If lounging on the beach is your idea of a fun holiday, you needn’t dream longingly of the sun, sand, coconut palms and blue sea whilst parked in your urban home. Create a tropical island within your own residence to live out your vacation. Scatter images of leafy fronds, bold flowers and brilliant butterflies … go for a riotous colour palette that brings alive the hues of the tossing blue waves of the ocean, waving green palms, lazy golden beaches and smiling colourful blossoms. Here is how to bring into your home decor the vibrancy of the tropics.
Go light and easy
The idea is to lift the visual weight that reigns in many homes in the form of heavy drapery and thick carpets. “Roll up the rugs and put them away,” Reshma Chhabria says. Shun the sturdy oak and rosewood doors and furniture and work at creating a sense of light and airiness. You can make use of sheers at the windows, and bring in the lighter-toned woods like elm for an upbeat feel. “If you want softness underfoot, opt for all-natural fibres like tatami, sea grass or sisal. The walls are best left bare, save for a fresh coat of white paint that will maximise the flow of light. For instance, in furnishings, mosquito netting draped over your canopy bed, or thin linen draperies fluttering beside French doors, will feel cool and lightweight,” she says. This helps in building up the mood of soothing calm and breeziness that you associate with the tropics.
Tip: Play up the use of natural fabrics like linen and cotton. You can introduce a refreshing variety in textures by opting for wicker or jute for blinds, chair covers, and so on.
Surround yourself with pots and plants
Welcome nature into your home with the vitality and soothing feel of greenery. A terrace garden, potted plants along the kitchen window, wall inserts or even huge planters at the entrance of your home can bring a feel of being surrounded by nature’s bounty. “You can choose potted plants for corners and shelves, and terrariums as centre pieces or even on the walls. Group together an Aspidistra elatior (cast-iron plant), an Anthurium, a Dieffenbachia or that old stalwart, the Ficus tree. Even a single Amaryllis bloom can have a luminous, magical effect,” Chhabria says. When you bring in the beautiful chaos of greenery, it is best to opt for clean lines in furniture to keep a balance in the space.
Tip: “Larger plants can be used in open places to highlight a particular area, to create a division or to bring in the illusion of lushness. Smaller plants can be used to pepper the space with colour, with the use of innovative/decorative planters, and to create smaller focus points,” Chhabria suggests.
Splash out with island colours
Think sea green, aquamarine, turquoise, white and green for accents. Nothing succeeds better than pops and bursts of island colours in putting a spring in your step at home.
Treat your home as a canvas and lay on the colours against white or neutral walls. “You simply cannot go wrong with white, cream, and taupe on the walls with splashes of bold prints such as banana leaves and colourful flowers to pleasantly accent the look,” the designer says.
“Choose more soothing, organic hues like sandy tones for the kitchen. Whites, creams, and tan bring in a timeless, airy feel,” Chhabria advises. They aid eye movement and bring in a sense of fluidity to the spaces. The idea is to create a soothing environment. “Try and use these colours in a more casual area of the house, somewhere the entire family unwinds and relaxes,” Sulaxmi Laud says.
Tip: Make it count. Whether it is a bright throw, an accent pillow or a picture frame – tiny details add up to create a bigger, beautiful picture. “For a more playful look in the bedrooms, introduce aquamarines, pale blues and lime greens,” says Laud. “For a classy appeal, team up tropical prints with deep, rich jewel tones.”
Open up spaces visually
The tropics spell sunshine, so bring in as much natural light as possible to visually open up the areas of your home and add to the airy, expansive vibe. Sunshine also brings out the joyousness of colours.
Tip: Make adroit use of mirrors on the walls and the right sort of lights to help liven up spaces. “No white light for the evenings; it has to be pools of beautiful golden hue, created using strategically placed lamps,” Laud says. The idea is to amplify the spaces as the mention of the tropics brings to mind unending expanses and rambling spaces.
Picture a place with patterns and prints
Unify the décor through flowing lines and natural forms. Patterns are the easiest and the most striking way of ushering in the feel of the tropics. Foliage prints work very well. You could choose either upholstery or wallpaper in this kind of print. Remember, super-sized prints dwarf a small space. “You can bring in hand-crafted ceramics to soften the scheme’s clean-lined emphasis, and splash out on a couple of coconut palm, mother-of-pearl and shell-based home accessories. Hang some botanical prints like palm-leaf patterns or banana leaves, or prints of seascapes to capture that feeling of a day on the beach,” says Chhabria
Cushions are an easy way to bring in these prints. For the more adventurous, a highlight wall with a palm-printed wallpaper works wonders. Choose smaller prints for the kitchen if you opt for patterns in the kitchen as opposed to solid colours.
Tip: Avoid a tropical overdose: you might not want to live in a tropical jungle 24x7. Maintain one main focal point in the decor with several small flanking features in accessories.