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Anna Layard on how to style your home with tropical decor

Anna Layard on how to style your home with tropical decor

By Aditi Gaitonde Fernandes

Tropical interiors have weathered time and boundaries and it’s safe to say this trend is an integral part of a more conscious lifestyle. Plant-parents and sustainability warriors would agree! Bringing the outdoorsy jungle/beach vibes indoors is alluring, especially now in Covid times. 

In a bid to keep palm and carry on, we caught up with art historian and ace curator Anna Layard of Layard Interiors – a swoon-worthy decor label that’s all about that island life. Read on to find her tips and tricks to nailing this popular home decor trend. 

‘Jungalow’ is here to stay. Why do you think we’re so drawn to tropical decor?

Anna Layard: It’s nostalgic of travels, freshness and carefree days. Who doesn’t want to come home to relaxing island vibes!

There’s also a huge shift to return to sustainable, ethically-sourced traditional handmade design rather than the mass-produced. Our furniture is made by skilled artisans from small family-owned businesses in Java and they use techniques that have been passed down from generation to generation.

What’s the easiest way of achieving the tropical chic look in the living room?

Anna: Tropical chic is eclectic by definition. The aim is to create an unstructured interior that tells a story with global influences and found treasures while utilising natural materials and textures.

Start with a statement piece like a signature chair: our teak and rattan Raffles Chair makes a classic statement, or our Baraka chair and sofa create a more contemporary vibe.

Tropical decor trend Layard Interiors rattan furniture

Pair with jute or water hyacinth rugs and bamboo pendant lights. Bamboo pendants tend to soften a space and also create fabulous mandala-like shadows at night. Of course, adding tropical green plants is a must.

When it comes to walls, I personally prefer an all-white backdrop and choose to bring in colour and pattern through art, soft furnishings and plants/flowers. I love the revival of wall coverings and there are some incredible options now available, which can be dramatic, and add a serious wowfactor and extra dimension to a space.

Can you share your top three no-fuss ways to nail tropical decor at home without renovating.

Anna: If you ask me, simplicity is key… always. One can switch things up without renovating using these three do-able tips.


#1: Combine a range of raw, natural materials (bamboo, stone, teak, rattan) and celebrate different textures and natural hues.

#2: Use big bold plants (monstera, fiddle-leaf ferns) and flowers (phalaenopsis orchids & heliconias) to provide a pop of colour and sculptural shapes, and bring the tropics inside.

#3: Baskets, baskets, baskets!


Walk us through an Anna Layard-approved tropical chic colour palette…

Anna: I love the modern minimalism of whites with natural earthy colours and materials combined with crisp green plants. For soft furnishings, I’m currently crushing on mustards, dusky pinks and burnt oranges in beautiful natural fibres such as cactus silk or raw linens, or for a bit of extra luxe, soft velvet.

Accessories range from beautiful white ceramics to curios in brass and copper, bone inlay or shell trays and mirrors.

Pantone’s Colour of the Year 2020 is classic blue, so pair with treasures from the ocean such as our range of faux resin shells or capiz (oyster shell) accessories/mirrors to create a great coastal tropical vibe.

Woven baskets are not just beautiful, they’re multifunctional, aren’t they?

Anna: It might not surprise you but I use baskets for everything – laundry, toys, plants, toiletries, wires, gadgets, magazines… the list goes on! They are a fantastic way to hide the clutter in a busy family environment, and also bring a great variety of textures into a room.


Each of my children has their own basket by the door for school stuff and it also makes for an easy tidy up at the end of the day! 

Lastly, tell us about your Nusantara collection that’s equal parts colonial and tropical chic.

Anna: I am an art historian and have spent the majority of my career in the visual arts. European mid-century design has always been a passion of mine, and I think it works particularly well with the tropical chic style. Inspired by Pierre Jeanneret’s designs for Chandigarh, we created the Nusantara collection.

Nusantara is the Indonesian/Malay name of Maritime Southeast Asia, which brings the beauty of teaks and rattan together with a nod to the bygone colonial era.


Go further with Layard Interiors.

First published in May 2020.

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