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Brought to you by Arawak Interiors

Designing a Caribbean home can be one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do.

Creating a space for you, your friends, and family to relax, laugh, and create memories allows you to gain everything you wish from a home and truly make it your own.

These interior styles are not only staples of Caribbean living; they’re visually stunning and stand up well to the island elements.


Inspired by the beautiful mystery of Asian temples and sumptuous palaces, Balinese style incorporates traditional shapes full of curving lines and natural materials.

This style seeks harmony with nature, fitting in beautifully with the island mentality. Bamboo, teak, and stone are all materials that not only create a stunning aesthetic, but blend well with the Caribbean environment and can hold their own against the elements.

This ancient style also stems from the concept of having a space or ‘zone’ for different parts of life, lending itself well to creating functional spaces for how you live. Intricate carvings on wood pieces offer texture and sophistication that may not otherwise stand out. With large, open windows, these spaces are flooded with natural light and allow for island breezes to flow freely, keeping a home fresh and cool.

Coastal Chic & Nautical

Nothing says ‘island style’ like nautical elements and a whimsical nod to the sea.

A coastal style is filled with light, bright furniture and accents, combined with ocean treasures like shells, coral, rope and driftwood. Whitewashed wood furniture and natural fabrics keep the coastal theme cohesive and create a relaxed look.

While some coastal and nautical styles can be overtly ‘seafaring,’ there’s a way to incorporate boating, sailing, and ocean pieces into this style without it looking too kitschy.

Maintaining clean lines and light colours with bolder accents keep everything tied together while offering a sense of calm to any space. Tropical plants can easily be implemented to bring an outdoor element indoors. Soft lighting enhances a cosy, inviting feeling to any room. With stunning views of the ocean right outside, this style feels right at home and an extension of the sea.

Caribbean Style

Island living is outdoor living. Large windows let sunlight and Caribbean air inside, while outdoor furniture gets the brunt of the salty air and rain, in addition to direct sunlight. Choose furniture that can stand the test of time, or that can be easily refinished so that the elements don’t become a costly reason to replace or remodel often.

For example, teak wood is resistant to termites and rotting in the damp humidity. A hard, oily wood, it can easily be cleaned to look new again.


An eclectic style that is full of personality and a zest for life, a Bohemian home is stuffed—artfully—with treasures gathered from travels around the world and collected items from a life filled with beautiful memories.

Warm earth tones like fiery orange and warm terra cotta invoke the Caribbean sunset while creating a beautiful balance to the ocean blues and natural greens outdoors. Mismatched furniture tells a story and mirrors the melting pot mix of Caribbean cultures and traditions.


  • Weather the elements by selecting the best materials to withstand harsh conditions. New synthetic furniture has been designed to sit in direct sunlight and be mixed with waterproof cushions from Sunbrella and Sunproof.
  • Use commercial fabrics for rental properties like Sunbrella that can withstand damage and regular washes from sandy, wet, ‘suntan-lotioned’ bodies sitting on the furniture. Having an extra set of pillows or covers will make for quick replacements should something irreparable happen.
  • Revive a space with linens, since soft furnishings are the easiest way to liven up a property without splurging for a complete remodel. New bedding, throws and blankets, curtains, and rugs can freshen up a space quickly and cheaply.
  • Consider your design timeline. When looking at floorplans with architects and builders, breaking ground is the time you should start to narrow down furniture requests and making orders. Everything takes time, especially in the Caribbean. Custom orders must fit into supplier schedules and you should allow for shipping consolidation, shipping time, and customs clearance.
  • Finishes and maintenance. Once the right pieces to withstand the elements have been selected, don’t forget that finishes eventually wear off due to water, high sun exposure, and salt. Polyurethane products for outdoor items can be very effective. Don’t forget to inspect regularly and reapply when furniture starts looking tired.
  • Mix it Up. The Caribbean is a melting pot; a collective mix of different nationalities and cultures from all around the globe. Don’t be afraid to throw in an unusual coffee table or a statement painting on the wall to serve as conversation starters and to make a home your own.

Sara Sherman
Sara Sherman is a former St. Thomas resident and the editor of Virgin Islands Property & Yacht.
Sara Sherman

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