By Carleton Varney- Special to the Palm Beach Daily News
Every time I drive along the sea on Palm Beach’s South Ocean Boulevard, I enjoy seeing the stone ornaments on entrance columns flanking the gates of the beautiful estates.
Some of those are in the shape of pineapples, the symbol of hospitality. It’s so popular around the world and is the signature image — on plates, napkins, letterheads and even drink coasters — of Williamsburg, Virginia.
Yes, the pineapple seems to be everywhere, even on the handles of flatware. If you are decorating a room in your home, you’ll find pineapples on wallpapers, fabrics and even the backs of dining chairs, carved into the wood. There also are lamps and chandeliers that feature pineapples. White, gilded and even silvered, the pineapple is an American classic and a European one as well!
My late friend Mario Buatta, the decorator, loved the color we call pineapple — yellow but with just a hint of green. It’s a classic American color that is used in many hotels or Southern mansions. The main dining room at the Greenbrier Hotel in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, is painted pineapple yellow, which is a perfect background color for classic American portraits and chandeliers with emerald-green crystals.
When thinking about pineapples, I often think about palm trees as well. Both grow in warm-weather climates, so they’re a natural pair.
In the decorating world, palm trees are among the most popular motifs around. In Palm Beach over the years, I have seen fabric with patterns of palm trees just about everywhere. And I often see images of palm trees adorning drinking glasses, ice buckets and paper napkins.
There are palm tree floor lamps, for instance, made of brass, wood, plaster and even clear acrylic I recently purchased a glass palm tree accessory for my desk in my home office. With the coronavirus pandemic keeping so many of us inside these days, a decorative palm tree can add a bit of cheer to any room.
If you’re looking for a fresh decorating scheme, here’s one featuring the pineapple and palm tree look. In your entry hall, cover the walls with one of the many palm tree wallpapers on the market. There are versions with large patterns or small. Whichever you prefer, choose one with a light blue background. Your wood trim should be painted bright white, and the ceiling a pale blue to coordinate with the wallpaper.
For your window drapery, choose a fabric of rich green, the color of palm fronds. Trim the curtains with white fringe, maybe 6-inches long.
For the sofa fabric, think about a pineapple-patterned tweed, accented with pillows of the palm-tree design that matches your foyer walls. It’s so important when choosing a wallpaper to make sure it has a coordinating fabric. In this case, use the same palm tree fabric to cover your lounge chairs.
Top a pair of pineapple-yellow lacquered end tables with lamps that have white-plaster bases in the shape of palm trees. The lamps will add magic to your setting, as will a large gold-gilt framed mirror above the sofa.
My choice for the coffee table would be one of clear acrylic in a modern style. And on the wall between the curtained windows, hang a modern painting over a mirrored console table. The latter will nicely reflect the room’s palm trees and pineapples.