By Charlyne Varkonyi Schaub
City & Shore Contributing Design Editor
Decorating with palm-tree motifs, bamboo and rattan are nothing new to us in South Florida. Sometimes, though, we go overboard with the theme.
The trick in the “New Tropical” is to pare down the look so it doesn’t resemble a Pirates of the Caribbean set. It should appear less kitschy, more refined and romantic.
Once again the trend is taking its cues from fashion runways. Marc Jacobs, Prado and Ungaro all featured tropical motifs in last fall’s shows. Saint Laurent used palm-tree fabric in backpacks and bomber jackets.
If you haven’t seen it yet, check out Carleton Varney’s use of his mentor Dorothy Draper’s Brazilliance banana-leaf pattern wallpaper in the hallway to the Polo Grill at The Colony on Palm Beach Island. Draper originally featured the wallpaper in her design of the Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. Elle Décor recently did a trend piece the magazine labeled “Rain-Forest Hues,” an homage to the same Brazilian jungle motifs that inspired Draper.
West Palm Beach designers Joseph Cortes and Kevin Marnell were ahead of the trend a few years ago in a home they designed on Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale. Walls were painted the distinctive orange of a Hermès box. Tropical pillows and art were played against white upholstery, which kept the room from appearing too dark. Cortes says they used the Hermès color walls “to make the room feel warm and cozy.”
“Always buy a plain sofa and change it up with new pillows,” celebrity interior designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard told Vogue. “It is just like buying a classic piece of clothing. You can certainly refresh it with a new bag and shoes.”