A tropical palette inspires outdoor Hawaiian decor.

Outdoor Decorating in a Hawaiian Theme

by Kathleen Berlew

Hawaii's balmy weather, scenic beaches and breathtaking vistas enchant millions of travelers each year. Honeymooners who have tasted Hawaii's beauty and laid-back lifestyle often long to revisit the Pacific paradise. But Hawaii is a distant vacation destination for most mainlanders. If taking your family on a Hawaiian vacation is not an option, transport your outdoor living space to the tropics with decor that conveys the sights and spirit of the islands.

Hawaiian Landscape

Fanned by ocean breezes, the landscape of Hawaii is lush with tropical flowers and vegetation. While your backyard may not have a view of the Pacific Ocean, natural elements borrowed from the islands can transform it into a tropical retreat the whole family can enjoy. Arrange pots of palms and hibiscus around the yard and on decks and patios. Bring the beach to your outdoor space by creating a sandpit where children can play and grownups can gather after dark. Mark off a flat area on the lawn and cut away the sod. Frame the area with pressure-treated timbers and fill the interior with sand. A swimming pool or water feature -- appropriately fenced for safety -- brings the element of water to your outdoor space.

Natural Materials

Rattan, bamboo, grass and wood evoke the colors and textures of island forests and traditional Hawaiian decor. When you select outdoor furnishings for a tropical theme, look for casual pieces made from natural materials. Chaises, benches, tables and chairs made from eucalyptus, rattan or bamboo supply seating and dining space while conveying a relaxed island feel. Carved wooden stools provide extra seating for little ones. A snack bar fashioned from a bamboo table and grass skirting creates a fun serving station for tropical treats. Bring additional texture to the deck, patio and tabletop with woven mats and banana leaves.

Tropical Punch

Hawaii's rich earth tones provide the backdrop for the islands' bold colors. Incorporate the shades of Pacific waves, citrus fruits and tropical blossoms into your outdoor Hawaiian decor with fabrics. Pillows and table coverings in vivid solids and floral prints add soft texture and punches of color to your outdoor space. Oversize cushions provide cozy lounging space for children. Mix prints and palettes to continue the space's carefree atmosphere. An outdoor botanical-print curtain hung on a deck offers shade and creates vertical pattern and color.

Island Accessories

Continue the Hawaiian theme with traditional and child-friendly accessories. Arrange wooden totems and Tiki figures -- available at garden centers and party-supply stores -- among the plants and shrubs in the yard. Prop colorful foam boogie boards along an exterior wall or hang real ones on a fence or deck railing. Tropical tableware captures the feel of a luau. Select Hawaiian-print plates, bowls, cups and serving pieces made of melamine or acrylic. Tiki torches are a great way to illuminate your Hawaiian-themed backyard for nighttime gatherings, but they should be stowed away safely during daytime play.

About the Author

Kathleen Berlew has been a writer and editor for more than 25 years. Her work has appeared in "Crafts 'n Things," “KidsCrafts” and “Crayola Kids” magazines. Berlew’s proofreading and editing credits include the books “A Gardener’s Craft Companion,” “Christmas with Mary Engelbreit” and “The Embroidered Home.”

Photo Credits

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