Every year, warm summer weather renews my appreciation for plantation style. Although the roots of this style go all the way back to the 17th century, when the Brits invaded the West Indies and were forced by the tropical climate to modify their decorating habits, it never looks dated. Casual conversations between design editors about large ceiling fans and indoor shutters here in the office suggest plantation-chic is on-trend again, too.
One person whom I admire and associate with this style is India Hicks, daughter of famed designer David Hicks. She has quite the pedigree — as a relative of Prince Charles, model, TV host, author, hotelier and mother — but it is her design and charity work on Harbour Island in the Bahamas that impresses me most. She and husband David Flint Wood have transformed several properties and devoted a portion of the profits to charitable causes that benefit the Bahamian community.
The Landing, for instance, is a historic property they restored into a plantation-style boutique hotel, complete with a shop selling finds from India’s travels. The decor has all of the typical plantation elements, such as dark wood furniture, four-poster beds, white linens and indoor shutters, but the pared-back aesthetic feels fresh and modern.
The bedroom and dining room in “The house on the hill,” featured in India’s first book, Island Life: Inspirational Interiors, offers a more decorated version of plantation or colonial style, but still has an airy, sunny ambiance. This tropical-inspired space mixes loads of books and straw hats on display and traditional furniture with clean white walls, shutter windows, a bird cage and palm fronds. (Fresh flowers don’t last in the heat, so you see ‘bouquets’ of large leaves instead.)
I love this plantation-style home office set-up, too. The secretary features dark caning and a trestle base. An antique printer’s tray is mounted on the wall to display a shell collection, but it would be a good solution for storing office supplies, too. A collage of photos, postcards and mementos adds character, along with the pineapple print on the white-caned club chair.
Navy and white striped upholstery adds a nautical spin to the cocktail lounge in Jamaica’s plantation style Round Hill Hotel and Villas. (This spot is regularly frequented by royalty.)
Spool-legged wood furniture tends to look heavy, but pairing it with plantation-style bare wood floors, white painted walls and simple caning or upholstered seats gives it a light, uncluttered spin.
I noticed that Pier 1 Imports has some affordable, plantation-ish bedroom pieces if you want to adapt this look to your own interior. And since this style is inspired by and evolved from its Caribbean surroundings, here is an escape photo to get you started!
Be inspired to take the plantation look outdoors, too! Browse our Tropical-Inspired Outdoor Spaces photo gallery.
1. Round Hill Hotel and Villas Resort
2. Cookie Magazine
3-5. Cookie Kinkead, for The Landing at Harbour Island
6-8. David Loftus as seen in Island Life: Inspirational Interiors by India Hicks and David Flint Wood (2003 Stewart, Tabori & Chang)
9-11. Round Hill Hotel and Villas Resort