Quepolandia logo

Organizing Your Kitchen

Design WiseBy Shelagh Duncan

We were back in Canada for our Thanksgiving this year and I was making the traditional turkey dinner for the family. I realized once I got started on the meal prep that I was very appreciative of the efficient way the kitchen was set up. It was a total no-brainer to find everything I needed, when I needed it.

Clean and modern designAn efficient kitchen does not happen by accident, but by design. It is more than just the traditional “Work Triangle”. It is a thoughtful process of what goes where and why, especially in a small kitchen. Every kitchen will be a little different and will depend on the personal cooking/cleaning-up style of the person(s) using it.

If you get frustrated searching for things or waste time having to rummage through messy drawers or cupboards to find what you need, here are some ideas to help you get your kitchen into shape.

Royal Palm Interiors

Read More…


Choosing the Right Countertop

Counter Intelligence header

Design WiseBy Shelagh Duncan

It is an undeniable fact that the kitchen is the heart of the home. Many of our homes have an open-plan layout so the kitchen is a visible part of the living area. We can make the kitchen less noticeable so it blends in with the appearance of the rest of the living area, or it can become a feature.

Mixed material countertop

Mixed material countertop

A seamless, linear kitchen design is modern, clean and very appealing in a minimalist space. The cabinets and appliances form a wall to visually blend into your larger living area. Your cabinets and countertop will be sleek, spare, and perfectly co-ordinated.
If however you want your kitchen to be a separate entity with its own personality, then there are many creative opportunities available to you including cabinetry, appliances, lighting, bar stools, and especially the counter tops.

Royal Palm Interiors

Read More…


Pets Are People Too?

How do we share our homes with our four legged friends?

Design Wise
By Shelagh Duncan

We love our homes: we want them to be stylish and comfortable, inviting and cosy. We love our pets too, and as they are very much a part of our lives we incorporate things into our homes to make them more comfortable. They are a part of our family after all!

However, these particular family members can be a little more work than usual. They don’t pick up after themselves and can be messy eaters. They often shed and are not too good at wiping their feet after a walk. They also think they are actually human so like to enjoy the furniture as much as we do!

That’s all fine, but they do add a considerable amount of extra wear and tear to our furniture and homes. So, looking for ways to help minimise this impact can be challenging. Tiles are the perfect solution for all floor areas, and microfiber upholstery fabric for our sofa and chairs. This about the best thing to use on furniture in our climate anyway. A good quality, thick microfiber will stand up to a great deal of use—and misuse, especially from heavier dogs with big claws. It cleans up very easily and can be vacuumed and brushed to look good as new. There are solid-colour microfiber fabrics, but now we also have many great textures and prints available in the same type of fabric. If your pet arrives after the sofa, one easy solution is to add a pet blanket over the chairs or sofas they like to sleep on. These are easily washed and will reduce stains and fur build-up on your sofa—and you! Or…. you can give them their own bed. This can be something to fit style-wise into your own interior, a trendy designer bed, or be practical and creative like incorporating it into a coffee or end table. The latter pure inspiration for those who may be short on space but big on design!

Dog bedsRoyal Palm Interiors

Read More…


TOP KITCHEN MUST-HAVES

Design Wise
By Shelagh Duncan

The two most important areas in any home are the kitchens and the bathrooms—especially to potential home buyers. Those two rooms will have a biggest influence on any purchaser. You know that feeling when you walk into a friends’ kitchen that is fabulous—you just stand there, and experience it. Then you lust after it!

We would all love to have huge fully tricked out kitchens, but often we are not that lucky. We don’t have the space, the money or sometimes even the ideas on how to make that happen.

Including some “must haves” into our kitchens can greatly increase its functionality, beauty and of course its value.

These are some of my must-haves:

Appliance GarageAppliance Garage

These are great for storing small appliances and can fit into corners or at the end of your work space. Add an electrical outlet too if possible, to add to the convenience. Think about what you want to go in there and you will have an idea of the size you will need. If you have lots of counter space—or lots of small appliances—you could have two!

Read More…


Fish or Visitors?

Design Wise
By Shelagh Duncan

Ben Franklin has been credited with saying something like “fish and visitors start to smell after three days…”

Bienvenidos - welcome signThat may have been true back in the day, but we all love to have friends and family come visit and want them to enjoy their stay. We are fortunate enough to live in an amazing part of the world, and naturally want to share this with them.

However sometimes space in our homes is limited. We live outdoors most of the time and don’t generally need a big house. You may have one or two spare bedrooms but one turned into your home office, or there are just too many people to sleep everyone comfortably! So, what do you do when they all want to come at once for that big family reunion???

Read More…


The “Man-Chair” and the top 10 features for chairs with Man Appeal

Design Wise
By Shelagh Duncan

If you used to watch Frasier back in the day you will remember his impeccable sense of style.

“So what do you think of what I’ve done with the place?” Frasier asked his father, Martin, in the pilot episode. “You know, every item here was carefully selected. The lamp by Corbu, this chair by Eames, and this couch is an exact replica of the one Coco Chanel had in her Paris atelier.” 

Eames chairWell, as soon as his father moved in—with his grossly overstuffed and battered “Man Chair” I could feel his pain. For the 11 years that the show ran that hideous chair created an eyesore in the middle of his very elegant and tastefully decorated condo. He suffered greatly at the extreme ugliness of this monstrosity*.
However, the really painful part came in the series finale when Frasier’s father moves out and Frasier finally gets to put his beloved Eames recliner back in the living room. His father comes to visit, sits back in the Eames recliner and says “Hmmm … this is pretty comfortable. I would have been okay with this!”

Read More…


Creating Your Sanctuary Bedroom

Design Wise

Ideally, the master bedroom should be the sanctuary where you can retreat at the end of the day. A place to relax, enjoy, and encourage a good night’s sleep.

By Shelagh Duncan

It should be able to make you just feel good—it is not important whether it is a large master suite or a small bedroom—you should be able to feel the comfort and serenity in this space. It should be the place to make you feel special, and for you and your partner to nurture and enrich your relationship.

Clean and uncluttered bedroomHere are some simple ways to create this space, and I promise the end result will be well worth the effort.

First Impressions

When it comes to design, first impressions count so decorate, clean and arrange your master bedroom accordingly. Keep the floors and night tables clutter free. Ask yourself what do you see when you first walk into the bedroom? What is the first thing you see when you open your eyes in the morning? For me, I see the big sky and the trees on the mountains in the distance. I love that feeling.

Royal Palm Interiors

Read More…


Bulletproof Decorating, Or How to Survive Living in the Tropics

Unfortunately there’s no way yet to create indestructible furniture and homes. However, there are steps we can take that will help them stand up to life with kids, pets & the jungle.

By Shelagh Duncan

Design WiseMy guess is that none of us came here to live a high maintenance lifestyle in high maintenance homes. We know that living here has its challenges, and keeping one step ahead of what life hands us is a constant battle.

So, when we purchase furniture and other things for our home we want them to last. Furniture is an investment and we take time to carefully select exactly what we want and plan on enjoying it for many years to come.Royal Palm Interiors

Read More…


In Pursuit of Modern Part 2

Tropical ModernismDesign Wise

By Shelagh Duncan

Last month we looked at the basic differences between Modern and Contemporary design, and now let’s explore the world of Tropical Modernism. That’s a little closer to home…

Tropical Modernism

Tropical Modernism

We saw that this movement was born out of the need to incorporate the Modern aesthetic into a tropical environment. Geoffrey Bawa was a leader in this field in Sri Lanka and understood that in a tropical climate the forces of nature are a thing to be reckoned with and you cannot build a beautiful structure and ignore its environment, so he began to incorporate them.

Read More…


In Pursuit of Modern Part 1

Modern or Contemporary?

Design WiseBy Shelagh Duncan

When we moved down here I was probably more drawn to the Tommy Bahama living room more than any Modern one.  How can our casual and laid-back lifestyle in Costa Rica relate to the cold, clinical steel and concrete interiors that are called Modern?

However, things change… Oscar Wilde penned “With age comes wisdom” and perhaps my new-found appreciation for the modern aesthetic is proof of that. The clean lines and minimalist approach do have a certain appeal, and I must admit, I have always admired the work of Frank Lloyd Wright.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water

What can be confusing is that the concept of ‘Modern’ for many people also encompasses what we call ‘Contemporary’ design. These are actually two quite different styles, but the terms are often used interchangeably. Simply put, ‘Modern’ design has an historical reference: ‘Contemporary’ style reflects the current trends.

Iconic Modern DesignsSo what exactly is the difference? Modern design has its own specific place in history. It was born out of the Modernism era in the first half of the 20th century, and is in stark contrast to the previously ornate, hand-made furniture of the Victorian and Art Nouveau eras. Factories could produce more items, faster and cheaper, and this movement perfectly reflects the 2nd industrial age – and change. Poet Ezra Pound’s battle cry was “Make it new!” – and they did.

Modern design was functionally motivated, and followed the same principles as modern architecture – machine-like simplicity, smoothness of surface and an absence of ornament. Modern furniture embraced the new materials – steel  in its many forms, glass, molded plywood and of course plastics. The goal of modern design was to capture timeless beauty in spare precision. It gave us iconic and enduring designs, and names like Eames,  Saarinen, Le Corbusier, Breuer and Mies van de Rohe.

White living room with blue accentsWhite was the perfect backdrop for these new pieces:  it showed their form in the purest way. These modern rooms made liberal use of windows and light – again in complete contrast to Victorian homes, where the “Window Tax” produced those gloomy interiors!  However, it was the Englishwoman Syrie Maugham who gave us the first all white room way back in the 1920’s. Her white room was not in the Modern style, but this revolutionary concept helped change the way Modern designers thought about space. Airy interior spaces with sparsely furnished rooms, clean lines and asymmetrical balance characterized the modern look – and the rooms were white.

Modern is a design style attributed to a specific period of time, Contemporary is not.

Contemporary designThe word contemporary by definition means “existing, occurring, or living at the same time; belonging to the same time. And that is exactly the same for the use of the term in interior design.

Contemporary design is ever changing – it is of this moment. It is a living, morphing entity and will display itself in a very different form 10, or 50 years from now depending on the trending styles at that time.

Contemporary style refers to what is popular right now, and can be very eclectic for that very reason. It borrows pieces and styles from different eras. For example, furniture and art from the Modern era are often used in contemporary design, and we know that the mid-century modern look is very popular right now. However, traditional details and trim can also be incorporated into these designed spaces as well as industrial and rustic pieces.

The only caveat with this style is that, because it is ever-changing, it can look great today – but start to look dated after a while. So I guess we just have to keep buying new pieces to keep it updated!

So, you can decide whether your style is Modern or Contemporary, and really, unless you are a purist the terminology is not as important as the finished look.  Well designed homes and interiors can have the essence of the modern style with the openness and materials that reflect that time, but by including pieces that show your personality and taste you can enjoy a contemporary, and modern home.

Tropical modern homeTropical Modernism is something different again. As an architect in Sri Lanka, Geoffrey Bawa was one of the original proponents of Tropical Modernism – a design movement that, amongst other things began the integration of buildings and the landscape. This is when the blurring of lines between indoor and outdoor living began, and which we still enjoy today.

He built for the tropical climate. He recognized its special needs and combined those needs with the basic principles of Modern design. Bawa’s legacy was some beautifully designed hotels, a university campus and many public and government buildings, as well as many private residences.

What does Tropical Modernism look like today? This is the area that perhaps would be most relevant to us living where we do, so let’s look at this in detail next time. We will talk about the architecture, the furniture, the materials and the overall style.

Embrace the differences and enjoy the results!

Until next time,
Royal Palm Interiors – around the corner from BCR in Uvita – 2743-8323
royalpalminteriors.com
Like us on Facebook: facebook.com/RoyalPalmInteriors


Outdoor Rooms – Where Would You Rather Be?

Design WiseBy Shelagh Duncan

The outdoor living area has probably become one of the most important features in North American homes over the last few years. We however, have been lucky enough to enjoy our outdoor living areas ever since we arrived!

We love to spend our time outdoors – who would blame us! With the incredible beauty, and pure oxygen-rich air surrounding us, naturally  the covered terrace is where we prefer to spend most of our time. Typically that area has also become larger than our indoor living room, but how do we bring the inside out and the outside in?

Royal Palm Interiors

Read More…


Choosing a Colour Palette for your New Home

Design WiseBy Shelagh Duncan

Building a new house in Costa Rica is an exciting venture for many of us. Sometimes it is our first custom home – our dream home.

There are always many details to think about and many decisions to be made, often ones you had not even considered. Choosing a good custom home builder and project manager who will help you through this process is a whole other topic, and one we have covered previously. However, this time we are looking at just one aspect – Colour – and how to choose the colour scheme for your new home.

Royal Palm Interiors

Read More…


10 Simple Things to Make you Happier at Home

Happiness is always an inside jobBy Shelagh Duncan

I know, we tell ourselves “We live in paradise—what’s there not to be happy about? The resulting guilt because we don’t feel happy can just make things worse.

If you believe that our homes are an extension of who we are, we have somewhere to start. But if we are not happy in ourselves, how can we be happy at home? Perhaps we can change this up, and make our home a happier place to be so we, in turn will feel happier. Can this be possible?

What we do within the space we call home—both inside and out—shapes our mood, affects our productivity, and influences our outlook on life. The colours we paint our walls, the textures of the fabric we use and even the artwork on our walls can all influence how we feel. But without redoing our interior design and buying all new furniture what other options are there?

Royal Palm Interiors

Read More…


Design Wise – July 2016

Lighting by Shelagh Duncan

“Light is the first element of design; without it there is no color, form, or texture.”  Thomas E. Farin – educator, lighting consultant, entrepreneur

Dining roomLighting is such an important part of our lives, and one we take for granted most of the time. For me, I love lighting fixtures. They are like jewellery for the home!

Visually, light fixtures can add style to your home, and in practical terms the lighting you choose can effectively alter the mood or ambience of a room.

We have many lighting choices available that will add that special something to a room, and make it feel complete. Lighting options range from the edgy Industrial style, to sleek Modern and Contemporary styles, and from Rustic fixtures to the latest On-Trend designs.
Royal Palm Interiors

Read More…


What Type of Window Covering Should I Choose?

Bedoom-copyBy Shelagh Duncan

Where Do I Start?

Window treatments have been a part of life for most of us. We consider it one of the finishing touches for any room. There are many window covering options available to us here just as there are back home, and a huge variety of different styles, fabrics, textures and colours to chose from. However, once we move to the jungle and have are lucky enough to have staggering views, or perhaps total privacy afforded by lush vegetation or  a lovely large lot,  then covering the windows can be a secondary consideration.

Having said that, the other thing to consider is function. Why do you need to cover this window? Is it for privacy, do your rooms get too hot, is the early morning sun too bright, or do you just want to soften the feel of the room? Perhaps it is in a bathroom, where the builder decided in his wisdom that a large window in middle of the shower area would be a really good idea! Whatever the reason there is usually a great solution – but you have to know how to find it.
Royal Palm Interiors

Read More…