10 Design Trends Defining South Florida Style

(Plus: The Must-See Hot Spots When You Visit Key West!)

South Florida is a hotbed for design lovers! Whether you’re all about that modern minimalist or preserving an ornate traditional home, in South Florida, both styles converge in service of similar lifestyle goals: indoor-outdoor living and creating relaxing resort-style retreats. Our firm has started some awesome projects in South Florida and after a recent trip to Key West with my family, I knew I had to share some ways to get that iconic South Floridian resort style in your home. Plus I’ll share some of my favorite spots I visited in Key West!

Blue Victorian Home with Shutters

Turn Your Home Into an Iconic South Florida Resort with These 10 Design Trends

Energizing Colors on Front Doors and Home Exteriors

No homeowners association restricting you to a palette of beiges here! When you take a stroll through the Old Town Historic District in Key West, you’re surrounded by wooden Victorian homes revived in energizing tropical pastels, accentuating gingerbread detailing and shuttered windows. These people aren’t afraid of bright, bold colors and we love it! How adorable is this little bubble gum pink cottage?

Pink Cottage

Barbie Dream Cottage in Key West Florida

White cottage with red door and shutters

Quaint cottage updated with a coat of fresh fire truck red paint!

Grey Home with Purple Shutters

Grey is on-trend right now– Who would have thought of pairing it with Ultraviolet shutters? love it!

Modern Minimalism: Monochrome Rooms with Shimmery Accents

I know, I know–I was just talking about traditional, maximalist styles, but modern minimalism is emerging as a popular trend in South Florida as well. This trend isn’t exclusive to South Florida: Homeowners everywhere can’t seem to get enough tone on tone these days! I’m actually working on a new monochromatic room as I type this and it’s a ton of fun. I wrote an in-depth guide about how to design the perfect monochromatic room–click the image below to access the guide! 

Designing Monochome Room Guide

Monochromatic spaces used to be incredibly high maintenance because when you have fabrics of similar hues next to one another, blemishes are more apparent. But stain-resistant technology and the styles of outdoor fabrics have come such a long way, it’s making monochrome a far more desirable and accessible look! And shimmering, metallic accents are a great way to bounce light and add depth to a monochromatic space.

Monochromatic Contemporary Entry Way

The layers and hues in this monochromatic space make it warm and inviting


Foliage First: Indoor-Outdoor Living in South Florida

In any tropical locale, it’s all about the great outdoors! If there is one thing you learn about design from being down south, it’s that when you have a naturally rich landscape bursting with palm trees and man groves, it’s hard to overwhelm it, with even the most maximalist design. The incredible wild life provides a robust backdrop and serves as a reminder of the home’s function within the elaborate ecosystem. And the homes’ relationship to the environment around it is a special one. You’ll see traditional homes with wrap around porches and new construction with large, single-pane floor to ceiling windows – both styles serving the same purpose: encouraging you to go outside! 

Wrap around deck and shuttered windows

Loved the soothing symmetry of this traditional Southern Home with it’s shuttered windows and wrap around porch

Resort-Style Living in Key West

You probably don’t need me to tell you Florida is a prime location for tourism (and retirees). Year-round residences adopt some of the resort-style living by turning parts of their homes into mini-retreats. One major way people are doing this is by putting a lot of resources towards their backyard designs: Installing outdoor showers, by modern infinity pools, or building full outdoor kitchens and living rooms around a firepit, or water feature, or with cabanas or pergolas. This wasn’t from a private residence, but I thought it’d be too funny not to share this outdoor shower with it’s hilarious signage:

Outdoor Shower

Only $2 to watch–any takers? LOL

Vintage Wood & Other Natural Materials

Vernacular architecture in Key West tilized lots of gorgeous woods native to the island, like Dade and Slash pine, and new construction homes are paying homage to that style by infusing vintage woods and other locally-sourced woods throughout. On furniture, expect to see lots of linen upholstery and bamboo or rattan chairs. This is my absolutely favorite trend for a few reasons: It’s cool and casual, which is so important to me. It also prioritizes sustainability, by locally sourcing natural materials. Lastly, it makes the space special by giving building it with one-of-a-kind material, making it impossible to replicate. 

Natural Wood Front Door on Yellow House

Loved this gorgeous wood door on this pineapple-yellow house!

I just installed these natural chairs in a recently completed project. The goal was to maximize the indoor-outdoor style!

I just installed these natural chairs in a recently completed project. The goal was to maximize the indoor-outdoor style!

Concealed and Colorful Kitchens

Have we finally reached peak stainless-steel breaking point? Some design experts are saying yes. The trend of seamless, completely concealed kitchens is spreading across South Florida as a response to stainless-steel fatigue. On the maximalist end of the spectrum, the other kitchen trend emerging is colorful appliances. LG has some elegant new appliances in deep saturated blues that I’m loving. The loudest, example, of breaking from appliance norms is probably the new SMEG- Dolce & Gabanna collaboration. (Which, to be honest, I haven’t seen anyone actually use in their home yet, but I would love to. So if you have can you please send pics?)

Smeg Dolce and Gabanna Collaboration

Geometric and 3D Elements

This is one of my favorite trends that is popping up everywhere: Geometric patterns and shapes and 3D elements in unexpected spaces. One way to instantly elevate your space and give it a designer flair is to mix and layer design styles and one great way to do that in a traditional home is to add a modern, geometric print somewhere (throw pillows, perhaps?). I combined both geometric and 3D trends in my collection for Tile Bar. The mesa azure hex is one of my favorites from the Lori Dennis collection for tile bar that makes for a really cool and unconventional kitchen or bar backsplash. Not to mention those tropical cocktails photograph beautifully in front of it! That may not be the sole reason to get a new backsplash, but it is certainly one step closer to achieving that Instagram-perfect home. 😉


Click Image to See More

Bathrooms as Wellness Escapes

The bathrooms are where you see a lot of resources dedicated to elevating the space beyond pure utility. Master bathrooms as luxury retreats is an increasingly popular trend. Some of the innovative ways designers are transforming bathrooms into wellness escapes is through technology: warmed floors and towel racks, smart showers. Whether modern or traditional, these spaces generally call for minimalist design choices: Lots of natural stone, aesthetically trending towards bright white and cream. And these spaces are thoroughly outfitted with resort-quality linens, healthy, green cosmetics and toiletries, candles, and as much natural light as possible.

Tropical Bathroom

Nautical Accents

One of the cool things about some of the early cottages built in Key West and much of South Florida is that they were actually built by shipbuilder-carpenters who infused a number of nautical elements into the design, some of which has been preserved. You’ll notice small nautical details indoors and out like porthole windows, ‘lookout’ decks, ship lanterns and rope accents.

 Nautical Lantern on house with shuttered windows

Home Technology for Cooler Coastal Living

It doesn’t matter the style of your home–it’s 2018 and it’s time to get tech savvy! Smart homes aren’t the future–they’re the now. In some places that means prioritizing home security systems (a good idea no matter where you live), and in South Florida, where it’s always pretty warm, it means installing smart thermostats that will keep your home cool and conserve energy. I love the Nest Learning Thermostat from Google which just released its 3rd generation. It’ll adjust your home’s temperature on its own but it’s also controllable remotely from your smartphone!

Travel Tips: What to See When You Visit Key West

Usually I am in Florida to work, but I have to admit– this past trip, I took some time to be a total tourist and had a blast!

 Lori Dennis and family in Key West Florida

A History of Key West Architecture

I’d mentioned the Old Town Historic District before, and it’s worth mentioning again. If you’re reading this, you’re probably a design and architecture lover like me, and if so, this is where you want to be! Curious about the history of Key West architecture? From the Civil War military bases to Cuban Cigar factories, beach cottages to Victorian mansions; Our partners at SoCal Contractor did a deep dive into how the island developed its distinctive southern style which you can read here.

 Old town Key West white home with porch and teal shutters

When in Key West you must visit the Southernmost tip in the United States, just 90 miles from Cuba!  When in Key West you must visit the Southernmost tip in the United States, just 90 miles from Cuba!

You’ll find the best Bloody Mary in town at Blue Macaw Bloody Mary Bar!

Blue Macaw Bloody Mary Bar Lori Dennis and Roy in key West

And, of course, anytime you can spend in the sand or on a boat, do it! We had an awesome time on our snorkeling excursion in gorgeous clear water checking out all sorts of cool coral forests. Here we are on the snorkel boat with wind-blown hair and sunscreen-lathered faces!

Lori Dennis Snorkeling with Family