We started our virtual Journey of Coastal Style with Maine (naturally!) in Spring 2020 and are happy to pick things up with our next stop that we hope you will enjoy. While things are not completely “back to normal” yet, many of us are once again dreaming about travel, even if it is just virtual wanderlust.
Coastal style has a variety of universal elements (cedar shake exteriors, hand-crafted wood furniture, colorful and nautical accents, and water-inspired art), but it’s amazing how many unique nuances you can find by region. We’re here to help you get inspired, whether it’s visiting a new place or incorporating décor ideas in your own home.
This coastal style spotlight features another quintessential New England destination, Massachusetts. Summertime is a favorite month for locals and travelers alike, but the beauty of this eclectic yet elegant enclave is that every season has its special charm, and fall is a fan favorite.
Known as the Bay State, Massachusetts is in the top 10 states with the largest coastline (an impressive stat alone, but even more noteworthy considering it is one of the 10 smallest states measured by square miles)! In addition to the ocean coast and bays, there are many lovely rivers to explore and enjoy. So whether you are in Boston or the Berkshires, you are sure to find some beautiful waterways nearby.
NORTH & SOUTH SHORE
While there has been a longstanding debate about what is considered North Shore and South Shore, we will stick to the coastal map for our purposes. Geographically, the South Shore stretches south and east of Boston, from Quincy to historic Plymouth. Surrounded by Cod Bay and Plymouth Bay, the area includes picturesque towns like Hingham, and the Nantasket Beach Reservation in Hull. Other notable South Shore towns include Marshfield, Duxbury, and Situate.
Boston skyline with Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market at dusk.
The North Shore is a general term that covers the Northern coast from Boston heading to New Hampshire. Towns include Gloucester, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Beverly, Salem, Ipswich, Rockport, Newbury, Lynn, Essex, and Salisbury. Many of these locations are quaint fishing villages that evoke a unique and rustic coastal vibe. You can almost feel and smell the saltwater when you look at photos or paintings of these cozy coastal settings.
Manchester-by-the-Sea is a town on Cape Ann, in Essex County, Massachusetts, known for scenic beaches and vista points.
When in Boston, we recommend that you take in as much local charm and seafood as possible. Better yet, check off both at the same time with a delicious cup of clam chowder in a quaint waterfront setting! We love Boston Sail Loft, an easy-going North End eatery near historic Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market. You won’t be surprised that this restaurant was voted Best Chowder by Boston Magazine.
Photo courtesy Boston Sail Loft.
The oldest neighborhood within the city of Boston, Charlestown boasts an historic waterfront, the Freedom Trail, and Bunker Hill monument. Surrounded by the banks of the Mystic River and Boston Harbor, the area has strong Irish American roots and features distinctly New England architecture like brick townhouses and clapboard triple-decker homes.
Historic Acorn Street at Boston.
In addition to the traditional Boston shopping destinations like Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market, we love the idea of shopping at local, independent boutiques. Just a short walk from Bunker Hill in Charleston, Place & Gather offers a great selection of home décor, stationery, and gifts.
Home decor & lifestyle boutique in charming Charlestown, MA
Cape Cod consists of several towns divided into 4 regions, starting at the base with the Upper Cape towns of Falmouth, Mashpee, Sandwich and Bourne. Mid Cape includes Barnstable, Hyannis, Yarmouth and Dennis. The Lower Cape is comprised of Harwich, Brewster, Orleans, Chatham, and Monomoy Island. The Outer Cape includes Eastham, Wellfleet, and Provincetown.
Quaint villages and quintessential old-school Cape Cod towns abound all across the Cape with a notable concentration on the northern shoreline. If you venture out to the end of Cape Cod, you’ll reach Provincetown on the Northern tip, where you’ll find a vibrant and diverse, one-of-a-kind artistic community.
A row of shops in Chatham, Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
There are so many different towns with a unique Cape Cod vibe (yet none are quite the same as another) that it may be hard to pick just one – so why not choose a few! Check out some Cape Cod Guides to help you find the perfect fit for your family and style.
Insider tip: There are an abundance of oyster varieties to explore in and around Cape Cod and the South Shore including Duxbury, Wellfleet, and Barnstable. Maine Cottage has a wonderful assortment of oyster-inspired art and exclusive fabric designs.
A collection of oyster paintings by Kim Hovell is available at Maine Cottage.
There is no shortage of amazing places to shop all across Cape Cod. In keeping with the nautical character of the area, Sea Bags has stores in Chatham, Edgartown, Mashpee, Oaks Bluff, and Provincetown. Stop by to check out the one-of-a-kind vintage bags made from recycled sails, view ideas to personalize your bag, or design your own bag. Sea Bags even has a cool Sail Trade program where you can recycle your sail and trade it in for a custom bag – what a great way to create a sentimental and useful keepsake you will treasure forever!
2020 Graduation Tote ($150). Photo courtesy of Sea Bags, Maine.
NANTUCKET + MARTHA'S VINEYARD
Nantucket is a small island located about 30 miles south of Cape Cod. The one-town island is accessible by boat or airplane only, so it is naturally quaint, quiet, and exclusive. Distinctive features include secluded beaches, natural cedar-shake architecture, preppy fashion, and cobblestone streets. The town is also known for whaling, bay scallops, fishing, and the Daffodil Festival in spring.
Voted Best Seafood in Nantucket by Boston Magazine 2020, CRU Oyster Bar combines iconic waterfront dining with delicious seafood and cocktails – all with a warm, welcoming coastal vibe that will keep you coming back for more.
Photo courtesy of Cur Oyster Bar.
Martha’s Vineyard (aka The Vineyard) is an island about twice the size of Nantucket with 6 distinct towns all in one amazing place. It is a short 45-minute ferry ride from Hyannis/Woods Hole and you can easily take your car on the Steamship Authority. The terrain is a combination of flat beaches and gorgeous hills with breathtaking views, including the majestic Aquinnah Cliffs. The architecture in Oak Bluffs includes historic gingerbread cottages in a variety of joy-inspiring colors and unexpected color combinations (you know we love this!).
Colorful and ornate gingerbread Summer cottages in Oak Bluffs on the Island of Martha's Vineyard off the Massachusetts coast.
Gay head lighthouse and Aquinnah Cliffs on Martha's Vineyard.
Speaking of color, we love the bold, colorful jewelry hand-crafted by Stephanie Wolf. Visit Stephanie Wolf Designs, her studio and retail shop in Edgartown, for vibrant coastal-inspired jewelry you’ll only find on the island.
Photo of Mother of Pearl Shell Necklace in teal ($72), courtesy Stephanie Wolf Design.
The Berkshires is a rustic area nestled in the mountains of Western Massachusetts. While it may not be top of mind when you think of coastal Massachusetts, its geographic boundaries are marked by beautiful waterways, from the Housatonic River to the Connecticut River valley and Westfield River. A two-hour drive from Boston and less than 3 hours from NYC, the Berkshires are a popular vacation spot for outdoor activities including fall foliage, hiking, water sports, and cultural experiences like the Tanglewood Music Center in Lenox.
For a picturesque view of the waterways along the Berkshires, we suggest the road less traveled. Jacob’s Ladder Scenic Byway offers a nostalgic, nature-inspired drive among peaceful rivers and mountains. Make it more than just a road trip by allowing extra time to stop for hiking, photographing, and exploring the pastoral countryside, state forest, and rustic structures that take you back to a simpler time.
We hope you enjoyed learning more about another Northeastern coastal style that inspires us. Come back soon for our next blog post featuring Fall Coastal Decorating Ideas.