Caribbean Aesthetic: How to achieve it easily & cheaply

Discover how to achieve a Caribbean aesthetic on a budget! Read about a ‘tropical look’ that can be achieved easily and cheaply by sourcing from vintage and second-hand stores! 
A great thing about Caribbean inspired looks is that they allow you to use colour and lots of it if that is your preference.

Different personalities will opt for different styles and moods.  Some people live at the beach and spend every spare moment there; when they go on holidays quite often they travel to another beach – they feel more in sync with themselves surrounded by the ocean and the experiences of a life they love.

Others love the idea of the beach, the mystery of it, the aesthetic and image it projects but dislike the physical experience.  It is possible to have a number of “Caribbean looks”, you simply have to decide what type of Caribbean aesthetic you are chasing.

British colonial is more sedate but if you marry Caribbean native colours with British Colonial you can use as much colour as you like or not.

A few things to do first.

  • Measure the width and depth of the space you wish to transform.
  • Decide what items you need based on what will fit, who will use it and how many will use it. (This must be practical, there is no point spending any hard-earned money on the project if you end up with things that are either not what you “need” and not the “look” you want.)
  • Measure any windows – height and width; measure the distances from window edges to the corners right and left of them.


Shabby Caribbean chic…!
  • Paint the room out in dirty retro colours – duck egg blue, shell pink, mustard, rose pink, emerald green; or paint a feature wall in one of these colours and the remainder in white.
  • Buy an old sofa and have a removable cover made in white cotton drill – very cheap from Spotlight, easy to wash and a piece of cake to accessorise. The more simple way is buy the fabric and simply throw it over.
  • Alternatively buy an old rattan or cane sofa and leave it as is or paint it white; cover the base seating in whatever you prefer, white cotton drill perhaps and accompany it with lots of cushions. With a shabby chic look it really does not matter. Do the same with single chairs – they do not need to match.
  • Cushions: get lots of cushions for your sofa and cover them in colourful retro patterned covers; parrot, palm, surfboard prints, as well as prints with old clippers, sampan or sailing vessels. And all the flower prints – hibiscus, frangipani and bougainvillea.
  • Old reject surfboard mounted horizontally on the main wall
  • Pictures of palm trees, beaches or beach huts, fruit, hibiscus – or all of these; lots of them in second hand stores.  (Hint:  Any of the looks can handle a salon hang of whatever pictures or prints you end up with.  Buy old frames that are a mix of shapes and sizes.  Buy a couple that are ornate or elaborately carved then paint them all metallic gold, shell pink or white (any pastel shade you like) put your new pictures in and salon hang.)
  • Rattan mats
  • Old maps
  • Try and find a feature light or chandelier; plenty of rattan or reed pendant lights around too. Search out junk shops for a unique idea of your own that will work.
  • Find a couple of old model sailing boats, plus oars and glass ship’s buoys with the rope support
  • Put large-leafed plants and palms around
Shabby Caribbean Chic is the easiest because the items do not need to be pristine and most if not all can be bought from a junk shop or second-hand furniture store.


Colonial or Plantation style: We could add “Queenslander” in here too as this wonderful old style is perfect for a Caribbean inspired look!

Based in Queensland liberal eclectic is enamoured of stunning old Queenslanders and in certain towns and cities they are still very affordable depending on their size etc.  They are ideal for a Caribbean make over because the focus in the 19th and early 20th century (and still today) was on heat alleviation.  They were structured to allow cool flow through breezes courtesy of tall stumps, high ceilings and spacious veranda’s; they followed decorative designs based on Victorian England.

Here are some tips to achieve a Caribbean style in a more formal way:
  • Paint the room out in dull retro colours – duck egg blue, shell pink, mustard, rose pink, emerald green (or white) but perhaps higher up the palette scale into pastels. Paint all trims white –  architraves, skirtings etc
  • Try and obtain a full cane suite and have it professionally recovered, otherwise choose a key statement piece and build around it according to your needs.
  • Buy an old rattan, oak or teak day bed with a wooden base
  • Leather trunk
  • Four poster bed with lots of white linens in different textures.
  • Slatted, rattan or Asian inspired room dividers
  • Polished wooden floors (If the floor is not wooden and can’t be changed source an old, large more traditional rug with one of two of your main colours in it.)
  • Shuttered windows or wooden blinds in white. Natural wooden blinds would also work; choose the shade colour based on your other pieces, how formal you want it (dark is more formal than light) or the base colours you are using.
  • Although salon hangs would work in this scenario they need to be a bit more formal and in good condition; a beachy look would not be appropriate; frames in various sizes would need to be in natural wood in assorted colours.



THE QUEENSLANDER: “The Australian tropical house conjures a vision of a large sprawling timber structure on stumps with an extensive, deep, shaded verandah accessed via French doors. The roof is iron and the pitch is steep. A bougainvillaea, a mango tree, and or a frangipani adorn the front garden of the house.

The primary reason for the development of the Queenslander was the climate. The long hot summer days often ended with a torrential downpour. A house with wide verandahs that provided shelter from these conditions was essential. The importance of the verandahs as an architectural element in a tropical Australian house cannot be underestimated because it is one area which lent itself to an informal semi-outdoor lifestyle suited to the climate. The verandah became an integral part of every house and their use an essential part of the Australian way of life. The cool space framed with white posts, decorative balustrades and brackets became a symbol of the tropical house as an essential link between the indoors and the outdoors…Being built on stumps up off the ground allows air to pass under the home…These qualities have also given these houses a peculiarly Australian form of vernacular character not found elsewhere in the world.

The Queenslander is an important part of Australia’s cultural heritage.”

Eclectic Caribbean Style: A bit of everything that uniquely describes “you”!
An eclectic Caribbean look is so easy to achieve as there are no rules. See above for foundation ideas.

The danger with achieving an eclectic look is dispersing the objects or elements too much so that it ends up lacking impact. Once you have colours and furniture sorted based on what image you wish to project, place the larger pieces (sofa, side board, day bed) first and create tableaus around them so that each area has a discreet style of its own while contributing to your overall Caribbean look.  The ideas will all represent you, but if you have diverse items of furniture and you want to create a cohesive look it is better to curate them within defined areas which then relate thematically to each other.

Maybe something like this!

On one wall place your dark wooden daybed with Asian inspired red, blue and mustard cover print; choose a sizable picture or two smaller ones (frames to match the base of the daybed) and a couple of different sized cushions that enhance it; if it is a large room place a smallish rug in front of it. Make sure the space is usable; a daybed is for lying on thus it would need a little table and lamp or a tall standard lamp positioned in the most practical place for optimum light.  Park a large palm or Monstera Deliciosa in a neutral coloured pot in the corner between the two walls.

Now move onto your next area – adjacent back wall.  Here place the cane sofa with a large rug in front of it; put your gold framed salon hang above it, the oak side tables and loads of cushions with your choice of fabrics;  put the “Balinese” coffee table on the rug , plus a little plant and lots of quality magasines.  Place lamps on the oak side tables.

 A picture perfect eclectic Caribbean aesthetic!





Antique Centre Paddington

Hobohemia Paddington

Latrobe Terrace Paddington

Rockhampton: House of Treasures:

Mackay: Kitten Vintage:

Townsville: Ross McCartins:

Local Government Townsville:

Cairns: Crackerbox Palace:

The Family Love Store:

The Rattan Collective:

Fabric Traders:

Chart and Map Shop:

Miss Amara:

National Geographic Australia:

Weylandts Lighting:

Warwicks Fabric:


Tahoe Dream Interiors:

Coworker / Plaisirdeden:




Chapter Chicks:

Translate »




We look forward to sharing our latest news and tips with you.