12 Ways to Infuse Your Home with Island Style
Veteran tastemaker Amanda Lindroth moved to the Bahamas full-time nearly two decades ago, and her firm has since designed projects there ranging from colonial bungalows to a top-to-bottom redo of the venerable 1960s Dunmore Beach Club.
“When I decorate houses here, I look for vintage pieces with a timeless quality,” she says. “Aged furniture and local curiosities feel so right in places like Harbour Island and St. Barts, both of which still very much retain the character of true, old-fashioned settlements.” And by their very nature, she adds, these locales are remote, making them less susceptible to trends and more reliant on what’s accessible. “On an island, you often make do with what is around you, which gives rooms a strong sense of place.”
In this Harbour Island home she designed with architect Maria de la Guardia, Lindroth shares her tips on how to replicate her cool and collected island look—no matter where you live.
1. Live life outside.
Islanders tend to view verandas as primary rooms, says Lindroth, so deep double porches are a hallmark of Caribbean architecture.
2. You can never have too much bamboo and rattan.
“Vintage pieces are especially organic and sculptural, and always appropriate in island homes. When I see things that grab me, like the sweet little rattan settees, long woven mirrors, and pendant light, I snap them up. I collect them, I paint some, I leave some as-is, I upholster them, I add cushions. Remember, you will always find a place for timeless pieces.”
3. R&R is important, so make room for it.
“Islands are leisurely places, so be sure and reflect that ideal. I envisioned this front porch like a Slim Aarons photo—stylish and fun. Find architecturally interesting pieces, like this vintage pagoda and Ficks Reed chairs, then soften them with draperies and greenery.”
4. Island kitchens have more personality.
“Mahogany countertops give the kitchen age, and fit in better than the sleekness of stone. I also try to work in a few fun elements to add character, like the palm wallpaper and wicker elephants, to balance the sheen of the appliances.”
5. Curiosities cabinets are back “in” again.
“On the beach, you find all sorts of treasures, so I liked the idea of a dining table that doubles as an artsy display cabinet—like those you’d see in Victorian times. We had this one made locally and filled it with sand, shells, and mini straw hats.”
6. Barbados’s signature green is a necessity.
“This shade feels happy and appropriate against the white stucco. It’s inspired by a legacy color of mid-20th-century designer Oliver Messel, long known as ‘Mr. Barbados.’ Benjamin Moore’s Southfield Green matches it quite well.”
7. Don’t be afraid of using ebony furniture.
“It may seem counterintuitive to island decor, but I find that a good piece of black furniture adds much-needed gravitas, particularly in rooms with lots of white, breezy elements. And it’s a great way to update rattan and wicker.”
8. Island gems hide in unexpected places.
“I found these cute mini peacock chairs at a discount superstore in Nassau. We cleared out their whole shelf!”
9. Decorate walls with a little local flavor.
“I like to find different styles of maps and hang them throughout the house. I spotted these watercolors of Elbow Cay, Eleuthera, and Harbour Island in a local shop and added mats in complementary colors.” Charming wallpaper gives a room a special, tucked-away feel.”
10. Bedrooms deserve star treatment.
“They embody relaxation, so I design bedrooms with resort-quality details: The bedding needs to be crisp and luxurious.
11. Give yourself permission to play.
“I love the idea of having a splash of the unexpected. This ‘sofa’ is actually crafted of concrete and painted with green stripes. We needed something that marked the boundary of the pool area. Landscaping was the obvious answer, and I thought, ‘Wait, let’s do something more fun!’.
12. Let nature be your guide.
Pristine shorelines like this one on Harbour Island inspire an unfussy, “elemental” approach to design, Lindroth says.