What is Hawaiian Home Decor?

Hawaiian home decor brings the beauty of Hawaii indoors with bright earthy colors reflecting the glistening blue waters, the lush green tropical plants, the vibrant aroma-filled flowers, and the fresh clean air. From Koa wood furniture to seashells to floral printed pillows – some purposeful home decor choices can bring the magnificence of Hawaii and its vibrant culture and history into the rooms of your home.


Photo Credit: Leslie Bovaird, A House is Built

Whether you just moved into your home in the Hawaiian Islands or whether you are dreaming of having a house in Hawaii from a faraway land, these top Hawaiian home decor ideas will help to enhance your living space to make you feel like you are relaxing in Hawaii’s picturesque beauty.

Curate island-themed home decor with different hues of ocean blue, mountain green, or sunny yellows and oranges.

Stand in the middle of a room and dream of your favorite Hawaiian place that the room evokes. Is it Kailua beach when the sun rises over the horizon, meeting the clear blue water and the soft sand? Does the room more feel like the lush tropical rainforests of Tantalus, high above the Honolulu city lights? Or is the room inspiring bright colors of orange and yellow from a hot Hawaii summer day? Decide the general feel you want the room to evoke and then select specific colors, patterns, and textiles to achieve the Hawaii home look.

For an ocean-themed room, choose calm blues to paint walls and add beach-inspired patterns and decorative items. Modern homes typically have streamlined appearances, but Hawaiian home decor evokes the intricacies of Hawaii’s natural environment. For a beach-themed room, choose weathered woods, sea life prints, glass art, and shells. Beach pieces can be added as centerpieces on the coffee table, like a rug in the middle of the living room, or as weathered wood for the base of a lamp. Simple beach items can make a big difference to define a room’s motif.

If you want to feel like you are hiking through Hawaii’s lush forests, add an array of greens. Bring in potted plants of orchids, anthuriums, or other leafy greens. Select patterns of leaves with bright bursts of flowers for blankets and pillows. For furnishings, choose natural wood for bed frames, dressers, or chairs. Popular Hawaii woods include koa, mango, monkeypod, ohia, and coconut, and many local woodworkers can create custom furniture pieces to enhance your space. Each tree produces a unique pattern, and furniture made of native Hawaiian woods can add warmth and character to your home. 

Do you want to feel the warmth of the Hawaii sun while sitting in a room? Choose light yellows or oranges to paint the walls. Adding island scented candles or brightly colored pillows and blankets can also bring in a touch of warmth. Seashells or pineapple lamps can also help to create a warm, upbeat Hawaii vibe in a room.

Once you have chosen your basic color schemes and the aura of the Hawaiian Islands you are trying to evoke, you can systematically go through different Hawaiian décor ideas and items to create your desired space.

Start small with island-inspired pillows and blankets.

Polynesian home decor is easy to incorporate with patterns that feature flowers and plants or other island scenes. Whether floral draperies, throw pillows with plant patterns, blankets with pineapple prints, or pictures of palm trees on towels, adding simple tapestries and textiles can easily enhance a space. 

If you live in Hawaii, stop by a local craft fair to pick up some handmade Hawaii textiles. Quilts are frequently found at craft fairs. Quilting in Hawaii has a long history, dating back to the 1800s when early missionaries to Hawaii taught the Native Hawaiian women the art of quilting. Once made with bark and dyes from native plants, Hawaiian quilts evolved to use cotton and to feature symmetrical designs – whether floral outlines or even the Hawaiian Coat of Arms. Also found at many local craft fairs are pillowcases with prints of surfers or flowers that can easily add flares of Hawaiian home decor to any room. 

Add Hawaiian wall decor. 

Hawaiian wall art is a quick way to add a Hawaii vibe to any room. With the right piece of art hanging in the proper place, you can transform a room into a tropical paradise. 

Hawaii is known for its local artists who use an array of mediums to create pieces that radiate Hawaii’s vibrant scenes. Think about the room you are decorating and the Hawaii motif you are trying to create. Then stop at local shops or craft fairs, or even shop online to find painted pieces, prints, or even wood creations to decorate your walls. 

Bring out the rattan furniture and other nature-inspired pieces – like indoor plants.

Furniture or decorative items made of natural wood, like bamboos and reeds, can add texture and visual contrast to a space. Window shades made of woven wood or plantation shutters can also enhance the earthy vibe on the inside. 

Photo Credit: Leslie Bovaird, A House is Built

Do not forget to add plants to bring Hawaii nature inside. Grow live plants, whether easy-to-care-for succulents or pathos plants that will add a nice touch above cabinets or hanging from ceilings. Fill vases with fresh Hawaii flowers on a weekly basis to add a touch of Hawaiian home decor to any space. If you live in Hawaii, you might be able to go outside to your garden to chop some popular Hawaii plants, such as anthurium, birds of paradise, plumeria, red ginger, or heliconia, and then add those unique Hawaiian flowers to vases throughout your home.

Optimize the view to the outdoors with windows.

If you have a home in Hawaii, use the incredible Hawaiian views through windows to enhance your indoor space. Windows can add a light and airy feel. Also, many Hawaii houses have views of Hawaii’s towering mountain ranges, vast Pacific Ocean, or even colorful gardens. Windows can serve as effortless frames to Hawaii’s beauty in each room. 

Windows also let in Hawaii’s ocean breezes or trade winds, acting as natural air conditioners, and lowering electricity bills for lighting or AC.

To show off the beautiful views through windows, speak with a general contractor about adding more windows to your rooms. Some window addition ideas include adding large windows above kitchen sinks and stoves instead of a backsplash. If your home has a somewhat private lot without proximity to neighbors, add windows to showers to create luxurious spa experiences with incredible views of Hawaii’s nature. Clear skylights can also let light in and allow incredible views of the skies and stars. A professional designer or contractor can give more ideas about window upgrades to enhance your space.

When choosing window coverings, stick to sheer curtains or simple woven shades that line the inner part of the windows – if you can sacrifice the privacy. Sheer curtains and simple window shades help to diffuse natural light through your rooms and also keep uncluttered views through the windows. If you need extra privacy, choose neutral colors, like beiges, greens, or blues, and hang the drapes outside the window frame to create the appearance of longer walls and windows.

Live like the Ali‘i (Hawaiian royalty) with traditional Hawaiian decor.

While most of us will try to add Hawaiian home decor to our modern spaces, it is always important to reflect on the traditional decor of Hawaiian homes of the past, which can serve to inspire our modern spaces. 

For hundreds of years, the traditional Hawaiian hale, or house, made of thatched grass or leaves was the predominant architectural feature in the Hawaiian Islands. Hale were constructed with precise notching, thatching, and lashing techniques to create A-frame structures where families would rest inside. A variety of hale in a traditional Hawaiian village would serve different purposes, such as canoe (wa‘a) storage, cooking (imu), eating, sleeping (noa), or more. While few hale are found on the islands today, recent building code changes to permit hale and a reviving of hale builders, led by a few kumu (teachers), have begun to bring back the art of building hale in the islands. 

When plantations became predominant in the Hawaiian Islands, the traditional Hawaiian hale made of natural materials began to be replaced with framed houses, mostly constructed in New England building styles. As more residential homes were built in the 20th century in Hawaii on sugarcane, pineapple, and rice plantations, this style became known as Hawaiian plantation architecture. Hawaii plantation homes typically had low wide-hipped roofs, exposed beams, and large covered lanais that allowed workers and plantation managers to enjoy the natural Hawaiian environment. 

Today, the natural materials from the traditional Hawaiian hale as well as the plantation-style homes help to create the Hawaiian home decor motif. Natural woods, covered outdoor areas, plant textile patterns, and bright light are some of the features that meld elements of the traditional Hawaiian homes into the modern Hawaii homes of today.

Play the music of the islands and relax in your island-inspired space.

After adding some of these Hawaiian home décor ideas to your rooms, sit down amongst your cozy Hawaii-inspired cushions with a mai tai in hand and play some relaxing Hawaiian music. The ambiance of beautiful Hawaii is not only found in the paints, paintings, and items you choose to outfit your home, but also in the overall aloha vibe.