Tropical Colors Slay the Gray Away!

Published: March 11th, 2015

Tired of 50 shades of gray? So am I but, thankfully, winter is on its way out and spring is in the air! Having just returned from an exciting trip to Costa Rica, I am as ready as you are for warm weather, lush landscape and bright colors.  Costa Ricans have an expression, “Pura Vida.”  It means having the experience of a good and full life. The vivid natural colors of their tropical rainforests powerfully enhance that feeling.

The effect is no surprise.  Consider the tropical palette: the violets, reds and oranges of tropical flowers and ocean sunsets, the vivid purples, yellows and blues of butterflies, the iridescent green on hummingbird wings, the lime green of a tropical frog, the aqua blue of the sea, the exquisite rainbows following a late afternoon shower and the mossy greens of rainforest.

Costa Rica Flowers2 Costa Rica Butterflies

Keel Billed Toucan, from Central America.


Encountering these colors, our mood and spirit shift. Psychologists are learning more about the positive effects these colors and color combinations have on us.  Reds infuse us with excitement, liveliness, and even appetite; greens and blues calm us and return us to nature; oranges and yellows seem optimistic, energetic and creative; while violets and purples evoke mystery and sensuality.  Who wouldn’t find benefit in the tropical setting in which all of these colors intertwine?

When I want to design a stimulating, lively home environment, tropical colors and patterns are a great solution.  The goal is not to recreate a tropical environment, but rather to incorporate enough of its elements to generate a unique sense of vitality and well-being, lightness and calm.  The colors naturally work well together, too. For a bold effect, go ahead and saturate the walls and ceilings with a tropical color, using lighter colors and fun patterns in pillows and seating for contrast. For a more neutral environment, consider tropical colors for the accents.  These colors cross all decorating and architectural styles as well, from traditional to modern. Here are some of my favorite objects that bring tropical color into a room.

Missoni Golden Age Jewel sofa
Angela Adams Rug
Angela Adams Rugs


Shagreen Console Tale teal
Jonathan Charkes Shagreen Console Table
Haute Living Cut Vase by Bosa
Haute Living Cut Vase by Bosa

A Costa Rican sunset and cloud forest beckon us to enjoy the color and richness of life.  And that last photo… yep, that’s me zip-lining through that forest.  Pura vida!

Colors of Costa Rica