What is Tropical Interior Design?

For a home that feels like a beachy paradise or a rainforest retreat, there’s one style that delivers. That’s why we’re asking, what is tropical interior design?

20 May 2024

It’s great when design brings the outside in. But why stick to the immediate surroundings? That’s where tropical interiors come in. Instead of urban sprawl or country chic, this style casts a wider net, capturing the exotic and laid-back atmosphere of the tropics.

From the use of natural materials to the infusion of bright colours, tropical interior design transforms hallways into Hawaiian havens, infuses bathrooms with the beauty of Bali, and imbues bedrooms with the serenity of the Seychelles. So, grab a pina colada, don your flippers, and join us as we ask, precisely what is tropical interior design?

What is Tropical Interior Design?

A cosy tropical-style room (Credit: asbe via Getty Images)

There is no single answer to the question “what is tropical interior design.” It has none of the defined features of styles emerging from artistic movements or tied to historical periods. Instead of a set of rules, tropical design takes its cue from nature, specifically that of the tropics. This refers to the places that line the equator, encompassing anything from Costa Rican jungle to sandy Fijian beaches. Put simply, interior tropical design is all about recreating the feel of the tropics in the home. With that in mind, let’s look at how this works in practice.

Natural Elements

One of the most prominent features of tropical interiors is the incorporation of natural materials from the tropics. Bamboo, rattan, wicker, and teak are commonly used in the construction of furniture and decorative items, lending a rustic yet sophisticated touch. These materials are not only aesthetically pleasing but also sustainable, resonating with the ecological aspect of tropical regions.

Plants & Fabrics

Plants are another crucial element in tropical interior decor. Large, leafy plants such as palms, monstera, or bird of paradise bring life and vibrancy to interiors, emulating the lush foliage of the tropics. Incorporating these plants enhances the room’s visual appeal while also improving air quality. Then there are fabrics to think of, with natural fibres like linen, cotton, and jute favoured for their comfort and breathability. These materials complement the organic, laid-back vibe of the tropical interior style, perfect for areas that benefit from a soft, natural look.

Colour Palette

The colour palette of tropical interior design is inspired by the vibrant hues found in the tropics. Shades of turquoise that mimic the ocean, lush greens reflecting dense foliage, sunny yellows reminiscent of the beach, and coral tones evoking spectacular sunsets are all popular choices. These are typically balanced with neutral bases, like whites, beiges, and light browns, that provide a calm backdrop and enhance the brighter accent colours.

Light & Airy Spaces

Maximising natural light is fundamental in tropical interior decor. The style promotes open, airy spaces which blur the boundaries between indoors and outdoors. Large windows, glass doors, and skylights are common in tropical interiors, allowing sunlight to flood the interiors and bring the natural world closer. Open layouts support this integration, with fewer walls and more open spaces that promote a breezy flow throughout the home. This not only makes the spaces appear larger but also facilitates a seamless transition from indoor to outdoor living.

Textural Elements

Interior tropical design is also about layering different textures to create a dynamic and interesting space. Woven rugs, teak wood furnishings, and plush throw cushions add depth and comfort to the room. Decorative accents like seashells, woven baskets, and exotic motif prints contribute to the overall theme and help bring the space to life.

Outdoor Integration

In keeping with tropical interior style, design elements often facilitate a seamless transition to outdoor spaces. Large sliding or bi-fold doors are often used to open up and connect the interior with external areas such as patios or gardens, mirroring the indoor aesthetic with durable, natural furniture. This connection extends the living space outward, promoting a lifestyle that fully embraces the outdoors.

Summarising Tropical Interior Design

Relaxed tropical living (Credit: Westend61 via Getty Images)

And so, in a (coco) nutshell, tropical interior decor is more than just a style; it’s a reflection of a relaxed, natural way of living that celebrates the beauty and diversity of the world’s tropical regions.


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