the places I visit on the island paradise where I live

Cozumel from an interior designer's point of view. Having left Ohio in 1981, I have been moving south ever since. First to Florida, then for the last 15 years, I have lived on the island of Cozumel with my husband and two dogs. Expat, designer, writer, photographer ... all my passions with a Mexican twist!

Aug 25, 2016

How to Buy Furniture Online in the States

To Buy or Not to Buy... Modern Furniture Online?
reprinted from an article from Modern Furniture Review

The Internet is a place where you can purchase almost all sorts of merchandise and fulfil all your shopping desires. Luxury items are usually at a discount online than most local walk-in retail stores. Normally with furniture I would say you should walk into a store, sit on the lounger, or inspect the tables in person to really get a good feel. However I will admit having seen enough comparisons first hand and online purchases myself, the lines begin to blur when you are talking about huge price differences... seemingly the exact same lounger $2000 in store and $1000 online? Or in some cases, that item you see online actually looks nicer! All of a sudden, it seems to make more sense to take a gamble and purchase that beautiful piece of furniture you've been eyeing online. I will share with you things I have personally discovered to really take the gamble out of such an important purchase.

Rules I follow:

1. Overall feel of vendor website - Is this website professional made? Or does it look like it was put together over night in someone's basement? I'm not talking about purely aesthetics. Is the website secure and verified? Do they accept major credit cards or only paypal? 1-800 number and live chat? Someone answers you promptly by phone or email when you contact them? These are all very important feedback for myself when I look for a reliable online store.

2. Representation of Products (Pictures, Details, etc) - These details I find to be very important. Do the gallery pictures of their products look high resolution or very generic and small in size? The clearer, bigger, and more original their pictures are, the more likely it was taken from their actual inventory instead of just pasting in generic pictures. You can even go beyond this and ask them to provide you with unedited, unphotoshopped studio pictures of that item you are interested in buying. Any legit vendor of size would have done their own studio pictures to market their products properly. Small blurry pictures are likely trying to hide details of their product and count on you to believe all popular designs are made the same.Description of Products - when you read the product description and details of their products, is it something you've read somewhere else? Copied and pasted info usually means copied and pasted pictures!

Jul 15, 2016

A New Look for A Great Condo

Living room chair and ottoman with new fabric

At the beginning of this year, we had a great opportunity to work again with a client we hold very dear to our hearts. Back in 2005 and 2006 when we were getting started, this wonderful gentleman appeared in our old store and said he wanted to work with us. He said he would be sending us a large sum of money in a few days when he returned to Texas, after us only having a two hour meeting. I didn't hold my breath, but on Tuesday morning, as he said, the money was in our account. We did two condos together back then, and now nine years later, we are refurbishing both units.

New foam and dacron wrap to refurbish the sofas

New seat covers for the counter stools
Close up of the new counter stool fabric

Our client updated his kitchen with new stainless steel appliances and wanted to add a fresh, new look to what he had. When I inspected the sofas and sectionals, I was pleased to discover what good shape they were in. They just needed some new foam and dacron wrap added. The property manager was adding new fresh white duvet covers and shams, so we made wonderful pillows, bed scarves and cornices to finish out the bedrooms.

Close up of the new cornice

New pillows
Master Bedroom King bed with new bed scarf and pillows

We will end up refurbushing both units. One is shown here and I will take photos of the other one next week. It is very satisfying to work for someone again. And by the way, he rents so if this looks nice, you can find this unit at El Cantil on Cozumel Island.

My favorite bedroom

Ne cornice to match pillows and bed scarf

Jun 15, 2016

Cozumel Sea Walls by Flow Serfati Photography

Jason Botkin painting Cozumel sea wall photo by Florent Serfati
This photo is so powerful in so many ways. It is a great shot by Florent Serfati, who has done a magnificent job of compiling all the sea wall photos he shot recently. The artist, Jason Botkin, is shown in a Michaelangelo concentration doing what he does best. There is so much passion in this photo.

Jason Botkin mural complete by Florent Serfati

I have been following Florent Serfati's photography for a while, admiring his skills and loving what I got to follow on Facebook. But he has really outdone himself with the murals that have gone up all around Cozumel in the last month. People came from all over the world to promote our oceans and leave us these wonderful treasures. Flow has captured these moments magnificently.

Another awesome photo by Flow Serfati Photography

Due to some health issues, I haven't been out and about to take my own photos of these sea murals. Luckily I didn't have to, I have been able to enjoy them from in front of my computer. The above is by Kaulukuku and references the sponsor, Pangeaseed and of course taken on Cozumel, Mexico 2015.

It you loved these sea mural photos, please visit Flow Serfati's Photography page here on Facebook.  You will see the sea murals and a whole lot of other wonderful photographs. Thanks, Flow!!

By the way, if you want to see just the sea wall photos, click here.

May 15, 2016

Yearly 50% Off Sale at The Magic of Design

Our yearly sale is now on us. 50% off the prices listed throughout the store. We also have the inventory listed on our Facebook page. But remember, I cannot go in every time we sell something. So there may be items sol listed here. Just check with us.

We have many more pieces from the groups shown, and also we have mattresses, box springs, import riser foundations and more. We are already out of sleepers and sofas, which always sell first! Link to the Facebook page inventory is here. Remember take 50% off and prices are for Cozumel only. The include all sales tax, delivery and set up.

Mar 27, 2016

Tropical Paradise: French Caribbean Design Part 1

Cozumel is not a big place, especially when you take into account the ex-pat community. Those of us that speak English (hate to say it) but we tend to stick together a bit. There is nothing like having a conversation in English after speaking Spanish all day with my employees. 

My husband is Mexican and we obviously have many Mexican friends and family, but due to the size of the community and the warmth of the island, often my American and Canadian clients become not just clients, but also friends. Sometimes the friendship lasts only the length of the job. With others, it lingers and grows. My relationship with my clients, Karen and Howard, is one that has grown in the years we have known each other - through various condo projects. 

Moises and I consider them good friends. They stayed with us in our house during Hurricane Emily, a bit of a nonevent but that is always best with hurricanes. We have helped them and they have helped us. 

This is a glimpse of their beautiful condo that we designed together - Karen was the one with the vision. I worked to help her accomplish it. In the next post, I will explain more of the design process that transpired.

Upholstered headboard and bedding made in our shop.

Sofas upholstered in our shop in a cleanable suede cream microfiber fabric.
Notice that we used accents in blue and green on a pale cream background. Walls are painted in a pale blue-green tone, even the hand blown glass lamp is in the aqua tone.

Karen wanted the living area to be a place where her children and her grandchildren could visit. She wanted elegant but we searched for durable fabrics that are washable. The suede on the living room sofas is light in color but cleans up great.

Painted chest with silver mirror from Uttermost.

Drapes and sheers made of imported Robert Allen fabrics.

Glenmary chairs from Hillsdale Furniture.

Karen taught kindergarten and still retains an innocent and childlike wonder of the beautiful things and people around her. Working with Karen was a breeze as she worked with interior designers in the past and welcomes new ideas, but she also had a vision of what their new home was to be, a second home for the entire family as it grew. I met their daughter early on and have watched as she got married, have her son and watched him become a big boy!

Entertainment unit opens up to reveal hidden TV and stereo equipment.


Mar 26, 2016

Tropical Paradise: French Caribbean Design Part 2

Part 2 in a case study in French Caribbean design

Karen had a vision from day one of what she wanted her new condo to look like and she cut out dozens of photos of designs she liked - from cabinetry to door hardware, paint selections, chairs, tables, sofas and more. We pulled out catalogs and further defined the look she wanted. As new items came in to The Magic of Design, she chose pieces that reflected her style. When the sofas did not have the fabric she wanted, we changed it to a soft cream suede that has stood the test of baby formula and red wine. We also redefined the sofa back to something more comfortable for her petite frame. We worked together on the custom draperies, duvet covers, pillows and shams. Everything was fabricated in our shop.

Blinds and drapes from our shop

Roman shade and cornice from our shop

Office with leather pull-out sofa

Desk with tropical chair & ottoman

After working with Karen on her first condo, I knew she loves curves. Kitchen counters that undulate like waves and curvy door fronts, so we searched for unique and unusual pieces like the curved door front cabinet in the master bedroom. 

Master bedroom painted curved chest

Howard loves scuba diving. Now that he gets to enjoy more time in Cozumel, he spends at least three days a week in the ocean observing all that Cozumel has to offer under the water. So Karen, Howard and I sought objects that were reminiscent of the sea. Like the blues and greens in the living room drapes and the little table that Karen placed in the master bath, decorated with shells and other sea creatures. The love of nature can also be seen in the art that Howard lovingly picked out for the condo.

Guest bedroom with rattan furniture

Grandchildren's bedroom

The overall design theme is French Caribbean but with whimsical touches of shells and turtles and other creatures. The space now exemplifies all the things that Howard and Karen love - good quality furniture and soft, vibrant fabrics, with wonderful splashes of color on the walls - that demonstrate their love of all creatures and a love of nature.

Shell and sea creature theme

It's a true tropical paradise - as comfortable for large family gatherings as it is for serene and quiet contemplation.

Jan 7, 2016

A Pet Peeve & A Praise for Cozumel

I think that if you are going to have a pet peeve, it must be followed by a praise. And for Cozumel, that is not a tough thing. Praises come easily. I have to say though one of my biggest pet peeves is what I call the Cozumel right turn. It doesn't matter if a person has a stop sign or not, the moped driver or bicycle pedaler just jumps out in to the street and makes a really tight right turn as I am driving along in my lane. Now they see me, so they make sure they are far enough towards the curb so my car doesn't hit them. Then they kind of wiggle in to traffic just so, and eventually pass me. Happens every day. 

So the praise, where else could you get so many smiles from strangers? When I go to Miami, I get these horrible stares or people look away when I smile at them. Not here, everybody smiles back.

This video is actually just of a normal Cozumel street. I need to find one of the Cozumel right turn.