Region: North America

Coastal, Tropical, Bohemian – What’s the difference between the interior styles

What makes you connect with a space better? Is it the form, the finish, the lighting or is it the comfort, the spatial quality, and the interaction that the space offers to you? The essence of interior design for any space always lies in the people, the way they use the space, and the way the space influences their actions and existence.

It all boils down to the vibe that the design can create. The form, the finishes, or the lighting are just a medium; the right configuration of these design elements is what we need to create impactful and stimulating interior environments.

Speaking of impactful interior designs, let us have a brief look at the 3 trending interior design genres of current times: Coastal, Tropical, and Bohemian

Coastal Themed Interior Design

Opa Kipos Restaurant, Mumbai by Creative Clinic

The coastal theme is predominantly derived from the visual language of the sea, the beaches, and the coastal side culture. The idea is to design a very relaxed, soothing, and yet groovy vibe around the space. The design elements thus focus on earthy tones and cool color schemes inspired by the sea, the beaches, and the sand. Often eccentric elements in this design genre are inspired by eclectic elements like sea shells, coral, and sandy hues. 

One pivotal aspect of this design language is making the appropriate use of light, and air to compliment the whole ‘relaxed’ spatial quality. This is achieved through the use of large windows, sliding glass doors, and high ceilings. The use of mirrors is incorporated to reflect light and create a sense of openness. Metal is often used for accessories as an accent element in the decor.

Palace Beach Resort, Fujairah by Kristina Zanic Consultants

The mood board for a coastal interior design is usually dominated by white, and beige, as well as shades of blue, and green.  Moreover, when it comes to upholstery, the coastal theme is dominated by the use of neutral tones, whereas for drapery the most sought-after choice is linen.

Metaphorically, the coastal theme translates the experience of taking a casual stroll on a beautiful beach, on a cozy sunny day with a refreshing vibe of fresh air.

Bohemian Themed Interior Design

Eva Beach House, The Palm by SEGMENTS Architects

The term bohemian usually describes something carefree, free-spirited, and unapologetically unconventional. The bohemian theme thus tries to translate these values into the space through a design scheme that is a consolidation of natural finishes, vintage elements, and layered textures.

The Bohemian style draws references from a variety of cultural and aesthetic influences, thereby blending in modern and vintage design languages. For instance, heavy layering and mix-match patterns influenced by the  Persian styles, and geometries from the Southwestern design style form the highlight element here. The bohemian palette thus includes bold hues from both warm and cool color schemes like orange, purple, and pink as well as neutral earth tones like brown and beige. 

Mitts & Trays Cafe, Dubai Hills Mall by Bishop Design

The key features of a bohemian design thus include textures like fringe, tassels, and embroideries coupled with accent elements like tapestries, vintage rugs, and ornate patterns. Coming to the furniture setup, the bohemian style is dominated by vintage and antique pieces such as a vintage sofa, a mix-matched bold accent chair, or a Moroccan-style pouf. Furthermore, the common elements in bohemian-style decor and accessories include a range of natural fibers like jute, hemp, and cotton.  

Be it upholstery or draperies or wall finishes, a bohemian space is heavy on vintage textiles, globally-inspired hip decor, and indigenous elements like ikat prints, woven baskets, and a touch of biophilia.

Overall, the bohemian interior design theme is metaphoric of a free-spirited world, a world that is not invited to boundaries, something that is seamless, unconventional, and beautiful.

Tropical Themed Interior Design

Rainforest Spa, Ras Al Khaimah by Kristina Zanic Consultants

Tropical-style interiors will give you a glimpse of both coastal and bohemian styles. Tropical plants, dense biophilia, and bright colors form the core aspects of tropical interior design which is highly influenced by the visual imagery of rainforests and the Caribbean regions.

Bright colors such as green, blue, yellow, and orange dominate the tropical palette. Environment-inspired graphics featuring palm fronds, tropical birds, etc form the highlight feature of the space here. The tropical design aims at blurring the boundaries between the outside and the inside, creating a spatial vibe for leisure and relaxation. Materials such as bamboo, wicker, and thatch are most commonly used for furniture and decor in this style. Moreover, accessories and decor predominantly showcase a tropical aesthetic, such as palm trees or banana leaf prints. Bark-cloth fabric is used for upholstery and curtain fabrics with bright tropical prints, florals, flamingos, parrots, and chic patterns.

West Barn Co. Office, Durham by Ben Johnson Interiors

Natural sunlight plays a vital role in this style, thus large French windows and the use of glass is common. Tropical design is minimalistic yet dense with a mélange of textures, nature-inspired spunky wallpapers, animal artwork, decors, etc. The space is usually adorned with minute tropical hints such as jute rope-wrapped bed corners, green pillows, and the presence of large foliage green plants, and prints at various corners.

The overall tropical experience thus evokes an invigorating sense amidst the space, reminiscent of the lush green tropical forests and blue ocean.

Now that we have seen the three design styles in detail, one thing is evident, though there are multiple overlaps among these design genres, each one is different not only in terms of aesthetics but also in the way they create an impact on the spatial quality and people.

All In All

More than mere aesthetics, what matters is the ability of the design to instill happiness among the users through its functional and experiential qualities. So, be it the groovy essence of the coastal design, the chic look, and feel of the bohemian style, or the sense of refreshment that the tropical design offers, each of these design genres aim at taking the users on a reviving journey making the spaces timeless in true sense.


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