How to Decorate a West Indies-Style Living Room


The West Indies is located where the North Atlantic and the northern part of the Caribbean meet and includes the Antilles, the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos islands. Although more obscure than the more familiar decor of its Caribbean neighbors, West Indies decor has a tropical look mixed with British and French colonial influences. West Indies style ranges from breezy beach house style to the more fussy and formal aesthetic of classic European design, but in both extremes offers an inviting and open feel applied to living room decor.

  • Open up interior space by widening windows or changing them to French doors; add skylights or solar tubes to bring as much natural light into the interior as possible. For an exterior living room -- a commonsense addition in the tropics -- add West Indies-inspired awnings or small roofs made of tile or bamboo to provide a spot of shade on a porch, patio or deck.

  • Apply color that reflects the natural world of the West Indies: the brilliant blue of the Caribbean or a jewel tone or darker blue that has hints of green on the living room walls. Accent the blue with bright white trim or more subdued cream or earthy shades that have an orange undertone. Stain hardwood floors medium to dark colors or mix different types of wood in varied tones to emphasize natural materials and finishes.

  • Furnish the living room with pieces such as couches, chairs, shelves and sideboards that feature artisan touches such as hand-carved frames, engraved panels, wood joinery and solid construction. Add beach-inspired furniture made of rattan, woven cane and bamboo for a more casual tone.

  • Accessorize the space with natural elements and materials that blur the boundaries between the home's interior and exterior. Use gauzy curtains or shutters that you can open to let the sun inside. Add potted plants, especially ones with palm-style leaves, to keep the look bright and fresh.

  • Minimize clutter; the cottage look encourages beach house design with stacks of stuff, but the West Indian approach to the beach house aesthetic is far more restrained. Invest in a key work of art featuring tropical themes, and leave surfaces relatively bare; just add a scattering of shells or some glass jars in the windows holding orchids to impart a simple style.

Tips & Warnings

  • Make the look your own by adding photographs or art projects framed in bamboo.
  • Avoid using too many patterns in upholstery and textiles, which creates too busy an effect for West Indies decor.

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