During the days of the British Empire, colonists were based in many exotic parts of the world. The colonists' decor was influenced by their cultural surroundings. The synergism of traditional Victorian wood and exotic materials created a decorative style now known as British Colonial. There are some key characteristics that you'll need to add if you want to create this classic look for your home. These tips will help.

Furniture and Dressings: Think Travel

Campaign furniture was made to be collapsible, facilitating easy travel between countries. Folding tables, chairs and cabinets -- often in mahogany or dark woods -- were a staple of the colonial home. If you have a large budget for your makeover, then antique furniture from that period will help you create a truly authentic colonial look. If you can't afford genuine antique, reproduction furniture can work just as well. These reproduction pieces often mimic the style of the period but are not usually foldable.  

It was commonplace in the colonial home to find an eclectic range of furnishings. Traditional Victorian wood sat alongside locally sourced rattan, cane and bamboo furniture. The Victorian pieces were often adapted with carvings that reflected the tropical locale. Accents of leather, a substantial material living up to the vigour of Victorian travel, were usually found in tans, reds and greens. These colours complemented the dark woods that are part of this style. Use cane chairs in classic designs. These are readily available and can be dotted around, perhaps with leather covered seat pads.

Colonial Colour Palette: Think Light

Walls painted in light neutral colours were popular with colonialists. These light tones helped create the illusion of coolness in tropical climates far hotter than the British were used to. Choose pale blues, greens, creams, whites and tans. These colours create a beautiful contrast with dark wood furnishing. Select light coloured cotton or linen for bedding and cushions. An eclectic choice of light patterns will give the impression of travel, looking like you have picked up these pieces from around the world. Ceiling mounted nets draped over a dark wood or cane bed creates the feel of a tropical environment with ease.

Lighting and Window Decor: Think Weather

Colonialists were used to being in environments with lots of natural light and sunshine. Natural lighting suits this look so avoid harsh lighting; instead, opt for a scattering of table lamps. If you need overhead lighting, opt for ceiling lights. Traditional shutters were so integral to the colonial home that the addition of these can be enough to create the look without any other colonial pieces. They were used to protect against the storms that frequented the colonist's tropical homes as well as to help control breezes. Made from locally sourced wood, these shutters were left in their natural wood finishes or painted. If you're on a tight budget, then opt for the less expensive wood effect shutters to create the look.