A Natural Fit for Florida

British West Indies style architecture is currently a popular architectural style for new homes here in coastal Florida. A mix of classical aesthetic principles with sunny, tropical flavor honoring natural materials, it's easy to see why this style is also good fit for a Florida waterfront home. It's no wonder why so many of our clients are choosing British West Indies style for their homes, and why we love working with the spaces inside as our canvas.

We're often asked though with some trepidation, what style of interior design goes with British West Indies architecture?
I think many people who love this style of exterior, harbor a secret fear that they would be forced to make the whole interior look like a Tommy Bahama catalog- because, what else works? Actually, when it comes to British West Indies interior design, the answer is that several styles work, because this form of architecture is actually blend of styles to itself!


Elements of a British West Indies Style Home

As a style of home, what we now refer to as "British West Indies style" is rooted in the traditional, classical architecture that the 18th and 19th Century British brought with them to the Caribbean, but with some of those ornate details relaxed and dialed back a bit, resulting in some potentially cleaner lines to work with on the interiors. From there, building and finish materials that were available in the Caribbean are showcased, namely rich woods and natural stone. Sensible building features locally used in the Caribbean are also a practical influence evident in this style, which is why alongside classical columns, we also find louvered shutters.

Here at our project, Lido Key Classic, we created classic interiors to suit the homeowner's stylistic preference and incorporate a few of her favorite items. The overall effect is bright and sunny, but classic and rooted in tradition. This project was also featured in Luxe Interiors + Design Magazine.

Interior Design Styles for British West Indies Homes

Since British West Indies architecture, in reality, is a blend of other styles and various geographic influences, I find there is a lot of leeway to create interiors that feel right and personal to our clients while also harmonizing with the home's architecture. Interior design styles we can work with in a British West Indies inspired home include:

  • Formal Traditional (embracing those classical, European roots)
  • Tropic Casual (natural and a bit weathered, with pops of saturated color from the Caribbean)
  • Coastal Contemporary (think clean lines, with a waterfront spin)
  • Any well-done mix of the above (layered and multi-faceted, always an ARI favorite choice!)

Here at our project, Lido Key Classic, our client really wanted to embrace the classical side of her BWI-style home's character. We did layer in the tropical influences as well, but especially designed a level of traditional formality into this custom home to suit the homeowner's traditional taste. The overall effect is bright and sunny, but with a rather formal, classic character. ARI provided top-to-bottom interior design for this home, from the interior architectural detailing to the furnishings. We were also able to layer in some of our client's rug collection and other favorite items.

The exterior of this home is pictured at the top of this post. This project was also featured in Luxe Interiors + Design Magazine.

As an example of a more transitional (meaning not traditional, not contemporary, but in between) space within a British West Indies style home, here is the upstairs entertaining den with pool table and bar, of the same home.

Referring back to our style list above- for this more casual, upstairs space, the homeowner was keen for us to take the interior architectural detailing from fully traditional/formal, to a bit more coastal contemporary. Compare the ceilings and cabinetry in each of the two images above, and you can see the stylistic shift. From there, we made this same shift in the furnishings as well, even incorporating a more modern leather sofa. These two living spaces, though different in interior style, are both right at home in this British West Indies style custom residence!


Here's a fun example in progress. We're wrapping up a beautiful, custom home right now with a British West Indies inspired exterior design, but a really different take on the interior. One of my favorite things about my work as a designer is the opportunity to create something unique with each project, and to be creatively inspired by what makes each client themselves unique. This client is a water-loving couple who loves to entertain, and also enjoys a bit of a nautical vibe.

Our design for the interior of this British West Indies home, as shown in these in-progress photos, showcases a beautiful abundance of wood and natural limestone throughout. The design detailing is more transitional, with some influence of that Coastal Contemporary style from our list above... but with a yacht-inspired twist, inspired by our client's love for boating. This home is shaping up to be the perfect place for our clients to enjoy their waterfront lifestyle and make fun memories with their loved ones.

The above photo shows an upstairs landing under construction, where you can see how we worked in some coastal details like the X-shape of the ceiling feature above the foyer below, and the louver details on the cerused wood bar cabinet doors.

The moral of the story? British West Indies style homes here in coastal Florida have a good range of flexibility we can work with on the interior design. No need to feel limited when buying or building this style of home. It has become one of our firm's favorite creative canvases to work with.

Thanks for visiting!