Inspired by the lush tropical foliage and clear blue waters of the Hawaiian islands, many local interior designers have developed a unique sense of style over the years. Informed by a combination of classical design theory and distinct Hawaiian trends, this popular "Hawaii style" of interior design can today be seen everywhere from the condos of Honolulu to the waterfront bungalows of Oahu's North Shore. I recently asked some of Hawaii's most talented interior designers a few questions about how the state's unique geography and culture impacts their design decisions:

1. What defines the unique flavor of interior design in Hawaii?

"Tony, I believe Hawaii's landscape and changes in the sky integrate a unique filter on the colors of the Islands which give Hawaii its flavor. These colors are forever changing in their vividness and softness depending on the time of day and the cloud cover (or lack thereof). I take much of my inspiration for color palettes from Nature. Scuba diving and snorkeling are wonderful inspirations as well for the many colors of the fish and coral, ever changing colors of the sea - even lava and mosses provide a wonderful "paint color deck" of combinations and inspiration. The temperate climate, humidity and the ease of living outdoors offers another unique option to Hawaii interior design, allowing us to make use of outdoor spaces and furnishings all year long."

- Christina E. Birtcher, interior re*Design

"Hawaii is so unique in its cultural blend and that carries through to the interior feel of our homes. For instance you might have a family that has furniture from Japan, China or Korea blended with North American antiques and island style rattan. Since our lifestyle is much more relaxed than our mainland neighbors, we can assimilate these items and cultures more easily. We also tend to have much smaller homes so it is important that we make the best use of the space we have. Sometimes that means a room performs double duty, like bedroom / office. Our informality with entertaining, ie: potlucks versus formal dining rooms with sit down dinners, provides us more opportunity to get together with family and friends and just hang out."

- Joan Robinson-Whitaker, Designer For A Day

2. Which indigenous plants make the best houseplants here in Hawaii?

"I love using bromeliads due to their longevity, uniqueness of the flowers available and especially the leaf variations, ease of locating the plants and price point. Of course, orchids are also a favorite and will always remind people of the Tropics. Using Ti plants can also be a great option if you can revolve them indoors and out - the pops of color they provide is really a fun way to incorporate some height and color to a dreary corner or table. Ti plants are also a great option for your exterior lanai in unique pots where you can clump several together at different heights - they really make quite an interesting screen or console table accent."

- Christina E. Birtcher, interior re*Design

"For fresh plants, raffis palms and philadendrums are good choices. Bamboo, ficus trees and orchids are also popular in fresh and silk. We utilize silk plants (of good quality) when lighting or maintenance are issues."

- Joan Robinson-Whitaker, Designer For A Day

3. How does the interior design of condos in Honolulu differ from that of condos in other big cities like New York?

"I think the biggest difference is the furniture texture and artwork. Larger cities tend more towards sleek and cool neutrals, whereas the Islands allow us to incorporate many more textural furnishings and fabric texture, wallpapers such as grasscloths and color into wall art. Also, flooring options for the Islands, using cooler materials such as tile, bamboo or wood throughout vs. carpet. Using area rugs to anchor and separate rooms and areas instead. As I also noted previously, we may extend the use to outdoors which may be used year long vs. cities with climates that do not allow for this option."

- Christina E. Birtcher, interior re*Design

"I would say that Hawaii has a more casual aesthetic overall, a comfortable and relaxed sense of style. You won't see anything too edgy here. Even a contemporary design style will bring in some island textures, etc."

- Tiare Cowan, Archipelago Hawaii

4. How does interior design typically differ between waterfront properties and inland properties?

"Waterfront properties tend to be the higher-end, multi-million dollar properties. Often second and third homes. The design aesthetic can vary depending on the homeowner. It always surprises me when people use their mainland designers and end up with a home that looks like their other homes on the mainland. When people are looking for an island feel on a waterfront property, they tend to lean more toward the ocean color scheme so they don't detract from the amazing views around them. There is a user-friendly approach to finishes and fabrics that withstand the harsh elements of the salt, wind and sand. Sunbrella fabrics are very popular, even for interiors. Bronze is also a popular finish near the ocean, as the natural patina looks great over time instead of pitted and tarnished stainless steel or chrome."

- Tiare Cowan, Archipelago Hawaii

5. What new design trends can you see becoming popular among homeowners in Hawaii over the coming years?

"Wood, tile and vinyl flooring. The new vinyls can look like wood, and the new tiles can look like wood as well; the woods include cork and lots of unique finishes. We are also designing a lot of built-in's to take care of clutter and make better use of the room's space."

- Joan Robinson-Whitaker, Designer For A Day

"Outdoor kitchens, we are seeing more and more people wanting to create very functional outdoor kitchens. We are able to entertain outdoors here in Hawaii year round so it makes sense that we should move the kitchen where we want to spend most of our time. People love to grill here anyway so adding a few burners, some refrigeration and a sink can make for a very convenient outdoor grilling kitchen."

- Tiare Cowan, Archipelago Hawaii