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Tropical living: how we brought island style into our living room

The Island Runaways don't only love a great Caribbean getaway or a Florida Keys weekend break; we also love island style. Maybe that's unsurprising, given that Zickie hails from from Jamaica and I'm a Florida native. Some of my favorite vacations as a little kid were on Sanibel and Long Boat Key. These days, in our house you'll find well-thumbed magazines like Coastal Living and Islands, along with the inevitable guidebooks to the Caribbean. Our addiction to islands has definitely led us to bring island style into our home. Since I know that some of you who follow our blog also love coastal decor, I thought we'd invite you on a little tour of our living room! Ready for a peek?

The first thing we see when we come in the house is our nautical dormat with a cheerful anchor. This is actually a pretty practical doormat made out of vinyl "coils" which help when the tropical rains deluge south Florida and we start tracking mud in the house. (It's made by Kikkerland, by the way.) Another thing you'll quickly notice is that we've embraced a blue and white color scheme. To us, this immediately recalls the sea.

We also have a cheerful red coatrack where we keep beach hats and dog leashes.

Above the door we hung a bright sailfish, which was made in Haiti out of oil drum metal. It adds some energy to the wall, and a hint of the Caribbean. The ocean theme also comes through with the curtains, which are made from a coral-patterned fabric. (Incidentally, this fabric is called Coral Splendor by P. Kaufman.) One thing I've discovered that is you can truly customize your house to your own, personal taste by creating your own curtains, since there are literally thousands of fabrics to choose from, especially at online stores like Don't sew? No problem! Simply use an iron and product like Stitch Witchery to make simple panel curtains. (If I can do it, believe me, you can too.)

Throw pillows like the two anchor pillows in this photo aren't a big investment to get that nautical thing going on. You can find pillows in stores like Target, online at, or if you're feeling more creative, you can make them yourself. They don't have to be expensive, and they can be changed around, depending on the season.

Zickie and I really enjoy buying art from artists, like the snappy crab by Welsh artist Alison Fennell that you see above our sofa. I spotted this print online, ordered it, and soon a package arrived from Wales. The cost was extremely reasonable, and an added bonus was that ordering from her directly put me in touch with a talented painter. (Now I follow her on Facebook.) Another piece, the watercolor with the conch shell and coral, is one I found at a thrift store in Atlanta for five dollars! There's also an antique print of Kingston Harbor that I found on Ebay and gave to Zickie for his birthday one year. Finally, there's a vintage metal boat that I bought for him one Christmas, since he works in marine engineering. No one needs to spend a fortune to discover unique pieces that will sing "beach" and "happiness" whenever you glimpse them.

In this photo above you'll see that our blue-and-white obsession led us to buy a blue and white rug. But this isn't any ordinary rug; it's an indoor/outdoor rug that can literally be hosed down if needed. (We have three dogs. Regular rugs don't survive very long at our house!) This is made by Dash & Albert, and while it's not cheap, it has outlasted previous rugs by a long time.

Zickie teases me that I'm obsessed with lighting. It's true that I get a ridiculous thrill from light fixtures and lamps, but I think in terms of vices, this one is pretty harmless. The nautical-style light on the sidetable above was from Ikea; the standing lamp in the corner of the room from Target. The shiny metal perks up the room a little.

Finally, that big wooden chaise or lounge-y type chair was something Zickie and I bought years ago, not long after we got married. It was made in Indonesia, and I like to think it exudes tropical chic. On one hand, it's not especially comfortable, but on the other, its curves and languid look make us happy. We've brought this piece with us as we've moved from place to place, and always found space for it. Plus, it inspires me to dream of traveling to Indonesia -- especially Bali!

While I'm certainly no interior designer or decorator, it's been so fun to create this environment. Some of these things have sentimental value, many were inexpensive, a few were pricier, but they somehow work all together to bring the islands into our home...even if we live on the mainland.

Thanks for joining us on this little tour. Do you have coastal, nautical, or island-inspired art and furnishings in your home? Feel free to share photos with us on Facebook. Cheers, fellow island runaways!

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