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How to Decorate with Tropical Prints in your Home Interior

How to Decorate with Tropical Prints in your Home Interior

Tropical decorating ideas to bring the outside in

Linda Holmes
By Linda Holmes, Interiors Director

Tropical print flamenco-ed onto the interiors scene several seasons back, but it’s showing no signs of slowing – quite the reverse. The motifs (from pineapple to palm leaf), the punchy palette (from verdant to vivacious brights) and the mood-boosting credentials that tropical prints possess in droves give interior design a sweet taste of the exotic. Here are five ways to work the tropical theme in every room.

Tropical Themed Decor

Overall, typical home decor involves thinking both big and small. It’s not all about prints and patterns, but how to devise a scheme that pulls the look together. So, don’t overlook the role that tropical furniture plays. Less flamingo-shaped floor lamps and pineapple pedestal tables, but more what materials best complement an exotic interior. Bamboo, cane and rattan pieces will always triumph, but so will a lot of Art Deco-inspired furniture – fan-shaped silhouettes in particular. Exposed wooden furniture also works well because of its symbolism with Mother Nature. But also be sure to think about the smaller things too. Tropical house plants are an instant and easy way to up the ante on the jungle spirit – put them in an exotic vase to double the dose. Or curate a small collection of tropical home accessories on a side table, console table or section of a bookcase. Think trinket boxes topped with a decorative creature or a dish shaped like an upturned leaf.

Tropical Print Wallpaper - How to Decorate with Tropical Prints in your Home Interior - LuxDeco Style Guide
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Tropical Print Wallpaper

Walk through the jungle in your living room, bedroom or dining room with tropical wallpaper covering every wall or even just one as a feature wall. Take things supersize with large-scale leaves or walk the more decorative route with a finely illustrated design, such as in the Holiday House London tropical-themed bedroom. Help the wallpaper to blend into its surroundings by picking out one or two of the key shades and repeating them around the room. Look back to the same bedroom scene to see how it’s done. The blush pink backdrop is developed into a richer pink pigment on the rounded velvet bed frame, and the emerald green leaves are toned down into the jade green rug. Remember though that tropical print wallpapers don’t have to be loud and bright. Pare things back by teaming them with neutral grey paintwork – the ultimate Mid-Century combination.

Tropical Patterned Upholstery - How to Decorate with Tropical Prints in your Home Interior - LuxDeco Style Guide
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Tropical Patterned Upholstery

Whether it’s tropical bedroom ideas or suggestions for a tropical living room, upholstery deserves to be a topic for discussion. If you dare to go full-on maximalist with the theme, team tropical walls with patterned furniture in front, just as in the de Gournay interior (below) where the hand-painted ‘Amazonia’ Chinoiserie wallpaper is layered with a tropical canapé sofa and cushions. Tropical print on upholstery fabric needn’t be so alternative, however. Go monochrome with your pattern, or lower the saturation so any colours become more muted and tonal as Greg Natale did on his leaf-print modular sofa (above), and remember that animal print can come into the equation too.

Tropical Print Cushions - How to Decorate with Tropical Prints in your Home Interior - LuxDeco Style Guide
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Tropical Print Cushions

One of the fail safes for any and every style of decor – cushions. They’re the safe space for homes that are on the shy side of using pattern. Throw a few cushions on a bed, bench or sofa and then mix in a few other styles – whether plain or printed – until you get to a level of tropical print you’re comfortable with. Or upholster the cushions of a dining chair seat to nod to the tropics – tucked under the table and below eye level means they don’t shout for attention. At the other end of the scale is using cushions as yet another tool to dramatise the amount of print and colour in the room. Perhaps you have tropical Birds of Paradise bedding and fancy introducing a few botanical print cushions over the top. Or maybe you’ve got vines and neon blooms on your boudoir’s wallpaper and are seeking the perfect place for an injection of leopard or zebra print without it feeling too over-the-top. Cushions are nothing short of a tropical pillow to fall back into.

Tropical Tableware

If the prospect of tropical wallpaper feels much too daunting, or you want to step away from talk of fabric and furniture, keep your head down and feast your eyes on the tabletop. The thing to love most about this much-overlooked category of tropical accessory is how it gives rise to themed dinner parties. Amass woven bamboo baskets, textured cutlery with imitation ivory or palm trunk handles, decorative table ornaments, and a collection of colours linked to the tropical trend (such as golds that link to the blistering sun and greens and oranges which transport your mind to exotic plant life). Top it all off with ornate, luxe-as-they-come napkin rings – look out for coiled snake and encrusted crocodile designs – safe in the knowledge that you can return it all to the cupboard afterwards if you don’t want to feel the tropical heat in your interior every day of the week.