6 Ways to Decorate Island Style

While living in Hawaii, I learned that the key to effective island decor is to surround yourself with natural things that remind you of nature, things that re-establish your connection with the earth.
You can bring this understated tropical feel into your home very easily with some carefully chosen items and features...

1 - Decorate in the Plantation Style

In the late 1800s to mid 1900s, plantation style homes were built throughout the islands to house everyone from sugar cane field workers to plantation owners. Unlike the grand white-columned estates of the southern US, they were more modest bungalow style homes, simple and timeless. Today, these homes are very much in demand especially by those who want to restore them to their original beauty.
Characterized by creamy white walls and dark hardwood floors, this style is the easiest of the various Hawaiian architectural styles to reproduce in your home, and provide a good neutral base if you eventually decide to change style.

2 - Lots of Dark Wood
Surround yourself with dark wood that mimics the beautiful native Hawaiian koa. Many lucky Hawaiian natives have family heirloom furniture made of koa, a rich whiskey coloured wood that darkens with age. The koa is a fast-growing moderately hard wood, but because it is becoming more and more rare, use it only as a veneer or use a reproduction.
You can start small with picture frames, decorative fruit/salad bowls, jewelry/keepsake boxes. You can then move on to larger pieces like bookshelves, desks, tables and dressers. And of course there are the more permanent fixtures like hardwood floors, walls and even ceiling beams. Your options are endless!

3 - Ceiling Fan
Keep cool with tropical breezes and trade winds from your ceiling fan! You can find some wonderful styles at your local hardware store. In our bedroom, we currently have a ceiling fan with wide oval blades that mimics palm leaves. Just think tropical - you'll find the ceiling fan that's perfect for you.
Our Hawaiian apartment at Waiakea Villas had a ceiling fan in every room, and they were great at keeping us cool. The one above our bed made us a little nervous during the occasional earthquake though!

4 - Aloha Fabrics
The key with the large tropical prints is to keep it small. No, you don't have to select small prints - I mean use it on small items such as throw pillows, hand towels, table cloth borders. There are so many varieties to choose from. Just go to any fabric store and pick your favourites!

5 - Rattan, Wicker, Bamboo and Seagrass Furniture
My apartment had rattan furniture. It was very fresh and fun. So what if it doesn't shout "come and get cuddled" like our overstuffed couches here on the mainland but that's what a pune'e is for (see below).

6 - Set up a pune'e
Think Chaise Lounge on Steroids! This is my absolute favourite piece of furniture in the home, and if my husband would be okay with it, I'd make this a permanent part of our family room. A pune'e is a bed used for loungingin a more public place in the home. This day bed can be set up in a family room or even on your patio deck/lanai (if you use weather resistant fabrics). A futon is perfect for this.

If you do decide to try these things out, I'd love to see pictures of your home before and after changes. I hope you enjoy transforming your home into your own island paradise.

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