When the big luxury cruise liners like Matson and airlines such as Pan Am and United began bringing visitors in droves to the Hawaiian Islands in the 1950s, mainlanders became exposed to the beauty of tropical decor.  In fact, the advertising alone spawned a whole industry of travel-related art.  But there’s a fine line between tacky tiki souvenirs and vintage Hawaiiana.

From rattan chairs covered in bark cloth to textiles and posters teasing us with surfers on Waikiki Beach, hula girls, and the colorful images of a perfect Hawaiian sunset, the next time you visit a flea market and come across one of these unique pieces of history or even a department store with some good reproductions be sure and take a slice of paradise back with you into your own home.

“Fisherman” by John Kelly is vintage Hawaii art and serves as the iconic Royal Hawaiian’s restaurant menu cover.  It can be purchased from www.art.com.

This Hawaiian lampshade would look great over a kitchen counter or casual breakfast nook.

Or a more modern version is this red Tiki shade designed by Alfred Shaheen for Seascape Lamps.  If you’re not familiar with him, Shaheen Designs popularized the Hawaiian shirt which included some of the very first surf prints and Hawaiian textile designs.

The Hawaiian Pineapple in orange may speak to you if you’re a fan of Pantone’s Color of the Year, Tangerine Tango.

This vintage rattan chair repurposed with a modern bohemian fabric is a great find.  Photo courtesy of Laura Divenere Interiors

Joseph Frank’s Hawaii fabric is almost too beautiful to use for upholstery or drapes but if you can afford it, go for it.

If you find a blank canvas like this 1940s rattan sofa, make it your own with some new bright fabric.

For a modern twist on the traditional Hawaiian look, use this colorful Fabriano fabric in Sea Breeze available at Joann’s.

Or go in a completely different direction with this surfer stripe by Robert Allen.

Look surfer cool at the beach or pool party this summer with this vintage Hawaiian print beach towel by Land’s End

This Hawaiian wall clock would look great in a classic white kitchen.

Dress up your couch or bed with these Hawaiian pillow covers from Pottery Barn

If you want to experience a true Hawaiian vintage home for your inspiration, rent this cute oceanfront cottage in the small town of Kapaa on the magical island of Kauai.

Just be sure to bring a little Hawaii magic home to share with the rest of us.


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