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Bamboo and Rattan Furniture – Is there a Difference?

Rattan growing wild

Rattan growing wild

By Shelagh Duncan

What better furniture to use in Costa Rica than tropical rattan or bamboo—it is sustainable, lightweight, natural and looks great.

Exotic woods like Ron Ron, Laurel and Cristóbal, are rich in grain and colour but these trees take many decades of growth to produce these beautiful woods. Bamboo and rattan however grow very fast, and rattan actually aids the forest where it grows and is totally sustainable – and as a bonus it is one of the world’s strongest woods. Yes, it actually is a wood.

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8 Ways To Stay Within Your Building Budget

House renderingThe Devil is in the Details

By Shelagh Duncan

Once you have purchased your piece of paradise, and decided that it is time to think about building your vacation, part-time or future home, you will ask your builder “How much will the project cost?” The answer isn’t always straightforward and easy. You see, a home construction budget, in both its creation and maintenance, is more art than science. There are way too many variables when you are building a custom home for the builder to be able to be 100% on mark. Costs of materials can increase from one week to the next as can the price of gas, so transport costs increase. It is all a bit unpredictable, so you will want to do as much research as you can before you begin.

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20 Ways That Can Help You Live Green At Home

Earth Day 2015By Shelagh Duncan

Earth Day is April 22nd. This is the time when we should be re-evaluating our efforts to take care of this planet we call home. We all know about the 3 R’s, but we should also be trying in other ways to lessen our carbon footprint and be a better friend to the environment.

Here are 20 ways that can help you live green at home, and why not consider adopting even a couple of these ideas. If everyone does a little, we can accomplish a lot.

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The Great Room

The Great RoomBy Shelagh Duncan

It’s Great – because this is the place where everyone ends up!

So, move over kitchen – the great room has become a favorite gathering place in the house. Or is it the living room, or family room.

Whatever you call it, it’s a multifunctional room that provides space to lounge on a comfy sofa in front of the TV, find solace with a good book, watch the kids play, and enjoy good conversation.

For us, with our more casual lifestyle here, it has almost completely replaced the more formal living room. Now it can encompass all of the above, plus casual dining and work and study areas.

The Great Room was a big fad beginning in the 1980s with all the new home builders, and was usually in addition to the basement rec. room or rumpus room. It grew as an extension to the kitchen, where Mom could keep an eye on the kids (and the soaps perhaps), while preparing family meals.Royal Palm Interiors

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Why Use a Pre-Designed Furniture Package in Costa Rica?

A selection of furniture packages

A selection of furniture packages

By Shelagh Duncan

What is the better option: searching for yourself, or having a group of professionals guide you through a hassle-free process so you arrive at you new home with everything ready for you?

More and more people who come into the store these days are asking about our pre-designed furniture packages. They are building, (or planning on building) a home and have decided that is the simpler way to go. With the stress of all the building decisions and issues, knowing that when their home is finished they can actually start enjoying right away is a big plus.
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A Few of The Most Commonly Asked Decorating Questions

Here are some of the most common decorating questions that I have been asked over the years.

What Colour Should I Paint My Walls?

turquoise chair
You can take a cue from your wardrobe – what colours do you love to wear. Which ones get you the most complements? You may love Turquoise or Fuchsia but cannot imagine it in your living room.

My philosophy is not to be afraid of colour – embrace it! Colour is closely tied to our emotions so using the colours we love can only be good, right?

Well…. bright/strong colours look great as T-shirts, blouses and bangles – but head to toe… not so much!  One wall painted a strong colour can look amazing, but often a whole room can just be overwhelming.
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WHAT FLOORING SHOULD I USE FOR MY NEW HOUSE?

flooring tilesBy Shelagh Duncan

Usually, in Costa Rica, we opt for the practical and go with ceramic when we choose flooring for our homes. Well, why not? There are ceramic tiles of almost every colour, pattern, size and style to choose from.

But what other options are there?  We know that the wood plank flooring from back home will be totally unsuitable unless we have the air conditioner going 24/7, and laminates suffer badly with the humidity too.

Some of the popular choices here are naturally the ceramic tile, porcelain tile, natural stone and concrete.

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6 Important things to consider when you are choosing a sofa

Buying a sofaBy Shelagh Duncan

A sofa is one of the biggest furniture investments you’ll make — and one of the most permanent. Even if you’re just buying a budget one for a temporary fix, you know that it’ll eventually get less and less comfortable and the prospect of replacing it will be filed in that ‘Someday’ category off in the distance. Before you know it, a decade or more has passed, and that impulse purchase has become an uncomfortable and less than attractive part of your life. So give some thought to your sofa before you buy.
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12 Easy Decorating Tips For a Fresh New Look!

Revamping your styleBy Shelagh Duncan

Revamping your home decor does not always have to be a major project, and you don’t always have to spend a King’s ransom to do it. Here are some easy ways to give your rooms a fresh look in record time, using what you may already have, and without breaking the bank.

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Choosing Your Perfect Coffee Table

Rattan coffee tablesBy Shelagh Duncan

The coffee cable is an essential piece of furniture for any living room. Find out what will work best in your space.

In the UK, the coffee table was made popular during the late 1800’s, and low tables have been used in other cultures for a long time before that. In the US, they evolved from taller tables and were marketed as cocktail tables after Prohibition was repealed in the 1920’s says Jan Cummings, who teaches furniture history courses for Johnson County Community College’s interior design department. So what’s the difference between coffee and cocktail tables these days? Not much really. Some say the shape – coffee tables are square or rectangular, and cocktail tables are rounded, but it’s probably more to do with marketing – and what you’re drinking!

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Stage It to Sell It

Getting Your Home to say “Buy Me!” to Prospective Buyers

By Shelagh Duncan

Home interiorSo, you have decided that you are going to sell your home. It could be that you have seen a fabulous property elsewhere, or for any number of other reasons. The bottom line is that you want it to sell, and to sell quickly! There are some very important things that you will need to think about before getting the realtor in.

You will want the prospective buyers to feel at home there. You want them to be able to imagine themselves living and enjoying what you have. But remember, they are not you. They will have their own tastes and lifestyle so you have to be ruthless at removing as much personal memorabilia as possible. De-personalize the house – it is just a house now, not your home, and your job is to get that house ready to hand over to the next owners.
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Taking Care of Your Microfiber Sofa

Microfiber sofaBy Shelagh Duncan

We love our microfiber sofas and chairs, in fact I always tell people that it is just about the best, and most practical upholstery fabric for our climate, and casual lifestyles. Microfiber is a great fabric choice for down here because it resists deterioration even when exposed to mildew, sunlight, water and insects – as well as having many other wonderful qualities.

Nowadays we can find microfiber fabrics in an exciting array of designs and textures. There is even a polished version that looks like distressed leather. The colours are great too – they are much more vibrant than with natural fabrics like cotton or linen. The ‘hand’ or feel, is soft and luxurious and it has a unique texture that accentuates the colour’s depth and contrast, making it an excellent upholstery choice.

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The Outdoor Kitchen

Outdoor FeastBy Shelagh Duncan

Outdoor kitchens in many old Mediterranean farmhouses and homes have pizza ovens, fireplaces, grills, sinks and work counters, set in covered terraces, courtyards and gardens. Today, this trend is growing wherever the climate allows – especially so here in Costa Rica. In this part of the world we tend to live outdoors more and the outdoor kitchen can extend our living and entertaining areas to encompass the garden, pool and beyond.

Many people were smart enough to include an outdoor kitchen in the original plans when they were building their home, others have either purchased or built homes and now are thinking about adding one.

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10 Smart Ideas for Small Spaces

Nesting TablesBy Shelagh Duncan

That old joke: “My house is so small, you have to go outside to change your mind” is not so funny if you are struggling with a small space that needs to function well enough to entertain friends and family – and still be comfortable.  Small spaces require creative solutions that focus on flexibility and here we have 10 great ideas to help you.

1.Nesting Tables:

When you need an extra table or two – inside or out – but have no floor space, try using nesting tables. These handy pieces are invaluable when entertaining, and can add a little style in the bargain.

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6 Incredibly Easy Ways to Maximize your Kitchen Island

Reduced clutterBy Shelagh Duncan 

The hardworking kitchen island can be a very functional, and beautiful centerpiece of a kitchen design. It is one of the most popular features in a modern kitchen. However, in some spaces a built-in island can feel more cumbersome than useful, or becomes cluttered with ‘stuff’ so we lose the benefit of all that extra working space.  If you are feeling that you need to rethink your island, make it more functional and maybe add a feature two – read on. Let’s think about some other options that can be smart space-savers and at the same time, cool design solutions.

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