The trending tab in any social media app is like a portal: you never know where you’re going to end up. So it’s nice to know that at least one TikTok trend is as wholesome as, well, a grandma: a Coastal Grandma, to be precise. It's a trend that's had 2.6 million views in a week on the world's favourite Chinese social network, and it is one that appears perfect for our tumultuous times, as it is decidedly calm and centred. As, to be fair, grandmas usually are. Especially ones who live on, or are visiting, the coast. But what is it, and why should you care?
Coastal Grandma, aka Coastal Grandmother, is a home decor trend that’s all about creating a welcoming, calming aesthetic: the sort of thing you’d expect to find in the house Taylor Swift sings about in The Last Great American Dynasty. A Coastal Grandma space is a serene, seaside space, the kind of beachside home you’d expect to visit Diane Keaton or Meryl Streep in while high quality coffee fills the room with its incredible aroma. It’s a place of simple but spectacularly tasty home cooking, cosying up in a cashmere sweater with a good book under a warm white lamp and chilling out on light-coloured linen with your phone set to Do Not Disturb.
It's now not so much an interiors trend as a whole lifestyle one, including interiors, exteriors, outfits, 'tablescapes' and more. Who says the elderly can't have rich and fulfilling lives?
@lexnicoleta ♬ This Will Be (An Everlasting Love) - Natalie Cole
The trend was named by TikToker @lexnicoleta, whose definitive video has had 1.5m views, and it has become a big deal outside TikTok too: Google searches are up 334%. But it’s TikTok where the most serious grandma action is taking place: the #coastalgrandmother hashtag was sitting at over 8 million views as I wrote this. That's a lotta grandma love. It's also prompted several brands to contact T3, keen to hop on the Coastal Grandma bandwagon – and if that doesn't prove something is trending, I don't know what does.
Be nice to (coastal) grandma
I came to mock, but I actually really like this: you can’t really go wrong with Coastal Grandma's mix of neutrals, off-whites, linen and rattan with the odd, carefully chosen accessory. It’s the kind of timeless, floaty vibe where you can imagine yourself as the heroine of a romance novel or rom-com, staring wistfully out of the window at the sea, pining for your lover. Which, let’s face it, is nicer to imagine than the reality many of us experience, such as having a view of people being sick in the bins outside German Doner Kebab. You might not live on the sea shore, but with Coastal Grandma you can pretend that you do.
So how do you do it? According to furniture experts Swyft, who make the Grandma-forward furniture pictured at the top of the page, you should “opt for neutral colours and natural features with light linen furniture for a cosy, beach-house look.” Neutrals doesn’t mean painting everything magnolia: there’s plenty of room for personality here with colours such as lakeside blues, warm whites and sage greens evoking that oceanside vibe.
According to FLOWERBX – no, that's not a typo – fresh flowers are a must “to brighten up the space”. Admittedly they’re an online florist, so they would say that, but I think they’re still right. Going for seasonal plants such as bright tulips, daffodils and other bursts of colour bring life to every room, ensuring that you don’t end up with something bordering on the cold and clinical. We’re thinking springtime beachside, not freezing winter, heavy clouds and grey, forbidding water. Without bright flowers it’s easy for Coastal Grandma to become a little grim.
As much as I like it, though, I can’t help thinking the most important thing about this aesthetic is the 'Grandma' bit: Grandma can live like this because her kids have long since moved out. As a harried parent of two kids and a greyhound-shaped bin raider these designs are hilariously impossible for a home like mine.
Maybe that’s the point, though. The videos and photos are aspirational and escapist, a little bit of calm in a world that’s really rather horrible right now. If that sounds like just what you need, check out @lexnicoleta’s TikTok for hints, tips and a healthy dose of humour too.