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  • Writer's pictureDiane Bobek

Interior Design Tips for Creating a Hawaiian-Style Oasis

The style of Hawaiian homes can vary greatly. One of the main reasons I love to design them is because of the rich and deep-rooted cultural elements. Not all clients request a Hawaiian-style home, but when they do, I can’t help but ask what they mean. For some, the answer comes quickly while others take more time to reflect on what it signifies to them.

Living in Hawaii is absolutely a distinct lifestyle, once that’s beyond the kitschiness of tikis and hula girls, which are often shown in movies and magazines. To truly emulate Hawaiian culture in my client’s homes, I think about the ever present casual sophistication and laid back attitude. Here’s how you can showcase Hawaiian style in your space!


One way to add dimension to your home is by incorporating textures. Adding a display of smooth Hawaiian shells, placing calabash bowls on open kitchen cabinets, or lying out rough jute rugs can keep it from looking overly uniform. Especially when using items that are locally sourced, you’ll feel like you have a piece of the islands in your home.

Local Pieces

You may not find the vast variety of Hawaiian decor and furnishing on the mainland because of the distance, but I love to use local artisans to help create traditional Hawaiian items like woodwork, wall art, traditional gourds called ipus, and of course, beautiful leis, which can be draped throughout your space. The leis are usually Hawaiian or Tahitian shell leis, Hawaiian seed leis or dried floral leis from special events like birthday parties, weddings, or special occasions. Sourcing close to home and supporting talented craftsmen helps to embrace the true Hawaiian lifestyle.


In Hawaiian culture, sharing company with your friends and family is key. I like to showcase this sense of community in homes by connecting indoor and outdoor spaces. Even rearranging your interior to create a more open concept in the common areas can allow for a natural flow of the Aloha Spirit and a seamless transition from the inside to the outside. Creating a natural passage from the living room to the kitchen, for example, can help make a space feel more open yet intimate.


From the beautiful, deep colors of the water to the luscious high mountains, it’s hard not to incorporate these elements into Hawaiian-style homes. The orange hues of the sunset and dark green shades of the tropical rainforests can be displayed through accessories like plants, pillowcases, curtains, and rugs.

With decades of experience under my belt, I’m constantly finding new muses for my creativity. Though the landscape of the islands is finite, the inspiration is truly endless. With even a single element sparking an imaginative idea, you can bring your Hawaiian-style dream home to life through the implementation of textures, locally-sources pieces, colors, community, and of course, the Aloha Spirit.

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