‘Coastal Grandmother’ look is transforming home interiors

The viral TikTok “coastal grandmother” aesthetic is now making waves on the home front.

Brokers and interior decorators say that they’ve seen an unprecedented number of clients in recent months who aspire to live in coastal, grandmother-like spaces.

For those not in the know, coastal grandmothers is a movement that refers to an elegant older woman — think Diane Keaton in a Nancy Meyers film or the Barefoot Contessa — who gravitates to a beachy lifestyle and farm-to-table food and dons oversized knit sweaters in neutral tones.

When she has downtime, the coastal grandmother drinks white wine, does yoga and takes walks in the beach.

“My clients ask me for coastal grandmother styling tips all the time,” said Amy Herman, a real estate agent with Serhant. “It’s really resonating with people now as they look to their homes as a reprieve and spend so much time in them.”

The 2003 romantic comedy “Something’s Gotta Give” — directed by Nancy Meyers and starting Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton — exemplifies the aesthetic.
©Columbia Pictures/Courtesy Eve
Hamptonites like the Barefoot Contessa have become unlikely interior design icons for a younger generation.
Hamptonites like the Barefoot Contessa have become unlikely interior design icons for a younger generation.
Food Network screengrab

With regards to home design, New York decorator Brittany Marom says that the term translates into minimal patterns, light woods and an abundance of soft colors such as creams, sea-foam greens, peachy pinks and sea glass blues.

“The idea is to layer neutral on top of neutral like having an off-white couch with off-white pillows,” she said. “The vibe is very ocean inspired and feels vacation-ey. It also looks effortless and chic and is easy to copy at any price point.”

Marom says that she has helped several of her clients create coastal grandmother areas in their homes over the last few months and keeps getting asked to do the same from others who want to emulate the look.

Justin and Jillian Forman say the coastl grandmother aesthetic inspired their kitchen makeover.
Justin and Jillian Forman say the coastal grandmother aesthetic inspired their kitchen makeover.

Justin Forman, 33, who works at a technology company, and his wife Jillian Forman, 31, who runs a nonprofit, recently moved into a Soho apartment that they bought and gut renovated over the last year with Marom’s help. They wanted to give their kitchen the coastal grandmother look.

“Since we had never owned a place before, we never really had a style, but when we saw coastal grandmother on TikTok, we knew that it’s what we wanted,” said Justin. “It’s outdoorsy and escapist.”

Features in their kitchen include a cream and soft blue herringbone-tile backsplash, cabinets in both white and light oak and a wide-plank light oak floor.

“I think of coastal grandmother as an evolution of the all-white trend, which is so common in New York apartments,” he added. “That’s boring, but this is fresh.”

“I’ve always loved a setting that reminds you of the beach, but my place had these red couches, oversized zebra print pillows and bold everything,” she said. “I got sick of it fast being home so much and wanted something that was more soothing and helped me get into a relaxed mood.”

A home that evoked a Nancy Meyers movie set was spot on.

Kelly Bensimon brought a taste of the coast to her Soho spread.
Kelly Bensimon brought a taste of the coast to her Soho spread.
Courtesy of Kelly Killoren Bensi

Kelly Bensimon, 54, a real estate advisor and former reality star on “The Real Housewives of New York City,” also channeled coastal grandmother when she zhuzhed up the living room in her Soho apartment early last year.

Bensimon ditched the opulence in favor of cream couches, white marble tables, shearling cream pillows and cream light fixtures. Off-white window blinds rounded out the “I’m on a vacation” setting.

“I work from home and entertain from home,” said Bensimon. “Where I live has never been more important. I have to feel comfortable and want my guests to as well. Coastal grandmother is the way to go.”