Friday, June 14, 2013

Tropical British Colonial Interiors

I fell in love with this style when I vacationed in Barbados several years ago and stayed at Sam Lord's Castle, the former home of actual pirate Sam Lord, who lured ships aground by hanging lanterns in the coconut trees. Captains mistook the lights for the nearby port city of Bridgetown and ran their ships into the reefs. Sam and his men then promptly looted them. This beautiful plantation was decorated in authentic West Indies British Colonial style and couldn't help capturing my heart. Unfortunately this beautiful historical landmark burned to the ground in recent years, a sad loss for the people of Barbados.

As the British colonized the world, from America to India and the West Indies, they left a distinct style behind. This worldly and timeless design was influenced by the climate and cultures of the places the British inhabited. And British Colonial style was created. At its largest, the British Empire covered approximately one-quarter of the world. It truly was the empire on which the sun never set. As British subjects were sent around the world to the colonies to govern, do business, and protect the home country's interests, they brought with them the traditional decor from home which they intermingled with local materials and styles and adapted them to suit the practical needs of climate and landscape. They produced a unique and beautiful blended colonial style.

Built upon the romance of its bygone namesake era, tropical British Colonial and it's beautiful Caribbean Plantation homes recalls the exoticism of the tropics with the substance of traditional design.

Let the music whisk you away to the islands!

Tropical British Colonial furniture takes its utilitarian influence from the tropical environments in which it was found. Using generous proportions of local wood such as Teak, Mahogany, and Mango Wood, this furniture was designed to absorb much of the humidity found in those areas.

Since the wood expands and contracts, much of the construction also used natural grasses and rattan to allow for this movement. I love the woven straw walls of this interior space.

British Colonial floors are often covered with woven sisal or reed mats, baskets are used for storage, and caning and weaving is used in chairs and furniture like this headboard.

Bamboo is also a popular material for bedding and other furniture.

Walls in British Colonial interiors are usually light in color which is lovely contrast to the dark wood floors and furniture. The pale colors help make the rooms seem light and airy which is important, at least psychologically, to counteract the oppressive heat. 

Tall, rounded windows or garden doors - An elegant touch often found in British Colonial decor.

Shutters to keep out the hot midday sun and ceiling fans with wide, rattan fanlike blades that helped to decorate as well as cool plantation rooms are all with us today. Other elements for your tropical British Colonial interior include mosquito netting draped around beds for a fun touch and bamboo shades for covering windows

To truly evoke a tropical paradise, dot the room with exotic plants.

Many times a room would be decorated with a trompe l'oeil effect adding depth and drama to an otherwise blank room or wall.

British Colonial furniture is a great complement to both traditional and transitional furniture designs and that's what keeps it relevant to this day.

Adding elements of this style to your home not only brings an air of romance and sophistication to the overall design, but will make you feel as though you've traveled around the world collecting without ever having really left home at all.

Tropical and British Colonial styles mesh together well because they both rely on themes of exotic islands and far-off travel.

Be sure and include large potted plants such as ferns and palms as well as orchids in your design.

Add a four poster bed to your bedroom. Decorate it with rich colors reminiscent of the tropics or Asia. Wicker and rattan furniture also fit well in a tropical or British Colonial bedroom. Add cushions or bed covers with a large tropical floral print. Use a large rattan trunk for storage at the end of the bed and look for heavy dressers and armoires with ornate Indian designs and rustic hardware.

This style is equally fabulous  outside as well!!

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This blog post was published by
Lisa Farmer


  1. I love this style SO much and your post was fabulous with that beautiful steel drum music! I have always incorporated a little bit of the islands into my home. I think those design elements allow such a relaxing feel...and don't we all wish we could escape to the islands every now and then?!! Have a great day!

  2. I found this on Pinterest and had to Pin it as I LOVE British Colonial design! These examples are all beautiful!!! Great post!!!

  3. This is a really good post. Must admit that you are amongst the best bloggers I have read. Thanks for posting this.
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  4. When you create an interior in this style of neoclassic are often used plasterboard arches, pilasters, columns and pilasters with floral ornaments, antique blog link
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  5. The store is right on the waterfront so the boat drops you off just 25 meters or so from the front door. You can also get to the store by car/taxi/bus... but the boat trip is half the fun in my opinion.Demir Leather

  6. Thanks for Sharing!!!
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  9. How lovely to provide the beautiful music to browse by! Thanks also for your wonderful post, very timely for me as I’m trying to choose new furniture now. I love what I’m seeing of British Colonial and realize we have most of the basic elements of this style in our home now. Since we live on the water in the US south, I especially like the tropical take on this style and your post will help me move a bit in this direction. I was heartbroken to hear of the loss of Sam Lord’s Castle, but so happy you had the happy experience is staying there.

  10. PS, my dad was career Navy and traveled all over the world. He loved Barbados with all his heart, the wonderful people, the climate, the incredible beauty of the island, but more than anything the mesmerizing steel drum music! He could never get enough of Barbados. He also loved Hawaii where he served in WWII. Again, the incredible beauty of the islands and the amazing music stole his heart.


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