We may have bid adieu to vacation season but there’s no reason to let go of the holiday vibe. Especially if you embrace this interior decor trend that’s here to stay: tropicalcore.
A departure from the neutrals that have dominated home design for long, the idea behind tropicalcore is simple: bringing home a tropical destination, be it Hawaii, Bali, or Goa, to make your spaces spirited, cheerful, and welcoming.
A Google trends report reveals that tropicalcore is on a steady rise in 2023, seeing a 27.2% increase in popularity from the past 12 months. The vacation-inspired design aesthetic continues to trend on TikTok and Instagram, with #tropicalcore and #tropicaldesign scoring more than 24 million views on the former platform.
“But tropicalcore isn’t all about palms, pineapples, bright birds, and banana-leaf motifs,” says Disha Chaudhary, a Bengaluru-based interior designer. “This big, bold trend no longer means kitschy and overdone tropical décor; it now encompasses almost everything — from jungle prints to bright colours — to create a space that’s luxurious, creative, and super-stylish.”
The trend focuses on tapping vibrant colour schemes, bold botanical prints, natural textures, and maximalist styling to create a vacation vibe, in the mind and in the home. And it isn’t just for maximalists; tweaking it here and there means minimalists can also bring elements of the tropics into their rooms.
How to work the trend
Zero in on your favourite destination. As the name suggests, tropicalcore brings a slice of the tropics to your home. Close your eyes and think about your favourite vacation spot. Is it Goa, Hawaii, Palm Springs, or the Caribbean? Which colours, textures, and vibes would you like to emulate in your home? “A mood board could help recreate what the destination looks and feels like and you could then recreate that in your home,” says Swati Patel, a Vadodara-based interior designer.
Once you are clear about the theme and look, explore patterns, prints, and colours. Focus on adding layers to keep the design fresh and exciting. “For example, if you want a tropical vibe that takes you back to Bali, Indonesia, opt for bamboo/ rattan furniture, hammocks, and earth tones,” Patel suggests.
Decorating with items that you actually brought back from vacation works well. Handmade rugs and throw pillows, local artwork or pottery, and small pieces like coasters and candle holders are ideal.
Begin with natural materials
The right materials are the foundation blocks for creating the breezy, luxurious feel of a tropical resort or beachside villa. Think wood, rattan, bamboo, and stone: ideal materials to create a tropicalcore-inspired room. “These add an earthy feel and help ground the bold patterns and colours that are typically a part of this aesthetic,” Chaudhary says.
Airy fabrics, natural textures, jute rugs, and wood furniture are easy to incorporate in any space. “You can also use natural materials such as terracotta and linen. Other easy options to liven up your rooms, tropicalcore style, are cane-back chairs, wicker-front cabinets, seagrass baskets, and cane hampers,” she adds.
Score with leafy patterns
Patterns are big when it comes to tropicalcore. Be it banana leaves, cabana stripes, palm trees, animal prints, or botanicals, they can be used across your room: think wallpaper, rugs, cushions, blankets, and artwork. “Big bold leafy patterns are what come to mind when we think tropicalcore decor, so don’t shy away from those large prints. They look great on drapes, wing chairs and wallpaper,” Patel says.
Chaudhary suggests adding some featuring tropical birds and animals as well to create visual interest. “A throw pillow with a macaw set against a upholstered chair featuring a monstera print says tropicalcore more loudly than a small patterned wallpaper,” she says.
Colours can be used to amp up or calm down your tropicalcore design. Choose bright shades of teal, green, yellow, or pink to add pops of colour or stick with rust, mustard, sage green, and navy to create a laid-back feel.
Plants seal the deal
Some 70% millennials proudly proclaim themselves as “plant parents”. Plants in home design are known to reduce stress, increase productivity and creativity, and improve air quality. Bringing home the right plants can be the easiest way to channel a room’s tropicalcore vibe. Most tropicalcore designs showcase large and lush plants, which together create a relaxed, jungle-like aesthetic.
“Don’t be worried about using large plants in small spaces; they add life and playfulness. Try bird of paradise, parlour palm, banana leaf, or yucca,” suggests Chaudhary. She adds that low-maintenance houseplants such as pothos and snake plant can be used for those who are looking for really low-maintenance varieties.
Since the overload of colours and prints means you can easily go overboard, avoid overcooking the space and aim for balance: too many prints means you need to tone the colour palette down and vice versa.
“You want to make sure that your home is reminiscent of your favourite vacation spot; you don’t want it to look like a themed resort,” says Chaudhary. When in doubt, “go for a show-stopping botanical wallpaper that’s teamed with wooden furniture and chic marble and brass accessories”.