Decorating & Design

April 10, 2012

Tropical Style

Last spring I spent a weekend getaway at the gorgeous Gansevoort beach resort in Turks and Caicos. It is essentially a boutique hotel with an condo ownership angle, where people interested in investing can buy a unit and the hotel takes care of renting it out to vacationers when you’re not there. It’s a great concept, but I was more taken with the beachy vibe and how to bring it back home. Unfortunately, my laptop broke down recently and I lost several of my personal photos of this trip — so frustrating! But I managed to retrieve a few, plus the Gansevoort website is pretty great, too.

For vacationers, the intimate resort feels more like your own private condo than a hotel experience, with the design centred around a gorgeous turquoise blue pool complete with floating decks and palm trees.

The pool and the view to the ocean beyond is the first thing you see as you walk into the lobby. I loved the open wicker chairs and the front desk wrapped in wood siding.

Here are a few of my favourite angles of the pool. The billowy white drapes that framed the openings of the arcade beautifully. As you walked by, the breeze would blow them softly for a lovely romantic effect.

At night, the pool was illuminated with soft candle light, turning it into an oasis of sorts.

There were two restaurants on site — one by the pool and one by the beach. Both offered my kind of food: super healthy, fresh, with plenty of seafood. You can see that all of the furniture is on the streamlined, contemporary side — lots of wood and all-weather wicker paired with crisp white, a fail-safe beach look. The key to this look is the hits of greenery in the palm trees that offered pops of colour and created cool shade.

Of course the highlight of any stay in Turks is the beach. I took this shot early in the morning before the sun came up fully and it was such a pretty combo of pale pink sky and light blue water.

And this was my room, a one bedroom suite complete with a kitchen (featuring Miele appliances), dining area, lounge, full patio accessed through large sliding glass doors, laundry facilities and a standout washroom all within a spacious open-concept floor plan. The designer did a great job of making the suites feel like an extension of the beach — as if you had never left when you went back to your room. The sand-coloured floor tile mirrored the white sand beach and the turquoise accents reflected the turquoise blue water. Of course the unencumbered view also helped to magnify the connection.

This is what one of the penthouse suites looked like — same idea only more square footage and an amazing view.

The spa with its indoor/outdoor setup offered amazing treatments, but to me the best feature was the open-air outdoor gym with its ipe wood floor where incredibly challenging core fusion and yoga classes were offered. I actually picked up a series of core fusion DVDs to do the classes at home. I am addicted!

Since we were only on the island for three nights, we pretty much hunkered down at the Gansevoort. We did go down the beach one night to eat at the famous Conch Shack, where the island vibe was totally old-school authentic right down to the white painted picnic benches and conch-lined wooden walkways.

Tropical Style at Home

After my weekend getaway, I was inspired to recreate the beach look at home (and find ways to do it well). Here are a few gorgeous examples that I was able to find in the H&H archives and online:

Toronto designer Michelle Lloyd is a master of casual, beachy style. She created a tropical vibe with a white backdrop and wicker accents at her weekend home on Lake Simcoe. I love the hula skirt-style raffia umbrellas.

And here’s a peek inside the cottage, where a mid-century daybed blends seamlessly with a wicker elephant table.

Lloyd cleverly used tatami-style mats on the walls in the bathroom to create a chair-rail effect — fun, affordable and stylish. The Greek key in turquoise at the top of the curtain introduces another hit of blue in an unexpectedly urban pattern.

Somehow the beach conjures up the idea of sleeping in the sand, so the lower the bed, the better! Lloyd covered her bed in crisp, all-white linens for a fresh feel.

Turquoise Pucci towels on matching chaises make this all-white rooftop deck seem more like a mini spa — this time with a Miami vibe. I love the round mirror to conjure up a sense of the sun. Designed by Michelle Lloyd from our 2007 Bedrooms special issue.

Designer Lisa Rogers‘ spacious deck with streamlined furnishings and view to the water almost feels like you’re on a tropical getaway. Can you believe it’s actually in Etobicoke on Lake Ontario’s shoreline? The palm to the left and tall lanterns on dedicated ottomans add to the tropical vibe.

A bunkie or lakeside shed is the perfect spot for beach style. Here blue and white bamboo-patterned fabric and raffia fringed pillows add to the look. But it’s the giant marlin and the branch support that packs the most impact.

New York designer Brad Ford created a subtle beachy look with this all-white sun porch complete with suspended sofas. This reminds me of the swings you might have found on the front porches of the original plantation homes in the south, but updated with a modern spin — so much fun for kids!

Of course collections of seashells and rocks are a must.

If all else fails, paint your walls in a soft grey-blue and bring an ocean palette inside like the owners of this seaside Nova Scotia home did. Then drive it home with a blue carpet. A bit of coral goes a long way, too.

See our Seaside-Inspired Interiors photo gallery for even more beachy inspiration.

Photo credits:
1, 2, 3 (centre), 4, 5 (left), 6 (left), 10-13. Courtesy of Gansevoort Turks and Caicos
3 (left, right), 5 (right), 6 (right), 7-9. Suzanne Dimma
14-15. Courtesy of Da Conch Shack
16. House & Home Bedrooms 2007 special issue, photography by Stacey Brandford
17. House & Home January 2007 issue, photography by James Tse
18-21. House & Home July 2007 issue, photography by Stacey Brandford
22. House & Home January 2007 issue, photography by Mark Burstyn
23. Designed by Brad Ford, via Matilda Rose Interiors
24 (left). House & Home July 2008 issue, photography by Andrew Waller
24 (right). House & Home October 2008 issue, photography by Michael Graydon
25. House & Home June 2009 issue, photography by Janet Kimber