Get the Look: How to Create a West Indies Style Kitchen

For those who favor a traditional, tropical kitchen design theme, the iconic elements of the "West Indies" design style offer a sumptuous visual treat! It's a historic look that's outlasted centuries. Its intricately carved moldings and corbels are a signature look.

How to create the look of a West Indies styled kitchen design. Get the look!

History of West Indies Style

This exotic design style originated from the exploration of the new world and the establishment of the world trade routes. Christopher Columbus’ quest to discover a western trade route to the exotic spice ports in the East Indies, led to the discovery of the tropical islands in the Caribbean that became known as the West Indies (hence the name). Despite the variety of architectural and design influences from Europe, there are several indigenous design elements that are iconic to these islands.

West Indies style is truly an eclectic mix of the blending of cultures brought together for threw these historic trade routes. This style calls to a time where interior design influences from British Colonial, India, Africa, China, South Asia, and of course, the Caribbean intertwined for the first time.

A table with a map and a model boat showing the history of the world trade routes that influenced West Indies kitchen design style.

The West Indies Design Style Color Palette

An assortment of sun-baked colors and rich wood species, like Cherry with dark stains that remind us of old-world Mahogany, are popular choices for West Indies kitchens. Tropical inspired cabinet finishes are typically stained wood finishes selected from a darker color palette with warmer undertones. Distressed wood finishes are appropriate as well and give a tropical styled kitchen the added historical touch that West Indies is known for. 

Dura Supreme Cabinetry cabinet door style. A tropical British Colonial West Indies style design concept for a kitchen design. A close up mood board flatlay with a cabinet door and finishes.

A collection of traditional West Indies style cabinet finish colors from Dura Supreme Cabinetry.

Selecting Tropical-Inspired Cabinetry for a West Indies Kitchen

For West Indies styling, choose cabinet door styles that are heavily detailed and ornate. Raised panel or detailed flat panel cabinet door styles are great choices.

A collection of cabinet doors by Dura Supreme that work great in a tropical kitchen design with traditional West Indies styling.

In the tropical climates of the West Indies, louvered cabinet doors, shutters, and woven rattan promote airflow and can be used as accents. In addition, an “X” pattern is a classic tropical island motif and can be featured in a leaded glass cabinet door.

A collection of accent cabinet doors by Dura Supreme that work well for a traditional tropical kitchen design. This example shows a leaded glass door and a mullion door with an X-motif as well as a louvered door designed for cabinet ventalation and airflow in humid environments.

A close of of louvered cabinet doors in a tropical styled kitchen design.

Planning space for ornate cabinetry details like turned posts, corbels, and elaborate molding stacks will help pull this tropical look together.

An intricate carved molding accents the molding stack.


Including a dedicated space for ornate cabinet details like turned posts, corbels, and elaborate molding stacks will help pull the tropical style thorughout the kitchen or bath design.

Inset cabinetry with decorative barrel hinges can help create the look of a historic piece of furniture.

Tropical Design Elements of West Indies Style

Woven cane and rattan furnishings were airy and light in this humid, tropical environment. Gauzy fabrics, sun-baked colors and louvered shutters were hallmarks. Heavy woods, like Mahogany held up well in the tropics and rich, dark finishes were common. Many West Indies homes bring the outdoors inside with a variety of lushious houseplants housed in artisitic pottery. Caribbean islanders commonly used tropical motifs in their furniture carvings, decor, and art – palm fronds, pineapples, and other island flora.

A corbel shaped like a palm frond was selected to add a West Indies look to the mantel hood above the cooktop.

Bamboo inspired turnings offer an attractive island motif, while the “X” pattern can be incorporated in leaded glass or even a wine rack.

A bamboo-styled post is featured on the kitchen island.

An “X” wine rack in an open kitchen cabinet offers convenient and beautiful wine storage.

Is West Indies your interior design style?

The right mix of woods, cabinet finishes and decorative elements creates a tropical island ambiance.

A large decorative wood hood by Dura Supreme Cabinetry in a traditional and tropical styled remodeled kitchen design.

A traditional furniture-styled kitchen island with decorative turned posts and well-planned molding can create a centerpiece for your tropical-inspired kitchen.

Decorative details like corbels and moldings can be implemented throughout the home to seamlessly transform a home into a West Indies abode.

Decorative details like corbels and moldings can be implemented throughout the home to seamlessly transform a home into a West Indies abode.

Mandi Juskiewicz's picture

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