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5 home design tricks to add that tropical touch

By Marla Caceres, Tribune Content Agency

For many Floridians, living in the tropics just isn’t enough. Many homeowners love to bring the outside in and infuse their homes with a taste of the tropics.

“The people who live down here love to put in tropical touches,” says Janet Graham, an interior designer with Baer’s, a collection of fine furniture stores with locations throughout central and south Florida. “It’s about the way it makes them feel. It’s representing their lifestyle down here in Florida — carefree, relaxed. You walk in and it’s a spa, oasis feel.”

Today’s tropical home is different than the turquoise-and-pink, winter-home inspired design of decades past.

“You don’t want to go overboard,” Graham says. “If you go back 8, 10, 13 years ago, adding tropical touches meant bringing in a pineapple. It was decorating that was overly done with fruit and animals. Now things are moving into a coastal contemporary look.”

Tropical tips to help create unique space

Here are several tips to help you infuse a modern, tropical look into your home design.

1. Pick your tropical style.

Tropical style isn’t one-size-fits-all. Baer’s, for example, is the largest carrier in the world of the Tommy Bahama Home brand, which includes several collections of furniture and accessories inspired by an island lifestyle. “[Tommy Bahama Home]]]]]]]] has several different collections, so you can’t define tropical just one way,” Graham says. “They have a Jamaican collection, a Hawaiian collection, a West Indies collection, but it all has a tropical flair to it — that’s what gels all the collections together.”

2. Go for light colors.

Lighter colors — creams, light blues, light greens — are a great foundation for a tropical-inspired home design. These soft, soothing colors are reminiscent of natural tropical surroundings, and can be integrated throughout your home — from natural colors for bedroom walls to white and driftwood cabinets in the kitchen. And, when it comes to color, don’t forget about your home’s exteriors. “The outside of the house is as important,” Graham says. “The lighter colors blend in with the outdoors, making it feel like one big space.”

3. Choose natural textures and surfaces.

Natural textures can infuse an island feel throughout your home, too. Think sheer linen fabrics for bedding, draperies and upholstery, and wall coverings in grass cloth or basket weave-like textures.

For floors, choose rugs in materials like sisal or jute, or go even further with bamboo flooring or driftwood tiles throughout your home, Graham says.

4. Work with what you have.

You don’t have to have the budget for a full-scale, all-out redecorating project to infuse a bit of tropical style into your home. If you’ve got classic, neutral furniture and flooring in soft woods, they will most likely work well with added tropical touches. And don’t be afraid to mix things up, as variety is a component of tropical design. “Things like changing rugs and pillows and draperies can do a lot, and you can keep the soft wood surfaces,” Graham says.

5. Accessorize, but keep it simple.

Accessories can add the finishing touches to your tropical-inspired home. A natural woven lampshade chandelier in the dining room, for example, can tie the room’s entire design together. But make sure to avoid a literal interpretation of tropical style. “It’s one of the things that people make the biggest mistake with,” Graham says. “Once they start accessorizing, all the art work has palm trees in it. That’s overkill.” Graham suggests mixing up art work with geometric prints and abstract pieces that enhance, not overwhelm, the rest of your decor.

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