Island Decor: How to Merge Your Aesthetic with Your Tropical Environment

So we live in Hawai’i, does that mean I need to decorate with blue and seashells? Even I (the designer who has a love affair with textural neutrals and black) asked myself this question after moving here from the east coast. You know what I decided? If you’re not feeling blue walls, THAT’S OK. You can still love and feel like you belong in this tropical paradise while selecting items for your home that reflect the many colors of YOUR soul.

As I look out my window, here’s what I see: the rich and varying green tones of the palms, the lime shades in our aloe plant on the lanai, warm browns of our rattan bistro set and blue sky with puffy white clouds. At sunset, the sky shifts and explodes with pinks, oranges and richer blues. So I got to thinking, for us neutral lovers (and those who are tinkering with playing with more color), let's baby-step our way into integrating tropical themes into your decor while staying true to your design self.

Use Plants as Accessories

Succulents, aloe and palms thrive in tropical climates and have awesome architectural details so here’s your chance to earn your green thumb. Plus, there’s countless, adorable, handmade planters out there from craftspeople in your own backyard — so get out there and shop local.

Photo via    @thesurfjack    for    @paikohawaii    — made by local ceramicist Colm O’Caroll

Photo via @thesurfjack for @paikohawaii — made by local ceramicist Colm O’Caroll

Select Artwork with Coastal Landscapes — Incorporate the Colors that Inspire and Bring You Joy

More inclined to go for a hike along the coast than veg on the beach? Select imagery that aligns with YOUR REAL INTERESTS. I promise, you’ll enjoy the art more and feel good about the money spent on it.

Painting by O’ahu artist    @heatheralmeda

Painting by O’ahu artist @heatheralmeda


Try experimenting with window treatments. From bold, tropical hued and patterned fabrics on roman shades or drapery to solar shades perfect for our Hawai’i climate. Don’t forget about pillows! Another great way to play with tropical colors and/or prints that won’t trigger any unresolved commitment issues.  

Image via    The Shade Store

Image via The Shade Store

What other ways are my coastal, neutral lovers integrating color into your design that feels true to YOU?