Tropicalcore: The Design Style To Live In Vacation Mode Everyday

Tropicalcore is one of the newest décor trends currently making waves, blending maximalist traits with an overall tropical island vibe. It's marked by bright, bold, and beachy sunset-inspired hues, jungle-ified and tropical influences, larger-than-life greenery, and, of course, a space infused with the slow-paced island lifestyle. Followers of the tropicalcore movement often pull inspiration from kitsch tiki culture to vintage Polynesia, Lisa Frank to mermaids, and even 1970s tropical abstract themes. 

The best part of the tropicalcore design is that you can go as minimal or extravagant as you'd like. Using one main color throughout, as well as living amongst an assortment of tropical flowers and foliage, are what help keep things cohesive. Followers of this movement aren't afraid of patterns and textures, even if they seem to clash. In fact, not being afraid to embrace bold and somewhat busy prints is a highlight of this particular style. The main goal of tropicalcore is to transform your living space into your own personal retreat that transports you to an island paradise getaway, without having to use vacation time or travel miles.

Embrace patterns

Patterns and prints can get busy and overwhelming pretty quickly, especially if you're not methodical about your choices. This is one of the aspects of tropicialcore that can be a bit daunting, but when embracing the design concept, you can't be afraid to live dangerously. Animal prints, jungle-esque themes, and oceanic influences are all fair game. Because it's easy for a room to be taken over by too much, though, and if you're a bit apprehensive about unintentionally turning your space into a room showcasing someone's trophy animal pelts, just keep it simple and start small with accent pieces.

For instance, an area rug featuring hibiscus and/or palm fronds, accent pillows decked out with monstera leaves, or natural wooden or bamboo window coverings are all sweet little tropicalcore additions that won't engulf your space. You can also pair your patterned pillows with rattan or bamboo furniture to add a nice vintage feel, or try turning an empty wall into a focal point by applying mural wallpaper featuring palms or other another tropical-inspired theme.

Stick with one theme

Maximalism calls for embracing the "just add more" concept, with a focus on your own personal style. Tropicalcore is somewhat similar, in that there's (almost) no such thing as too much. However, what deviates this design movement from its predecessor is that tropicalcore focuses on a single core theme. Starting off with a simple focal point is one of the most important markers in tropicalcore because it's easy to get bogged down in the too-much philosophy.

To compare, a maximalism room might focus on strange items found at the beach, mixed with a side of ocean-inspired Lisa Frank patterns, and a dash of mermaidcore-infused lighting. The color schemes that each of these three share would be the unifying factor, ultimately making the three standalone topics blend cohesively together. And of course, there would be a lot of tchotchkes (accent pieces), too.

With tropicalcore, however, there's just one chosen theme to build around. Starting with a firm foundation in tropicalcore also helps you decide on what focal pieces, accents, colors, textures, and furniture you might want to incorporate down the line. It'll prevent you from being overwhelmed with too much — too much color, contrasting patterns, personal touches, etc.

Bring nature inside

Plants infuse life and energy into your space (and are also just nice to look at). When it comes to choosing greenery for your tropicalcore room design, focus on vines, naturally leggy succulents, air plants, and ornamentals with big leaves. Plants create a comforting environment and help soothe an anxious mind, which is why you need to pay close attention to how and where you position them. Strategic placement can help create a cozy, yet vibrant, vacation-like island vibe that will help melt your stress away. Tuck large palm fronds in corners to draw your eye in and around (and hide unsightly cords), and strategically arrange drapey creepers on bookshelves, allowing their tendrils to naturally drop toward the ground. For a bit of color, incorporate philodendrons, flowering air plants, bromeliads, or orchids.

Another way to go tropicalcore? Try upcycling pieces of treated driftwood to make tropical rustic-inspired plant hangers. While you're at it, don't forget to make use of jute and macramé for your hanging plant party, too. Further, consider weaving in other elements from the land and sea, like shells, interesting and/or colorful rocks, beach glass, and other unique shoreline oddities.

Be aware of your colors

Just like with choosing patterns, it can be a bit scary to pick out colors. And in tropicalcore, it's important to have a good balance between light and dark, so try to use colors in a representational way. It might take a bit of planning, but when you're picking out your tropical hues, try to pull from a core piece of furniture or accent color first, keeping your overall theme in your mind's eye. This core color will also act as the foundational hue that you'll be branching off from. It'll also allow you to pair light, dark, and contrasting colors accordingly. This is important because if you don't keep a common color throughout, things can begin to get a bit murky.

You'll want to take inspiration from your personal tropicalcore theme. For example, a sunset would highlight blues, purples, yellows, oranges, and reds. If you want to get creative, add a bright green accent element, which could represent the legendary green flash. Or, if you're sticking with a seaside cabana vibe, warm yellows, golds, and earthy tones would represent the sandy beach, while bright blues and a dash of bright white would stand in for the ocean and sky.

Don't be afraid to go kitsch

Going kitsch is incredibly daring because if things don't flow together, it can easily end up looking like a themed hotel. But if you do it right, a vintage-inspired tropicalcore room can look absolutely stunning. Remember, you don't have to 100% dedicate your space to all things vintage tiki bar or Polynesian culture, either. Not everyone has the space for a full-fledged remodel. So unless you've come up with a master design plan for the ultimate tiki room, it's best to start off small. Remember that part of embracing this design aesthetic is immersing yourself in your own tropicalcore world, so don't be afraid to bring a bit of fun into your area.

Like all things tropicalcore, a little can go a long way. Starting off small allows you to figure out what you like and don't like when it comes to kitschy island décor. Big and bold wall art, puffer fish lanterns, vintage Hawaiiana statues, rainbow cheetah print lampshades, and rattan mirrors all can create a welcoming and intriguing environment that simultaneously transports you to an island paradise far, far away. As long as it's done cohesively and tactfully, don't be afraid to embrace the odd, unusual, and sometimes taboo pieces that are part of the tropicalcore world.