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What is the Tropical Style of Decorating?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 16, 2024
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The tropical style of decorating can make you think of sun-drenched islands in the South Pacific. The feeling of this decor style is of the sea and the sky and the tropics. You won't find thick carpeting or drapes in the true tropical decorating look. Rather, lightweight materials and a lived-in yet exotic beach feel are at the heart of the tropical style of decor.

If any wood pieces are used in tropical decorating, they usually have woven cane inserts. Dining cabinets many feature cane door fronts, for example. Cane and rattan sofas and tables are popular tropical types of furniture. Glass table tops add sophistication and keep the look airy and light.

Instead of heavy carpets and rugs, the tropical style of decorating includes the use of woven sea grass mats. The mats can be used in any room to add the natural look necessary to capture the tropical style. Drapery fabric is also lightweight and is often patterned in a floral print.

Tropical floral prints can be quite large and are usually very colorful. They can liven up the light tones of rattan and sea grass. Green-based leaf patterned fabric may also be used in a tropical-themed room. Look carefully to find the designs and colors you like and find contrasting solids to complement the patterned fabrics you choose so that your tropical rooms are not overwhelmed with too much pattern.

Coral, turquoise, ivory and muted green are popular colors used in the tropical style of decorating. These warm-toned colors can either be bright or muted, depending on your taste. Palm trees and pineapples are the perfect motifs to capture tropical decorating. You could try an ivory cushion with a muted green palm tree design in the center or a thin cotton throw blanket with a pineapple print design.

Framed botanical prints hung on the walls are a classic accent in the tropical style of decorating. The idea when accessorizing a tropical-themed room is to make the room comfortable without adding too much clutter that would conflict with the light and airy feeling of tropical decorating. Think of ways to capture the feeling of warm breezes and a day at the beach. Seashells, sea grass boxes and coconut scented candles may be the perfect touch!

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Discussion Comments
By anon249973 — On Feb 23, 2012

I live in the Caribbean and would remind you that mahogany and redondo wood is indigenous here and are almost the only things you see in a well decorated home. The darker the wood, the more tropical the look. Combine with light colored fabrics. You do not want to mistake tropical for beachy.

Dark, heavy woods, light fabrics, tropical birds, monkeys, jaguars. Pineapple is indigenous to Honduras, but you would probably not see it in a decorating scheme here. However it could work. Tropical decorating uses beautiful paintings and many lamps.

Go for it, but if you want beach it is a different thing.

By Moldova — On Jul 25, 2010

Mutsy- I think that sounds so pretty. I like nautical home décor with different types of ships and lighthouses. It is a little more rustic but like it.

By mutsy — On Jul 25, 2010

I just want to add that in my beach condo, I did want to capitalize on the ocean view that I have. I used all of the colors of the beach as my color palette. I used furniture that was a sand color with off-white cushions.

I also used a teal rug and lime colored pillows, with white curtains and sheer teal curtains alongside it.

This accentuated the outside with the ocean view. I have white shelves throughout my condo for accents.

I wanted to use beach theme home décor that was relaxing, yet stylish. In my bathrooms and kitchen, I have a very light blue grey color on the walls. My bathrooms have beige marble tile with white Scandinavian sinks and cabinets.

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