Even if you haven’t laughed through iconic Nancy Meyers movies like “It’s Complicated,” “The Holiday” and “Something’s Gotta Give,” you’ll understand the new look trending on social media. TikTok dubbed her “coastal grandma,” and the name is fitting.
It’s grandma’s house, whether it’s a country house, a beach house or a Napa Valley winery, but a decidedly elegant designer version. And what else would you expect from a place where a Diane Keaton, Meryl Streep or Cameron Diaz in linen pants and a cotton sweater can fall in love and get out?
Brad Weesner, owner of Forshew Interior Design, Lancaster, thinks the buzz is deserved.
“It’s a refined look, but never pretentious,” he says. “It reminds me of my parents’ house in Norwell, Massachusetts. I would describe it as Martha Stewart and Ralph Lauren coming together to design this wonderful place and then Norman Rockwell painted it.
“The best inspiration comes from both coasts,” he says. “From classic Nantucket to elegant Santa Barbara. But avoid anything too literal for a beach house. No anchors, mini lighthouses or ahoy signs. Nor anything too meticulous, like patchwork rugs or fringed lampshades. Instead, it’s all about neutral color palettes, loose linens, and natural materials. The beauty of this one is that it works on so many budget levels. I can put my client’s family personality into the big picture, make it real and unique, but still true to what this trend is about: safety, familiar comfort, uplifting refuge.
Devin Heagy, designer at Interiors Home in Lancaster, is also a fan of the coastal granny style.
“I grew up going to the beach, so it’s my happy place — all about airy, light spaces,” he says. “And it’s so relevant, which I think is why a lot of our customers gravitate to our universal furniture range. It includes a Coastal collection that represents the best of the look: lots of whites and creams neutrals, infusions of blue, soft curvy upholstered pieces, white painted furniture, and lots of rattan. It’s classic, but also thoroughly current. If I weren’t such a mid-century modern enthusiast, I would consider it for my own home.
Unless we’re just starting out in life or moving somewhere new, few of us are in the market for a whole new style, but even incorporating coastal granny elements will enhance any home, say Weesner and Heagy.
Their guidance for palette and pattern is a range of subtle simplicity. Think many shades of white, ivory and cream, all mixed together. Then, layer neutral natural tones: stone, sand, sea and sky. Tan and beige, greige and taupe. Then pastels, maybe as flowers or stripes, but not too much of one thing. To mix together.
Many designers add pale, watery blues to base colors as well as deeper blues for accents, but Weesner admits he avoids blues. “I find it too literal,” he says.
Natural fibers like linen and cotton are the go-to choices, from wispy sheers to heavier canvases and twills, but don’t use too much fabric in a room. Nothing should be overmatched, the designers warn.
Texture is important, Heagy says, so consider chunky knits and nubby curls. Natural weaves and fibers like rattan, sisal, raffia, jute and seagrass are perfect for accessories, rugs and furniture. Woods are bleached (like driftwood) or whitewashed.
Weesner recommends putting some found high-end vintage items to work. “Maybe heirlooms,” he says. “But nothing kitsch. Keep things upscale, but not pretentious.
Seats are mostly upholstered without much exposed wooden frames, and storage units are usually painted, but informal pine or natural wood finishes here and there suit the style.
Coastal grandma style calls for pillows and throws in different textures and subtle colors, good scents, candles and flowers. Scents like White Waves and Salted Sands seem custom-made for the style. There are also scented oils in scents like linen and sea spray, delightful renditions for saving a home from a landlocked state.
“And yes to flowers,” says Weesner. “Without flowers, you really don’t have the look. Think a large white ceramic bowl stuffed with white hydrangeas, Ruscus greenery and viburnum, and that’s it. Don’t overdo it.
But will the style last? It is expected to be for the foreseeable future as it is so versatile and easy going. Weesner and Heagy remind us that you don’t have to live near the coast – or even be a grandparent – to adopt it and it will work in a range of spaces, from small apartments to townhouses. suburbs passing by the beach houses. Like all styles, it will likely evolve over the years, but the basics are so classic they’ll stay relevant forever.