How to Design A Surf Themed Living Room

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So you love the beach and the thrill of the ocean and you want to have it in your home to enjoy it all the time - no sweat! It's easy to design your living room in a theme of any kind and a surf theme is no different. You can have the thrill of the surf and beach life around you all the time by doing a few things to your living room to make it come to life.

A surf theme is not hard to accomplish but to avoid making it too over-the-top requires some planning. A surf theme means more than just surfboards, 'dude' signs and grass skirts hanging from the walls. Think sandy beaches, tropical colors and textures and the soothing sounds of the no time you will be surrounded by the surf life at home and not wanting to leave your living room surf oasis.

If there is one thing surfers say they enjoy most about surfing it is the communing with nature and zen feel of it, so keep this in mind when designing your room. You want to have color and variety in the room but in a relaxing, low-key way.


When you want to design a room with a surf theme let the colors of the surf life be your guide. You don't have to paint the walls ocean blue and buy every piece of furniture in blues (after all the beach has more colors than blue), but do incorporate blues, beiges and bursts of other colors you see at the beach in your living room.

  • Think of the yellow of the sun or the splash of red or pink in a sunset and you will get the idea of types of surf colors to use.
  • In general it's best to paint the walls a more neutral color when doing this theme room, like a beige or a light yellow, so you can use different pieces with colors to bring the surf feel to life.
  • Again, a color that is more bright or super blue on the walls can be more kitschy so if that's not the look you want, keep the wall color neutral.
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You want a surf living room but you still need to have the practical items like a couch, tables, and chairs. There are many ways to bring in the surf theme and with so many artistic furniture designers you can really get a show piece or two in your living room to show your surf style.

  • For example, you can get a surfboard with a piece of glass on it to serve as your sofa table.
  • Or of you don't want to put a board there, you can make a table out of your favorite surf spots by getting old pieces of wood – or wood that you make look worn- and paint your favorite surf spots’ name on it, giving it that beach worn feel and bringing in your favorite surf locales.
  • You could even make your living room table seem like the road sign leading the way to your favorite beach.
  • Even if you live in the Midwest or a big city, you can rest your feet on places that remind you of the surf.

A good rule for furniture is to get worn pieces or pieces that look weathered but are new. Whether it’s an old leather chair or an old wood chest or end tables, the faded look of time passing and being worn down by the sea air is very surf-life.


The way a surf themed room comes to life is in the details, which in this case means accessories, accessories, accessories!

  • Art - One great way to bring surf life into the room is with art. Have a vintage or brand new surfboard you want to show off? Put it on the wall as art or, if you don't have the wall space, lean it up against a wall as a type of standing art piece. There are some great pieces of beach photography, both in color and black and white, so you can get pictures from your favorite beaches or else dream locales and put them on the walls. Another great way to go with art is to get charcoal drawings or paintings of your surf scenes and put them up. The look of water scenes on the walls and the beach-y vibes will make you feel like the surf is in your home. And you can always go big with a large scale wall mural of a sunset or sunrise so you aren’t just limited to framed works.
  • You can also go vintage with art pieces from the 1950’s. There’s something about vintage art items, like an old advertisement from the 50’s or 60’s, that can make a space feel like a surf room honoring it’s roots. And remember, you don’t have to be limited to what you find in stores around you, look online and get pieces shipped directly to your home. You may find something from that great surf trip you took to Costa Rica in an online store, or else find that the little store on Oahu you loved has an online shop.
  • Collectables - Surf is also brought into your home through various items you collect and place around the room. For example, maybe you have a ton of shells you collect from beaches you’ve surfed or a lamp with tons of dried starfish inside or else a collection of used wax containers you put in a glass vase to show how much you have gotten your surf on. The little items add up and, especially if they have meaning to you, will they make your room more authentic to your guests – and of course for you. There are also large items like signs from your favorite surf beaches or beach restaurants you can buy at art stores or else have made for your room. You can always custom make pieces to look worn - and if you do it yourself you can save on cost as well.
  • Pillows – A great way to add a theme into a room is with throw and accent pillows for your couches and chairs. You can get pillows with floral themes or a 50’s style vintage look with hula girls.
  • Plants – One of the great parts surfing is nature so make sure you bring some plants into the room. Palms can work, but check with local gardeners to see what will work best in your area to get the surf look in your living room.

Keeping in mind the warn, weathered colorful look of surf life will make your home come to life as the surf space you have wanted.

Last Updated: November 16, 2011
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About Leah Gillis Leah Gillis has worked for several major news outlets, as well as a television series on home buying and decor. Having grown up in New England, she has lived in New York City, Los Angeles and Milan. When not trying to get a great deal, she is often found reading something, writing something or talking to someone.

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