Home Design Goes Tropical

Janet Ramin - As humidity and heat soared to tropical heights outside, I naturally turned to some indoor relief. How can I enjoy the exoticness of the tropics without the wilting heat? By doing a little tropical restyling of my interiors, of course! Continuing our mood board series, in this post, we're heading south for our Tropical Style

When I imagine the tropics – I think of the Pacific islands of Fiji and Bali or Southeast Asia – Thailand, Burma, and the Philippines. Furnishings tend to be simpler – natives use many of the native plants and trees to create their furniture, such as rattan, abaca, and bamboo. In contrast, many of the Southeast Asian countries were colonized by the French, British, or Spanish and their influence is reflected in the heavier, yet sturdy wood furniture of mahogany, rubberwood, and teak. 

Our first mood board shows the tropical island theme: the tall peacock chair, called the Crinoline from B&B Italia, presides over a cocktail party. The bench is made of ebonized mountain pine from the Philippines and is available from Tucker Robbins. We also have a small side table called Driftwood Flats from Stanley, great for moving around the room and for serving food and drinks.

To complement exotic tropical flowers, throw some Thai-themed pillows from Koko on the bench for that pop of color. All plants are housed in rattan baskets from Crate and Barrel. For lighting, we have the Kata lantern made of walnut-stained bamboo from Oriental Furniture

Our second mood board above reflects the colonial influence in tropical countries. The Fiji lounge chair from Padma’s Plantation is made from a combination of rattan, abaca, and tropical hardwoods. The stool or accent table is from the Royal Kahala collection from Lexington and is made of bent rattan and coco shell. Our desk – Poets Crossing from Lexington – is designed in the British campaign style with brass fittings. To light the room, we have from Palecek the Ikebana Sphere lamp. For the floor we have the rust Lotus rug from the Foundary, providing color and warmth to the dark wood furniture. 


Interested in learning how to create mood boards? Take a look at Sheffield School's Complete Course in Interior Design. At Sheffield, you will learn how to transform a space, create color schemes, and select furniture, lighting, and accessories.