Nautical Decor Themes

A nautical or ocean theme can be understated as this classic bedroom design shows.

The Ocean may be one of the most intriguing and stylish themes for home décor. With myriad colors, patterns and design elements from which to choose, you can decorate any room in your home with a nautical theme.

Think of it; seashells, lobster buoys, fish, sailboats, yachting pennants, surfboards, maritime art … the list of nautical design theme elements is nearly endless! Versatile and timeless, the sea has long been used as an interior design motif.

From casual and rustic to ultra modern and formal, you’ll find plenty of ideas, tips and images in this guide to help you create a unique and elegant nautical interior design!

Nautical Colors with Style

While blue and white, navy and khaki or sea green and yellow are typical ocean décor color schemes you can use accent colors such as red, orange or purple to liven things up and brighten the natural color palette of sea and sand. With accessories like yachting flags, lobster buoys, etc. you can add plenty of color to your nautical décor theme.

Use natural colors and textures by introducing the rustic look of driftwood or the mariner’s look of mahogany or other hardwoods with a natural finish into your room décor.

If you are a boater or live near the water, then a nautical theme will connect your home to the outdoor environment you love so much and nothing brings a feeling of serenity and elegance to a room like the sea!

What son would not love to have this elegant seafaring bedroom theme? While a custom bed platform shaped like a boat may be more than you would do it certainly makes a great focal point!

Formal or Casual

Rely mostly on color to establish a formal room décor with subtle hints of the sea in design elements and motifs you select; a little bit of nautical décor can go a long way.

Faux painting can transform a room like this nautical-themed bathroom into an undersea scene!

Use Asian or English furniture for a formal feel, with subtle lines, shapes and patterns that hint at a nautical theme without being too cliché or over the top. Beaded board and painted white wainscoting will give your nautical-themed room a more formal feeling.

For a more casual and rustic feel, you can use nautical ropes, nets, a sailing ship wheel, porthole windows and other maritime antiques to give your room décor the feeling of an old sailing ship, yacht, fishing boat, surf shop or other favorite nautical theme.

Don’t Over Do your Nautical Theme

While a pond yacht or model sailing ship can become a great centerpiece, you don’t want to over do things with lots of boats. The sophisticated nautical theme will incorporate design elements that are subtle but unmistakably help the room feel like going to the beach, stepping onto a ship or visiting a quaint fishing village without being cluttered or tasteless. Finding the right balance is a matter of personal choice as well as how formal or informal you want the room to feel.

Throw pillows with embroidered or printed images of the sea or nautical elements will help pull your nautical room design together nicely.

Use Paintings, Sculpture and Artwork

One way to help unify your nautical décor theme will be to select artwork that ties together, such as images of fish and sea life, the beach, fishing boats or another favorite nautical theme. Or, you might try mixing up the subjects of your artwork but using a common frame to tie them all together.

Nautical Pillows and Upholstery

Another way to infuse the feel of the sea without going too far overboard is to select throw pillows or blankets, area rugs and other accessories that use a fish, boat, shell or other motif in the fabric prints, embroidery, texture of fabric, etc.

Display Nautical Collections

If you like to collect sea shells, coral, lobster buoys, yachting and signal flags or something similar, you can display such items to enhance your nautical theme; in fact this is exactly how many people decide to give their home or a room the nautical décor treatment in the first place!

Make your own nautical theme room accessories like this sea shell wreath, made using a hot-glue gun.

Trimming Nautical Home Accessories with Shells

Use a hot-glue gun to attach sea shells to accessories including mirrors, lamps, and picture frames.

Mixing Finishes and Trim

Try mixing finishes by using high-gloss trim against off-matte painted walls. Use beaded-board wainscoting or chair rails to add depth and interest to your walls.

Creating Contrast and Pattern

Use stripes, sea shell or other patterns to add interest in your nautical-themed rom. Create contrast by using white slipcovers on dark wood-finished furniture, or navy blue on natural wicker to give your nautical décor an elegant look.

Fabric choices can really help add contrast and refrains in your nautical décor using elements such as piping, monograms, embroidered designs or printed patterns.

Grounding Your Nautical Décor Theme

While the sea is a great theme for your room, you may wish to incorporate elements that also tie your theme to the shore; use driftwood, shells, sand dollars, starfish or other beachside items to “ground” your nautical décor.

Echo the feel of sand and sea by using a color combination that mimics the colors of the beach, with warm tones like beige against the cool color of navy blue or sea green.

Something as simple as this sailboat mobile hung over a baby crib can infuse your room with a subtle feeling of the sea.

Nautical Décor Accent Pieces and Accessories

You can shop at local antique or specialty home décor stores to find items such as an anchor, buoys or crab traps for your nautical room theme. Wide wood plank flooring will give your room the feel of a ship’s deck or a seaside dock. Accessories like fish netting, a ship’s wheel, a nautical brass clock or barometer, antique brass spyglass, some rope ladders or brass lanterns will enhance the nautical feeling of your theme.

Consider using wall art to add a nautical touch as well. Paintings or prints of seascapes, ships at sea, sailboats, shell fish or other ocean scenes will help bring your nautical theme to life.

Decorative pillows, runners and area rugs can also help set a nautical theme in a living room, bedroom or other nautical themed room in your home and add comfort and warmth in addition to supporting your nautical room design. Use an old lobster or crap pot with a piece of glass on top to make a rustic nautical coffee table.

Tasteful and elegant, the Argonaut Hotel in San Francisco demonstrates what can be achieved with a nautical bedroom theme.

Additional Nautical Décor Tips

  • Your home doesn’t have to be near the sea to have a nautical theme; whether you are decorating a single room in your home or looking a for a theme to carry throughout your home décor, colors and images of the sea will create a soothing, relaxing atmosphere regardless where you live!
  • Images of lighthouses are a great way to decorate your nautical-themed room and you can have great fun traveling to various historic lighthouses, taking photos you can enlarge and hang on the wall or buying collectible lighthouse sculptures.
  • You have a variety of nautical themes from which to select. Here a surfing theme works well with bright yellow color scheme.

  • If you have a fireplace, think about ways you can give it a seafaring look by hanging a wooden oar over the mantel, using hardwood or sandstone to create the fireplace surround or using nautical accessories to adorn the mantel.
  • You might consider mixing up different nautical themes in various rooms in your home; using a rustic fishing theme in one room and a more refined, elegant ocean-side décor in another. The variations on ocean, sea and nautical themes are wide enough that you can mix them while using the nautical theme to give your home interior an integral design that carries from one room to another.
  • For a more understated nautical theme, pick the sand and sea color scheme you like and don’t overdo the accessories; you’ll find that a subtle theme may be more to your liking and can add pieces in time so that you don’t suddenly feel your home looks like a maritime museum!

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