How to Decorate British Colonial Style

Written by trish jackson
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How to Decorate British Colonial Style
Choose dark mahogany wooden furniture. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

British Colonial decorating originated from the time when Britain colonised a number of foreign tropical countries. The designs were influenced by the warm weather and local traditions of a diverse range of countries, ranging from China, India, and the surrounding islands, to Africa and Caribbean islands. Furnishing materials were made up of hardwoods and reeds, while colours were lighter to attract coolness and reflect bright, exotic fauna and flora designs.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Paint
  • Furnishings
  • Accessories

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  1. 1

    Paint the walls. British Colonial decor generally calls for light-coloured walls. Alternatively, the Caribbean island influence allows for outrageously bright walls. Use paint with a light reflective value (LRV) of 40 per cent or more. It does not necessarily have to be white -- cool pastel blues and greens go well with the dark wood furniture. Frame paintings depicting flowers, monkeys, exotic birds and palm trees with dark wood. Tapestry or reed wall hangings fit the theme. Ideally, the floors should be dark wood.

  2. 2

    Buy heavy dark wood furniture for your dining and living areas; it should have ball-and-claw carved feet and be upholstered with stripes or light floral or animal designs. Mahogany was the most popular hardwood used in colonial times. Alternatively, stain your existing wooden furniture dark. Choose brown leather living room chairs and sofas and scatter with bright silk-covered cushions. Hang light, flowing drapes with bright designs. Use carved wooden lamps with plain manila shades and crystal vases filled with bright flowers.

  3. 3

    Use bamboo, cane or rattan furnishings for bedrooms, bathrooms and patios. Have a rattan headboard on the beds, wicker nightstands, and thick cotton bedspreads brightened with exotic designs and matching drapes. Place a rough wooden or rattan trunk at the foot of the bed. Scatter woven sisal and oriental rugs on the floors. Frame pictures with cane. Arrange leather-bound books on heavy wooden bookshelves.

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