Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 26th 2014 Contents So you want to decorate your space in the Island
style. This should come easy to us. After all we live in
the Caribbean and this should come natural to us is-
landers. Right? Not necessarily. At the get go we are
faced with the dilemma -- are we going for the coastal
theme with its beachy influences? Or are we nostal-
gic for grandma's home with its strong British Colo-
nial influences? You would be inspired by the
architecture and décor of historical homes in our
community. We should not have to learn Island style.
We could argue that it should be instinctive. But over
the last couple decades influences from our reading,
travels and cable television have impacted on our
décor choices and preferences. So what are the hall-
marks of Island décor?
Outside living spaces. What did you call it: A porch,
gallery or verandah? With most island homes the out-
doors were fully integrated with the indoors offering
spaces for relaxation and socialization. The size and
how your space is attached to the main home differs.
But your outdoor space would have comfortable seat-
ing, or even lying, furnishings and tables.
Outside in. What is Island style without pineapples,
potted palms, bananas or tannias or without native
flowers? If you are rocking the nautical theme incorpo-
rate shells, fish and weathered wood. Mind you, you do
not have to be literal. These motifs can be brought in as
carvings on wood work, wall art and textiles. If you
choose not to use the typical island motifs you can in-
corporate the associated colours.
Light and Brights Colours. Even the most colour
'scared' Caribbean native is more comfortable with
colour than others. Blues, greens and aquas are a literal
must have for the beach inspired décor. We are also
comfortable with other bright colours such as oranges
and yellows. Just take a walk in your neighbourhood.
How many versions of orange, yellows and red do you
see on the houses? Island colours are usually vivid, clear
and crisp; different from the muted counterparts in
other décor alternatives. Introduce these colours in tex-
tiles, wall art or paint. Both in the coastal and the colo-
nial island decors, white or light blue (or other light
colours) is often used as a backdrop to unify the bold,
rich palettes. In the colonial décor white also sets off
the rich wood.
Materials. The materials in your island décor should
be very organic and warm. Wood is a necessary part of
the island décor: warm, polished, hardwood floors, living
room, dining room and bedroom furniture. Teak and ma-
hogany are traditional here in T & T. For the beach
theme use wooden furniture, cabinets or floors painted
in white or bright colours. Bamboo, cane, rattan and
wicker are also hallmarks of the casual aspects of the
island home. These materials can also be combined
with wood. I have fond memories of rattan chairs and
woven screw pine rugs in the verandah. While you may
not be able to find a screw pine rug, a sisal rug is also
authentic. Use white embroidered table and bed linen,
light (even gauzy) curtains at the window. I remember
white café curtains with crochet lace trim. Alternately
bright tropical inspired prints and colours can be used
for window treatments, linen and other soft furnish-
Furniture and Accessories. In the bedroom solid
wooden beds, headboards, dressers and wardrobes are
a must. The four poster or tester bed is also typical of
the colonial island style. White painted furniture is com-
patible with the beachy island style. Incorporate local
art and craft items. Try not to harbour clutter. Select
the pieces carefully ensuring that the size and colour
are appropriate for your space. I grew up sleeping under
the safety and coziness of a mosquito net. Once under
there I was safe from all night monsters. To infuse the
island décor, use the gauzy netting as drapings on the
tester bed or around your headboard. Use woven bas-
kets for storage. Woven vases, rugs and blinds bring
textural interest and can also bring in the island touch.
Consider wooden frame free standing mirrors in your
entry or bedroom. In the colonial inspired décor, 'china'
cabinets in rich mahogany or teak store and display fine
china, silver and crystal. This is a very formal look. Any
'natural' looking ceiling fan is also a natural and func-
tional addition to the island décor.
Interior architecture. For a cooler room, use high ceil-
ings and lots of large windows. Also look out for
wooden beams, shutters and wooden floors, large ve-
randahs as trademarks of the island décor.
Typically our island home decors that have evolved
over time have an eclectic mixture of 'beach' and 'colo-
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