Capture the Emotion of Island Style

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

decor in a botanical theme.


A slowly turning fan creates a natural

breeze and brings down a high ceiling.

Rustic beams suggest a home and lifestyle

built to endure.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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