Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tropical Chic

Do you conjure images of Jane and Tarzan when you think of the word "tropical"? You don't have to replicate the jungle or it will look too kiddy. Here's a more subtle look.

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Decorating In The Tropical Chic Style

Tropical chic is one of the most popular looks today. It includes comfort, warmth, and a touch of the exotic, using jungle themes, restful colors, and natural textural elements.

It's a style that has fresh appeal with touches of traditional. This is not the multi-colored jungle 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 include stylized palm trees, large leafed banana plants, monkeys, animal prints, rattan, leather, and grasscloth.

This look is most often used in living rooms and family rooms, but can be adapted for master suites and bathrooms as well. Here are some of the underlying elements and themes of a tropical look room.... For best viewing, open browser window to maximum size

Comfortable upholstered furniture is a must in a tropical room.
Long horizontal lines underscore a casual 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 a green that is nearly black. 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, and rattan will also fit well with the look.

Fabrics should be soft and lush. Neutral solid chenilles are perfect for the major upholstered pieces. Pillows, ottomans, and chairs might be done in jungle prints and leaf designs.

Wood furniture pieces and wood flooring 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 furniture feet.

The main motifs used would be the tropical jungle look and animal designs (monkeys, elephants, etc.) used in fabrics, accent items, and accessories.

Animal designs figure prominently in a tropical room. Consider using both animal hide designs such as leopard spots and zebra stripes as well as animal images such as monkeys, lions, and elephants.

Large plants, especially palm trees, are a perfect addition to a tropical themed room. Add them in corners and uplight from underneath using inexpensive can lights.
Because island prints, leaves, and animal prints are a feast for the eye, avoid overdoing the room's accessories. A few large plants, lamps, books, and some carefully selected large-scale accessories will usually be enough. Avoid lots of tiny little things and keep it simple and spare.

Windowcoverings should exhibit a natural quality. Bamboo or matchstick blinds, breezy linen panels, or plantation shutters are all choices that will fit into this look.
Grasscloth, baskets, rattan, and wicker in natural tones add another layer of texture to the room. Consider these materials for wallcoverings, cornice boards, folding screens, ottomans, and more.

Flooring might be hardwood, though tile or stone is another possibility. Accent the hard floor with area rugs of natural sisal.

Artwork will look best if it sticks to the color palette of the room -- pale golds, ivory, browns, and greens. Hang prints with stylized leaf designs, exotic looking palm trees, and jungle animals.

Light fixtures can add some whimsey with decorations in monkey, leaf, or jungle accents. Dark lamp shades will add more weight to the room.

Tableware looks might include natural colored stoneware, textured placemats, loosely woven fabric napkins, and sturdy glassware. Accessorize with wooden bowls, baskets, and bamboo.