5 Tips for Decorating at the Beach – With Kate Daskalakis

Kate shares her top paint colors, decorating tips, and furniture suggestions for seaside living

You landed that adorable cottage by the sea. Your lifelong dream of living by the ocean has come true, and you’re excited to create a stylish beachside retreat. How difficult can it be to select the right shade of blue? For some people, their dream comes to a screeching halt once they start researching the countless paint colors and furniture options. Reality is setting in. The first wave of guests is arriving by Memorial Day weekend, and your peaceful oasis is quickly turning into a chaotic scene.  

This is where Kate Daskalakis steps in to help calm her clients’ nerves. Kate has an uncanny sense of bringing calm to the initial stage of a home decorating project. She immediately tunes into the client’s concerns and buying needs and helps them create a manageable design plan. “Remember, the main idea of owning this property is to foster a special space for relaxation and peace,” Kate reminds her clients. “Your home should bring you comfort.”  

An organic style inspired by the outdoors

Kate got her start after renovating several properties of her own and revealing them to friends. Her talent really resonated with them, and soon after, her phone started ringing with people asking for advice. Word quickly spread, and in just two years, Kate’s company, KSD Designs, was born. Based in Newbury, Massachusetts, KSD serves clients throughout New England and New York and offers versatile design lines: from beach houses to city apartments to mountainside cabins.  

Kate’s clients have very different design aesthetics and come to her with varying questions and concerns. She draws distinctions between the three by pulling from the surrounding nature. “Always draw upon the outdoors from a color perspective,” Kate recommends. She tells homeowners to ask themselves, “What colors exist naturally, and how can I pull that into my design?”  At the beach, for example, the vast ocean and wonderful shades of blues are good starting points for design inspiration. 

Shiplap wall with lanterns
Cedar shiplap wall with rattan lanterns exudes simplicity and calm.

With an overarching mantra of “Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity,” (Kate’s favorite quote from Thoreau), she helps coastal homeowners incorporate these five simple steps in establishing a breezy and bright aesthetic.  

1. Keep it light and bright

Kate instills a basic theory into her approach; “Keep it simple; keep it clean.  She likes to start with a blank slate; then build in texture, color, and accessories. A big fan of monochromatic color schemes (White walls and trim are a must!), she has mastered the subtleness of white paint variations. For darker colors, she suggests introducing them through accessories: pillows, dishes, art work, and upholstery 

Kate’s Color Pics for Seaside Living 

Best White – Benjamin Moore Chantilly Lace

Perfect Gray – Benjamin Moore Shoreline

Soft Green – Benjamin Moore Gray Cashmere

Soft Blue – Benjamin Moore Marilyn’s Dress

Beachside bench with Turkish towels
Turkish towels are left out for guests. a distressed mirror from Mykonos Greece lends a rustic air. White-washed bench and Pappalina rug are from Christine’s Crossing, Rye New Hampshire. Benjamin Moore’s Gray Cashmere on walls.

2. Keep starfish and shells to a minimum

When living by the ocean, it’s tempting to want to decorate with these items, but Kate advises. “Your home can get busy, very quickly.” She constantly tells her clients, “Let’s edit this room!” Again, start by pulling from the outdoors to help design your home. One of her favorite coastal accessories is a piece of found drift wood. As a centerpiece on a dining room table or displayed on a console table, it adds a touch of the beach without being too cliché.  

Driftwood as a decorative piece
Driftwood found on the beach and fresh flowers picked by hand are easy, fresh decorating ideas.

3. Be true to yourself 

Your home should feel like you. It should reflect your personality. When guests walk into your place, it should match the person you are, whether it’s choosing a favorite color to accent your home or including art from the hobbies you enjoy. One of Kate’s favorite tricks is using family heirlooms. It could be refurbishing an old furniture piece in the perfect shade of white. Or maybe it’s displaying Grandma’s vase with flowers or grass from the beach.  

4. Don’t forget outdoor design 

Outdoor living is just as important as the interior. Go for comfort and select furniture that will withstand coastal elements. Patio furniture is expensive, often more than indoor, but it’s worth the splurge. The pricier items—like teak wood or recycled plastic material—will withstand all four seasons of New England coastal living. You won’t find yourself replacing it every other year. Furniture covers are a necessary purchase, especially to be used in the off season. For upholstery, always select fabrics you can hose off and that won’t get ruined in the rain. Again, it’s worth the extra dollars for the longevity of your cushions.   

Kingsley Bate Sag Harbor Chat Chair

Outdoor Furniture that’s Stylish and Sustainable 

Kingsley Bate focuses on teak preservation programs and using stainless steel, wicker, and teak to produce outdoor furnishings for exceptional style and durability.

Gloster Furniture finely handcrafts furniture items to create modular pieces made of sophisticated fabrics and sustainable finishes and materials.

Polywood  transforms approximately 400,000 recycled milk jugs each day into “Polywood” lumber to construct Adirondack chairs, benches, and tables.



5. Design for entertaining 

Because you’ll have plenty of guests throughout the summer, design for flow and functionality. Have extra supplies on hand and use practical household items. Provide extra soaps and shampoos and fill a basket with towels, as they will get used up quickly. Throw some sunscreen and flip flops in there too.

Everyone will want to eat after they return from the beach so have lots of plasticware to serve up your favorite summer mealsit’s better for the environment than paper or disposable plastic. If serving large parties, go for an eco-friendly disposable dinnerware choice that won’t add to plastic to our oceans. You can pick up sets of plates, bowls, utensils, and cups anywhere over the summer. Throw a table runner and pitcher filled with fresh, minty lemon water on the table and, in a few minutes, you’ll look like you have it all together!  

eco-friendly dinnerware
Tarhong Eco-Friendly Dinnerware

Plasticware that’s Kind to Sea Life

Tarhong– These melamine and plastic products for the home are ideal for outdoor use and a good alternative to ceramics and glassware.

Bambu Disposable and compostable dinnerware made from certified organic, renewable bamboo. Can be found on Amazon.



Whether you’re looking to simply organize a linen closet, stage a few rooms, or remodel your entire home, KSD Designs can help you bring your design dreams to life. Kate Daskalakis works with your vision to create something that is unique, beautiful, and functional.



© 2020 Coastal Design.