Sunday, March 29, 2009

Interior Designing

Bone or “blanco”? Large tank or small? High seat or low? Who would have thought so many decisions could go into simply choosing a toilet! Pat and I went to San Jose recently looking forward to starting the process of designing the interior of our homes and restaurant, but our excitement waned as we were confronted with walls upon walls of faucet handles, shower heads, light fixtures and tile samples. Talk about sensory overload!

It helped that we had the somewhat limited mission of finding “acabados” or “finishings”, for the bathrooms and kitchens. Window treatments, door hardware, and wall paint were thankfully set aside for a future date. Our task was further simplified by the fact that our range of choices here in Costa Rica is much more limited than it would have been in the United States. Using a Costa Rican design magazine (Su Casa) as our guide, we compiled a list of about eight design centers in San Jose that we knew would have the quality products we were looking for. Compared to the eight million design centers in the Greater Washington area, we thought we’d be in pretty good shape. Well, we thought wrong.

First of all, the idea of choosing permanent fixtures without being able to “try them on”, is really rather daunting. Pat had a minor freak~out on our first shopping day, and was rendered completely incapable of making any decisions. He kept asking over and over, “But how do we know that this will look right ?”. The best answer I could come up with was, “We don’t, but we have to choose something. We’re just going to have to trust our guts and get something we like… and we can’t go too terribly wrong with beige.” The urgency of the situation helped push Pat into high gear, and by the second day, we were able to make considerable progress.

Our second major obstacle is our bank account. As our architect has commented on more than one occasion, we’re trying to build a million dollar home on a million Costa Rican colones budget (exchange rate 560 to 1!). So, although we continually gravitate toward the onyx sink basins and custom Italian tiling, the sticker shock brings us back to reality. We try to make ourselves feel better by thinking how difficult those fancy surfaces are to maintain, and how impractical they would be in a public restaurant (but it doesn't really help).

By the end of our trip (among other things) we had chosen:
Seven bathroom sinks
Six fountain lights
Five possible floor tiles
Four low~flush toilets
Three types of faucets
Two office chairs
And a painted lamp with a toucan in a tree!

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