In the premier episode of this seasons Home Made Simple.com on OWN, this Saturday, Nov. 3, 9am / 8ct, I was faced with a designer’s recurring challenge – how to design a room around a theme. These particular clients had honeymooned in the Bahamas and were looking to create a Caribbean themed master-bedroom in their Los Angeles home. Of course, the first thing that goes careening through my mind is oversized palm leaf wall paper, a riot of pastels, large paper mache parrots hanging from the ceiling, all to the tune of a steel drum band…..then I exhaled.
The route to a theme room is always paved with good intentions, but we all know where that leads…to a room that you’ll be tired of in less time then it took you to loose your vacation tan line. A good rule of thumb is to reserve theme rooms for rooms you know you’ll be redecorating in the next 5 years – nurseries and kids rooms are a great example. Otherwise, we need to figure out how to create something special that will also have some longevity.
The trick with a theme room is to see beyond the physical attributes of the theme, into what the theme represents. With this couple I started to chat with them in a little more depth about exactly what they were trying to bring into their home from their honeymoon. The first answers were around the physical elements of the trip and their hotel – the colors, the patterns, the shapes. But, with a little more prodding about what they liked about those elements, other answers started to come up…. the sense of calm and relaxation, knowing the water was close by, the privacy and intimacy of their suite, the warmth of sun. And there we have it – no parrots or palm trees – they were looking for a private, calm, peaceful sanctuary that evoked the islands – that I can work with!
So, I used one pastel, yellow, and mellowed it to a really lovely tone that would accept other accent colors. I softened the windows by adding top mounted shutters (who’s to say Montego Bay isn’t outside), added paneling on the headboard wall to add warmth and a hint of old colonial structures. Adding a few other elements that bring in the island feel – a rattan ceiling fan, turned wood bedside lamps, a driftwood sculpture above the bed – complete the look. When you’re in the room, you feel you could be at a luxury Caribbean hotel, but it doesn’t scream island living. In 5 years, the ceiling fan could be changed or the driftwood replaced with a photograph to easily create an entirely different look – or perhaps the couple will just extend their stay on the islands.