How to Decorate with Island Style, According to an Expert
The Style of the Islands
Amanda Lindroth is the queen of tropical decorating. The beach is her boardroom; the raw island landscape, her vision wall. (You can almost imagine client presentations happening at sunset over a round of piña coladas.) It’s just her style. Even her design career began as a pretty casual endeavor. The Florida native moved to the Bahamas 25 years ago, fresh off a corporate career as public relations director for Gucci, and found herself helping friends decorate their island vacation homes. Her Nassau-based firm opened in the years following and blossomed, but even as large projects came in—Harbour Island’s historic The Dunmore hotel and Belize’s Mahogany Bay Village clubhouse among them—her low-key, laissez-faire approach never changed.
As she explains in her new book, Island Hopping, decorating in the Bahamas and the Caribbean is about using what’s at hand, making spaces comfortable, and improvising (creating lamp shades out of straw work or decoupaging atlas maps to use as “antique” artwork, for example). Watercolor chapter openers appear like pages left out in the sun and bookend images of open-air great rooms and dining porches, pastel bedrooms and inviting entryways. All are accompanied by lessons in the simple beauty of simple things. Perhaps most memorable are her art choices. They are boundless, ranging from large-scale parrot paintings and quirky flamingo dioramas to sailors’ valentines and framed straw hats. Lindroth says this easygoing ethos took root long ago: Her childhood days spent on the islands seeded a deep understanding of what it means to live in these wild and remote places, and her memories read like a playbook for tropical decorating. Talk about the ultimate beach read.
There's Beauty in the Basics
“My decorating aesthetic was vastly influenced by the simple and perfect times [of my childhood]. I learned to use what was available and handy. Pure cottons from the dressmaking department of the local Nassau fabric shops became my go-to textiles. There were bolts of seersuckers and checks and crisp cotton appliqués—all delicious, fresh, and perfect.”Woven Wall Art
Simple white cotton bedding with pin-striped embroidery is a bright and beautiful foil for the wild palm wallpaper in this Lyford Cay bedroom.
Comfort is Key to Good Design
“I want to live in, and I want my clients to live in, houses that have a cross breeze all year long. I want old-fashioned shutters, which mitigate uncomfortable light at sunrise and sunset. A house must stay cool in the hottest months and have dappled, comfortable light throughout the year.”Beauty Sleep
You Can't Go Wrong with the Classics
“My mother’s modern tropical aesthetic included all crisp white cotton slipcovered upholstery, China Seas batiks, Ward Bennett rattan-and-chrome Sled chairs, and the first Belgian wall-to-wall coir [coconut husk] carpeting that anyone had ever seen. As children we were shocked by its scratchiness, but even then I knew it was chic.”Ahead of the Curve
Lindroth found this semicircular rattan sofa on eBay, and covered the cushions in white cotton slipcovers. The hand-painted checkerboard floors make the newer home feel like its older Harbour Island neighbors.
The entryway of this Bahamian home was designed in the spirit of the iconic Lyford Cay Club. The walls are covered in a China Seas Lyford Pagoda print on grasscloth.