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Warm Your Home with a Taste of the Tropics
by: ARA
(ARA) - Tropical decorative motifs, such as palm trees, monkeys, pomegranates, and the pineapple that symbolizes "welcome," endure for many reasons. Not only are they intrinsically graceful in their own right, but they are also evocative of a relaxed, comfortable, leisurely way of life. Their reflection of ease and warmth has made these motifs popular for generations, and they are enjoying another home fashion renaissance now.

They coincide beautifully with the trend toward such nature-friendly materials as bamboo, wicker and rattan. They also relate to increased interest in exotic places, such as Key West and Bali. Pineapples and pomegranates add an international flavor to the traditional basket of decorative fruits. Monkeys represent a gender-neutral motif, easy to decorate with and especially appropriate for shared spaces, such as the master bedroom, where men may raise objections to an abundant use of florals.

While tropical themes are ideal for decorating a vacation home in a southern climate, they can also carry their luxurious sense of comfort to the harsh winters of the north.

Patterns in the Ellison Bay collection from Maxwell’s Piper Designs division offer an example. The collection takes its name from a beautiful inlet on the Wisconsin side of Lake Michigan -- an idyllic summer resort that is snowbound for much of the winter. While pineapples, interspersed with tropical flowers are in perfect sync with the surroundings in summer, they bring the welcome glow of summer to winter's short, dark days.

For added winter warmth, we used this pattern in red in an entryway. It is installed above a white molding at chair-rail height, and topped with its even more densely floral coordinating border. A harlequin pattern in matching red runs from the chair rail to the floor.

Classic ring-tail monkeys meander along tropical branches in a design in Maxwell's Vintage Colonial collection, which also contains matching borders and a coordinating cheetah print. All three help unify a master bedroom and adjoining dressing area, while also making each space distinctive. To produce a "positive/negative, reverse" visual effect, we combined the monkey wallpaper with a white background and a border of the same design on a black background.

This stunning pair of patterns extends along one wall into the dressing area that is otherwise wallpapered completely in the cheetah pattern. Because Maxwell collections use color families to make coordination easy and mixing and matching foolproof, this cheetah's spots are perfectly color-matched to the monkey's fur.

Such coordination also makes it easy to add true decorator distinction. For example, we covered the two shades on the sconce at the entry to the dressing area with the cheetah wallpaper print. Details like this bear the mark of professional interior design and become a signature of your great taste of the tropics.

The most dramatic of all Maxwell's tropical references is an innovative vertical wall mural, created for the Vintage Tuscany collection from Maxwell's LV Emmert Studios' division. It replicates a floor-to-ceiling window, complete with trompe l'oeil window panes and drawn shades, with an open view to a nearly life-size palm tree in a faux Italian courtyard. We know of no other pattern that can so completely infuse any room with the lush look of the tropics.

To locate a retailer in your area that carries the Vintage Colonial collection from S.A. Maxwell Co., Ellison Bay from Maxwell's Piper Designs, and Vintage Tuscany from the company's LV Emmert Studios, call (847) 932-3700 or visit

Courtesy of ARA Content

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