Many of us dream about someday owning our own beach house, but like a dog chasing a car what do you do once you actually get it? The answer is simple: make it yours!

Looking for some expert decorating tips? Consider these suggestions the next time you’re checking out houses for sale.

Go light, go bright

What kind of weather do you imagine when you picture a day at the beach? Golden sunshine and clear skies, right?

Capture that same breezy atmosphere with a clean, open, airy aesthetic that makes heavy use of good, plain ol’ white. Too much color can create a sense of claustrophobia, but a few cheery yellow or cool seafoam accents add just the right amount of dynamism.

Bright blue accents, meanwhile, complement the rolling ocean waves, and blue stripes in particular evoke the look of traditional sailor’s outfits.

Make yourself comfy

A beach house is supposed to be a place to get away from the hustle and bustle of life. Treat yourself with big beds that have mattresses you can sink into, as well as cozy, comfy couches and chairs.

Avoid hard, unforgiving metal or plastic furniture. Scatter extra pillows in every room to communicate an air of freewheeling relaxation. Avoid carpeted floors, though, or sand and humidity will wreak havoc.

Favor hardwood or tile instead, with easy-to-clean area rugs here and there. Most importantly, add a few items that conjure up happy memories, like framed family photos and travel souvenirs, for an intimate, personal feeling.

Embrace the theme

Again, a beach house is supposed to help you rest and re-energize, so have fun with it. Emphasize the “beach” in “beach house” by embracing a tropical or nautical theme. Brass plumbing fixtures call to mind old-timey diving suits.

Glass jars full of hand-picked seashells are both cute and elegant. Add a touch of rustic islander by bringing in seagrass ottomans and weathered wooden tables, or by using pieces of driftwood as decorations.

Whatever motif you choose, whether it be boating or coral or even pirate kitsch, just try to stay consistent.

Too much mixing and matching will turn the whole house into one big messy jumble.

Be subtle, be creative

Embrace a theme, but don’t go overboard. There’s a fine line between stylish and tacky.

Rather than buying every mermaid knickknack you find, pick a few pieces that you think stand out and then let them do just that. Otherwise everything blends together.

Instead, complement showpiece items with subtle and creative details that might not even be noticed at first glance. Install anchor-shaped coat hangers. Use fish netting for curtain tiebacks.

Turn old surfboards into countertops, boat oars into banisters, and big spools of rope into end tables. Let your imagination run wild!

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