Think Jane Fonda’s house in the Netflix show Grace & Frankie or Diane Keaton in Something’s Gotta Give and you’ll get an idea of the breezy Hamptons-inspired aesthetic that has taken over social media and is gaining traction with Gen Z and millennials.
Promoting a soothing, calming environment, “coastal grandmother" has become a runaway interior trend and takes its inspiration from older, wealthy women living in serene beachfront houses. It is the antithesis of busy urban homes, encouraging a retreat to seaside-inspired spaces.
There are also outfits to match — chunky sweaters, oversized shorts and straw hats. It's not about nautical stripes, shells, seagull sculptures or anchor prints. Instead, it focuses on emulating a lived-in feel with crisp, clean interiors, beachy colours infused with stripes rather than bold print, and sofas slipcovered with rustic textiles.
Going to farmers' markets and filling your kitchen with patterned ceramics and wicker baskets is all part of this look, as are flowing, billowy curtains that graze the floor, fresh flowers, a multitude of floor and table lamps, and perhaps even a grand piano in the living room. It’s all about comfortable luxury that is not overly ostentatious.
The term was originally coined by TikTok-er Lex Nicoleta (@lexnicoleta) and has gone viral on the social media platform. She says Reese Witherspoon is a prime example of “coastal grandmother energy” because of her affinity for powder-blue hues and her book club, among other things.
The social media personality also cited Keaton and Meryl Streep as references for this viral aesthetic. “If you love Nancy Meyers movies, coastal vibes, recipes and cooking, Ina Garten, cosy interiors … there’s a good chance you’re a coastal grandmother,” Nicoleta said in a now-viral TikTok.
“My take on the viral trend coastal grandma is a modern version of the farmhouse aesthetic, with a minimal approach to furniture and a colour palette of all-whites," says interior designer Valentina Piscopo of Dubai’s Kuky Design. "This new aesthetic sees sprawling white kitchens ready to entertain, where residents roam around the space — a coastal breeze coming through the open windows — all exclusively wearing effortless linen outfits. It’s a celebration of an easier pace of life. For most living abroad this trend represents true escapism, but for us in Dubai it’s easier to achieve more than ever.”
At the heart of this trend are off-white tones and breezy, rustic, textured textiles such as linen. To add texture, natural materials such as wood, wicker, rattan, straw and natural plant fibres are used. Think wooden coffee tables, whitewashed furniture with cracked finishes, light-coloured wood, exposed panelling and wicker chairs. Scout local antique shops and thrift stores for accent pieces.
Beige, white and gentle shades of blue are part of the required colour palette. Other pops of colour can be added with knick-knacks and decorative accessories, while throws and cushions are essentials. Make sure that every chair, sofa or bed is piled high.
Experts at the Secret Linen Store say that lighting is an integral part of this aesthetic. “A sense of cosiness and calm is brought to many a coastal grandma’s home with an abundance of lamps. On side tables, windowsills, above fireplaces — basically wherever you have the space, pop a lamp there.
"It means that as the natural light starts to dim, you can create the perfect backdrop to read or chat with friends. If you’re running out of plug space, you can use wireless spotlights that can be popped under the lampshade and charged with a USB.”
Panoramic views of the ocean from your windows are the icing on the cake but not essential. Jessica Hanley, founder of the UK’s Piglet in Bed, says: “You don’t have to be by the coastline to recreate the beachy coastal grandmother look, but adding soft, flowy decor can create the scene you want to achieve.
"Swap out your dark curtains for lighter shades to turn the natural light in your home into a focal point. Relaxed, flowing curtains are essential to the beach house aesthetic, especially when they catch the summer breeze, adding a sense of movement to your home. The aesthetic is all about creating a space for your guests to be able to relax and feel comfortable in — which means lots of cosy accessories.
“You haven’t completed the coastal grandmother aesthetic without collecting fresh flowers for your home, whether that's from your garden or from your local flower shop. Besides being a beautiful decorative piece that can liven up any room, they also help to purify the air while you sleep. Try tulips, daffodils, hydrangeas or a calathea plant to really brighten up your space.”
This aesthetic is said to promote better sleep by reducing clutter and creating a light, neutral backdrop. Kitchens are also at the centre of the coastal grandmother look. “Kitchens are the heart of the home for any coastal grandma, but forget your minimalist tendencies, this kitchen style is all about the room feeling lived-in,” say the experts at the Secret Linen Store.
"Think utensil jars, hung pots and pans, cookbooks out and bowls of fresh produce on the counter space. Bonus points if you’re lucky enough to have a kitchen island. If so, these should be used for relaxed meals with friends."