Want to introduce some Caribbean flavor into your home? Then I suggest you grab a paintbrush and get painting… because if there’s one thing Caribbean interiors demand above all else, it’s color. These days, we’ve become so used to the bland, neutral ubiquity of modern interiors that we flinch at the idea of introducing anything that isn’t white, bright and, let’s be honest, slightly boring, into our homes. But if you’re going to get tropical, you’re going to have to get vibrant, and that means embracing the rainbow. It doesn’t end with slapping a bit of paint on your walls, though; if you truly want to introduce a taste of the islands into your home, you’ll need to consider textiles (hint: they’ll need to be crisp, clean, and, you guessed it, colorful), furniture (abandon any idea of plastic.. Caribbean style is all about the natural), and plants (if you don’t have at least one green finger, look away now). If you’re determined to introduce some of the exuberant, eclectic vibrancy of the tropics into your home, then where better to start than at the very heart of the house, the kitchen? Here, we take a look at some of the key essentials to consider when creating your very own Caribbean style kitchen.
We’ve mentioned the importance of color already, but when it comes to Caribbean design, it’s really a message worth repeating. Caribbean homes have no time for the bland, monochrome looks that have become so popular in the west, and while you don’t literally have to incorporate every color of the rainbow into your interior, you’ll need to at least consider a few.
As a general rule of thumb, look to the landscape when thinking about what colors to brand your Caribbean style kitchen with. Blues are obviously going to be huge (otherwise, how else are you going to recreate those endless blues skies and translucent turquoise waters?) while grassy greens are also very popular. As Beach Bliss Living notes, don’t skimp on shades towards the other end of the color spectrum, either: canary yellows, rosy pinks, and cheerful corals are all big in Caribbean interior design and contrast beautifully with all those blues and greens you’ll (hopefully) be bringing in.
While walls are the most obvious place to showcase all those beautiful colors, don’t feel shy about adding them elsewhere. In the kitchen, think of painting your units a bright, cheerful shade or introducing a multi-colored tiled backsplash. Don’t neglect to add some brightness to the furnishings either (even if that does just mean some colorful kitchen rags). If you can’t get your head around so much intense color, there’s a solution. Stick to white walls and keep the colors to accents only. Providing the rest of your kitchen is on point, you’ll still get that magical Caribbean vibe without giving yourself a migraine in the process.
Splashing a bit of color onto your walls is all well and good, but to really give your kitchen a Caribbean flavor, you’ll need to consider a few other key points, textiles being one of them. Restrict yourself to crisp textiles with clean lines (sheepskin rugs and cozy throws might be lovely in certain settings, but they have a limited role to play here). Again, go as colorful as you like, but don’t neglect adding a bit of white into the mix. As Decoist notes, the contrast between a few white fabrics and those of a more vibrant hue will make a great focal point.
When it comes to window treatments, keep textiles light and gauzy to allow in plenty of natural light (if privacy’s not an issue, you could even forgo drapes all together). Elsewhere, play it by ear – if your kitchen has a seating area, a few throws in contrasting colors hung neatly across a chair will complement the theme very well. If space is too limited to allow for much more than just a few kitchen units, a few colorful dishcloths hanging from a draw will be all you need.
Regardless of whether we’re looking at a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom or a living room, we’re going to see a lot of wood if we’re in a Caribbean home. Whether its bamboo, oak, teak, pine, rattan or wicker, the island’s inhabitants love nothing more than chopping down a tree and making something useful out of it. Whether you decide on stripped pine floors, distressed rattan kitchen units or teak tables, you’ll need at least a few wooden features in your kitchen if you want it to look authentic. Don’t worry if the furniture has seen better days- Caribbean interiors are as welcoming of the old as they are of the new, and love a piece of furniture that looks like it has a story to tell. We’re not suggesting you take a belt to your existing pieces, but if you’re in the market for some new furniture, scour your local antique shops and thrift stores for anything that looks like it’s spent several decades being battered by the high seas.
Plenty of Plants
We’re not just saying it for the alliterative joy of it – if you want to create an authentic Caribbean style kitchen, you’ll need to go potty with plenty of potted plants. The choice of plant is up to you (although birds of paradise, gardenias, chrysanthemums, orchids, and lotus flowers all make popular options), but be sure to introduce at least a couple with enough variety in height, size and foliage to make them a point of interest. Plants are also a great way of bringing that other huge trend in Caribbean interiors, pottery, into play. Choose bold pots decorated with colorful patterns or keep things simple with plain terracotta. If you really can’t keep a plant alive for more than a few days, cut flowers make a great alternative (as do cut and grow herbs, which are surprisingly resilient and will add both greenery and something tasty to put in your cooking).