In an open-air villa in Round Hill, Jamaica, designer Meg Braff shares her tips for loosening up a tailored look with island flair.
This pool umbrella is so retro-chic it looks like it came straight from a Mad Men set. Not only is the pink color a beach club trademark, but its squared-off scalloped edge is a classic cabana detail. The treatment isn’t limited to outdoor furniture. Try the same edging on a drapery valance or bed skirt.
Shop the look: Umbrella, Santa Barbara Designs
We Love ... these white loungers! Their faux-bamboo design stays true to an island setting. Wheels make them easy to move.
Shop the look: Loungers, Terra Furniture
Sugar White Walls
Because no island retreat would be complete without brightly patterned fabrics in greens, blues, pinks, and yellows, white walls are a must for unifying spaces and creating that airy island feel. “They have the same appeal as the classic white blouse―it’s versatile and always flattering, and allows killer accessories to really shine,” says Meg. White Dove (OC-17) by Benjamin Moore is her favorite island white paint.
We Love ... bamboo furniture―a classic look from Palm Beach to Santa Monica. This vintage set got a face-lift with fresh white paint.
A Preppy Palette
Taking cues from the Jamaican landscape, Meg chose tile, fabric, and accessories in tropical hues like palm green, coral pink, banana yellow, and aqua blue. “Muted decor is just not an option in Jamaica,” she says. Just because the color choices are bold, however, doesn’t mean every surface has to be drenched or that each room must feature the entire palette. Meg stuck to a simple formula: one color, in a range of tones, plus white in each room.
We Love ... that sea-green lantern sconce with a Bali-hut shape. Filled with candles, it’s like a tiki torch for the wall.
Shop the look: For similar fixtures, try Shades of Light.
Synonymous with casual island living, rattan gives this house a modernized midcentury feel that’s just as attractive now as it was in the ’60s. It’s also an organic material that, when treated with a sealant, can withstand Jamaica’s high temperatures, winds, and occasional rainstorms.
We Love ... true outdoor living rooms with all the comforts of indoor spaces.
Shop the look: Rattan furniture, Bielecky Brothers
A Little Patina
The house wouldn’t have true island character without anything indigenous and handcrafted. Because mosaic tiles are a staple of traditional Jamaican design, Meg spiced up the kitchen with a mosaic backsplash in ocean blue and palm green. “Traditional tiling might have made this kitchen fall short. These tiles give the kitchen a bohemian feel in tune with the island’s tried-and-true design.”
Shop the look: Tiles, Mosaic House
We Love ... those framed fronds! Meg floated the leaves in glass for a streamlined―and inexpensive―work of art over the sink.
“A casual island house can never have too many stripes,” says Meg. “They just bring a sense of order to every space.” In the kitchen, she balanced the intricate mosaic tile with a simple striped rug in the same color palette. Her favorite sources for affordable but chic striped rugs are Dash & Albert and Calypso St. Barth.
Meg opted for symmetrical furniture arrangements throughout the house, but most notably in the guest bedrooms, which she outfitted with matching twin beds, tables, lamps, and occasional pieces at the foot of the beds. The doubling effect gives the guest rooms flexibility for accommodating singles or couples.
We Love ... ceramic garden stools (above)―for a bit of shine inside or out.
Shop the look: Stools, Mecox Gardens. “X” benches (right), Two’s Company
Shutters, Sans Drapery
For their easy tropical style and low-maintenance appeal, Meg dressed the windows with shutters instead of drapery panels. “Curtains are tough to maintain in an island home, and we wanted to allow as much light and breezes into the house as possible,” she says. The clean lines of the plantation-style versions that she chose add to the villa’s airy, island feel.
We Love ... vaulted ceilings―their lofty heights not only add architectural interest but also facilitate cooling in open-air island pavilions.
Typically block-printed on natural linen, these patterns range from simple to elaborate―but they always have a touch of exotic flair, making them just right for island retreats. “The graphic floral patterns have a way of making upholstered headboards and pleated bed skirts look a little less buttoned-up,” says Meg. She repeats a single fabric on several surfaces in each room for streamlined decor.
Shop the look: Custom fabric, Bob Collins & Sons
It’s the monogrammed dress shirt or overnight bag for the home. In each of the bedrooms, Meg embellished simple white coverlets, shams, and bolster pillows with embroidered trim that lends a little graphic weight to the pieces by outlining their shapes. To re-create this effect, look for a local shop that specializes in embroidery.
We Love ... this canopy! The box-pleated valance and contrasting piping on the drapery ties brings the cabana mood inside to the master bedroom.