiki 4x8 offset kitchen backsplash

Tile Shown: Waikiki in 4x8 // Design: Costing Living // Imagine: Meg Braff Design

Known as the middle coast, Lake Michigan is a perfect setting for coastal kitchen accents as well as accessory spaces like this nifty dry bar at photographer Gray Malin’s lakeside beach house.

Gray Malin's handpainted bar

Handpainted Shown: Starburst in Neutral Motif // Design: Kate Lester // Image: Gray Malin

Ready to christen your new coastal-themed kitchen? Get started with our Fare Isle Signature Sample Pack featuring Kaity Farrell's coastal color palette inspired by her Nantucket Island home.

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