Tropical Decor in Your New Florida Home: 3 Decorating Cliches to Avoid

Tropical decor in Florida isn’t all rattan and bright floral prints. Learn how to lighten up the look of your home without resorting to decorating cliches, making it airy and attractive with your own personal touches.

If you’re like most new Florida residents, you probably visited the state a number of times before deciding to make it your home. If, like a great many visitors, you first rented a condo here, you’ve seen the classic tropical decor style known as “Cliche Florida.” This style takes every touchstone of tropical decor and throws it all together in an over the top mash up. When tourists leave the ice and snow of northern states, landlords want them to know they’re in a tropical paradise, and every part of their decorating scheme screams “Florida!”

Now that you have made the Jacksonville area your home, you’ll see that some of the decor that’s common in Florida makes perfect sense. Dark walls and heavy woods just don’t feel right in the light and airy environment. But when it comes to decorating your new home, this doesn’t mean you have to go overboard with a tropical beach theme. Some styles can be toned down with a more subtle approach to give your home a lighter feel without it looking like tourist rental property.

Floral Upholstery

Look in any rental home in the state and you’ll probably find living room furniture and bedspreads covered in bold, bright floral prints. A little goes a long way with these prints, and they can overwhelm a room in very little time. While dark leather and heavy corduroy fabric have little place in a Jacksonville decorating scheme, you don’t need to go to the other end of the spectrum to lighten up the feel. Concentrate on lighter fabrics, such as canvas duck and light denim, and keep the base fabric a solid color. Reserve the bright prints for accent pillows, artwork and, of course, your patio furniture.


Heavy carved wood pieces look out of place with breezy sheer curtains and pastel colors, so the classic response to this is rattan furniture. True, rattan is light and gives the room a definite tropical feel, but even the most expensive pieces can look like you brought the outdoor furniture indoors. Rattan furniture has a place in modern tropical decor, but it works best in accent pieces. Use it on covered porches, in pool enclosures, or even in your bathroom. Keep the look in your living room and dining room light by focusing on lighter woods, such as pine or maple.

Slick Surfaces

Ceramic tile floors, glass tables, and expanses of windows all combine to give Florida homes a cool and airy feeling, but all those slick surfaces can combine to make a room feel cold and uncomfortable. A shiny room full of hard edges can look fabulous in a shelter magazine, but it isn’t very cozy to live in. Moderate all those shiny pieces by giving an eclectic look to your rooms. Mix in furniture with thick cushions, hang framed fabric on the wall instead of glass-covered photographs, and use large throw rugs to accent seating areas in your home.

Florida has a decorating style all its own, and you’ll want to add a flavor of the environment to your new home. But turn the tired cliches into something new and exciting by using only the flavor of their style and adding your own personal flair.


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  1. chi chi
    August 15, 2013

    Thank you great advice. Just getting ready to decorate in FL. Perfect timing

  2. Shelley
    July 24, 2014

    thanks for the info. Hubby & I are doing exactly what you said..deciding to move to FL after living in the north east our whole lives. I will print this & keep it in my “Florida Folder”..thanks

  3. home decorators jacksonville fl | My Blog
    December 13, 2014

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  4. Brenda
    September 20, 2015

    Thank you for this article. I am a new Florida property owner getting ready to remodel, and this is the first commonsense article I found to help me figure out the Florida decorating touch without being too cliche. Everything I have seen says just about any kitchen style goes, but there are definitely area-specific trends too. A little does go a long way, but I definitely want to keep the Florida fee. My builder has clued me in about wallpaper actually being a “thing” “Up North.” I am from up north, but don’t particularly care for it myself. It has to go. However, I am refusing to give up the 3 left-over louvre wood closet doors in the house and the nod to the Spanish colonial arches in the front of the house. Ahem. I think it is important to hold on to some of the old Florida charm.


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