Decorating a Tropical Home in Caribbean Style

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The objective of decorating in Caribbean style is to invoke a feeling of island and beach living. Image: © Hideki Iwamoto

Interior designers of tropical homes often refer to Caribbean style. So, what exactly is Caribbean style, and how does it differ from other styles of tropical interior décor? There’s no exact definition of Caribbean style, but it’s generally accepted to mean a style of décor associated with island and beach living and incorporating cultural elements from the Caribbean.

Tropical living can mean anything from what we usually associate with the Caribbean through to mountains, deserts and cities, and a whole lot of things in between. But because the Caribbean is made up of more than 7,000 individual islands and 25 island nations and territories, it is island living that is synonymous with Caribbean style.

The Caribbean is often thought of as a free spirited destination with positive vibes to which to escape on a tropical vacation and get away from the daily stresses of life. People living in temperate climates seek out these places to go to unwind and relax. 

If we implement a little of this escapist mentality in our daily lives, we can learn to breathe easier, smile often, and enjoy our surroundings. We also just might have a little bit more fun. By using this Caribbean influence, we can create our own oasis at home. 

Therefore, Caribbean style is more than just a style of designing spaces or decorating them. It’s all about how we use those spaces too, and how a home that has been designed in Caribbean style can enhance our quality of life by providing an environment and atmosphere that is as relaxing as an island resort.

ELEMENTS OF CARIBBEAN STYLE

The Caribbean is rich with culture and international influence. This infusion of cultures has led to the development of an extremely eclectic style. Still there are common elements in design that you will find throughout the Caribbean islands. Understanding the development of these elements will help you learn how to utilize them in your own designs.

Caribbean style incorporates traditional elements of tropical design as well as the influences of island living. Given that the style is eclectic, you can mix and match styles to create your own unique design statement using the elements of Caribbean design that I’ve listed below.

The Caribbean is all about bold, vibrant colors. Think of the Jamaican beach shirt (or Hawaii if you’ve not been to Jamaica). Both traditional and modern furniture can be infused with bright colors by adding accessories and soft furnishings featuring bold prints of tropical plants and flowers.

Blue and white are the two base colours most often associated with Caribbean style. The blue representing the sea or sky and the white the color of the clouds, the surf and the colonial buildings that can still be seen on many of the islands. Many older buildings have been renovated with white rooms and blue window frames.  The yellow and beige colors of beach sand provide a third base color.

In addition to the base colors, the inclusion of other colors can help to vivify a space and modernize it. A splash of color in an otherwise stark room creates a more interesting space and livens it up. Mixing and matching patterns creates a dynamic space. Dare to be different. Every space has a unique challenge to design around. Instead of fighting it, embrace it. Have fun when you decorate with whimsical accessories or wild tropical prints.

Bring the outside in by connecting with your outside environment with potted palms and foliage plants, and bring the inside out by creating a living space outdoors. Plants bring tranquility and life to a space. Feel like you are living in the Caribbean, even if you are not, with outdoor furniture, paintings and accessories that you associate with island living.

Caribbean interiors are lively, but they don’t have to be overly complicated. Let the environment do the talking. Most interior spaces need only be functional with a few necessities. Sometimes a few accent accessories are all you need to keep the space contemporary and simple. A few colors and a bold print are plenty excitement enough to keep even the most minimal interior interesting.

With Caribbean style you can take a vacation in your own backyard. Tropical landscaping around patios and other outdoor areas can provide a resort feel and sets the scene for a getaway right outside your backdoor. A daybed on a covered patio or verandah is the perfect escape for afternoon relaxation. A hammock is a fun relaxing piece for both indoor and outdoor spaces that the entire family can enjoy.

Remember it is not just how you design the space but how you use it. Take the time to slow down and relax in it. Connect with the surrounding environment to bring a little more serenity and appreciation into your life. Enjoy your space to the fullest by entertaining in it often. Bring life into it with plants, music, friends, and family.

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