Tropical interior design uses space and materials in such a way as to maximize the efficiency and comfort with which occupants will enjoy the building. It involves architectural decisions about the use of space, colour and lifestyle considerations.
Professional, qualified interior designers usually work with architects to produce the best outcome for clients and will often be responsible for choosing bathroom and kitchen fittings such as baths, refrigerators, stoves, benches and the like.
Quite often interior designers specialize in a certain style, such as minimalist interior design or become known for designing resorts, commercial buildings, bathrooms or even refurbishments.
Sometimes interior design is confused with interior decorating, which uses various methods to achieve the desired atmosphere of various rooms through the use of colour, texture, shape and form. But there is some overlap, with some interior designers going on to also choose color schemes and soft furnishings.
Interior decorating styles employ basic design skills used in the production of any visual, musical or performance artwork, such as shape, form, colour, rhythm, repetition, texture, balance, harmony, tension, contrast and so on. Formal qualifications are available but interior decorators, in company with some artists, may have a ‘flair’ for decorating and be self-taught.
Tropical interior design is led by architectural properties, which, obviously, take the warm climate into consideration with provisions for the flow of air, shade and the use of the concept of ‘bringing the outdoors inside’ by using tropical house plants and tropical furniture, such as that made from cane.
Interior design colors may reflect the vibrancy of life in the tropics – eg the cool greens of rainforest with accents of orange or red, reminiscent of brightly coloured birds or fish. More often basic colour schemes for walls and furnishings are neutral, with accents being provided by cushions, vases and paintings in lively primary colours.
Many old ‘Queenslanders’ are being rescued from demolition and enjoy a new life as modern versions of the gracious colonial bungalows on high poles or stilts, with their small casement windows and wide verandahs, built before the days of air-conditioning early last century.
Louvres are used extensively in modern tropical architecture. They are versatile and durable and allow control of air flow. Usually made from glass they are also available in metal or timber, although these two materials can also make a room very dark!
High ceilings, verandahs, wide eaves, sometimes ‘high set’ on metal or timber poles, easy-care timber floors and orientation on the block, combined with air flow via louvres or French doors, are architectural aspects that contribute to cool and relaxed tropical interior design.