Come Sail Away: All About ‘Nauticalcore’—and How To Get the Look


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Photos via Instagram by blushandivydesign / memofarajstudio / cornwallinteriors

If you’re a home decor aficionado, you may have noticed a “sea” change in your social feeds lately: #nauticalcore. It’s the next step beyond the pandemic-fueled trend known as “cottagecore,” a movement revolving around our collective desire to be ensconced in safe, homey cottages filled with arts, crafts, and agrarian charm.

And now nauticalcore taps into our post-pandemic need to broaden our horizons with travel and exploration.


“The nautical style is not anything new, but it acquired a new meaning and dimension during the pandemic,” says Stacy Lewis, interior designer at Eternity Modern.

Deprived of experiences like cruising, sailing, and tropical beach escapades, we could at least dream about bodies of water through a steady social stream of inspirational photos.

“Even when the economy opened up, the need to feel the sea vibe at home remained for many people,” adds Lewis. “Hence the enduring appeal of nauticalcore.”

If you’re looking for a decor refresh, no need to start from scratch. Here’s how you can get this second “core” look by adding a few nautical elements and a fresh color palette to your home.

Seaworthy paintings

The on-trend gray walls or white shiplap are a staple of farmhouse and cottage styles—and provide a perfect backdrop for nauticalcore artwork.

“Nautical paintings generally use coastal farmhouse color palettes of muted blues, grays, and greens to emulate the sea, along with sandy neutrals,” says Autumn Stankovsky, interior designer at FLOOR360. “Nothing says breezy and airy like a winds-in-the-sails painting of a schooner or sailboat.”

Get the look: Every antiques store worth its salt has a dusty stash of ships-at-sea paintings. Grab ’em while they’re still priced to sell. (Or buy a reproduction for $51.75.)

Model sailboats

You can easily get the nauticalcore look by displaying model ships—especially if you’ve added open shelving to your home recently, as so many of us have.

“Sailboats and nautical bric-a-brac are not only meaningful to the sea enthusiast, but also spark the imagination of anyone who looks at them,” says Stankovsky.

Get the look: Pick up a cute model sailboat for $34.99. Or comb the shelves of vintage stores, especially in seaside towns. Estate sales are another great place to find them.

Painted furniture

Navy is the perfect hue if you want to make a nautical impression. It looks great on woodwork and doors, or when used to freshen up a piece of reclaimed furniture.

“One of the many ways homeowners can personalize their space without breaking the bank is by painting furniture they already own, that is upcycled, or found at a garage sale,” says Stankovsky.
Get the look: When it comes to painting furniture to fit a nautical theme, it’s all about the color palette.

“Making the furniture seaworthy is a matter of painting within the palette of blues, whites, and neutrals,” adds Stankovsky. “Then styling the furniture to complete the look with a large shell or sailboat.” (We like Deep Blue Sea paint, $16.98 a gallon.)

Rope and hemp

We most often associate rope with sailors. So it’s no wonder rope or hemp items play into nautical style.

“Rope is the perfect seaworthy design accent,” says Stankovsky. “It provides texture and a rustic natural element.”

Get the look: Grab some rope—the older and more seasoned, the better—and a copy of the knotter’s bible, “The Ashley Book of Knots” (1944). Then create your own keepsake, or take a shortcut and check out this Marseille knot bookend.

“If rope’s tied in an artful knot, it’s the perfect shelf or table item,” adds Stankovsky. “Other uses include adding rope to a light fixture pendant drop, or using it to frame a headboard or coffee table.”


Coral is a natural product of the sea, so it’s often a feature in nauticalcore.

“The texture and shape of coral fit in the nautical theme, which calls for weathered, textured, natural elements,” says Stankovsky.

Get the look: Real coral is intricate and beautiful. But the calcium carbonate structures of a coral reef are also a vulnerable ecosystem where a great number of fish species live. You can still get the look in artwork (like this print from Pottery Barn), textiles, or plaster reproductions.

“You can find coral as a design element on decor elements such as fabrics and wallpaper as well,” adds Stankovsky.

Nautical toile

Anyone who has renovated an old home probably groans at the thought of wallpaper, but it’s a great way to work in texture and a nautical element. Toile wallpaper works especially well in this context, as it features sketches of scenes of life that capture multiple elements.

“Nautical toile fits perfectly in a seaworthy style of home,” says Stankovsky. “Since it’s a design that’s repeated, you get added texture and a built-in way to repeat a motif like a sailboat, coral, shells, a ship’s wheel, or a lighthouse.”

Get the look: Hanging wallpaper is a DIY project a homeowner can tackle. There are hundreds of nautical toile patterns—from the traditional to the outright fantastical with mythical sea creatures (or ones with squids such as this pattern at Home Depot). Consider combining the look with nautical painted furniture for added impact.

The post Come Sail Away: All About ‘Nauticalcore’—and How To Get the Look appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights |®.

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