San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

A Stylish Home Doesn’t Have to Break the Bank

A faltering economy doesn’t mean all plans to redecorate your home need to come to a screeching halt. Aside from the rationale that by putting money back into the economy, you’re helping to save it, there are easy ways to change things up without burning through your savings.

According to Dan Lubner, president of the resorts division of Robb & Stucky Furniture (, something as simple as changing the pillows on a sofa can bring about the desired effect.

“I think the most important thing is to start with one important piece of furniture and work around it,” Lubner said.

The whole room doesn’t need to be transformed to acquire the right ambience. And with $100 million worth of inventory available between warehouses in Costa Rica and the United States, Robb & Stucky has items of all prices, sizes and styles – all of which can be customized to the client’s liking, Lubner said.

Clients who buy from Robb & Stucky also get the professional advice of a decorator as a complimentary service, he added. The company has a showroom at PacificoRetailVillage in Playas del Coco, on the northern Pacific coast (2670-2058).

While smaller manufacturers tend to be slightly more expensive, sometimes they are looking to clear storage space and are willing to sell off items for a reduced price.

Brian Erickson, who has been making innovative and customized furniture out of bamboo for 22 years, said he tries to clear space when he has a new shipment of bamboo due to arrive.

Based in the Caribbean-slope town of Guápiles, Erickson’s Muebles Brieri (, 2710-1958) doesn’t produce the typical, bulky bamboo furniture. He cuts the bamboo into strips to make lattices with which he crafts his furniture. Prices can run from $150 for chairs to $1,400 for a king-size canopy bed.

While the items definitely have an exotic and tropical feel, Erickson doesn’t go for the “jungle look or the Polynesian look,” he said. The furniture tries to provide a tranquil look while not sacrificing comfort.

Susan James of Mango Wood Furniture (, 8308-7732) tries to keep her mango wood products “clean and simple,” she said. Her warehouse in Alajuela, northwest of the capital, is filled with beautiful tables, shelves and cabinets, all in medium to light honey-brown hues.

James imports the wood from Java, Indonesia, and said she is happy to work with clients on prices and offer discounts on multiple purchases.

“I think you should buy what speaks to you and not worry what people say, or if they think it won’t go with the room,” James said.

Moving outdoors, in a country with a sometimes punishing sun, awnings can provide a bit of relief from the heat, while still affording the pleasure of sitting outside. Benedict Ponget’s Aluconcepto (, 8331-6425) creates outdoor sanctuaries that not only protect the skin, but also the outdoor furniture.

While his awnings tend to be on the expensive side, they are of very high quality and guaranteed for five years, Ponget said. Which reflects on a point made by Lubner: “I would warn people, first of all, to get good furniture that’s not going to fall apart after a year. Sometimes paying a little more for quality furniture pays off.”


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