Rio de Janeiro Style Guide

Tara Dickinson
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On the tropical southeast coast of Brazil, the metropolis most famous for the outrageous and flamboyant Carnival festival, Rio de Janeiro is one of the most visited cities in South America. Bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, Rio is recognized as one of the world’s most beautiful and interesting urban centers. Her highlights include extremely lush natural environments, samba, and bossa nova music, and Balneário beaches such as Copacabana, Ipanema, and Leblon.

Similar to the decor style found all over Brazil, Rio’s home design canvas absorbs all the surrounding elements found in the tropical jungles and beaches of the area. From those components, you get jungle-themed prints, bold botanical patterns, rich colors, and natural accents plus an array of local culturally artistic injections.

  • The interior style is fueled by the combined creativity that comes from the mixture of diverse cultures and ample access to natural resources.
  • The feeling is one of relaxed welcoming ease.
  • The overall vibe has a rustic soulfulness that is elegant and attractive.
  • All comes together through the reverence and use of natural materials.

Rio Notoriety

This country is famous for:

  • Towering mountain ranges.
  • Nearly 5,000 miles of coastline.
  • The Amazon rainforest.
  • Christ the Redeemer statue atop Mount Corcovado.
  • Carnival, a celebration that dates back to the 1650s when elaborate feasts were organized to honor the Greek wine gods.
  • Supermodel Gisele Bundchen.

rio de janeiroHISTORY

Rio de Janeiro holds the complex history of the population and influences that make up Brazil’s cultural tapestry. This tapestry is knitted with elements that come from many different civilizations, including the indigenous Indian tribes, Portuguese conquerors, and settlers from Spain, Germany, Italy, and Asia.

Much of the population in Rio was raised in crowded urban centers, sprawling ‘favelas’ (shanty towns), or more remote countryside areas. What all these locations have in common is how the residents each feel a deep connection to nature and the bounty it shares. This genuine affinity is seen in Rio’s products and design where sincere simplicity is expressed in a beautiful way, merging modern and primitive aspects.

A fine example of this merge is the UXUA Casa Hotel in Trancoso. Harbored in a town with centuries-old hand-crafted homes, this restored building collaborated with regional artisans and used traditional techniques and reclaimed materials. It’s a trending Brazilian look and is designed almost entirely with furnishings, art, and decor crafted by local craftspeople. “There is a rough beauty in the local artisanal work that leaves a lot of space for the natural textures of the materials without over-manicuring,” the Hotel owner says.

A Rio de Janeiro interior aesthetic is achieved by infusing your home with elements of simple Brazilian style that sets the stage for laid-back lounging and languorous rejuvenating all year long.


All of Brazil, including Rio, abundantly showcases Mother Nature’s masterpieces. Employed alongside these vibrant hues are a wide array of warm neutrals. For an easy injection of Rio-inspired color, look to home accessories such as bowls, vases, frames, trays, and candlesticks in brighter, bolder turquoises, greens, and oranges.

  • Turquoise blues of the ocean.
  • Lush greens of the rainforest.
  • Sunny oranges of local fruits and flowers are woven into its interior style.
  • Plus an array of warm neutral backdrops.
  • Black and white foundations also allow brighter colors to command center stage

The most colorful of colors, those in the rainbow, are found in Rio’s home decor accents. As you’ll see outlined below in some of the examples of statues, pots, and other accessories that pop with bits of intense color. Additional ways to incorporate color:

  • Kitchen- Use a bright splash of color to include the tropical style such as a deep green with a lighter gray that mimics a jungle background.
  • Accessories- A fresh yellow will add a pop of brightness to any space.


More recent infusions of bolder hues are being seen in these modern times. Carnival colors in gem and jewel tones are used to add an exotic splash of vibrant pizazz to the mostly neutral living spaces of Rio.

  • Emerald
  • Sapphire
  • Fiery ruby red
  • Deep purple


Any depictions of the Amazon jungle plants in Rio decor are welcome additions.

  • Botanical theme accent walls are perfect illustrations of this strategy.
  • Good for creating a focal point in any room.
  • Having that tropical vibe brings the warmth of beachside retreats into your home.


A popular Rio design trend uses layers of bold patterns with both black and white plus other color combinations.  The famous Rio sidewalk designs inspired by Portuguese influences is another very common pattern that will be replicated in home decor.

  • Different than the classically patterned black-and-white pavement widely found throughout Lisbon, Portuguese pavement patterns in Rio are more modern, graphic, and geometric.
  • These same patterns are widely seen in the Rio home accessories such as on throw pillows, in area rugs, flowing from open window drapery, and on smaller furniture pieces.
  • Black and white are the typical colors but deep blue and white, as well as neutral shades, are also common options.
  • This wave pattern is applied to indoor/outdoor accessories, area rugs, and other linens.

  • The Brazilian Rio jungle look can also be achieved on an accent wall using patterns that emphasize nature’s colors. This look will dramatically transform a room.


Rio is completely surrounded by natural wonders, from mountains to jungles to the sea. So of course these lush natural materials are found throughout Rio’s home decor in rich abundance. Incorporating items that emphasize the beauty of natural materials is key to Rio’s design style.

  • Look to layer accents.
  • Woven palm baskets.
  • Wooden bowls.
  • Natural clay accessories.
  • Pieces made from volcanic agate.
  • Embellished coconut shell items.
  • Fossilized stone turned into small furnishings.


Although many may associate Rio art with the native Indian cultures, the city also has a vibrant contemporary art scene.

  • Art can set the tone or be an immediate focal point for a space.
  • To add a Rio art touch, images of the area's natural beauty or Amazon jungles will bring you right there.
  • So will any pieces created by the local artists of the area.


Because the Rio home decor foundation of style is quite simplistic and with mostly neutral color tones, the glory and the region's individual character get to shine through the accessories you add. Other than the raw beautiful material of the region, the local decor accents are the other gems of this decor.

  • Accents add depth and accentuate the color palette.
  • Some of the most common accents include vases, trays, baskets, lamps, potted plants, rugs, and small sculptures.
  • Mix up the accessories, combining an ornate metal piece with a rustic element, and a modern item. Now you have the ultimate Rio look.
  • Natural woods such as bamboo can also work well as accessories.
  • A turquoise glazed earthenware pot shares a dose of accent color which makes for a nice inclusion in Rio interior style.
  • The Rio color palette listed above is carried into the accessories. An example is an orange stoneware vase that injects an instant pop of Rio color, especially when displayed with some cut tropical leaves.
  • Metal decorative details to tie into a current metallic trend.



The overall minimalist style continues throughout the Rio house.

  • Bedroom settings range from rustic to tranquil and dreamy classic spa-like.
  • Well concealed storage under the bed keeps the home organized and clean-looking.
  • Add a jungle element with subdued hues in rainforest colors.
  • Place nature center stage with a wooden canopy bed.
  • Accents on wooden shelves and side tables can be metals, greenery, and woven baskets. 


The vibe from inside the home carries over into outdoor living areas: simple, natural, and cheery.

  • Patterned tile floors or painted cement are usual options.
  • Reclaimed wood and rustic metal furniture pieces.
  • Pots of jungle plants.
  • Local artistic accents.


A bit of a rustic country feel comes through in a Rio-style kitchen.

  • Mismatched tables and chairs are acceptable.
  • White or wood-colored cabinets.
  • Open natural sunlight windows.
  • Large pendant lighting adds dimension.


  • Furniture is mainly made of wood with more clean lines and simple cushion stylings.
  • The overall look is inclined towards a Mid-century Modern style which is one of a sleeker design technique.
  • Transparent glass coffee tables reflect the natural light and make brighter accent colors stand out.



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