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Nailing the lingo of Modern Coastal Design is... EASY AS!

Nailing the lingo of Modern Coastal Design is... EASY AS!

Welcome to the NHS Style Sheet for the Modern Look: the second of a five-part series. 

Today, we’re unpacking the Modern Coastal Look, so you’ll speak the lingo, be set to give solid advice when a client requests a new build or reno with luxe laid back beach features. 

We all know that clients don’t need to live near the beach to want a home with a coastal design. So, what’s the Modern Coastal look all about? 

When building or reno’ing a Modern Coastal home, think 

  • Relaxed coastal styling: organic textures, soft colour palettes and open spaces that allow natural air to flow through the home.  
  • Clean lines and simple forms: gabled or skillion roofs, with a single slope or curve-shaped roofing that mimics waves and dunes.  
  • A focus on the facade:  
    • mixed textures and geometric shapes for instant kerb appeal
    • ensuring parts of the façade project outwards  
    • crisp white weatherboards 
    • well-placed modern windows with window frames and trims that match; or consider contrasting blacks. 


As we did in our first ‘NHS Style Cheat Sheet’, we’ve turned to James Hardie and its architect and James Hardie ambassador Joe Snell for some pointers that have stood the test of time. 


1. Focus on the facade.

A good looking facade makes a huge first impression and ups the ante as far as street appealgoes. It also makes for great shots on your Instagram or Facebook page and in your client portfolio! The aesthetic appeal is about clever combinations of cladding thickness, elevation and orientation to create different-shaped shadow lines at different times of the day 

When it comes to thickness, at 16mm Linea is the thickest while James Hardie, Weathertex and h3 primed weatherboards offer a variety of thicknesses to 7.5mm max. 
The idea of Modern Coastal style is to mimic the coastline and horizon where the ocean meets the sky. Horizontal lines are your best bet, which is why Linea weatherboards and Stria by James Hardie are a builder’s fave for contemporary coastal homes. But the old school weatherboards (which needed heaps of maintenance and regular repainting) are out. Modern fibre cement technology enables enduring, good looking homes. 
Architect and James Hardie ambassador Joe Snell has this to say about Modern Coastal home exteriors:  

“Horizontal lines are an essential exterior detail for a Modern Coastal design…  much like Queenslanders and Federation homes.  

Crisp white Linea weatherboards or Stria splayed cladding are ideal as it is resistant  to moisture damage and won’t swell or rot.”  

You might like to ensure parts of the façade project outwards… like verandas and cantilevered upper levels that have the added benefit of providing weather protection for clients who love entertaining outdoors. 

2. Stick with a subtle colour palette. 

A natural and ambient mood is the go in Modern Coastal.  

The hallmark colour is white for its ability to spread natural light and work well with other ocean-inspired tones; like the soft greens and muted blues that are perfect for Modern Coastal home interiors. 

For exterior walls, trims and roofs: creams, greys and beiges are excellent tones. 

3. Bring the outdoors in.

The line between indoors and outdoors is blurred in Modern Coastal design. To create a bright and airy retreat, we focus on natural light and outdoor living space as much as possible.  
For that seamless transition from indoors to out you’ll be looking at full windows, bi-fold doors and skylights. If you’re designing from scratch, your client might be interested in an outdoor room to extend interior living spaces and allow warm, natural light to flood in. 

With the use of blonde timbers, you can also utilise matching in your flooring with the same species of timber for your decking, creating a seamless transition. 

4. Textures, textures, textures.

The more texture you can add, the better. From flooring materials to décor, the textural elements used reference sand, shells and beachy details.  
Most likely, clients will be picturing rustic hardwood flooring. So any suggestions that work well with their vision of coastal elegance like weatherboards, bleached timber furniture and natural textures or materials in soft furnishings should go down well. 

5. Warm up the whites with timber.

White and Modern Coastal go hand in hand. It’s everywhere from cladding to window trims. But there’s plenty of room for timber accents for added warmth on outdoor decks, benches, privacy screens, planter boxes and under the overhang between the roof’s edge and the side of the home. 

If your client prefers more tonal variation, you can give black a crack, just don’t overdo it. In Modern Coastal black works on window trims where it blends nicely with window glass. Black can also be used to bring focus to fixtures and fittings, like sconce lights, house numbers, door knockers and handles.  


Modern Coastal Inspo

We've created a Pinterest board for some inspo on Modern Coastal that you can check out here.

Follow us on Pinterest as we update each of the Modern looks


Products that fit the Modern Coastal look

Now you're up to date with the lingo of Modern Coastal home design, here's an easy breakdown of a range of products that fit the bill of Modern Coastal home design.


 Product  Key features & benefits

James Hardie Linea weatherboard

  • Longs boards which can be buttressed  
  • Clean lines that cast shadow lines similar to traditional timber boards.  
  • Cement composite resistant to damage from heat, moisture and salt.

 James Hardie Stria

Available in 3 profiles: 

  • 325mm and 405mm for a rendered and raked masonry look 
  • Splayed 255mm for a modern take on a shiplap weatherboard

James Hardie HardieGroove

Weathertex Weathergroove

Easycraft VJ

  • As internal lining to create detail and craftsmanship 
  • For internal feature walls incl. below dado rails, in mud rooms, powder rooms and bathrooms. 
  • Can be used on the eaves/ soffits and alfresco ceiling and in weta areas like laundries

View our range of other internal timber linings

James Hardie Axon

  • Vertical lines adds interest 
  • Fast install  
  • Pre-primed, ready for paint 
  • No longevity issues 
  • Retains its look for longer 

Weathertex Primelok

Available in 2 finishes - Federation or Shadowood

Weathertex Selflok

Available in a range of finishes - Texwood, Colonial or Millwood

Composite and Fibre Cement Decking

James Hardie HardieDeck

  • Doesn't rot, warp or splinter 
  • Use around pools, or in damp, shady areas 
  • Matches the facade and continues the coastal look/vibe 

Millboard composite decking for its weathered textured look

View our range of composite decking

Timber decking

In a variety of blonde tones to complement the light tones of coastal:

Timber balustrade and handrail

Can be utilised to complement the decking and facade of the home, using the lighter timber features or primed and painted to suit.

View our timber balustrade and handrail range


Used to bring in more natural light to enhance that open airy feeling. Available in a range of manual and automatic options to suit.

Shop online for velux

Timber flooring

  • Typically light-coloured flooring like blackbutt and oaks. Any blonde species by special order – Hurfords or Boral (stringybark, tallowwood, southern beech) 
  • Available in solid timber or engineered pre-finished flooring 

 Exposed rafters

Primed H3 lining boards

Used in an alfresco space ceiling to create clean lines, painted light colours

Entrance & Internal Doors

Choose a blonde colour door, or one you can paint a light colour to suit your front facade.

Got pics of any Modern Coastal jobs? We'd love to feature them!

If you’ve enjoyed reading this article and have any amazing photos of work you’re doing that has a modern style we’d really love to check them out.

Send us pics on Instagram, Facebook or, if you’re a bit old school, you can always email them to us at We’d love to see and share what you’ve been creating!


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