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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 In the US, they evolved from taller tables and were marketed as cocktail tables after Prohibition was repealed in the 1920’s says Jan Cummings, who teaches furniture history courses for Johnson County Community College’s interior design department.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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Will YELLOW be the new BLACK?

YellowBy Shelagh Duncan

Apparently yellow is going to rule the decor scene for the next while. It is a cheerful, happy color that has many moods, and works with lots of other colours. Yellow will dominate they say, but there is a trend to the pastels, as well as more rich and saturated colours. But, the general feeling is – FUN! 

We will enjoy using yellow because of our fabulous tropical locale but perhaps the trend will be modified for city folks: it could be paired with black or organic colours for a more chic, sophisticated look. 

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Great Ideas for lighting Your Bathroom & Kitchen

By Shelagh Duncan

Bathroom Lighting 

amazing tub accent lightingWhen it comes to lighting, an often ignored area of our homes is the bathroom. We’ll choose great tiles and faucets, but lighting usually plays a supporting role. Whether we opt for that minimalist Spa look, luxurious opulence, or just a serene place of refuge, lighting can make or break the effect. 

Let’s face it – the strip light above the mirror is the cheap and easy fix. A well thought-out lighting plan takes time and money, but makes the world of difference in any room. Basically you should have the three main types of lighting present – Task Lighting, Ambient Lighting, and Accent Lighting. 

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Is it Time for a New Mattress?

MattressesBy Shelagh Duncan

Fact # 1

  • Humans need to sleep about 30% of their lives  – cats almost 50% and giraffes less than 10%!

Fact #2

  • Humans are the only species who purposely delay sleep.   

Fact #3

  • More than 60% of North Americans do not experience a good night`s sleep

Fact #4

  • Most of us are sleeping on a mattress long after it has lost its ability to provide our body with the comfort and support it needs for rest and regeneration.

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How to Find Your Signature Colour & Use it in Your Home – Part 2

Yellow tropical living roomBy Shelagh Duncan

Last month we helped you find your own signature colour, and I hope you have your paint colour picked out by now. This time we are offering some  thoughts on where certain colours work best. Remember, you do not have to repaint the whole house, or even the whole room. Often a little colour goes a long way, and it can be introduced in window coverings, pillows or art, as well as other home accessories. If you really love your colour (which you obviously do) and want to make a statement, then get out the paint brush and roller and have fun!

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MOLD. Friend or Foe?

Mold spores

Mold spores

By Shelagh Duncan 

What is Mold?

Molds (and mildew) are fungi. Fungi are not plant, animal or bacteria, they are microbial. They are responsible for such wonderful organisms as the delicious edible mushrooms, they are the makers of the “miracle drug” penicillin and the yeast that makes our bread rise, our fine wines ferment and our richly flavoured cheeses taste so good. They play important roles in bio-technology and food science in the production of many foods, beverages, antibiotics and enzymes.

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How to Find Your Signature Colour and Use it in Your Home – Part One

Signature Colour  Aqua

Signature Colour Aqua

By Shelagh Duncan

This month we’ll explore how to find your signature colour, and next time we’ll look at what to do with it once you’ve got it.

We are fortunate enough to live in one of the most beautiful places on earth! Wonderful colours surround us each and every day. Colour is a powerful tool, and professionals  use all the time in advertising, product packaging, fashion, interior design and even road signs. The colours are not chosen because the designer likes them, they are chosen because they communicate. Colour can inspire emotions, stimulate appetites, improve vision and calm you down.

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When Colour Could Kill: Stories From the History of Paint

Delve into paint’s storied past — what you learn about its history and modern incarnations may surprise you.

George Washington's home

The large dining room at George Washington’s home in Mount Vernon, Virginia

I credit Victoria Finlay for the contents of this article. She is the author of  “Colour – A Natural History of the Palette”. She lives near Bath, England, and is writing a second book on colour for the Getty Museum. Her research has led her around the world and deep into the history of colour — and the risks we’ve taken to bring the most beautiful hues into our homes.

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Answers To Some Of The Most-Often-Asked Decorating Questions.

By Shelagh Duncan 

My passion is design and I love problem-solving! Here are some easy and inexpensive solutions to a few of the most commonly asked decorating questions: 

Q:  What color should I paint my walls?

Pick A Paint Colour To Work With Your Chosen Fabric

Pick A Paint Colour To Work With Your Chosen Fabric

Orange. Okay I’m kidding. But only you will know what colors work best for you. You can figure it out…. Look at the accessories you already have – pillows, artwork, fabrics. You will probably start to see a colour theme there.

If you are starting from scratch, go and find yourself a fabulous fabric (or picture) you love  What are the dominant colours, what are the complementary colours? Pick your favourite colour from what you see in your accessories. You can go lighter or darker, but make sure what you choose relates to something in that pillow or art. 

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Help Your Vacation Home Pay For Itself

Main PhotoBy Shelagh Duncan 

The dream of having a vacation property in Costa Rica is something many of us are living, and many others would love. However owning a second home that remains vacant most of the year can be a financial burden if you are still working, or have long-term commitments back home. If you want to be able to make the most of your investment (and still fully enjoy your time here), it is worth looking into renting your home out during the year. 

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