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How to keep your house cool and comfortable this summer.

Modern ceiling fanBy Shelagh Duncan

This seems to be have been one of our warmer summers and it gets harder to keep our homes cool. A/C is expensive and we all know it is better to breathe in the wonderful, oxygen-rich air that surrounds us than any ‘processed’ air.

I was just up in San Jose for a few days, and it was a fair bit cooler up there. There were some big breezes passing through—which were great—and helped make up for all the other stuff I don’t really love about big cities! Coming home, I was reminded just how humid and warm our little part of Paradise can be. This is not a bad thing—but we do need to be able to be as comfortable as we can in the heat, and maximize our enjoyment while living here.

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Create a Warm and Inviting Guest Room

Guest RoomBy Shelagh Duncan

Now is the time of year when we enjoy visits from friends and family. We all want to make their stay as enjoyable as possible, so when arranging the guest room, think about your experience in your favourite B&B or 5-star hotel. Take your cue from the special touches that made your stay so memorable.

You may not have the budget to create a luxurious getaway oasis, but with a few simple tips you can offer a comfortable, quiet place to relax.

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Retro Style: Outa Sight? Or Not Your Bag?

By Shelagh Duncan

We all know that styles are cyclical and, of course, the world of interior design is not exempt. The best aesthetics will resurface again and again. For a while now mid-century-modern design has been gaining popularity and, perhaps for good reason.

Mid-Century Modern examples

What is Mid-Century Modern?

Mad menThe shift probably began after the wave of oversized and over-the-top French-Provincial and Tuscan Villas had us all feeling, well over-whelmed. Inevitably, we began to yearn for more simplicity. Then came Mad Men.

If you’ve ever seen an episode of this stylish, smart and tightly crafted show, then you’re already familiar with mid-century modern design. Mad Men has been credited with helping fuel a resurgence of interest in this style. For seven seasons we were hooked watching cool people living with a retro vibe.

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MOLD. Friend or Foe?

Mold spores

Mold spores

Some Easy ways to Protect your Home (& Boat) from Mold

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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Decorating in the Mediterranean Style

By Shelagh Duncan

Okay, so you have your new home and now you have to furnish it. Or, you have purchased a house with some furniture and want a fresh look: whatever the reason, if you are looking for a unique and pretty way to furnish your home, consider the Mediterranean Style.

Mediterranean images

Because the area is so diverse, you will have a multitude of looks from which to choose. The furniture is as eclectic as the region. Very few types of design style can offer the rare combination of exotic looks and rustic simplicity that have come to define the Mediterranean style.

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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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