What it is: Born from the belt of countries between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, tropical design mixes a range of customs and cultures into a lively whole. It’s laid-back and easygoing, a melting pot of indigenous materials, relaxed elegance, exotic overtones and a sunny-side-up sensibility.
Why it works: Tropical insides feel like a permanent vacation — they appear to slow timing and quell the frantic pace at which the majority of us reside. They enhance life’s pleasures and urge us to lighten up.
You’ll enjoy it if … The noise of a steel drum seduces you. You had the direct on your college production of South Pacific. Your cocktail of choice comes with a paper umbrella. Brazil’s annual Carnival is on your own bucket listing. You’re convinced you can find a coconut palm to grow on your chilly climate.
Style Secret: Netting
Nothing evokes the love of the tropics just like a bed swathed in billowy white mosquito netting. Even though it originated as a practical guard against stealthy pests, its dreamy, soft appearance sets a tropical mood even in the event that you reside in a spot that’s low on flying creatures.
Easy does it : If you don’t have a carved teak four-poster that calls out for a netting veil, then not fear. Fashion a simple canopy from sheer cloth connected to the ceiling with hooks or brackets (such as this one), which works even if you don’t have any headboard or footboard. You might also purchase one of those ready-made hanging bug baits available on the market.
Applegate Tran Interiors
Style Secret: Powerful Prints
Ditch the prim florals, girlish gingham and tailored ticking stripes in favor of splashy, exuberant patterns. Think large-scale themes with strong lines: palm fronds, plumeria, banana leaves. Or go for designs which hint at far-flung tropical locales, such as batik and ikat.
Easy does it : A bit goes a long way, so take care to strike a balance between bold and brassy. Colours can be playful, but they don’t need to shout. Inside this living room, the washed-out coral color makes a perfect foil for your print on the cushions — it’s cheerful, but it does not mar the area’s breezy, relaxed atmosphere. And don’t mix a lot of big prints in 1 area, or else they’ll struggle for focus and disturb the peace.
Willman Interiors / Gina Willman, ASID
Style Secret: Natural Textures
By jute and grasses to cane and bamboo, tropical fashion celebrates nature’s textural, tactile beauty. Contemplate wicker and rattan furniture, coarsely woven floor coverings and colors such as banana-leaf baskets and pandan trays. On the walls, grass cloth and Hawaiian bark cloth enhance tropical taste.
Easy does it : Not prepared to cloak your whole ceiling at lahaula matting such as the one shown here? Start small. Consider treating just 1 wall using a textural covering or framework a few grass cloth panels to hang. If you’re really unsure, you can simply start with natural rugs in fundamental materials such as sisal, a tropical fiber that functions as a simple bridge to this fashion.
Style Secret: Tropical Plants
Take those lush green crops and vibrant blooms, and the tropics would feel more like the tundra. Use potted versions to breathe vigor and vibrancy in your home — you are able to stick with pure green foliage to limit the palette or bulk together a tumble of blooms such as bougainvillea and hibiscus. Just don’t cram in so many that the space starts to feel just like the Amazon.
Easy does it : If you have a brown thumb, good news: There are tons of tropical plants that will withstand your best attempts to kill them. Try out philodendron, croton, ponytail palms or even the fun-to-say ZZ (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) plant. Big and showy, they give maximum payoff for minimum effort — no fussy pruning and puttering to stand between you and your afternoon siesta.
Trans-Pacific Design / Susan J. Moss, ASID
Style Secret: Exotic Woods
Ipe, wenge, teak and other tropical woods go with this design such as quartersawn oak in a Craftsman bungalow. Because tropical fashion is about not trying too hard, you can mix and match as many species and tones as you would like. Dark woods and exquisitely detailed pieces can choose the appearance in a British Colonial or Balinese management, while lighter, rustic finishes and furnishings feel more Caribbean and Central American.
Easy does it : The attractiveness of several tropical woods lies within their normal layout — burled, striped, streaked or mottled — so easy applications enable them to shine. The kitchen cabinetry shown this consists of koa, a Hawaiian wood using natural variations that give it a magnificent visual rhythm.
Jean Allsopp Photography
Style Secret: Outdoor Living
in the event that you wished to sew within four walls, you would decorate your house like a Lapland cabin. Outdoor living is half of the fun of tropical fashion, so look for opportunities to combine inside spaces with exterior ones and find spots to savor sunlight. A cozy grouping of furniture and a couple of well-chosen accents turn this porch to some bona fide living room.
Easy does it : You don’t need to build a lanai or display on your porch to create an outdoor room. A simple trellis and canvas panels transform a plain concrete terrace into a mini cabana; a row of brightly painted Adirondack chairs leaves a lawn feel like an instantaneous beach. And if you have two nicely spaced trees, you can hang a hammock and call it a day.
Style Secret: Bermuda Shutters
Oh, so that’s what those top-hinged shutters are called. Long used from the Caribbean to display sunlight without obstructing sea breezes, Bermuda shutters (sometimes known as Bahama shutters) add a relaxed island-style touch.
Easy does it : If Bermuda shutters aren’t for you, consider replacing your exterior shutters with weathered ones that seem as though they have survived a tropical storm or 2. You might also prop them against a porch wall, or even indoors, to replicate the effect.
Style Secret: Ceiling Fans
Say what you may about the much-maligned ceiling fan — anyone who resides in a hot climate will tell you that it’s a near requirement. It can help to keep air circulating and reproduces the sense of surfside storms blowing through. And few sounds are more calming than its mild, monotonous hum.
Easy does it : Worried about finding a sufficiently trendy fan? Do not overthink it. Pick one having an abysmal tropical design, such as this wide-paddle version, or a streamlined model that blends into the ceiling. And remember that when it’s whirring, you’ll hardly see the blades in any way.
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