Tropical decorating focuses on the exotic aspects of the tropics, whether from around the islands of Hawaii, or closer to the continental U.S. in the Caribbean, it has a much more primitive and tribal sense to it.
With similarities and intertwining characteristics from the safari and Asian themes, the tropical decorating style typically blends complex woven patterns against earthy textures and color tones. Looking no farther than the beach for inspiration, with its abundant supply of treasures, is a great place to begin your tropical beach decor theme.
Tropical decorating includes such staples as palm trees, seashells, coral, star fish and sand dollars, all within reach on a stroll down the beach. Additional accents for the exotic island experience include colorful figurines of birds, fish, monkeys, fruits, pineapples, coconuts, large plants, darkly stained rattan and weathered leather furniture.
Generally speaking, less clutter is preferred in tropical decorating. This design is usually reserved for the common living areas where entertaining occurs, such as family and living rooms, but can easily be applied throughout the entire home, including bathrooms, bedrooms and even the kitchen.
Flooring can range from tile, with >terracotta being a very popular choice, all the way to hardwood, which can be wide-planked and left unfinished, or thin slats that are stained and polished to a deep finish.
This tropical living room features several plants, a bamboo armoire,
plantation blinds, and wooden tables and fixtures.
With a large island plant, some bamboo or rattan furniture, seashells, a few tiki lamps and a colorful splash of animals and vegetation, you have the primary ingredients and a fantastic start toward the beach home decor design that you are looking for.
Influenced by the sea, palm trees, sun and sand, the universal colors that apply to tropical decorating are dark greens, blues, blue-greens, grays and white. These colors capture the essence of beach decor by the sea.
Diving a little deeper, we see that these ocean tones are complemented with dark shades of brown, and for an exotic flair, splashes of red, orange, yellow and purple work very nicely.
These brighter colors can come from the huge variety of flowers, birds and sea life. When these bright colors are accented against a backdrop of dark greens, browns and blues, you truly get the sensation of being in a tropical island rainforest.
Color cues in Tropical decorating.
For assistance selecting your tropical decor theme colors, try these free online tools, the color wheel calculator (from Sessions School of Design) and the color visualizer (from Sherwin Williams).
Soft, comfortable furniture in a tropical room is critical, but it must also serve the purposes of durability and aesthetic appeal, with darkly wooded, open-framed fixtures (such as couches and arm chairs) mixed in with lighter wooded accessories, serving to add dimension and character to the environment.
Comfortably padded rattan-framed chairs sit on a patio overlooking the ocean.
Bamboo, the preeminent raw material for obtaining the tropical look with a tiki hut feel, is a very sturdy material and abundantly available, thus making it inexpensive and easy to find. Just about any fixture imaginable can be purchased that is made out of bamboo.
Rattan, a similar plant to bamboo, is a member of the palm family, but is more slender and vine-like, with a solid stem versus the hollow bamboo. Strands of rattan, about a .25 to .5 inches thick, being lightweight, durable and flexible, can be woven into a solid mesh, making it a popular material for furniture and baskets. Rattan can be stained and finished just like wood, so finding the right match for your room should be no problem.
Additional materials that tropical furniture is constructed from can include natural wooded wicker, seagrass, driftwood and leather. These materials, when combined with bamboo and rattan, result in pieces that make up the bulk of furnishings in the room, including the coffee table, ottomans, end tables, book shelves, couches, chairs, tables, bar stools and lamps.
Fabrics and Leather
Fabrics are largely where color comes into play in tropical decorating. Pillows, cushions and upholstery should take advantage of capturing what paradise has to offer, including scenery of palm trees, tropical plants, exotic birds and animals. Materials should be soft yet durable and serve as a constant reminder of the beauty of seaside living.
Wicker and rattan furniture on this seaside patio, with terracotta tiling
and a beachfront golf course in the background.
Leather upholstered furniture is another important element in the tropical design. With brown being one of the foundational colors in the tropical motif, a soft, weathered leather couch or arm chair will add just the right mixture of comfort and style to this theme.
Plants also play an integral part in tropical decorating. There are several varieties of plants to choose from which thrive indoors, some of which will grow rather large if potted correctly, and go a long way towards bringing the outdoor beach sensation in.
Making a trip to the local nursery or searching an online retailer for tropical houseplants will yield incredible results for you. Banana plants and various different palms are readily available, along with Golden Pothos, Heart Leaf Philodendron, Striped Dracaena, Peace Lily and Bromeliad - just to name a few.
The type of pot you use should be consistent with your theme, such as a woven rattan, natural wicker, wood, or clay.
Tropical Decorating Accessories
From hula girls, to coconuts, to surfboards, to seashells, everything displayed in the tropical decorating motif should represent life by the sea. >For more ideas on seaside decorating, please visit the coastal design theme.
Below are some more suggestions to help get you started.
- Tropical fruits such as bananas, kiwi, or coconuts put on display in the kitchen or on the dining table
- Intricately modeled sailing vessels
- Darkly stained wood or bamboo framed paintings and mirrors
- Mahogany carved palm tree lamps and pineapple candleholders
- Palm tree, bamboo and tiki picture frames for photos
- Tiki god and hula girl figurines
- Wooden curtain beads placed in doorways
- Palm thatch mats, floor coverings and window coverings
- Driftwood furniture, artwork, lamps and mirrors
- Ocean scented candles and oil lamps with seashells and other sea life represented
- Hurricane lanterns
- A tropical salt water fish tank
- >Tiki place mats and area rugs made of seagrass or rattan
- Natural wicker baskets for storing magazines, fruit, or use as a waste basket
- Window coverings to include such things as bamboo curtains or roll-up blinds, or sheer gauze to allow for a more airy and open sensation
- >Sea shells, coral, star fish, sea glass, smooth stones and driftwood displayed either independently or in dishes and jars
- Large fishing nets draped across your wall, or suspended from the ceiling
- Colorful artwork, including paintings and room fixtures, displaying underwater sea life, tropical beach scenes, exotic animals and birds
- Pirate gear, including skulls, skeletons, cutlass swords or a pirate flag
- Animal hide patterns for pillows, rugs and blankets
Lighting in tropical decor should avoid harsh or bright light fixtures, in favor of a softer more subtle approach, such as with torches, candles, table and floor lamps.
A palm tree wall sconce.
Lamps which portray palm trees, hula girls, parrots, pineapples and bamboo are all good motifs in this theme. Likewise, wrought-iron lamps, driftwood lamps, torches, wall sconces, scented candles, lanterns and tiki lamps give off just the right amount of glow while maintaining a more primitive look in the room.
Hidden lighting is another approach which works very well in tropical decorating, such as placing an uplight behind furniture or a plant and shining upward onto the wall or into the plant. This method provides for ample lighting while at the same time providing for dramatic scenery.
See Also ...
African Safari Decorating
Return to the Seaside Design home page from here
Tropical Decorating at We Be Tiki - Masks, Statues, Totems, Thatch, Tiki Bar Signs, Hula Lamps and More
Aloha! Original Hawaiian and Tropical Island Lifestyle Products and Decor
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