Not to be confused with coastal décor, which is inspired by the coastlines of northern California and the Eastern Seaboard, and Mediterranean décor, which emphasizes style found in Spain, southern France, Greece and Italy, tropical décor style conjures up images of warm trade winds, sand, sea and sun of the warmer climates near the equator, from the Caribbean to the South Pacific. So no matter what season it is, you can recreate this breezy, warm style at home in your apartment by following a few simple tips.
Neutrals and Sun-Drenched Colors
Regarding color schemes, there are a few ways you can go. Consider building a foundation with neutral tones for your walls like ivory, beige, camel, tan, deep brown, soft gold and pale yellow to make brighter colors really stand out and seem vibrant. Traditional tropical colors are often bold and beautiful, channeling the elements of the natural world. Deep turquoise blues and sea greens recall the ocean and sky, while bright pinks, corals, purples, yellows and oranges are inspired by native flowers, birds and tropical sunsets. Use these colors sparingly to create contrasting focal points.
Comfort and Style
Tropical décor style is all about casual comfort and relaxation, so your furniture should reflect that sentiment. Large, overstuffed sofas and chairs are a must, with decorative pillows, slipcovers and cushions that recall tropical scenes like sky and sea. If you choose to upholster, do so in soft, lush fabrics like cotton, linen or silk, or incorporate these fabrics into window treatments to enhance the breezy, comfortable atmosphere.
Texture and wood play a big part in tropical décor style, and they’re easy to incorporate into the design of your apartment. Choose bamboo wood blinds or teak elements to amp up the tropical vibe. Use area rugs made from natural materials like sea grass or sisal to add a tropical touch. If you can’t wallpaper your entire apartment, purchase a small piece of grass cloth wallpaper, cut it down to the size of a picture frame and hang it on your wall for a textural contrast.
Adding the right accessories is the key to making your apartment feel like a warm tropical paradise. The tropics are filled with lush plants like palms, banana plants and rubber trees, so choose one (planted in a terracotta, wicker or bamboo pot) to place on a side table or give a little life to an otherwise dark corner. The same goes for colorful, tropical flowers like orchids or hibiscus. Hang framed photographs or paintings of tropical scenes, or create a tablescape with seashells and sea glass.
The main thing to remember when decorating in this style is to incorporate tropical elements in a natural way rather than completely replicating the tropics. A little goes a long way, so use a light touch and let your creativity shine through.
Photo credit: iStockphoto/DougBennett