Understanding the mechanisms controlling cell-multilayer film interactions is crucial to the successful engineering of these coatings for biotechnological and biomedical applications. Herein, we present a strategy to tune the cell adhesive properties of multilayers based on marine polysaccharides with and without cross-linking and/or coating with extracellular matrix proteins. Chemical cross-linking of multilayers improved mechanical properties of the coatings but also elicited changes in surface chemistry that alter the adhesion of human umbilical vein endothelial cells. We evaluated a strategy to decouple the mechanical and chemical properties of these films, enabling the transition from cell-adhesive to cellresistant multilayers. Addition of chitosan/alginate multilayers on top of cross-linked films decreased endothelial cell adhesion, spreading, and proliferation to similar levels as uncross-linked films. Our findings highlight the key role of surface chemistry in cell-multilayer film interactions, and these engineered nanocoatings represent a tunable model of cell adhesive and non-adhesive multilayered films.