San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Humid Salt Breezes, Open Windows Present

LIVING at or near the beach can make a homeownerfeel extraordinary; after all, close proximity tothe ocean is a gift of immeasurable value. Yet, there arespecial considerations when designing and decoratinga beach house – regardless of whether the residence ismoderate or elaborate – because the elements of sun,sea and sand require more than just respect and admiration.“When investing in a beachfront home, our clientshave a different lifestyle,” said Nicolas Viale, owner ofCentury 21 Coastal Estates in Playa Tamarindo,Langosta and Caña Fistula. “They like living with openwindows, watching sunrises and sunsets with theirhuge open terraces, having dinnerunder the stars, relaxing in theirtropical gardens, etc. But beachhouses need to be conceived andfurnished in a different way thanother homes – the humid salt breezefrom the ocean is the enemy.”That salt will cause damage tothe structure of a beach home (especiallyif its structure is steel), airconditioning systems, electricalinstallation, paint and stucco, furniture,appliances, decoration and artwork.PRIOR to the Costa Rican real-estate boom, thiswas not of much concern, as beach houses were simplyweekend homes of minimal comfort level with notmuch inside. Now, people are investing in art and top qualityfurniture, as well as high-tech electricaldevices, and those houses have partial or total air conditioning.It’s important to protect these investments.“You need to budget some money before you buy abeach house to redecorate, reupholster and replacethings that erode or become damaged from the erosionand natural damage which occurs from living near thebeach,” Viale said. “This changeover is likely necessaryevery three years, and be aware that maintenance/repairs cost for such a home will be two to threetimes the costs of a regular home.“Essentially, do whatever you want; make a nicehome for yourself; enjoy it. When you need to, replacesomething. It’s a completely different lifestyle,” sheadded.Interior designers who specialize in beach-housedécor offer an expertise much needed for these kinds ofproperties. Two in Guanacaste include Celine Priceand Jean Guinot.HOME designer/project manager Price was bornand raised in Marseille, France, but has been applyingbasic guidelines to Tamarindoabodes at Sunset Hill, TamarindoDiriá Condominiums and privatehomes since she made a permanentmove to the area from LosAngeles, Calif. two years ago.Price’s primary focus these days isthe prestigious Los Altos de Pinillaproject, a luxury spa and hotelunder construction betweenTamarindo and Avellanas beaches.Tamarindo Pacific Interiors’Jean Guinot is an interior designerwhose San José company alsodesigns and imports furniture,ornaments, lighting fixtures, accessories, and more. Hestarted working here by accident. French and Italian,but born in Senegal, West Africa, he was manufacturingfurniture in Costa Rica for a company in Californiawhen he met Cala Luna Hotel and Villas’ Else Pilurzu.Guinot decorated the entire Langosta project, whichresulted in work at Los Sueños, Reserva Conchal andmore.Price and Guinot’s guidelines for the decoration and design of beach homes follow:1. FOCUS on the view and on being outside.“Make sure the main rooms face thebeach,” Price said. This provides the homeownerwith the option of creating an air flowfor the house with open doors and the oceanbreeze, or building beautiful, big windowsfacing the sea and then air conditioning theenclosed room. Or do both. Use ceiling fansfor natural airflow. It’s always best to aircondition bedrooms as well as offices wherecomputers are kept.Outside the mainroom, create a large areafor entertaining. Priceoffers a number ofoptions including a swimmingpool, a barbecue pit,a colorful garden, a naturalwood deck, dining areaor sunbathing section.“Always there is anoutside shower and bathwhich is necessary for the sand,” she emphasized.“And, an area for surfboards, ofcourse, preferably made in teak.”To combat the problems that arise fromthe ocean air, Guinot uses a special treatablefabric called “sunbrella,” a mildew-resistant,water-repellent material on both the insideand outside furniture.“It’s wonderful for me because I can doall kinds of things without it looking likecanvas,” she said about the material, whichwas originally designed for boats. “We do aslipcover for the upholstered pieces makingrevamping easier. Always use slipcovers onyour outside and general living room furnitureif possible, because they are easy tochange when they are in need of it. This is anextremely important issue.”2. BRING the outdoors indoors.“My tendency is to bring the outsideinside,” said Guinot about his projects at thebeach. “Definitely soft color, somethingfresh, definitely prints such as landscapes,palm trees on window treatments, coordinatedwith bed covers, using solids colors.Always use color and patterns that remindyou that you are in the tropics, like seashells,flowers.”Price concurred.“If there’s a gardenoutside, then put a drygarden inside, meaningplants inside by thestairs, for example, thatthe owners would waterthemselves. Or the drygarden could be madewith cactus,” she said.3. USE lots of naturaland available materials.Tamarindo Pacific Interiors specializesin mixing the natural earth materials and creatingfurniture and window treatments thatGuinot feels are appropriate for life at thebeach.“We like eclectic – using different materialssuch as wood with rattan, and bambooshades for window treatments, maybe thepanels in sea grass. We have a local factorywhere we bring coco from the Philippinesand integrate it into wood furniture to give itanother dimension. I want furniture to be aconversation piece,” Guinot said.While Price doesn’t advocate rattan, shedoes recommend the use of natural materialfor a beach home, especially the variouslocal woods. Teak is a favorite of hers,because it’s a hardwood, as well as bananaleaf.“It’s soft to the eye and more comfortablethan rattan,” she said.HOWEVER, both teak and banana leafneed to be sealed to foil beach erosion.“Bamboo is a natural, very resistantmaterial, and so is caña brava, another typeof wood. Bamboo blinds are good, especiallyfor use around 3 or 4 p.m. when the sunstarts to get into the house. And I like usingstones in the floor, and wall, too,” she added.Both Price and Guinot agree that whilethe above generalities can satisfy most, it’simportant to spend time with the clients andfind out about their specific needs.For example, Guinot always asks if thehome will have children or if the unit will berented. This kind of factor will refine thedecorating process and increase both theenjoyment of the home and the rental andresale value of the property.For more info, contact Celine HomeDesign/Project Management/InteriorDecoration at 839-9939 or 653-1247 or contact Jean Guinot at TamarindoPacific Interiors, call 282-8653 or 282-8712or e-mail

Comments are closed.