Remember when patio furniture meant plastic, mesh and metal? Well, those days are long gone, as natural woods and synthetic, weather-resistant materials and fabrics have become readily available in Costa Rica. Taking advantage of the country’s beautiful weather by creating an inviting outdoor area is a no-brainer, as is shopping for furniture and outdoor accessories. A slew of stores and distributors are out there to answer your questions and get you all set up. Here are a few ideas to get started:
Aliss, a mega-store with everything from home goods to clothing, also carries a line of naturally weather-resistant teak outdoor furniture imported from Indonesia. Salesman Randall Delgado at the store’s location in the western San José suburb of Escazú recently showed off a handy expandable table with a removable leaf that ups its seating capacity from four to eight. It runs about $1,200, and each foldable teak chair that goes with it is $375.
Aliss also carries teak lounge chairs, ideal for a pool area, and a wooden bar (about $280) with space to hold cups and bottles, great for keeping drinks on hand during parties or afternoons in the backyard. Aliss has three other stores in the San José area, in Curridabat and inside Terramall, east of San José, and in the Real Cariari Mall, northwest of San José. Call 223-8233 for more information.
Acuarium Piscinas & Spas carries lounges, tables and chairs made of Costa Rican teak as well as a line of furniture made from treated aluminum and accented with a synthetic fabric made to look like wicker that slicks away water. Tables with treated glass tops fit four or eight people, and chairs made with synthetic rattan are also available. A small table runs about $120, while chairs start at about $75.
Acuarium Piscinas & Spas has stores in Escazú (201-7171); Liberia, capital of the northwestern province of Guanacaste (667-0800); and Playa Herradura, on the central Pacific coast (637-7148).
If you’re looking for something really different, check out Matahari, a furniture store with branches in the western San José neighborhood of Rohrmoser (291-4943) and in the Guanacaste town of Villarreal (652-9005).
Owner Isidro Camina travels to Indonesia and Thailand several times a year and brings back some incredible finds. An outdoor loveseat shaped like a giant clam inviting you to crawl inside was one of the highlights of the showroom floor during a recent Tico Times visit to the Rohrmoser store.
The shell is made of a rain- and sun-proof synthetic material, and the cushions, roomy enough for two people to spread out on, also feature weatherproof fabric. Matahari’s furniture isn’t cheap – the loveseat runs $2,450 – but if you’re willing to pay for something unique and durable, its pieces are solid investments.
The store also carries furniture made of natural rattan that must be brought inside during the rain, as well as teak pieces. Some of these items are a bit easier on the budget, running from about $500 to $900. Cushions can be custom-made out of Sunbrella brand weather-repellent fabric if the client provides it.
To pick out and purchase Sunbrella fabric, visit KA Internacional stores in Escazú (288-2535) or Curridabat (280-6562). A stock of some patterns is kept at each store, and if you don’t find one that catches your eye, KA can special-order patterns from the Sunbrella catalog. This fabric is specially engineered not to fade in sunlight, resist UV rays and be extra durable, even under the harshest conditions, according to the company’s Web site, www.sunbrella.com. It’s also water-repellent, though not completely waterproof. Water repellency can be refreshed over time by using a special fabricguard treatment.
House of the World (288-1182) in San Rafael de Escazú is another store that stocks exotic furniture from Indonesia. A boatshaped daybed ($1,100) makes for comfortable lounging outdoors, and a line of rattan and bamboo tables and chairs can create a nice eating area. Cedar and banana leaves also accent some of the store’s unique pieces.
A custom-made decorative fountain can infuse the peaceful sound of running water into your garden or patio, and Fuentes Ornamentales (282-1039, www.fuentesornamentales.com) in Santa Ana, southwest of San José, specializes in making such pieces. If clients bring a drawing or photo, the store can work with them to develop just the fountain they had in mind and also transport and install it anywhere in the country when it’s finished, explained manager Bernard Pohlond. Technicians can also help with maintenance and illumination to accent the fountain at night.
An extensive selection of ready-made fountains is also available. Prices vary depending on the material and size; small fountains start at about $200.
For accents such as decorative stone walls and tiles, Construplaza in Escazú (215-3000, www.construplaza.co.cr) is a great place to shop. A walk through the finishings department is sure to give you some ideas, and, if it doesn’t, specialists are on hand to make suggestions. Construplaza also carries wood for building covered rancho areas.