Capture the Emotion of Island Style

(ARA) – The key to decorating today is to focus less on function and more on emotion. Not that you should bypass the latest conveniences, but to capture a satisfying, cohesive look for your home, begin by asking yourself how you want it to feel.

When you see a setting that taps your emotions, that creates that “Aha” – or “Ahhh” – moment for you, study its elements: What combination of furnishings, fabrics, colors, textures, accessories, even scents and sounds make that look, that lifestyle, come alive for you?

Today’s sophisticated interiors demonstrate that a comfortable, relaxed look need no longer be cottage- or country-cute. Sun- and water-inspired colors, seductively soft fabrics, natural textures, and authentic materials and decorative elements can evoke the sense of an exotic locale, even if you live in a suburban neighborhood, city high rise, or, should you be so fortunate, on the coast.

“Surrounding yourself with the elements of relaxation in your home is a great way to turn off the stress when you walk in your door,” says Florence Chaix, a licensing designer for Tommy Bahama Home. “We want to find ourselves at a table where the food is always good, the conversation inspiring, the setting tranquil, and life is simply one long weekend.”

The ways to create that emotional calm in your own home abound. But remember, it’s the synergy created by blending these pieces that makes it work. No beautiful piece of furniture or high tech gadget alone can capture the emotional experience we’re seeking.

If you’re starting from scratch, incorporate flowing interior spaces with openings on at least two sides for cross ventilation; changing ceiling heights for a feeling of intimate and open spaces; window seats and wraparound porches for taking in the views.

On the Floor: Think natural – rich wood tones, natural jute or stone. For an old world feel, use a traditional oriental rug, but in muted, natural colors that feel as if they’ve been in the family for a generation or two. Rugs patterned with foliage or flowers lend a more contemporary feel.

On the Walls: Look for sun-, sand- and-sea-drenched colors, rich but muted. Create texture with stucco (more rustic) or grass cloth (more sophisticated). Finish off with wall d├ęcor in a botanical theme.

Overhead: A slowly turning fan creates a natural breeze and brings down a high ceiling. Rustic beams suggest a home and lifestyle built to endure.

Furnishings: Look for lightly distressed, bold, traditional forms with tropical inspired carvings and meticulous detailing. While still traditional or colonial in feel, these suggest the hand of a local craftsman rather than a precious classical antique.

Textures: Mimic nature with layers of different textures. Let fabrics be ultra soft, supple, and inviting (remember, this is your version of paradise). Balance with natural materials such as rattan, bamboo, metal, and natural or artificial palms and ferns.

One of the original purveyors of the island lifestyle, Tommy Bahama Home, for example, uses abundant natural motifs and woven materials to reflect a natural, coastal environment. Its newest Curacao Reef collection incorporates carved banana leaves, sunbursts, bamboo and textured fabric panels. Upholstery is sumptuous, not Spartan.

Lighting: Where possible, let in lots of natural sunlight, or substitute muted ambient cove lighting that adds an all-over glow. Choose fixtures in wood, cane, antiqued metal, and ceramics, both porous and glazed.

Ambience: And to round out your retreat’s island state of mind, appeal to the senses with candles, dried flowers or herbs, subtle incense or flowering plants. Add a fountain or waterfall to wash away your cares. Set the CD to some soft island rhythms. And, Tommy Bahama might add, don’t forget the ice.

Courtesy of ARA Content