Interior Designer Raili Clasen Shares How to Make Your Home Coastal Cool Without the Seashells

These Interiors Are to DIY for

Written By: Jane Adler
Photography Provided By: Karyn Millet, Chad Mellon, Lisa Romerin, Becca and Her Camera and Val Vogt  Raili Clasen

Name: Raili Clasen
Job Title: Interior Designer, RailiCA Design

Raili Clasen is a gal who oozes California cool. Even the Orange County native’s everyday ensemble is indicative of her trendsetting design style, pairing classic pieces like jeans and a striped tee with her signature checkerboard sneakers for a look that is timeless with a twist. This is her approach: make it pleasing but with tons of personality. Clasen is known for mixing coastal and contemporary elements to create a new category of interior design that marries midcentury with maritime. 

A San Diego State alum, Clasen kick-started her post-college career in advertising before setting her eye on the sky for a brief stint as a flight attendant, which was a way to guarantee her travel itch would get scratched. She grounded herself after 3 years and made her way into the surf industry as an instrumental part of big-name companies like Raisin Swimwear, Roxy and Paul Frank. Clasen went on to co-found a company called Alice Supply Co.—a line of hip housewares that took your everyday items and candy-coated them in color. This was Clasen’s intro to the world of interiors, and she rode the wave into the industry and never looked back.

Clasen launched her career as an interior designer 6 years ago and has quite literally branded her name into the business (seriously, she owns a brander). Clasen just does things differently. She puts the “fun” in functional and thinks imperfect is exciting. She loves to pair old and new, borrowed and blue and is always striving for that “big wow moment” in a space. Clasen often opts for oversized anything to give a project some pizazz and infuses her love of surf culture into her designs. Attention to detail is in her DNA, and every square inch of a room—from the floorboards to the ceiling beams—is fair game for extra flair.

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Clasen is someone who can’t help but color outside the lines, and the result usually falls somewhere between cool and crazy.

“I owe it to my clients to give them creative and new–I don’t just want to play my greatest hits.”

And people are obsessed. From hello to yellow, everybody is living for Clasen’s local-gone-loco design style that you can find plastered all over Pinterest. Clasen can go bright and light or moody and modern, but she always finds a creative way to incorporate elements of the ocean to pay homage to her hometown. She does this through playing with textiles like macramé or mudcloth to add dimension and texture to a room, sometimes even DIYing it to get the exact look she wants.

But what really sets Clasen apart is her ability to get to know her clients, find their quirks and unique subtleties and then customize her creations accordingly. Whether it’s framing a forgotten flea market find, hanging a gallery wall of guitars or unveiling an installation featuring a family catchphrase, Clasen personalizes every project with pride and does so with a huge infectious smile on her face. Life is really a beach with Clasen by your side.


How to Make: Designing a Coastal-Chic Space Raili Clasen

Attempting a coastal cool makeover can often leave you shell-shocked. If you’re feeling un-shore of yourself, check out these tide and true tips from expert Raili Clasen to avoid looking like a fish out of water.

Step 1 | Name Your Project. Raili Clasen

“That’s the first thing I do when I start a project… I name it in my own mind–I don’t even tell anybody. Everything we put in the house has to fit into that name.”


Step 2 | Begin With a Blank Canvas. Raili Clasen

“Paint everything white and bring in natural elements; create as much natural light as possible. Bring in natural elements like any kind of woods. Oak is very chic, but I am loving pine and plywood at the moment. It’s very kitschy, but it translates really well into coastal.”


Step 3 | Pick a Personality Piece.

“Whether it’s art, a mural, a gallery wall or maybe it’s an installation like the ‘Count Your Blessings’ wall I had in my house, you need a personality piece.” Clasen loves to use oversized prints or Almond Surfboards to create a “big wow moment.”


Step 4 | Light it up!

“I love oversized lights.” Clasen tends to opt for over-the-top light fixtures with big bulbs and brass accents. Try trading ocean blues for bright yellows for a modern take on coastal cool design.


Step 5 | Opt for Functional Furnishings.

“I’m nontraditional in that I bring everything close together–I call them conversation pits.” Clasen also believes that “rugs are for comfort; I love cushy.”


Step 6 | Be Open.

Clasen is a big fan of “freestyle” when it comes to finishing touches. From pottery to pillows to plants, she recommends testing out different textiles. 


RailiCA Design

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