Each week Mansion Global tackles an interior design topic with an elite group of designers from around the world who work on luxury properties. This week we look at how to incorporate tropical patterns into your home’s decor.
It’s hard to think of tropical-style décor without visions of palm fronds dancing in your head. While the island vacation-inspired design is nothing new, it is having a moment—and a big one at that. In fact, nothing was more evident at January’s Maison&Objet design fair in Paris, the international authority for all things home and design. Tropical motifs were everywhere—from your standard palm frond and banana leaf-prints to bold, modern interpretations.
“After a lot of minimalism and pastel colors, I think people are now more interested in mixing patterns, fabrics, and colors,” said illustrator Bodil Jane who collaborated with Amsterdam-based interior design company &klevering on a tropical line of décor and accessories. “Tropical decor makes your home look fuller, warmer, and more colorful. It’s also a style that works well with other things from wooden cabinets to heavy velvet chairs; it mixes effortlessly and adds a bit of playfulness.”
“We are all looking for comfort in a kind of escapism,” said Berdien Righolt, senior product designer at &klevering. “Tropical means fresh and sunny,” Ms. Righolt said.
Whether your idea of tropical design is a leafy plant in a corner or an explosion of palm-tree prints, follow these tips from the pros to make the look your own.
Define your style
“If your taste runs toward a more minimalistic slant, maximize a minimal space. You might take a small corner of your living room and fill it with tropical-style plants, for example, or keep the look contained to your bedroom with a tropical printed bedspread or window treatments.
"If you’re more of a maximalist, you might opt for a bold, bright wallpaper with tropical designs, accent an otherwise neutral couch with printed cushions bearing jungle motifs, or scatter accessories like porcelain cheetahs and birds, cactus-shaped glass vases, or leaf-like candy dishes on coffee and side tables. Focus the room on a few statement pieces so it doesn’t go too over the top. Keeping the color palette consistent throughout will make the space feel cohesive.”
— Berdien Righolt, senior product designer for Amsterdam-based &klevering
Ayfa van Oeteren
Start in small doses
“Tropical prints like banana leaf wallpaper or woven tropical textures create a welcoming feel that brightens your mood with a sense of summertime, so you can power through those winter temperatures in style.
"Start with accent pieces or something more temporary (curtains, pillows, artwork), and see if you like living with the pattern/ color day in and day out, before committing to wallpaper or furniture. Pillows are so easy to change and will instantly upgrade your space. If you’re going for a bold wall covering or area rug, keep the accessories simple. Opt for fresh and modern favorites, like acrylic trays, brass accents and soft solid fabrics.
LA Closet Design
"The classic leafy print can be dressed up or down depending on the style of your space. Pairing it with traditional furniture and dark finishes can make for a very traditional, glamorous look, while high-gloss accessories and vibrant colors will play off the print for a far more whimsical look.
"Area rugs are a great place to introduce texture and large patterns in ways that will totally transform your room. Without the investment of a wall treatment, rugs create a similarly bold effect and can be layered for different looks.”
— Lisa Adams of LA Closet Design in Los Angeles
Consider the effect
“Dorothy Draper first designed her iconic ‘Brazilliance’ banana leaf-patterned wallpaper in 1937 for the Arrowhead Springs Hotel in California, and it’s been copied everywhere since then. The effect of this paper is not only a taste of island life, but it creates an open feel and draws the eye beyond.
"For an old school, 1940s Hollywood glamour look, opt for black and white flooring, banana-leaf patterned walls, and bamboo furniture. You might add animal print pillows or figurines—anything that works in the jungle.
"Tropical can also read laid back—stained wood flooring, a simple pine dining table paired with tropical printed wallpaper or yellow-and-white striped walls with rattan furnishings. It’s an elegant, relaxed interpretation with simple furnishings against an island backdrop.
"Adding Asian accents such as Thai silk fabrics in vivid pinks and oranges, folding bamboo screens, black lacquered furniture and lime-colored walls gives the room a faraway, yet luxurious sense of the tropics.”
— Carleton Varney, president/owner Dorothy Draper & Co. in Palm Beach, Florida
Dorothy Draper and Company
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