Quepolandia logo

Great Ideas for Lighting your Bathroom and Kitchen

Design Header

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

Design Wise logoBathroom Lighting

When 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.

bathroomLet’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.

Royal Palm Interiors

The ambient lighting usually comes from a central source and illuminates the whole area, but the ones that make us really love our space are Task and Accent lighting.

BathroomEspecially important around the vanity mirror are the task lights. Remember those old movie star dressing rooms with a row of light bulbs down each side of the mirror? Well, they knew what they were doing! This gives the best overall illumination for using a mirror. Not the look you were going for? Well, today we would use two wall lights, or two pendant lights flanking the mirror at the right height. This will minimize facial shadows and give a more balanced illumination.

Adding a dimmer to your vanity lights will give the room softness when a bright light is not necessary, and you will be amazed at how much you will find yourself using this feature. Also consider installing a small illuminated concave mirror on, or near the main vanity mirror. The concave curvature of the mirror will magnify what you see in the mirror and help with special tasks such as shaving or applying makeup.

Avoid pot lights here—they will add years to your reflection. Any down-light will cast unflattering shadows so never use them above mirrors.

bath tub and windowRecessed down-lights are great in the shower however, as long as they are rated for use in a wet area. They create a subtle look, yet are bright enough to shower with and even read shampoo labels. Choose ones with a domed ‘glass’ diffuser for the best light.

If you have a textured stone wall in your bathroom or shower—accent it! Add a down-light close to the wall to highlight the texture.

Under cabinet lighting can make those middle-of-the-night trips safer and easier. Install lighting in the toe-kick beneath the cabinetry, and under the top cabinet. Outdoor rope lights will work well, as will traditional low voltage lights.

Kitchen Lighting

Tropical kitchenThe kitchen is usually the busiest place in the house. It is the gathering place for parties and get-togethers, it is the place we feed bodies and our spirits—and it is the center of the family.

Because it has to work so hard it needs an efficient layout and floor plan, organized drawer and cabinet storage and perfect lighting. Your preparation areas will need good light as well as your cooking and clean-up areas. Kitchen islands ideally should have a pendant light fixture with a dimmer, for variable light intensity. This is usually one of those multi-use areas in a kitchen, where you need great lighting sometimes and more subdued lighting at others.

Island lightingRecessed pot lights are great in kitchens, but as many of us have high, angled ceilings they do not produce enough down-light to be very practical. Under cabinet lighting is very practical, and can give a really great effect when used alone. If you need to, retro-fit for rope lights, low profile fluorescents, or low voltage puck lights. As usual, the task lighting is the most important element and needs to be well thought out.

Accent lighting will give your kitchen definition and personality and can add a real WOW factor. Illuminate glass-fronted cabinets, under open shelves or the space above your top cabinets. Again, the rope lights will work well there and there are lots around at this time of year.

Kitchen lightingStrategically placed down-lights above your upper cabinets, or those versatile rope lights on top of cabinets or around the toe-kick, will definitely make a statement.

Lighting should be layered, and no one source dominating. It is there to create beauty and ambiance.

Some of us love cooking and others—well, not so much. However we can still enjoy spending time in the kitchen if it is well designed and beautifully lit.

cabinet lightingUntil next time…

Royal Palm Interiors – Uvita  – 2743-8323
Like us on facebook.com/RoyalPalmInteriors

How to Create a Cohesive Colour Flow Throughout Your Home

Colour preferences vary as much as personalities, some folks are loving the bright and the bold, while others feel most secure surrounded by neutrals. The good news is that when it comes to colour, there really is no “correct” palette.

Design Wise logo
by Shelagh Duncan

Open plan colour flowThat being said, we’ve all been inside homes where an explosion of colour created a chopped-up feel between rooms so you don’t know where to look first. Living in the tropics and seeing all the bright and beautiful colours around us can make us feel we need to bring it all indoors. However our indoor living spaces generally need a calmer feel—too much disjointed colour can create a restless atmosphere.

Here are some well chosen tips to help keep that Calm, but enjoy the Colour! So choose the ones that work best for you.

Royal Palm Interiors

Read More…

How to Maximize Your Great Room

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.

Design Wise logo
2-story great roomby Shelagh Duncan

Whatever you call it, it’s a multi-functional 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.

The Great Room was a big fad beginning in the 1980s with all the new home builders back home, 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.

For us here, with our more casual lifestyle, 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.

Royal Palm Interiors

Read More…

6 Incredibly Easy Ways to Maximize your Kitchen Island

Design Wise logo
Uncluttered counterby 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, to 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.

Reduce clutter on top of your island

It is oh-so-convenient to use the island surface as a catch-all space, but try to move things off the top and keep it clear of everything that is not beautiful. Says William Morris “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful”. A simple bowl of fruit or floral arrangement on your island may be all that is needed to make your kitchen look like something out of a magazine. Make sure you have adequate lighting: use a striking pendant light that is low enough and bright enough to illuminate this principal work area. Remove non-essential items and as the island is usually the focal point of the kitchen – play it up!
Royal Palm Interiors

Read More…

Stage It to Sell It

Design Wise logo

Getting your home to say “Buy Me!” to prospective buyers.

by Shelagh Duncan

So, 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!

Front of house and gardenThere 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.

Firstly you will need to emotionally detach yourself: not easy I know. Now, think of yourself as a stranger visiting your home for the first time—the scratched cabinets and chipped tile that you no longer notice will be seen! If it is easier, ask a trusted friend to be that critical eye and point out the areas that need attention.

There are some tried and true rules for getting a house ready to sell.

Royal Palm Interiors

Read More…

New Year, New Look

Design Wise logo

10 Ways To Update Your Interior Without Breaking The Bank

by Shelagh Duncan

You might be quite happy with your current interior decor, but like any solid, long-term relationship, it can get a bit stale. With the New Year upon us why not try a few simple ideas to reinvigorate your space and make it look fresh and new – so you can fall in love with your home all over again!

Monstera leaves in a vaseYou don’t need to buy a bunch of new stuff to give your home a fresh look. Just take what you’ve already got, and mix it up! That’s what interior designers do. First we look through what clients already own, because treasures may be hidden in a cupboard or closet or sitting on a shelf that no one ever notices. Have a look around your own home, open the drawers, clear some shelves and counter tops and start fresh. Swap out mirrors, table lamps, throw blankets and pillows. Rotate artwork into different positions, rearrange the books and try out new objects on the coffee and dining table. Here are some ideas to get you going.



Change the wall art to a mirror – or vice-versa, change up the lamp or the table. Painting a wall in the entrance will give completely new first impression of your home. Just making a small change can make a big difference.

Royal Palm Interiors

Read More…


by Shelagh Duncan

Design Wise logoSectional sofaBuilding or purchasing a house can be one the most exciting times in your life, especially if it is located in a beautiful coastal area in Costa Rica! Once you have your design, the building begins and then you need to find furniture. Choosing new furniture can be a surprisingly daunting task, so where do you begin…?

Many of us are often unsure about what to look for when it’s time to buy a new sofa. It may have been over a decade ago that we purchased the last one and typically our new home will look quite different from the ones we lived in back home. After all, this is the tropics!

There are many things to consider before you buy; what style do you want to incorporate into your new home, what colours, and how will you to arrange the furniture. One of the most important considerations is space. What is going to fit in your space while still giving you the maximum amount of seating, and the look and feel you want?

Another more specific consideration is the climate here. Everything seems to wear out and degrade much faster than back home, so durability is a big factor, and with any sofa ‘Comfort is King’.
Royal Palm Interiors

Read More…

What a Crazy World We Sleep In!

Design Wise logoby Shelagh Duncan

If you ever wondered why the king sheets you brought down with you when you moved to Costa Rica never seemed to fit properly, then join the club! Most of us never think about things being too different in other countries. Weather, food, language for sure – but beds?

Most countries may call their beds King, Queen, Full or Twin, and some have a bunch of other in-between sizes like XL-Twin or California King. However – the big reveal is that each of these beds have different dimensions in almost every country in the world!

U.S and Costa Rica bed sizesThe reason is that the Western names have been given to the popular sizes in that country to follow Western culture. The sizes however, are usually specified by the Institute of Standards in each of these countries. The first of these organizations came into being around the time of the Industrial Revolution and set out guidelines to ensure that standards for all kinds of things as well as furniture are understood and followed. A “Standard” is just a protocol which is widely accepted, and these guidelines also incorporate such issues as strength, durability and safety for manufacturers to reference. There are many internationally recognized standards that we take for granted, such as musical notes, chemical and math symbols, and the clock, the calendar and mapping to name just a few. But it is not that simple for beds and mattresses.

Royal Palm Interiors

Read More…

Furnishing Your Vacation Rental Property

Design Wise logoThere are vacation rental properties, and there are great vacation rental properties. Make yours stand out from the crowd.

By Shelagh Duncan

Owning a great rental property can make you stand out from the competition and will ensure that your property is rented as often as you’d like it to be. This will also ensure that you not only get top dollar, but good reviews and repeat customers. There are two types of rental properties—those that are used by the owners, and those that are not. Often those used by the owners are favored as they tend to be kept cleaner, better equipped and more up to date. Regardless of whether you choose to use your rental or not, let’s help you to create a great rental property.

Blue sectionalFURNITURE

Choosing your furniture carefully will give you better returns on your investment in the long run. Do your homework—and set a realistic budget! The rule of thumb when buying furniture is to buy the best quality you can afford, even for a rental property. If you use a local company to supply a ‘package’ of furniture for your rental and you chose one within your budget, you will benefit from their expertise in coordinating all the pieces, and they usually will deliver and set it up for you too. It may not be as personalized as selecting each piece yourself, but you can save yourself a lot of stress, time, and probably money in the end.

If you like decorating and prefer to do it yourself then the most important items to concentrate on are the sofas and the mattresses. If your renters are not comfortable sitting or sleeping they will not be happy, and unhappy renters give bad reviews! At the store, I have had many conversations with renters who have had bad experiences like this because there is nowhere for them to relax in comfort—and it’s their vacation! Cheap sofas can become uncomfortable quickly and start to look shabby. Better quality sofas will have superior construction and use durable fabrics that are easy to clean.

Royal Palm Interiors

Read More…

Luxury Bed Linens: The Big Exposé

Design Wise logoA Higher Thread Count Does Not Mean You Are Getting A Better Quality Sheet!

By Shelagh Duncan

Can this be true? After all the hype and marketing we see about luxury bed linens, are the high-end 1000 thread count sheet sets no better than the 200TC ones we can buy at MaxiPali? Of course not—nothing is that simple, but it helps to know the facts and understand what the differences are, and that allows us to make informed decisions when buying our sheets.

Luxury beddingThe original notion of luxury bed linens began with the designers for the Westin Hotel Group in the early 1990’s. Before that time hotels generally used coloured or patterned bedspreads because they were easier to keep clean. The people at Westin wanted to test the market to see how they could improve their guest experience as ‘sleeping well’ was the stated priority.

What they found is how the all white bed that we are so used to seeing now, came about. They discovered that just by changing the bedding colour to white, guests had the feeling that the rooms had been newly renovated, and also reported that they had enjoyed a good night’s sleep because they felt the white sheets identified with being clean and fresh.

The end result was that the guest felt the rooms with the all white bed, the” Heavenly Bed” as it was marketed, offered a more luxurious experience. And that was where it all began. However, startling enough, the Westin were doing their testing using sheets with a thread count of between 180 and 250, the same TC as you can get today at MaxiPali!

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…

Big Ideas for Small Spaces

Decorating Tips to Maximize Small-Space Living

Design WiseBy Shelagh Duncan

Bigger is not always better. Lovely as they are, we know that large homes are more expensive to furnish and maintain, and as we spend so much of our time outdoors do we really need all that interior space?

Whatever size home you have the key is always to make the most appropriate choices for the space you are living in. This month we will be looking at maximizing small-space living. There are decorating challenges of course, but here are a few tips you can try to help your condo, house or room appear larger and more spacious.

Royal Palm Interiors

Read More…

6 Important Things to Consider When You Are Choosing Your NEW Sofa

Design WiseBy Shelagh Duncan

Your sofa and your bed are probably the two largest furniture investments you’ll make, so you will need to make some wise choices. In my opinion, comfort is king when it comes to seating and sleeping, so investing in a good sofa and a good mattress are paramount.

Sectional sofa

Sectional Sofa

A quality sofa should feel and look solid. Try before you buy—sit back and relax in it, check the arm and back height and sit as you would at home. I could wax on about eight-way, hand-tied springs, double doweled joint, and glued and screwed corner blocks—but it is the comfort level that usually seals the deal.

A wood frame bench with arms and a back passes for a sofa here, but the days of putting a couple of seat pads on it and calling it a sofa have long gone. Let your builder do the cabinets and doors, but not your seating. Even with thicker seat cushions the foam will compress badly if it only has a wood platform to sit on. Upholstered furniture uses a specific layering of springs and different cushioning materials to achieve exactly the right support and feel.

From my experience finding a comfortable sofa in Costa Rica is one of the biggest challenges facing not just newcomers, but even those who are looking to replace their moldy, worn or just plain uncomfortable ones.

Royal Palm Interiors

Read More…

Transitional Design

A Harmony of the Classic and the Clean

Design WiseBy Shelagh Duncan

If you appreciate the classic shapes and silhouettes of traditional interiors, but also enjoy the minimalism and open concepts of contemporary and modern interiors—then the transitional style is probably right for you!

Transitional interior design is a perfect fusion of traditional and contemporary styles. It borrows from the best of both worlds to create a balanced and sophisticated space. As the name probably suggests, transitional design came about by combining two opposite styles. It’s sometimes referred to as “an updated take on the classics”.

Transitional DesignOn the one hand, you have the warmth, comfort and balance that comes from a traditional aesthetic. But refusing to be bogged down by the ornate details that can sometimes make traditional spaces feel outdated, the transitional look pares it down and incorporates the clean lines and simplistic nature that defines contemporary design. At its best, this style feels timeless with a modern twist.

Royal Palm Interiors

Read More…

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…