If the end of summer has left you feeling a bit blue, take a moment to bring a touch of cool California Casual into your home this fall and winter instead. Loved by homeowners and interior designers alike, and synonymous with California, this relaxed coastal style is a great trend for versatile interior design.
Popular in homes up and down the country, the California-inspired scheme is an easy way to add a cozy touch to a contemporary home.
From the use of muted creams and blues to the use of natural, weathered materials, the subtle nautical theme instantly adds personality in such a functional space.
So, whether you respect your home’s geographic location, or simply want to bring a little seaside calm to your landlocked abode, these California home decor ideas will inspire you.
5 California Decorating Trends That I’m Loving
You may be familiar with, or even own, some of these California-influenced designs. See which ones will have a moment below — at least for me — and get inspired for how to decorate your space with them.
1. Add warmth with shiplap wall panels
‘Panels are a useful way to add warmth and character to a room – there’s something comforting about being surrounded by wood. For an instant touch of California coastal charm, wall panels are a must. “Tongue-and-groove panels are a mainstay of California relaxed design and fit well with Shaker-style cabinetry, as shown in the kitchen above.
Rougher wood panels can help create a more rustic feel, and contrast with the eggshell finish of painted kitchen units. Shiplap can be painted in any color, but it is important to thin the paint so that the wood grain shows through. “The panels are also very effective on ceilings,” says Simon Timbrell, interior design director at Neptune.
2. Decorate with a blue and white color palette
Far from being two-dimensional, the blue and white color palette can be used to achieve all kinds of looks, from smart and sophisticated to subtle and calm, depending on the shades you use and the proportions in which they are combined.
“The combination of blue and white was made popular by painters and potters during the Baroque period, and has been an inspiration to interior designers from Italy to California ever since,” says Claire Foch, creative director of Volga Linen.
Blue, synonymous with sea and sky, is often associated with coastal style and is a way to breathe freshness and calm into the home. “Blue and white create a calming atmosphere,” says Debbie Leigh, design director at fabric brand Iliv. ‘Blue is often associated with feelings of serenity and relaxation, while white helps make a room feel airy and spacious. When used together, these colors create a calming and inviting atmosphere.’
While highly prized for its soothing qualities, with a range extending from light to deep indigo, blue also has the ability to make a powerful impact, and when combined with countless varieties of white it offers endless decorating possibilities.
There are plenty of ways to incorporate this timeless combination into your home. When choosing paint shades, consider the direction of the room, suggests Simon Timbrell, interior design director at Neptune. “Blue and white have been a classic color combination forever because it’s clean, pure and uplifting, especially in south-facing rooms. In a north-facing room, you may want to use a warmer white to offset the cold,” he explains.
3. Use lots of synthetic additives
The use of texture in interior design is crucial, and Californians live by this one rule. Quite simply, without texture, the space will become flat. It is essential to look at the room as a whole and bring the area together with mixed materials for liveliness and warmth. It’s a way to add depth and dimension to a room as well as comfort.
Creating texture isn’t just about the way furniture and soft furnishings look, it’s also about ‘visual texture’ – using different textures to add interest and breathe life into a room.
Interior designers use texture in the form of tangible objects such as fabrics, wood, and stone to add physical comfort and visual interest to a space. Mixing materials and layers is key to making textural elements work.
“Texture in interior design is about creating tactile moments that invite touch,” explains Tiffany Lee, of Tiffany Lee Design. “It refers to the texture, appearance, or consistency of a surface or material. Texture helps keep a space from feeling flat or one-dimensional.” .
Layering textures helps add depth, too. “Layering materials, colors and shapes all give your interiors an overall texture that can define the look and feel of a space,” says Martin Waller, co-founder of Andrew Martin. “For a more layered look, tactile textures like bouclé look great when layered against the luxurious texture of faux or rough-hewn timbers to add room dimension, depth and a sense of heritage to your home.”
4. Level up the layers
Similar to texture, layering is another design secret that California interior designers swear by. The art of layering is learning how to use each of these elements individually and making them work together cohesively – building a room from the ground up.
“In design, we’re always looking for ways to add depth and interest to the spaces we create,” says California-based Jane Sampson. “This is often achieved by curating a space full of beautiful textures and interesting shapes. Often, this can come from architecture as well as furnishings.
“In this project, it was the combination of all these elements that gave this large room so much character. The perfect blend of soft curves, hard edges, linear details and abstract shapes all contribute harmoniously to this space.
Once you’ve perfected all the other elements — flooring, room color scheme, lighting, and window treatments — your chosen accessories act as the finishing layer.
Keepsakes, vases, planters, coffee table books and flowers are those essential elements that decorate the cake. They represent you. These pieces should evoke memories and thus add the perfect finishing touch to your space.
5. Invest in wooden furniture
California designers have been decorating with an “old money” aesthetic long before the laid-back luxury trend took over our Instagram feeds. While every aspect of a home is important, the choice of materials is especially important in a space that exudes Californian splendor, as it has such a visual impact.
Decorating with wood is nothing new – wood furniture and fixtures have been a popular choice for years due to their timeless appeal, not to mention the fact that solid wood is a durable material that improves with age.
In recent years, there have been a number of new and interesting technologies that have revitalized the material and made this ancient staple a modern-day favorite. There are no hard and fast rules when using wood in a California-inspired home. Dark and light woods are mixed together. Raw lumber and whole timber are seeing a comeback. We find designs that combine rattan and woven elements with natural wood to create a new and comfortable atmosphere in the home.
Shop for a decorating makeover in California
“Light” and “airy” are the buzzwords for this relaxed style – it’s a great example. Here, our editors have curated their favorite looks.
Harwich Medium Woven Rattan Dome Pendant Lamp by Jake Arnold