The Idealist

Relaxed colour scheme: New England Beach House

Today’s colour scheme takes its inspiration from Provincetown, Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard. At times both Bohemian enclave and quiet summer playground for the rich and famous, the look has the breezy coolness of a sweater thrown over the shoulders, some deck shoes and a lobster roll, with a spot of James Taylor on the radio.

A cottage garden in Provincetown

New England style decor borrows heavily from its surrounding environment, drawing inspiration from coastal themes and nautical items. It includes neutral colours, understated furniture, and natural fabrics and wood. All of these elements combine to create a relaxed, warm environment.

New England Style Origins

Much of the inspiration for New England style homes comes from the Shakers — some of the first settlers of New England during the 18th century. As part of their religious beliefs, they favoured simple, useful furniture over rich, decadent pieces. There is also a noticeable Colonial influence, as the Shakers (and many early American settlers) came from England.

The New England Beach House colour scheme

For this look, the colour scheme includes shades of grey (try Steel, or Appleton Grey from Designers Guild) with soft, muted blue walls (DG has Winter Surf) with accents in red and light, earthy tones inspired by the sands and cliffs surrounding the sea. Pale or bleached wood furniture perfectly complements the steel and blue colours shades in the room, while a sharp citrine, mid-blue and baby blue all add a splash of colour in rugs, throws, curtains, and cushions.

Decoration

Mason jars make great lampshades

Decorative pieces in keeping with the New England look include glassware (especially as Mason jars, or in bottle green, sea glass, deep blue and milky white), beachcomber style items (pebbles, shells, rope) and driftwood. The look overall is one of relaxed elegance with understated colours and simple lines, so don’t go overboard with trinkets as they will detract from the simplicity of the design scheme.

Glassware gives that beachcomber look

Furnishing and Accessories

Sofas and coffee table

If you really want to go to town with this look, the first thing you’ll need is a nice, simple sofa. Keeping with the minimalistic style, go for a small to mid-size fabric sofa with basic upholstery. A white sofa is perfectly accented with baby blue or red pillows and throws. We love this white linen sofa from Maisons Du Monde for its understated look and ample room for cushions and throws. (£989)

Coffee tables are a great way to add natural wood accents to your home. Look for a table that’s simple but not overly modern; a basic rectangular table without excessive detailing is a perfect complement to a relaxed New England style decor. This coffee table from John Lewis is a great choice; the light shade of oak is reminiscent of the soft sands of the beach. (£499)

Armchair and side tables

Sofas are great for group seating, but sometimes it’s nice to relax in a cosy armchair. Rather than opting for leather, go for an armchair that uses both wood and fabric — that way, you can complement your table and other colours in your home. Try a chair like this one that has a beautiful oak frame and comes in tons of colours. (£849)

To complement your armchair (and create space between it and the sofa, if necessary), you’ll need the perfect side table. We love these concrete resin top side tables from John Lewis because they combine natural oak and stone shades with stunning simplicity and function. (£299)

No living room is complete without a good rug. Keeping consistent with the look of the room, go for a simple, light blue rug to gently complement the whites, greys, and natural wood colours of the room. We’re particularly fond of this short-haired wool rug from Maison Du Monde. (£230)

A light touch

What good is all this gorgeous furniture without any lighting? To top everything off, go for a floor lamp that brings the room together. This tripod floor lamp from Habitat is a great choice, and you can even add an additional splash of colour by opting for a light blue or yellow lamp shade. (£215)

Nothing says relaxed sunshine ”home” like New England style. Between the natural wood floors, softly coloured furniture, and coastal-inspired trinkets, it’s a great way to create a simplistic, visually stunning home with a warm, inviting feel.

  • John is a photographer and journalist from Manchester with a passion for street photography and modern art. When not taking photos, you can find him on a bike anywhere from Sardinia to Amsterdam listening to Zero 7.

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