International design styles that are perfect for our Darwin homes - image via Posh Pennies

International design styles that are perfect for our Darwin homes

A Darwin girl at heart and at home, most of my working life as an interior designer has been spent overseas in exotic locations such as London, the Middle East, and Asia before landing back at home here in Australia. It is no surprise that I embrace a fusion of design styles .

I thought this month I might explore three interior design styles that have emerged internationally (ie. outside of our Australian island home!) that can be perfectly adapted to our Darwin lifestyle.


Japandi has its base in the Japanese expression “wabi-sabi” which means finding beauty in the incomplete and imperfect. Wabi sabi is the ‘Japandi’ trend that celebrates the beauty of imperfection; think irregular shapes, worn out timbers and paints, decorative accents, and handcrafted furnishings – finding the beauty of the imperfect and about connecting oneself to the Earth – to enjoy and appreciate the simple and small joys of life.

No doubt you will have heard of the design style known as ‘Scandi’ which has a distinct focus on clean simple lines, minimalism, and functionality that does not sacrifice beauty. Scandi first came to prominence in the 1950s – around the same time as the mid-century modern style appeared in Europe and the US.

Japandi via Dear Designer
image via Dear Designer

The imperfection that we find in the Japandi style is expressed in the combination of the rustic Scandi style and the elegance of Japanese style:

  • Careful curation is important – the elements of Japandi design are without embellishment or fuss.
  • Use a warm white as your base and add contrast and variety to the palette through furniture and accessories. Deep neutral hues also work well if white is not to your taste.
  • Be careful using pops of colour and try to stick to pieces that feature simple lines or patterns and basic forms.
  • Add some texture to the walls. Walls covered in bamboo or cedar panels work well and are elements of traditional Japanese style.
  • When using contrast, be careful to use ‘restrained contrasts’.
  • Adopt a free-flowing laying where your interior allows for it. Obstacle-free layouts allow natural light, ventilation, and views to freely flow through the different areas of the home.
  • Declutter! Adopt a quality over quantity philosophy and try to keep only items that serve a purpose and items that have some kind of meaning to you.
  • To create the minimalist yet cosy atmosphere of Japandi style, the use of natural materials is imperative.

Southwestern Desert Chic (aka Desert Boho Style)

The Southwestern Desert Chic trend is popular with homemakers who long for a drenched desert landscape and jagged mountain ranges dotted with exotic plants.

via Shelter Residential (San Diego Home & Garden)
image via Shelter Residential (San Diego Home & Garden)

The look of an effortless lived-in style that perfectly marries feminine bohemian styles with mid-century modern and jungle décor:

  • A neutral colour palette of nudes, beige, off-white, cream, coffee, terracotta, caramel. Using colours in arrangements of textures and tones makes them interesting and exciting.
  • Textures in fabrics for throws and handwoven artworks. A curiosity wall filled with personal souvenirs from exotic travels like postcards and photographs sit perfectly alongside vintage wall baskets, and collected minerals and fossils.
  • Wood, and lots of it! Warm and rustic timbers for furniture, fittings, and flooring.
  • Furniture in wicker, bamboo, rattan, and birch are popular choices and work well together as they’re all similar in colour.
  • Handmade ceramics and pottery not only make the perfect vessels for indoor greenery but add rusticity and interesting textures.

California Casual

The California Casual design style is what you’d imagine when you think of the relaxed beachy lifestyle on the California coast: an eclectic mix of the relaxed Scandi, coastal, boho, and of course mid-century. Laidback and carefree.

A style that’s evolved over the years and one that when homeowners say to me, “I want to feel as if I’m at a Malibu beach house” I know that they are wanting a home that is laidback and carefree, easy and effortless!

via Curated Interior
image via Curated Interior

Hallmarks of the California Casual trend:

  • Light, open and airy spaces with white or off-white walls and neutral light-coloured furniture.
  • A colour palette that is inspired by nature.
  • Light toned wood and other organic materials like rattan, sisal, or linen.
  • Lots of greenery adding life, colour, and energy to the home.
  • Sleek mid-century modern lines.
  • Cosy layers and the use of colourful ethnic-inspired textiles and prints – I love to use our own beautiful indigenous artists designs to bring an amazing home-grown aspect to the design.

I would love to know your thoughts on these three international design styles that I am being asked more and more about by clients and people I meet in my travels. Which is the style you’d love to see in your home? Do let me know!


I can work with you on-site or remotely; distance is no barrier!  If you’re still unsure about what you need from an interior designer … jump in and book a DISCOVERY CALL and we can work out which is the best way to get your tropical-inspired interior design project started. 

And of course don’t forget to do our FUN QUIZ to work out your personal tropical interior design style!

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