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Decorating in the Tropical Chic Style

Tropical Living RoomBy Shelagh Duncan

Tropical chic is a perfect style for those of us who have chosen Costa Rica for their home, or home-away-from-home. It is a casual, comfortable style that adds a touch of the exotic, using jungle themes, restful colors, and natural textural elements. 

This is not the multi-colored jungle-book  look you might choose for a child’s room. Instead, it might be defined as “lush minimalism” since it mixes lots of texture and intricate pattern with simple details and a few large accessories. 

Common motifs might include stylized palm trees, large leafed  plants, monkeys, animal prints, rattan, bamboo, leather, and grass cloth. 

Royal Palm Interiors

Here are some of the underlying elements and themes of a tropical-look room….

  • Comfortable upholstered furniture is a must in a tropical room.
  • BedroomLong horizontal lines underscore a look and add to a restful mood, while taller elements such as plants, screens, or artwork add a grand scale.
  • Neutral tones including ivory, beige, camel, tan, deep brown, soft gold, and pale yellows are the foundation of a tropical themed room. Greens are also a major element in shades that range from light sage to avocado and from yellow-greens to an almost black green. Accents might be in dark brown, black, or even muted reds.
  • Furniture in a tropical room is often large in scale and selected for comfort and utility. Accent pieces in wicker, bamboo, iron, wood and rattan will also fit well with the look.
  • Fabrics should be soft and lush. Neutral solid fabrics are perfect for the major upholstered pieces. Pillows, ottomans, and chairs might be done in jungle prints and leaf designs.
  • Wood furniture pieces fit well into this look. Light woods can be used but add more weight to the room by mixing in some dark tables, lamps, or stained furniture feet.
  • The main motifs  as mentioned above would be exotic plants, palms, pineapples, animal designs etc., and these would be used in fabrics, accent items, and accessories. Remember that you don`t have to use all of them  – less is more.
  • Animal designs figure prominently in a tropical room. Consider using both imitation animal hide such as leopard spots and zebra stripes designs (they are very hot right now too!) as well as images from the animal world, such as monkeys, parrots and other exotic birds.
  • Large plants, are a perfect addition to a tropical room. Add them in corners and uplight from underneath using inexpensive can lights.
  • LampWindow coverings should have a natural quality. Bamboo or matchstick blinds, breezy linen drapery panels, or plantation shutters are all choices that will fit into this look.
  • Natural textures like grass cloth, baskets, rattan, and wicker in natural tones add another layer of interest to the room. Consider these materials for folding screens, ottomans, and more.
  • Artwork will look best if it sticks to the color palette of the room — pale and rich golds, ivory, browns, and greens on strongly coloured walls, and on softly coloured walls you can use more vibrant colours. Hang prints with stylized leaf designs, exotic looking palm trees, and tropical birds and flowers.
  • Light fixtures can add some whimsy with decorations in monkey, leaf, or jungle accents. Dark lamp shades will add more weight to the room. 

Because island prints, leaves, and animal prints are a feast for the eye, avoid overdoing the room’s accessories. A few large plants, tropical looking lamps, and some carefully selected accessories will usually be enough, and avoid lots of  little things – keep the space simple. 

Enjoy your home, and I hope you enjoy decorating it in the Tropical Chic Style! Sofa


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