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california cool interior design living room with white brick fireplace and mid century pendant

The California Cool Trend Blends Four of Your Fave Interior Design Styles

I’m so excited to share my California Cool interior design ideas with you today, and doubly excited that the trend is finally taking Australia by storm. How do I know this? Well, because I have clients asking me to execute this look in their home. That’s always a surefire sign that a particular style is gaining momentum.

Actually, I should point out that the clients who have come to me wanting this look don’t usually know that their style is California Cool at first. They come to me, as a client did this week, declaring themselves a bit coastal, a bit Scandi, a bit boho and a bit Mid-Century. And often they don’t know which style they should adopt.

Here’s the good news: you can adopt all four. Because that’s what California Cool is in a nutshell; a glorious blend of coastal, bohemian and Mid-Century design – with a little Scandi thrown in for good measure! It’s the coming together of so many awesome interior design styles, and it really allows for a lot of freedom in your style choices.

I’ve been in the thick of doing a lot of contemporary luxe and Hamptons styles in homes of late, so I’m really looking forward to rocking more of this design in properties across the country in the months to come.

These California cool interior design ideas might have you realising that you too, are indeed, a lover of this style. So scroll on through as we examine imagery from across the web, along with my tips on pulling off Cali cool design at your place.

I’ll see you in the comments at the end of the post.

california cool living room with woven leather armchairs and mid century pendant
via beach pretty

Cali Cool Mixes Four Popular Design Styles

As I already mentioned above, what makes California Cool interior design so amazing is that it’s a blend of four popular design styles that you already know and love. They are, in no particular order:

  1. The organic, rustic vibe of Coastal
  2. The laidback eclectic nature of Bohemian
  3. The muted, airy and minimalistic feel of Scandinavian
  4. And the vintage, character-packed style of Mid-Century

What makes California Cool even better is that you can control what dosage of the four design styles mentioned above you want in your space. And because there are so many different design influences at play, it really creates an interior that feels unique to you. Have a look at the rooms in this post and you’ll be able to find the four styles above reflected in the spaces, I promise!

It’s also really important to ensure you have the Mid-Century influences at play here. So many people will understand that blend of boho and coastal (it’s so popular at the moment). But Cali Cool is not that. It’s the Mid-Century pieces that really make it interesting and give the rooms a sense of story.

california cool dining room with provincial dining table and mid century multi bulb pendant

You’ll Love the Subdued Colour Palette

The California Cool interior design ideas you’ll see reflected in the images here are all quite neutral in colour. That’s not to say the spaces are boring by any means, but they definitely steer clear of bold colour statements.

White does the bulk of the heavy lifting when it comes to colour. And you know how it is with white; there are at least a thousand different shades of it. So get mixing all of those together and make sure you introduce other neutrals like cream, beige and soft grey into the mix too.

It’s not an all-white affair though. You’ll notice that brown and warm orange tones are present as well. They tend to be represented through materials like leather and timber though, rather than hanging a loudly coloured artwork on the wall.

Black is also showcased, but in rather small doses. Overall Cali Cool is a very warm scheme, cooled down only by the occasional pop of green in indoor plants, or very muted blue accents in accessories.

The room below is the perfect example of the kinds of blue accents you can bring in to create a sense of balance between warm and cool.

california cool dining room with woven leather dining chairs and large olive tree in rattan basket

There’s a Wonderful Medley of Textures

Because the colours are so neutral, the rooms that rock California Cool design really amp up the texture. The spaces not only celebrate a medley of different materials, but there’s a great balance of hard and soft at play too.

Harder materials like timber, leather and ceramics sit alongside softer ones like wool, linen and velvet. What’s also so fantastic about the textures is the way they’re showcased. A chair, for example, can feature a wonderfully coarse woven rattan detail on the back and seat section, with curved gloss timber arms.

This isn’t simply a neutral scheme with layers and layers of material. It’s more of a celebration of texture and how it can be applied to a room in interesting ways.

The bench seat at the end of the bed in the image below, for example, is a nice illustration of my point; it’s not a stock standard straight-edge piece of furniture. It has a hand-crafted feel to it. The dining chairs in the post are much the same.

bedroom with black four poster bed and mid century nightstand california cool

california cool living room with tan leather vintage armchair and large plant
both images above via emily henderson

The Style Feels Curated Over Time

I love the idea behind California Cool interiors; that the rooms look (and usually are) built over time. It’s not a brand new feel. Rather, it’s a story that develops over the course of years, really allowing you to put your own stamp on it and celebrate your keepsakes and memories.

There’s absolutely a vintage story to be told here. Have a look through the images in this post and you’ll see that a lot of the rooms have furniture that looks one-of-a-kind. They have art that looks like it was collected on travels overseas. And there are decor pieces that look like they’ve been picked up at a market or second-hand store.

It’s this coming together of new design and pre-loved design that makes Cali Cool so full of depth and interest. And for those of you who have collected trinkets and treasures on travels, there are so many ways to work them into the mix.

california cool living room with vintage leather armchairs and mid century lighting
via emily henderson

Not a fan of second hand furniture?

Don’t worry. It’s not absolutely essential that you pack in a flea market find. It’s just important to understand that there is a quirk at play in the rooms. It’s not all from the latest furniture store catalogue.

Homes that are full of purely brand new things always lack a bit of character, a bit of a story. Even when I work with design clients I’ll do my best to include some things they already have and showcase their mementoes or family photos.

So, at the very least, go through some of your packed-away keepsakes and have a think about how you could work them into your room. There’s also a craftiness to some of the art pieces, so if you’re creative in that respect you could make a wall hanging or something similar for your walls.

The wall hanging in the image below is all sorts of magic, don’t you think?

california cool bedroom with scandi bedside table mid century table lamp and textile hung above bed
via emily henderson

Imperfection and Quirk is Celebrated

California Cool interior design loves weird stuff. It adores a furniture piece that isn’t perfect. And it loves a bit of a WTF moment in art and decor.

You could proudly display a hand-me-down rocking chair in a living room. You could embrace a tapestry or odd 3D object over your headboard. Or you could even have mis-matched lamps on your bedside table. The magic comes from embracing odd moments. Don’t be afraid to have a bit of a play.

It’s not just the pieces themselves that give rules the finger. It’s also the layout and configuration of spaces. They abandon the notion of formality and symmetry. Things at different heights are fine. Objects not centred on walls are encouraged. Sofa and armchairs don’t have to be placed in a configuration that makes sense. The relaxed look is essential.

mid century tile fireplace with timber armchair california cool interior fiddle leaf fig
via beach pretty

The Style is So Accessible Locally

There are so many stores that stock pieces that perfectly reflect the California Cool interior design ideas you’re looking at in this post. It’s just that so many of them won’t stock everything you need to pull off this vibe.

West Elm and Brosa, for example, are the go-to stores for all of that Mic-Century stuff. Norsu Interiors and RJ Living have a lot of the simple but chic Scandi gems. OZ Design does great coastal furniture and decor. And then brands like Uniqwa and La Casa Vita stock the bohemian goods.

Honestly, I never advocate getting everything from the one store anyway. The Cali Cool style is a look that evolves over time so do a little furniture and decor grazing at a number of stores and build the look up as you go. And as already mentioned, hit the markets or pick up something special from a boutique during a road trip adventure. California Cool is all about the eclectic.

I’ve got a mood board for you below that has some great California Cool design finds for you to shop. 

california cool interior design mood board

Shop the California Cool Mood Board

I’ve hand-selected a few of my fave California Cool interior design ideas from local suppliers so you can get a bit of this style at your place. All the links for the products you see are listed below. Time to ‘add to cart’!

My top bargain buy is the divine bedside table above from BIG W (it’s only $49!). But there are loads of goodies to explore, so I hope you see something you love. Starting from top left and moving across:

Ariana Framed Print ArtworkWood and Ceramic Table Lamp | Arrow Cushion | Oat Cushion | Mud CushionBrass Tabletop Planters | Olympic Rings Coat Hanger | Rattan Bedside Table | Tribal Pattern Rug | Ethan Queen Size Bed | Aleah Printed Pasta Bowl | Fabric Wall Hanging | Solum Brass and Black Side Table | Mara Throw | Modern Lucas Armchair | Brown and Orange Petal Pot | Cream Striped Basket

Hopefully you found some great ideas above from the Cali Cool mood board. This style really does afford you the ability to mix and match a lot of different style finds.

california cool interior design dining room with woven leather dining chairs and rustic table
via lindye galloway studio

What do you make of Cali Cool Design?

I know so many of you are probably already rocking that blend of coastal and boho at home. It’s such a popular trend at the moment. Hopefully this post has inspired you to take that vibe and introduce a little more age and character. Bringing in the Mid-Century pieces also gives it a bit more depth and story, so I’m confident you’ll be able to make this look work at your place.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this design style in the comments below.


Chris Carroll

Outside of writing this blog, Chris is an interior designer, presenter and author. He’s also spent time on TV, on Channel 10’s Changing Rooms, as well presenting segments on Channel 7’s Sunrise and The Morning Show. If you’d like to book a design consult with Chris, you can find out more here

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27 Responses

  1. Hi Chris great article. I know this an old post but I’m trying to create this look and we are about to get new aluminum windows and can’t decide on black or white frames so I can recreate this look. What are your thoughts?

  2. What a fabulous article Chris. California Cool has such a warm vibe incorporating elements of timber, natural coastal , lots of texture and soothing on the eye . I feel this style is so suited to our Australian life style. The four design elements combine so beautifully . I think I am on track with coastal, neutral, layered textures whilst still keeping some treasured pieces . Love your work and beautiful design styling.

  3. Love this article! Thank you so much for helping me learn how to blend all my favorite styles. Is there any chance you have information on where to purchase the dining room rug?

  4. Chris, I so agree – reading your “Cali Cool” article is my “aha” moment. I love all four of those styles and largely have the pieces that fit it. Now I can really enjoy putting it all together thoughtfully in my new Coastal home. Thank you for your inspiration

  5. I love this style, in fact I have incorporated some of it in my home without knowing that’s what it was, but mine is a little more modern industrial/scandi. I love all the different textures and color pallet!
    Great post, thanks for sharing these beautiful images, cheers x

  6. LOVE. IT. Finally my style has a name! I love elements of all the styles you mentioned but feel that all of one style is just not me. I am going to be referring to this post for my future interior choices. Thank you x

  7. I am obsessed with the Dream Home Makeover show! Love Studio McGee and all they do! Now I just need to get my home to look like theirs, in 10th of the space 🙂 Those American have huge homes! x Lou

  8. Lovin’ this style. We have a mid-century home with lots of orange-tone built-ins (plus a orange tiled bar with the mandatory mirror behind it. This is a good way to show me how to tone this colour down.

  9. THANK YOU thank you thank you for this post on California Cool style and decor. I’ve been searching online for a few weeks trying to figure out how I wanted to redecorate my bedroom and this pulls all of the elements I’m attracted to together beautifully. This is the only thing I’ve found online that hit the nail on the head.

  10. Love this style! Any suggestions for a bar cart? I have struggled to find one. I have at home coastal and boho ( also industrial ( not too much Just 1 thing). I do not want to have too much boho and coastal.

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I’m interior designer Chris Carroll, and at TLC Interiors we’re all about helping you create an amazing home without breaking the bank. It’s affordable designer style at its best, and we make the whole process easy and fun for clients & readers alike!

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