Interiors: Let the games begin with Rio carnival colours

Want to feel part of the action in Rio? As the Olympic Games start this week, Gabrielle Fagan sets the scene for introducing some exotic Brazilian style to your home

Linea Home Amazon double duvet set, yellow, reduced from £50 to £35, House of Frase

IT'S time for a style samba at home, as Rio puts jungle prints and flamboyant carnival colour on the decor map.

Luckily, you don't need to travel far to find a profusion of palm-print designs, on everything from wallpaper to fabrics, mimicking the lush, leafy landscapes of jungles and Amazonian rainforest, as designers embrace a 'hot house' look for interiors.

The trend for turning up the heat in rooms with sultry settings is a reflection of our continuing enthusiasm for all things natural for interiors – from botanical prints to materials such as wood and stone – as well as a growing willingness to use more colour.

Be as classic or exuberant as you like, accessorising with those most fashionable decor creatures, monkeys – used for everything from ornaments to lamps this season – and then add to the atmosphere with plenty of pot plants. Throw caution to the wind and go full-on carnival with a kaleidoscope of colour, from pink to burnt orange, and wing it with accessories featuring flamingos or parrots.

"The infectious spirit of Brazil is starting to sweep the UK as excitement gathers for the forthcoming Olympics, and Brazilian art and design, food and culture is inspiring everything from fabrics and ceramics through to furniture," says Joanna Feeley, founder and CEO at forecasting agency, Trend Bible.

"This is an energising trend featuring bold, up-scaled geometrics, thick looped lines and painterly effects for prints and textiles. Roughly-glazed brightly painted ceramics add to a crafted feel and playful details are key, from paper garlands and strands of fairy lights, to flamingos and parrots, helping create a party atmosphere inside and out."


Exotic oversized foliage designs create a steamy tropical vibe and seamlessly blend indoor and outdoor living.

"Create a tropical carnival-themed room by mixing natural green hues and botanical prints with a pop of contrasting colour, such as red or burnt orange. While green maintains an element of serenity, it's good to enliven it with an injection of hot colour," says Samantha Parish, interior design manager for bed specialists, Hypnos.

"Alternatively, look to the jewel-bright colours of a carnival procession for inspiration. Try mixing golden shades with rich-gemstone hues, such as deep purple and turquoise. Invest in a statement piece of furniture in a bold fabric and soften the look with patterned cushions and accessories in complimentary shades. The key to achieving this look at home is to focus on a couple of bright, complementary colours and then to play with pattern and shades."

CARNIVAL CHIC: Wall murals, so in vogue after years in the doldrums, could spirit you to foreign climes. Pixers' comprehensive collection includes a jungle scene complete with lizards famed for changing their appearance: Chameleon Wall Mural (200x240cm), £139.

Graham & Green has a gorgeous Jungle Animal Cocoon Chair, £275, decorated with parrots, monkeys and sloths. This trend-conscious company also has Parrot On Stick Garden Ornaments, £9.95 each, which would work just as well indoors, and a Marcel White Monkey Money Box, £55.

If you've got a serious case of jungle fever, consider a Brighton midi sofa upholstered in Barbara Osorio Principe fabric, which has a design of lush foliage and tropical blooms, £2,841, Sofas & Stuff.

Alternatively, bag a Brazilian-inspired bargain at House of Fraser. A Linea Home Amazon Duvet Set, is currently reduced from £50 to £35 for a double. Pineapples still pack a punch in interiors, and The Contemporary Home has a Yellow Ceramic Pineapple, £30. A Set of Four Tropical Birds Melamine Plates, £20.50, Limelace, would be a lovely addition to a patio table.

CARNIVAL CHEAP: Parrot Mug, £9.99, The Oak Room, and an Amazonia Black And Orange Cushion, decorated with a pineapple and exotic blooms, £18 (visit for stockists).


Flamingos are strutting all over decor, and their hot pink plumage instantly evoke sun-drenched foreign climes.

"Exotic carnival-style colour is a great way to add vibrancy and visual interest into a space. When decorating with carnival inspired colours – think hot pinks, zesty green, lemon yellow, electric blue and so on – remember a little goes a long way," says Will Taylor, interiors and design consultant and blogger.

"This doesn't mean you can't add a big dose of hue, but it's important to consider the surrounding space in order to get it right. For example, if you wish to go all out with, say, a hot pink splashback in a kitchen, keeping the cabinetry and surrounding walls white will act as a calming foil, also allowing the pink to zing and become that statement in the space.

"If you are looking to add carnival colours in more subtle ways, why not consider hanging a gallery wall of black and white photographs, where each frame is painted a different bright hue?

"Finally, as feathers are so synonymous with carnival, pay a nod to the colourful party vibes by hanging an African Juju hat in a vibrant shade to make a bold colour statement in a space. Doing this also invites tactile texture into a scheme."

CARNIVAL CHIC: Pay homage to flamingos with a feature wall papered in Charcoal & Pink Flamingo Mica Wallpaper, £14 a roll, B&Q. If a whole colony of the birds sets you all of a flutter, simply add accessories. Sainsbury's Flamingo Scatter Cushion, available in stores, is a snip at £7.99, while Out There Interiors has a Small Pink Flamingo, in metal and decorated with goose feathers, £65. A feathery Cameroonian Ju Ju Hat, £195, Design My World, would be a striking wall decoration and provide a bold hit of colour.

If your passion's for parrots, Matthew Williamson, renowned for his exotic designs, has created a stunning Arini wallpaper, £79, for Osborne & Little, which has Macaw parrots with shimmering metallic wings fluttering across it. Luscious colour and a flamboyant design also combine a Metro chair, upholstered in Christian Lacroix Caribe Perroquet, from £1,054, Delcor.

CARNIVAL CHEAP: Matthew Williamson's Butterfly Home floral print Tropical bed linen, currently reduced – with sets now from £32-£58.40 (usually £40-£73), Debenhams. Accessorise with his Orange or Turquoise Bird Print Cushions, currently reduced to £20 from £25 each, and a Pink Bird Applique Cushion, reduced to £25.60 from £32. MiaFleur's Pink Palm Leaf Plate, £22.95, could pretty up a table or be hung on a wall.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access