One of the challenges of moving to a very small island is that there just simply aren’t staple products or furniture for sale. Sure, there are small shops that sell some of these items, but there isn’t really a concentrated location and everything is twice as much as going to the main island. Getting to the main island is it’s own ordeal. There’s only two ways off the island: The ferry or flying on a very small plane. The ferry is ideal for picking up supplies, but it takes about 2 hours total each way, is always packed and often times delayed or just doesn’t show up at all. Add to the fact that as of January 7th, the ferry service is being reduced by over a half (right in the peak of tourist season!) and well, it’s a cluster.
When you do get to the main island your choices are: Costco (which doesn’t carry much furniture in store, and you can’t ship to the warehouse), Wal-Mart (I found I could have bought some pieces there, but what I wanted they couldn’t ship to stores), low-quality Puerto Rican stores, Ashley furniture and Bassett which are both extremely expensive, and oddly enough, West Elm. There is an Ikea, but you have to order everything, and well, Ikea is bad enough in the states. Just extrapolate that to Puerto Rican standards (which at least in Customer Service are extremely low) and it’s not a fun experience.
As much as I love West Elm, and fully took advantage of the 25% off sale to buy furniture, we just can’t furnish the entire house with West Elm. We’d go broke. Especially considering it wasn’t just furniture, but linens, lamps, etc. All things that if I had realized we would need I would have had shipped down, but I didn’t because I’m a dummy. I also thought we could live in a house without all the bells and whistles, minimally and it wouldn’t drive me nuts. Sadly, that’s just not who I am.
So, what to do? I think that saying “necessity is the mother of all invention” was made for this island. No decently price furniture stores? No problem. We’ll make our own! No knickknacks or homeware stores? No problem. We’ll make our own (and obsessively comb west elm/crate and barrel/anthropologie sale sites)! And so far, I have to say, I’ve been extremely happy with what we’ve been able to come up with.
Our house is a traditional La PRRA style house. When it was built in the 40s (fun fact: this is the newest house we’ve lived in in the last 7 years) it had a big open room, a kitchen, a bathroom and a bedroom. It was meant to be a communal living space, with all the rooms coming off of the center living area. Over the years, the different owners added new rooms to make the house bigger, but kept with the original style and left the living room as the main space. Now it has a sunroom (my office), three bedrooms, and a second bathroom off the master. It also has an awesome entryway, which is great, because I’ve wanted a real entryway for ages! There’s also a biggish back deck.
In the entryway, I really wanted a table. And a welcome sign (but not a “country style” welcome sign. Something fun and hip). And some neat accessories and a cool rug. We’ve lucked out and our door is this beautiful shade of teal blue. It’s about the only color blue that I think goes with pink outside of Navy, and the walls in the house are all white. I’d like to say this is because I’m into minimal design, but our landlord is really adamant about keeping the walls white. Oh well, I probably wouldn’t have painted it anything else otherwise.
The table we built is pretty rough. It’s uneven, kind of wobbly and I didn’t bother to finish it properly, but I kind of love it for all of those reasons. It feels rustic in a not-log-cabin sort of way, and the whole house has this really casual feel, so this fits right in. Plus, I just didn’t want to unscrew things to make it less screwed up (haha).
We’re building and selling some furniture to people on the island (yeah, we fully plan on taking advantage of the lack of furniture options), and I would never sell something this poor of quality to anyone, but for our own person uses/experimentations? Sure, why not. Maybe one day we’ll even fix it.
The super sweet lamp is from the local Humane Society thrift store and was a whopping $8. I brought some framed pictures of us from Baltimore and added a capiz shell frame with some local pottery.
But the absolute best part of the entryway is this (if I do say so, myself) Welcome sign.
It was free.thirty, as I had everything on hand. I took a piece of driftwood found on a beach (which, I’d like to mention, finding good bleached driftwood? Not as easy as it should be on an island with 41 beaches), ripped up a white pillow case to make the trips and used hot pink spray paint and white glossy paint I had on hand. I just tied all the strips of cloth onto the piece of drift wood, took it outside and had Steven hold it out and sprayed it far enough away that I intentionally got some overspray. I didn’t really wait for it to dry, because I’m impatient, and painted WELCOME! onto it.
Oh, I’m sorry, this did cost me something. I spent $2 on hot pink string to hang it up with. This is an oddly easy thing to find on the island. Hangers? Not so much.
I’m not really sure why this photo looks so weird, but we picked up this crazy bright floral rug from Urban Outfitters during one of the holiday sales, and it works really well with the blue and the table. For perspective, that rug is a 3×5 and fits comfortably in the entry way, so it’s actually pretty sizeable. Bartok came courtesy of the island.
In an effort to drag out my motivation/posting I’m going to save the other builds for another day. Once we get our act together I’ll probably even post DIY how-tos! It’s a Christmas, erm New Year’s miracle!