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Tropical Home Decor Style Guide

Tropical Home Decor Style Guide

Tara Dickinson
7 minute read

The tropics...visions of white sandy beaches, turquoise waters, palm trees, coconuts, and piña coladas, all mingling to evoke a relaxing vacation feeling. More than ever, after sheltering indoors for so long, people are ready to bring that staycation vibe into their homes all year long.

Tropical interior design has been around and enjoys a dedicated following. Different than coastal décor inspired by the seaside sections of California, or Mediterranean décor that reflects styles found in Spain, southern France, and Italy, tropical design harkens more to the warmer climates near the equator in the South Pacific and the Caribbean islands. Beachy decor themes can be found from Naval-inspired design in New England all the way to the Keys of Florida, but the Modern Tropical Decor takes a fresh turn using clean-lined furniture with wood frames, organic materials, and vibrant colors taken from the lush island settings.

To make your home feel like a bright, warm and sunny personal paradise, follow along for modern tropical decor tips that will transport you to an island utopia.

tropicalGLOBAL INSPIRATION

When designing your tropical-themed home, take in some inspiration that comes through other island environments from around the globe.

British West Indies Colonial

  • Victorian mahogany furniture (secretary desks and dressers).
  • A modernized look pairs Victorian-era decor with contemporary pieces such as:
    • Abstract artwork.
    • Animal textiles.
    • Natural materials: bamboo, wicker, & teak.
    • White sectional sofas

Brazilian Aesthetic

  • Statement furniture in a minimalist, neutral setting.
  • Colorful chairs.
  • Concrete dining table.
  • Hammock in your living room.
  • Swinging chair on the back deck.

Resorts Of Bali

Balinese design features intricately carved wood and detailed decor inspired by Hindu temples.

  • A painted wooden chest.
  • Gold mandala wall decor.
  • Canopy bed draped with white curtains.

MODERN TROPICAL INTERIOR DESIGN: THE LESS IS MORE APPROACH

The modern tropical decor look is currently a huge trend as the population continues to look for innovative indoor-outdoor living styles. With its foundation in modernism, the modern tropical decor movement is putting a fresh spin on cues taken from tropical climates and creating a tropical modernism “less is more” strategy.

  • Contemporary tropical decor emphasizes chic and sophisticated design elements.
  • This includes relaxed, calming colors.
  • Sleek geometric lines.
  • Strategically placed tropical greenery.

Tropical Colors

To get the vacation mindset in your home, you want to convey a stress-free atmosphere. Thus, using soothing, serene colors will set the foundation for your tropical getaway.

  • A foundation of neutral tones like ivory, beige, tan, light brown, soft gold, and pale yellow make brighter accent colors stand out and appear vibrant.
  • Use the brighter tropical colors in smaller doses with accent pillows, accessories, and plants.
  • These stronger colors create nice contrasting focal points.
  • The bolder tropical colors of nature in this climate are those of turquoise blues, bright pinks, corals, purples, oranges, and deep greens of the vegetation.
  • Use any of the colors found in the native exotic flowers, tropical birds, and sunsets.
  • The modern tropical look is achieved by using neutral colors and wood finishes in about 60% of the area; shades of greens in 30% of the decor; and vibrant colors in the remaining 10%.

Textural Prints

There is a strong element of playfulness in modern tropical decor. To bring in a hint of this, incorporating a bold or outrageous print on an accent wall is a perfect inclusion. Lightly mixing multiple patterns and textures creates that same wildness found in tropical jungles.

  • Layer different fauna motifs.
  • Use woven materials, on walls, rugs, throws, and upholstery.
  • Mixed metals, especially brushed gold.
  • Pair animal prints with stripes.

Elegant Wood-Framed Furniture: Going For Comfort & Style

With casual comfort and relaxation at the forefront of tropical décor style, you’ll want to include pieces that impart those feelings. To keep your modern tropical decor contemporary use wood-framed furnishings with clean, sleek lines.

  • Large, overstuffed sofas and chairs with decorative tropical pillows, slipcovers, and cushions.
  • Choose upholstery in soft, lush fabrics like cotton, linen, or silk.
  • These same fabrics can be incorporated into window treatments to enhance the breezy, comfortable atmosphere.
  • Retro decor accents are welcomed.
  • Natural toned woods with tropical-print cushions. 
  • Neutral colored sofas color with tropical throw pillows is another option.

Tropical Plants

The tropics are all about jungles of thick, glossy, brightly-colored vegetation and flowers. Bamboo, banana plants, orchids, and palm trees. Indoor plant clusters continue to rise as a top decor trend. Millennials are rising the biophilia trend, mainly because of all the time spent indoors during the pandemic.

  • People are indoors and bringing the outside with them.
  • The need for live greenery in the home has become a necessity.
  • The modern tropical trend continues to grow because of all of the travel restrictions, creating a sense of vacation while at home.
  • Add potted plants, exotic orchids, and glass jars full of seashells.
  • Staying true to the minimal approach, place just a few small potted plants on shelves or coffee tables.
  • Larger plants work well in corners and unused spots.
  • Also include a colorful, tropical flower such as an orchid or hibiscus.
  • Fiddle leaf plants and succulents are also quite popular.

Textural Elements

Texture and wood play a significant role in tropical décor style.

  • Bamboo wood blinds
  • Teak elements.
  • Area rugs made from natural materials like seagrass or sisal.
  • Grasscloth wallpaper for textural contrast.

Bamboo, Rattan, & Wicker Accents

Rattan, wicker, and bamboo furnishings literally go hand-in-hand with a modern tropical interior. These types of furnishings are not only stylish but also comfortable, and most importantly sustainable. Organic materials that feel as good as they look.

  • Eco-friendly pieces come with a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified labeling.
  • Shop for upcycled or reclaimed options at your second-hand markets.
  • Painting a few furniture pieces in hues of bright white, blue, or green will give you an updated modern twist.
  • Using splashes of colored furniture enlivens the space, especially if they coordinate with artwork and other decor items.

Palm Motifs

Palm motifs are one of the most iconic components of tropical modern design.

Make a statement with a palm pattern print, room divider, rug, or wallpaper.

  • Place natural palm leaf fans on the wall
  • Glazed ceramic pots with palm leaves.
  • A vibrant palm leaf print for throw pillows and curtains instantly updates the tropical trend.
  • TIP: Limit the palm motif to a couple of items; you don’t want rooms full of palm prints. That would take you into tacky tropical territory versus tasteful.

Gold & Sea Accents

Using just the right accents to finish off your modern tropical theme will give your space a warm paradise feel.

  • Framed photographs or paintings of tropical scenes.
  • Add a few seashells and sea glass to a table centerpiece.
  • Gold accents bring a touch of the updated modern version of tropical decor.
  • For example, brushed brass metal lamps.
  • Gold hardware on bedroom or kitchen dresser and cabinets brightens an interior.
  • Add a gold table in your foyer as a balance to wood furnishings.
  • For a more subtle look, mix gold with a secondary finish, such as matte black or stainless steel.

SUMMARY

Decorating in a tropical decor style means, kind of obviously, incorporating tropical elements in a natural way. You are not trying to replicate the tropics, but instead get inspired by their lushness, exotic colors, and natural elements. The goal is to use your creativity while maintaining a balance between a touch of tropical infusion and elegant modern stylings. With the right design touches, you can bring the tropics straight into your living room, capturing that beachy vacation feeling.

 

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