Want something that says island flair for your home decor? Choosing spunky woven furniture will keep your tropical look nice and modern

Since we live in Hawaii, decorating our homes in island style is not only easy, it’s sometimes expected. But that doesn’t have to mean a lot of palm tree prints. Whether I’m designing for myself or a client, my preference is to lean toward “modern island,” and the easiest way I know to incorporate that flair is to look for a modern weave.

Why? Woven images are reminiscent of lauhala mats, baskets and other tropical implements. This texture has been used in island-style furniture for years. The reason it’s so timeless and works in modern interiors is because it’s geometric. It’s not over-the-top tropical, it’s more textural than a floral print, and since bigger weaves look more casual, you can choose smaller ones for a more refined look.


Here are some examples I’ve pulled from my showroom, Cathy’s Marketplace. They’re meant to help you think a bit outside the box. Let’s start with this coffee table. The tray that sits on top is in a brushed aluminum, so it screams modern. But the beautiful tight weave points in an island direction. All you need is a glass vase and some greenery to accentuate it, and placed on your existing island-style rug or next to your island-style furniture, voila — you have an instant update.

Next, this McGuire full-sized bed has a headboard and footboard in a woven material. So why doesn’t it look like Tommy Bahama? It’s the clean lines and geometric shapes, both characteristics of modern decor. This sassy blending helps give McGuire pieces timeless appeal.

And finally, veering from weaves a little bit, you can go modern island with geometric shapes and organic tropical materials. This area rug of interconnected ovals is made of natural wood that’s lightly stained and polished. It creates an instant island foundation for a space with a funky, fresh perspective.

Are you getting the general idea? Now I’ve got some practical tips for you.

Tip 1. You can mix your weaves.


All-weather wicker is all the rage in outdoor finishes and has been for a while. But you know me, I hate matchy-matchy! If you’re going to get a seven-piece set, consider breaking it up with a different coffee table or side table. You can also mix dark and light colors, or smaller and larger weaves. The woven textures will make the pieces look tied together, but not as if you bought them in one pack.

Tip 2. Don’t overlook window treatments.

The more loosely woven your shades or curtains, the more tropical and casual they’ll look. A very thin weave can feel sleek and modern but still have an island base.

Tip 3. Accessories can go a long way.

Look for baskets and inexpensive matting for picture frames. To add an eclectic, updated look to your island decor, add some silver candlesticks and glass elements.

The other great thing about weaves? They can work in modern, Asian or any sort of eclectic decor. So go ahead and give it a try. Go to any discount store and look at the baskets. Notice the detailing in the weave. Pick out what you think looks more modern, and you’re already on your way.


Cathy Lee is president and designer of Cathy Lee Style and Cathy’s Marketplace, a furniture and accessories showroom with design services at 1110 University Ave. She recently opened reStyle Hawaii, an affordable, style-conscious consignment warehouse with upholstering and repurposing services at 420 Keawe St. To find out more, go to www.cathyleestyle.com.