Anyone else out there totally clinging to summer for as long as possible? With all the editorial planning we’ve been doing, this time of year is always hard to hold on to. My calendar is already in fall and holiday mode, but my brain is still very much on vacation.
So, how does one make the summer last as long as possible? Well, I’ve been contemplating keeping it all year round by adding some more tropical-inspired decor to my home. But I’m not talking pink flamingos, pineapple motifs or even monstera leafs. I’m talking about something a little more subtle and classy. It’s time to elevate your tropical style, my friends.
The first way to break your tropical habits is to get it out of your head that tropical will always mean bohemian decor. Or better yet – that bohemian decor always has to be layers and layers of stuff. It doesn’t. Tropical can also skew exotic or beachy, but we’re talking about true tropical. The classic stuff.
The Ace Hotel in Panama – better know as the American Trade Hotel Panama – is the perfect example of this.
BRING BACK BARKCLOTH
While all the elements of a tropical room exist here, they are put together in a more luxurious manner. Rope, tile and barkcloth inspired fabrics all mix in an elevated way that feels more timeless than trendy. Think about the Panama hat – a fashion symbol that exudes classic form. I imagine that’s the vibe they were going for here – stylish but classy.
Pro tip: You may want to ditch the oversized macrame for your own home sweet home.
Taking barkcloth and applying it to a real life situation, I love the way Victoria at SF Girl by Bay added this tropical pattern to her own guest room to jazz things up in an unexpected way! The entire space is black & white and has a very Nordic vibe, but those curtains take a little turn for the unexpected and I dig it. With barkcloth, it’s important for it to feel fresh rather than dated, so definitely use it sparingly!
- barkcloth fabric pillow | 2. black & brass wall sconce | 3. leather and rope armchair | 4. grey and white cement tile | 5. spindle style nighstand | 6. sisal rug
LET DECO DECOR GO WILD
You may have noticed a little trend called Deco is back. Art Deco or Art Moderne to be specific. Defined by strong lines and luxe materials, with a tendency towards funky shapes and curves. Ok, so carpeting your home with tropical print is a big commitment – and one I probably would advise against. It’s definitely best left to commercial spaces, but maybe a big bold rug could do the trick? But I do love this pattern paired up with a slightly tiki inspired bar.
Deco is kind of everywhere in furniture at the moment. And while this style typically doesn’t play nicely with pattern, well, what are old rules made for if not to be broken? Paired here with a dramatic red ceiling, this tropical wallpaper is going for impact. I also love that it’s not pink. Small spaces were made for moments like these.
To make a case for my previous point about the over-layering of bohemian elements and how totally not necessary they are to create a tropical environment… I give you this bedroom. There’s no denying that this is a very literal tropical style, and yet… it feels fresh, clean, uncluttered. You get the idea. Even the fact that the Toucan statue is painted in all white helps minimize the kitsch factor.
And if the above bedroom is too obvious for you, how’s this for minimal?
A not so subtle arrangement still makes for a simple touch of tropical in this case. The only other elements lending to the vibe are the lack of rug (something you tend to see more in warmer climates), and the paintings that (barely) offer a nod to palm trees and water. Of course, anybody can do their own version of tropical with a ton of white paint, natural woods, and banana leaf plants – duh!
PAIR IT WITH THE PAST
Granted both of these examples take place in some seriously stunning restaurants, but that’s no reason you can’t apply their tactic to your own space. Pairing tropical elements with old world decor is one classy move. Think darker toned wood, brass, and chinoiserie. Indochine, Plantation or British Colonial style come to mind, although really it comes down to the combination of elements.
I love the idea of pairing tropical punch with a classic checkered floor and globe lighting! (although I would opt for this wallcovering from York for something a little more elevated). Again, the darker wood decor throughout the rest of the restaurant (think channel tufted leather) lends a throwback vibe reminiscent of Mad Men meets New York Deco.
Speaking of wallpaper… why not consider a muted mural? I love this trend of one big accent wall with picturesque scenes. This too steals from the past to give to the present, but in a totally different way. And personally, I think I’d tire of these much less quickly than the usual wallpaper options out there.
I like that the muted tones in these murals allow for the option of a neutral way to celebrate tropical style. It feels so European, and pair so nicely with relaxed linen! There seems to be a bit more flexibility with murals like these, as opposed to bold wallpapers which can dictate the style to a certain extent.
Which style is your favorite, or which could you realistically see incorporating into your own home? Of course, I love the minimalist, but I have to say I think I like my tropical with a touch of history to it! The restaurants that combine tropical elements with more historical furnishings are really calling to me!