If there’s one decor trend that hits summer’s sweet spot, it’s tropical style.
Furnishings and accessories made of tropical plant and tree fibers started to appear in the fall, in modern vintage and midcentury pieces. That trend has expanded for spring and summer to wall coverings, textiles and rugs printed with imagery drawn from the jungle, beach and rainforest.
“I think it really took off when design bloggers collectively rediscovered the iconic banana-palm wallpaper in the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel,” says Joss & Main’s style director Donna Garlough. (www.jossandmain.com)
“It’s called Martinique, and it’s this huge, oversize print that makes a gigantic statement and has a cool Old Hollywood vibe,” she says. “It makes me think of a `40s starlet on vacation at glam resorts in Beverly Hills or Miami. When designers and shelter magazines started featuring it in midcentury-style rooms, often with white furnishings and brass accents, readers loved it.”
One fun aspect of tropical decor is that you can interpret it many ways – glamorous is one style, but there’s also island, preppy or boho.
You may even have a little deja vu moment, says Garlough.
“There can be an element of late ’70s/early ’80s kitsch to it,” she says. “I recently watched a rerun of ‘Golden Girls’ and laughed my head off over all the tropical elements on that set that have come back into vogue, from the rattan furniture to the macrame plant hangers. Blanche even had that famous palm wallpaper in her bedroom.”
For her Nashville, Tennessee-based studio, Peacoquette Designs, Sarah Walden has created a striking palm-leaf print. With the leaves printed on a teal blue background, the design has a historical vibe. On a coral/pink background, it looks more midcentury modern. It’s available on several different fabrics, or as wallpaper. (www.spoonflower.com)
A palm-printed pillow can freshen a sofa or chair. You’ll find a collection of throw pillows and shower curtains with big, bold palm-leaf prints at H&M Home. (www.handm.com)
Add a few inexpensive rattan pieces; the textures contrast nicely with contemporary furniture’s trim lines, and bring homey charm to more bohemian spaces. Rattan also works as a foil for both bright and neutral hues.
Pottery Barn’s Beachcomber collection includes sea grass, rattan and abaca fibers woven into chunky baskets. (www.potterybarn.com)
A little rattan bar cart is part of Target’s summer Threshold collection. (www.target.com)
For color beyond foliage green, consider sultry hues like orchid, banana and passion fruit. Go beachy with a palette of tans, creams and grays.
Overstock.com has Tommy Bahama’s Tropical Hibiscus throw pillow and a chic white pineapple table lamp. Flamingo-printed sheets bring the theme into the bedroom, and the pink bird struts across a preppy-striped rug.
Kate D. Spain, based in Bridgeport, Connecticut, has designed a woodblock print incorporating exotic blooms, leaves and vines. The limited edition artwork comes in ocean-y hues of turquoise, blue and violet. (www.shopkatespain.com)
Antique scarf prints of tropical flowers and birds have been reproduced as canvas wall art at Pottery Barn. And Grandin Road has a set of four vintage-style parrot illustrations for wall art. (www.grandinroad.com)
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.