Embracing the Surf Lifestyle: A Guide to Surf Decor

Introduction to Surf Lifestyle and Decor

Immersing oneself in the surf lifestyle extends beyond catching waves. It seeps into your everyday life, dictating your ethos, attitude, and even home aesthetics. A surf-inspired home isn’t just a place; it’s a vibrant expression of a deep connection with the sea. It embodies the freedom, joy, and thrilling unpredictability of surf culture, captured through colors, textures, and curated design elements. Driven by natural materials, sun-drenched hues, and oceanic patterns, surf decor encapsulates the essence of a laid-back, salt-infused lifestyle. It serves as a constant, visual reminder of the symbiotic relationship surfers share with the ocean.

History of Surfing and its Influence on Design

Surfing, with roots dating back to ancient Polynesia, has dramatically influenced global design aesthetics. Originally, it was a fundamental part of Hawaiian culture, viewed as an art form symbolizing man’s harmonious interaction with the sea. The fascination with surfing escalated during the 1950s and 60s, transforming it from a niche hobby into a full-fledged lifestyle.

During this “Surf Boom,” the world saw the surf culture’s aesthetic infiltrate the realms of fashion, music, film, and significantly, interior design. Influential surf artists like John Severson began crafting a visual language revolving around the ocean, waves, and the surf lifestyle. These works laid the groundwork for surf decor, infusing homes with the spirit of the sea.

In the late 20th century, surf culture permeated further into mainstream consciousness. Iconic brands like Quiksilver and Roxy brought surf fashion to the masses, indirectly shaping home decor trends. Today, surf-inspired design celebrates a relaxed, carefree vibe that pays homage to its historic roots. It blends the nostalgic charm of the classic surf shack with a modern twist, embodying the enduring allure of this water-bound lifestyle.

Elements of Surf Decor

Colors and Patterns

A distinct characteristic of surf decor is its color palette. Blues, drawn directly from the varying hues of the ocean, dominate these palettes. Earthy tones, inspired by sandy beaches and sunlit paths, accent these blues perfectly. They create a harmonious balance, mirroring the surfers’ symbiotic relationship with nature. Additionally, pops of sunny yellows or fiery oranges can often be seen, representing the vibrant sunsets common to the surfer’s daily view. As for patterns, think tropical. Palm prints, wave motifs, and abstract nautical themes are common, breathing life and movement into the decor.


When it comes to materials, surf decor celebrates natural, sustainable elements. Weathered wood, harking back to the iconic beach pier or vintage surfboard, is a staple. It provides a rustic, lived-in feel that’s at the core of surf lifestyle. Natural fibers, like jute or rattan, are often used in rugs or furniture, adding a touch of coastal charm. Glass, often in the form of sea glass accessories, reflects light, bringing a slice of the sun-soaked outdoors, inside.

Surf-centric Decor Items

In surf decor, the devil is in the details. Nothing screams surf culture louder than a classic surfboard. Old, retired surfboards are often upcycled into statement pieces, serving as wall art or even functioning as tables. Authentic surf photographs or ocean-inspired artworks breathe life into the walls, keeping the sea close, even indoors. Smaller elements like seashells, driftwood, or maritime trinkets play their part too. They pepper the home with surf-related symbols, creating a visual narrative that’s uniquely tied to the surf lifestyle. From surfboard fins turned into coat hooks to coffee tables resembling miniature boardwalks, every item tells a tale of the sea.

Creating Your Surf-Inspired Living Room

Furniture Choices

When planning a surf-themed living room, the furniture you choose sets the tone. Opt for relaxed, low-profile pieces reminiscent of beach living. Incorporate wooden elements, like a driftwood coffee table or a rattan armchair. These serve as aesthetic nods to natural materials, central to surf culture. Consider a distressed wood bookshelf to showcase your collection of surf literature and travelogues. And don’t forget comfort – plush, oversized sofas in hues of blue or sandy beige are inviting, offering the perfect spot to unwind post-surf.

Decor Elements

Crafting an authentic surf ambiance lies in the successful incorporation of themed decor elements. A vintage longboard, leaned nonchalantly against a wall, effortlessly infuses surf culture into the room. Alternatively, consider mounting a surfboard as a piece of wall art. The trick is to use surf paraphernalia sparingly, as accents, rather than cluttering the space.

Invest in quality marine-themed artworks or ocean photography to underline your theme. Pillows or throws with tropical prints can add splashes of color and pattern. Opt for natural fiber rugs or curtains to keep the beach vibe alive.

Lastly, illuminate your space with warm, ambient lighting – think of how the setting sun glows over a surf break. Use lamps made from natural materials or choose fixtures that mimic sea elements. And don’t forget – the aim is to evoke a sense of relaxed coastal living that mirrors the serene rhythm of the surf lifestyle.

Designing a Surf-Inspired Bedroom

Bedding and Curtains

The bed, as the centerpiece of any bedroom, holds significant sway in dictating the room’s theme. Surf decor lends itself well to linens in soothing hues of blue, representing the ocean, or sun-bleached neutrals, a nod to sandy beaches. Consider bedding with subtle wave patterns or palm prints for a touch of surf-inspired whimsy.

Curtains, on the other hand, offer a grand opportunity to filter sunlight, mimicking the soft light of a beach at sunrise or sunset. Choose natural fabrics like cotton or linen in light tones or with nautical prints, contributing to the overall surf theme.


In surf decor, accessories play a crucial role in refining the aesthetic. Vintage surf posters or framed beach photographs make for compelling wall decor. They evoke nostalgia and anchor the room to surf culture. Consider a bedside lamp made from driftwood or with a base reminiscent of sea glass.

Shelves can display a collection of seashells or surf trophies. Even simple touches, like a throw rug echoing the color of the sea, or a bedside mat in the shape of a surfboard, can reinforce the theme. Be mindful to maintain a balance – remember, the goal is to craft a tranquil space that reflects the relaxed rhythm of the surf lifestyle, not to overwhelm the senses.

Surf Decor in Outdoor Spaces

Patio/Balcony Decor

Incorporating surf decor in your patio or balcony blurs the boundary between indoor and outdoor living. It extends the coastal vibe beyond the confines of your interior. A patio furnished with all-weather rattan chairs, adorned with cushions in vibrant ocean hues, creates a surf-friendly space. Consider adding an outdoor rug with wave motifs to anchor the setting. A wall-mounted surfboard, whether it’s an actual board or a board-shaped decor piece, reinforces the theme, while surf-themed lanterns or string lights can cast a warm, beachy glow during evenings.

Garden Decor

When it comes to gardens, surf decor thrives on creative use of elements like driftwood, beach pebbles, or even surfboard-shaped signs. You can craft a pathway with beach pebbles or use weathered driftwood as unique garden markers. An old surfboard can transform into a vibrant garden bench or be used as a creative backdrop for a flower bed. To capture the essence of the sea, consider incorporating water features, like a small pond or fountain. Plant choices can also reflect the surf theme. Opt for palm trees, beach grass, or other coastal plants that thrive in your specific climate. The key is to create a space that is relaxed, sustainable, and reminiscent of a beach landscape.

DIY Surf Decor Projects

Repurposing Old Surfboards

One man’s retired surfboard can become another’s unique piece of home decor. This environmentally-friendly, sustainable option brings authenticity to your surf decor. An old surfboard can be transformed into a quirky coffee table with the simple addition of legs. Alternatively, mounted on a wall, it becomes a statement piece that tells tales of past waves. Cut in half lengthwise, a surfboard can convert into a trendy shelf, perfect for displaying smaller beach finds. These projects require minimal tools and give a second life to a well-loved surfboard while showcasing your surf lifestyle.

Creating Surf-Themed Art

If you’re artistically inclined, creating surf-themed art can be a rewarding way to personalize your decor. With a simple canvas, paints in oceanic hues, and a bit of imagination, you can craft your own wave-inspired artwork. Whether it’s a depiction of your favorite surf spot or an abstract representation of the sea, the end result will undoubtedly be a unique focal point.

For those less comfortable with a paintbrush, consider a photo collage. Print your best surf shots or beach scenes, then frame them together for a striking piece of wall art. Alternatively, seashell crafting is a fun, low-stakes art project. Gather shells from your beach trips, then arrange and glue them onto a canvas for a textured, three-dimensional artwork. These DIY projects not only enhance your surf decor but also provide a fun way to reminisce about your favorite beach moments.

Conclusion: Living the Surf Lifestyle

The surf lifestyle is a unique blend of exhilarating water sports, deep respect for nature, and a relaxed approach to life. To embody this ethos in your home decor is to make a statement about your passions and values. Surf decor is not about clichéd beach themes or overuse of maritime motifs, but an exercise in subtlety and careful curation. It’s about selecting the right elements to create a space that is as invigorating and serene as a day spent riding the waves.

Whether you’re a seasoned surfer or someone who simply adores the coastal vibe, surf decor offers an aesthetic that combines leisure and sophistication. It allows you to incorporate your love for the ocean into your everyday life, extending the joy of surfing to even those quiet moments spent indoors.

As we’ve discussed, there’s an array of ways to infuse surf decor into every corner of your home, including DIY projects that add a personal touch. And remember, the ultimate aim is to create a home that exudes the laid-back charm, the embrace of nature, and the spirit of adventure that are at the heart of the surf lifestyle. In the end, it’s all about capturing that thrilling feeling of catching the perfect wave, right in the comfort of your own home.