Tropicalcore may be trending on TikTok, but this interior design aesthetic definitely isn’t new. Just take a look at Blanche Devereaux’s bedroom from the '80s sitcom "The Golden Girls" and you’ll see what we mean. But now that bold and colorful interiors are back in style, this vacation-inspired aesthetic is back and more stylish than ever.
Tropicalcore brings botanical prints, bright colors, and natural textures together to create lush, super stylish vacation-inspired interiors. If you’re picturing the kind of kitschy and overdone tropical decor you may find on a low-budget cruise ship, think again. Tropicalcore is all about creating a relaxing and luxurious space that is bold and colorful while also being tasteful and perfectly curated. Think high-end beachside villa with a tropical twist.
Here’s what you need to know about tropicalcore, plus some expert-approved tips for implementing this decor trend in your home without going overboard.
Meet the Expert
- Heather Goerzen is the design director at Havenly.
- Natasha Nicolaou is the owner of NatNico Designs.
Key Elements of Tropicalcore
As the name suggests, tropicalcore is all about bringing a piece of the tropics to your home.
“Tropicalcore embraces vibrant color schemes, bold botanical prints, plenty of natural textures, and maximalist styling to create a vacay state of mind—and place,” says Heather Gorzen, Havenly Design Director.
That being said, you don’t need to be a maximalist to enjoy tropicalcore in your home. By following a few design principles for the aesthetic, there are plenty of ways that maximalists and minimalists alike can bring elements of the tropics into their interior design.
Feature Bold Colors
Bright, daring colors are a staple of tropicalcore design, so don’t be afraid to play around with color in your space. Shades of green, teal, orange, pink, and yellow are particularly timeless and popular choices. You can opt to go bright and bold or choose a more muted and earthy color palette for a slightly more laid back and calming effect.
Add Some Houseplants
“The easiest way to get into the tropicalcore design is to start with live houseplants,” says Natasha Nicolaou, owner of NatNico Designs. “These feature prominently in tropicalcore design, with many people showcasing homes filled with plants large and small covering every surface."
If you don’t have a green thumb, don’t fret. There are plenty of low-maintenance houseplants like pothos, snake plants, and dieffenbachia (to name a few) that will add a tropical touch to your space with very little care and attention required.
Utilize Natural Materials
Natural materials like wood, rattan, stone, and bamboo are key to the tropicalcore trend. Not only do these add an earthy feel, but they help to soften the bold colors and patterns that are a hallmark of this aesthetic. Jute rugs, rattan decor, and wood furniture are just a few easy and classic ways to incorporate natural materials into a tropicalcore space.
Embrace Tropical Patterns
Banana leaf patterns, palm trees, cabana stripes, botanicals, and animal prints are all fair game in tropicalcore. Feature these tropical prints in your space using throw pillows and blankets, wallpaper, rugs, artwork, and even furniture.
“The most iconic hallmarks of tropicalcore design are big bold leafy patterns like large scale palm leaf wallpaper, banana leaf drapes, and even upholstered furniture in big, gorgeous leafy prints—often featuring birds and animals as well,” Nicolaou says.
The key to pairing multiple contrasting patterns together in one room is to keep scale in mind and choose patterns in varying sizes to create contrast. Also, be sure to stick to two or three patterns per room at the most to ensure that you don’t visually overwhelm the space.
Don’t Overdo It
Tropicalcore is about creating a wistful, vacation-inspired home, but it is dangerously easy to go overboard with all the fun colors and prints. The key to achieving tropicalcore without making the space feel gaudy and overdone is to create balance in the space.
“The aesthetic tends to run cliche when it’s one-dimensional and forced everywhere,” Goerzen says. “The ideal is an elevated villa interpretation rather than a tiki bar.”
Design experts agree that focusing on one or two main tropicalcore elements per room is a great way to ensure you don’t overwhelm the space.
"Feature a show-stopping botanical wallpaper, but then give it an artful twist with more modern furniture and chic materials like marble and brass,” Goerzen says.
Also, don’t forget to incorporate plenty of neutrals into each room to balance out the bright colors and bold patterns and really make them pop.