Botanical prints matched with modern design is all the rage according to Architectural Digest, Vogue and The Wall Street Journal. It's an updated take on the 1930s and 1940s Hollywood Regency style, and anyone can get the look. Decorators Dorothy Draper and Don Loper led the way with tropical prints, transforming Beverly Hills mansions into glamorous living spaces. Loper's Martinique banana leaf motif for example, made its debut in 1942 on the walls of the Fountain Coffee Room at the Beverly Hills Hotel—but now those patterns can be seen on everything from lampshades to high fashion dresses.
If you're eager to get in on the fun, a bathroom might be a good place to start, as its small size lends itself to trying bright and bold ideas with a more contemporary vibe. Here are a few tips to get you started:
1. Pair big prints with solid colors
Don Loper's Fountain Coffee Room pairs the Martinique banana leaf motif with dark green solid paneling on the walls and black marble countertops. But you don't have to stick with a similar color: A bright red cabinet or checker tile floors will anchor the bustle of the leaf print and keep the playfulness of the room going.
2. Mix tropicals with textures
Not only do big prints look great with bright, solid colors, it also creates interest on top of your bathroom hardware. Think of contrasting modern, architectural metal hardware and faucets with the more curvilinear shapes of palm fronds or tropical flowers—your guests will feel as though they're at a stylish resort. Also consider the range of metal finishes now available for the bathroom sink and shower—a warmer-toned brass fixture might feel more inviting in this particular setting.
3. Curate, Curate, Curate
In a recent Vogue.com article, decorator Young Huh mentions the importance of keeping a home that feels curated and personal. In a bathroom, this could mean adding a favorite framed print or an antique mirror with interesting gilding.
4. Keep it simple
Tropical prints aren't simple, but that doesn't mean that other aspects of your bathroom need to be busy. Hand towels, the bath rug, and even the shower curtain print, can be kept to simple, muted geometric patterns that work with the other colors within the space. Simple lines, such as a stripe pattern, work to merge the more lively areas, and help draw the eye around the room.
5. Consider the planted bath
If you have some natural lighting within your bathroom, consider adding a pot or two of dendrobium orchids, which will relish the high moisture of a bathroom and will add to the island vibe. No natural light? No worries—decorator Amanda Lindroth recently told Architectural Digest that one of her secrets to creating a tropical-feeling room is to add framed palm leaves. Consider painting a frame orange, pink or red to contrast with the green of the print and the leaf, and to keep the room bright and fun.