My New Panama Home!

My new rental house

in Coronado, Panama is perfect. And by perfect, I mean: ABSOLUTELY ADORABLE.

A view from the street of our giant Panama tree on the right.

Jeff and I will be here for 2 months before we embark on a 6-week backpacking adventure through Central America, and we’re loving every second in our humble house just 2 minutes from the beach on foot.

Jeff the Passport-to-Design-Mascot standing in front of our humble abode.

The best part about moving in was re-arranging all the furniture to better suit our needs.

We made a few adjustments to the decor (and by that, I mean we replaced all the kitschy Panamanian decor that came with the house with our own limited possessions). Luckily, the house came furnished, so all there was left to do was “beautify“. Working with the existing colours, open concept and limited, mis-matched furniture was challenging at times, but we made the best of it.

BEFORE: The sitting room/living room/foyer - one small area all wrapped up into one!

AFTER: We re-arranged the furniture to include an entry console table and covered the seat cushions in our favourite batik textiles. The space feels more functional now.

AFTER: A few accessories - decorative toss cushions, candles and greenery from the yard help make the space feel more inviting. I wish we had a small area rug...

AFTER: The Entry Console Table is flooded in sunlight in the mornings. I love how I can see straight through from the front door to the back door. The hallway is less obstructed now.

AFTER: In order to save money on buying vases, I spray painted glass bottles instead (shown here: olive oil and coca cola bottles). A great way to recycle and beautify at the same time!

The house has two bedrooms (the guest room has 2 bunkbeds…the perfect beach-party house!) and one bathroom. There’s no hot water, but in the sweaty Panama sun, I’m hardly missing it. The layout of the house is quite efficient – each bedrooms shares an opposite wall with the bathroom (located in between the two). The house is more or less divided into public vs. private areas.

BEFORE: The master bedroom. The bed was pushed up against the wall and a collection of furniture was pushed up against the opposite wall, as well as lace curtains on the windows.

AFTER: The Master Bedroom. The bed is centred on the wall with nightstands on either end. The lace curtains are gone since the windows are louvered and offer enough privacy. A beach sarong from Bali helps add some visual interest to the room (and yes, that's a fly swatter on the nightstand!).

AFTER: I like to wake up to things that make me happy - a silly photo of Jeff and I (and my dog!) along with a Ganesha statue from Vietnam, a jewelry bowl from Sol de la India and some of my favourite books.

BEFORE: Guest Bedroom. A lack of bedsheets and no furniture make this space feel like an orphanage. There's another bunkbed on the other side of this small room.

AFTER: Guest Bedroom. Removing the lace curtains and adding some bedding helped make this space feel more inviting. This room doubles as our guest room and storage area - luckily there's a built-in closet at the foot of the bed.

The kitchen is small and has no storage, but since we have very little housewares (the gas-tank stove is practically as small as a shoebox!) it’s not a major issue. We’re using stack-able plastic storage trays and a TV stand to house the essentials (like wine glasses!). In our case, all our goods are on display – something that I’m not usually fond of (I like to hide my mess), but it works with the overall beach-house mentality of an easy-going, fuss-free life.Plus, it sends a “Help Yourself” message to our visitors :)

BEFORE: Kitchen. A cluttered counter in the background and a plastic table cloth on the island made this ktichen feel dingey and old.

AFTER: Kitchen. Removing the plastic table cloth and replacing it with two straw placemats, candles and flowers helped update this kitchen (if that's even possible?!). A few open-storage pieces on the right-hand side make the kitchen area more functional.

AFTER: Kitchen. More pretty flowers and objects that make me smile. A jar of seashells I've collected from the beach, my favourite incense flower from Bangkok, a gaint beeswax candle and a large tea light on a clam shell from the beach make my Buddha from Vietnam feel right at home.

AFTER: Kitchen. A typical Panamanian stove complete with optional covered top and gas tank. None of the houses are piped with natural gas - all gas or propane is kept beside the stove (or water heaters if we had one) and refilled at the local hardware store. We hung some utensils on the wall to free up more counter space.

The front porch has become the most widely used area of the house. Jeff and I both sit on the porch to work on our computers, and eat every meal outside as well. We swing in the three hammocks daily and really try to enjoy the beautiful scenery and the sounds of the chirping birds, barking dogs and crowing roosters (our neighbours have two roosters that have no sense of timing).

BEFORE: Porch. A collection of randomly placed seating was cramping my style. It's like a furniture store out there!

AFTER: Porch. The seating is re-arranged to be more conducive to conversation. A small coffee table helps offer a place to keep drinks and snacks (even though it's housing my coconuts at the moment).

AFTER: Porch. Another painted coca cola bottle houses a flower picked from our yard. In the background you can see a decorative cushion that adds padding to the bench and introduces some colour and texture. Another tall glass jar is used to house candles (that won't blow out in the breeze).

AFTER: Porch. Coconuts on the coffee table beside more beach findings add to the beach-bum ambience of the house.

AFTER: Porch. A view of the porch from the lawn. The two hammocks frame the space nicely and offer additional seating (swinging?).

AFTER: Porch. This area has become the dining room. The artisan leather chairs remind us of the Panamanian culture while the Indian-inspired doorway beads help offer some privacy in the house and keep out the flies.

AFTER: Porch Details. When it's not in use, this hotplate functions as a placemat for the outdoor candles. The straw adds some texture to the space and the candles help create an inviting (and romantic!) ambience at night.

The true beauty behind our house lies in the property. The yard is approximately 4 times larger than the house itself. A giant Panama tree with a 5-foot wide trunk sits majestically on the front lawn. An equally impressive mango tree occupies the backyard along with a tangerine tree and several bushes. The house perimeter is garnished in flowering bushes and colourful shrubs.  The house feels like our own little jungle oasis.

The glorious tree trunk of the Panama Tree on the front lawn.

A view of the back of the house.

Jeff picking tangerines from our tree in the back yard.

Free fruit tastes better! (Am I right? Or am I right?!)

The giant mango tree cannot be captured in a single photo (not with my digital camera lens). Can't wait for the mangoes to ripen!

Included by request, here is a photo of Jeff's pride and joy - our humble motorbike suits our humble beach home just fine :)

And there you have it. A typical Panama house to call my own for a few months.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the tour  :) It’s a great beach house and I’m so happy here. (Don’t forget that there are 2 bunk beds…that means we can sleep at least 4 guests (8 guests if you count all the hammocks and the couch!).

You’re all welcome to visit anytime!

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  1. Having personally seen the “after” touches to your rental house…I know you’ve made this property 10x more attractive to future clients. It is a great space. Very warm and cozy and you’ve shown that with a little spray paint, fresh flowers and a lot of love and care…you can make any space beautiful and inviting. Congratulations and enjoy your first home together!

  2. Thank you, MOM :) I’m happy you like our humble home…it’s not much but it’s all we need!

  3. Oh Tania, what a beautiful spot! I love it.. I could practically feel the warmth oozing from your photos. Love how you made this rental your home.. it looks inviting.

  4. It makes me happy to know that you are happy … making a house into a home is key to being able to settle and you’ve done a lovely job of doing just that. I cannot believe that it’s so hot you are not missing hot water … sounds perfect :)

  5. Thank you so much, Chantale! It IS a very cozy little place – and truth be told, the design layout is very functional and well-thought out. I love our little casita :) Thanks for reading!

  6. Hot water is for sissys! (Just kidding, I do miss it at times…LOL). Thanks for the sweet comment, Sharon. :) xo

  7. I miss it already! No picture of our motorbike in the driveway? Shame.
    Must say, my favorite part are the white coke bottles. What a splendid idea!

  8. Jeff, I’ve gone back and added the photo of your fabulous motorbike with the majestic Panama tree in the background. ;)

  9. cute. cute. cute.

    I love it!!! Wow. Living the dream friends! Good for you!

    Makes me want to look for that plane ticket even more.

    It has such a nice character, just like the both of you.

    Miss you to bits!


  10. Thanks, Friend! I think you might enjoy the OTHER house a little more, but this one just screams “hammock party!” :) Thanks for reading…miss you more, believe me!

  11. The ‘afters’ are so dramatic! Love how small touches can make such a big impact. And free fruit?! You’ve got it made. I call lower bunk! ;)

  12. The lower bunk is now officially reserved ;) Thanks for stopping by, Kat! xo

  13. Hey! You two did a beautiful job! I love how open and colorful you made the place. Can’t wait to see it! : ) ~Mara

  14. Thanks, Mara! Drinks at our new place when you’re in town next week. We’ll swing in the hammocks, light some candles and smoke some hookah! LOL

  15. Wow! I am so impressed Tania! It is such a cute little house! I wish I could visit!

  16. Ahhhhh your place is SO adorable! Look at it! And I’m so impressed with what you’ve been able to do with it considering the resources you have at hand. You’re so talented, Tania:) Love, love, love.

  17. Thanks, Shannon, I wish you could visit too :) I can tell I will miss this house when the end of March rolls around.

  18. Awww, thanks Nat. The “decor” is a little quirky, and definitely not elegant like I’d normally prefer, but who needs elegance in a beach house anyways?! ;)

  19. Love it, wish we could visit :)

  20. Hookah, did you say Hookah? I’ll be over, lol !
    You have done a great job on your humble house. At
    least you have cupboard doors under your sink. I have
    only shelves open to the world. BUT I love my humble house
    too……….only 4 more years til john gets his money and
    we can re-decorate (re-do!!!!) the place!
    But no hot water with all that hair you have, GOSH I couldn’t take that, honestly! Can stand cold water on my bod, actually feels good, but rinsing my hair in cold water, uh uh! Enjoy the beach .

  21. Hi Tania, Best wishes for everyting you do in life. Lovely home. You made the house a home. Yogesh

  22. Too cool! Mucho Jealous! Good luck on your backpacking adventure!

    I did the cold shower bit in Thailand. With weather like that, you get pretty use too it.

    Didn’t see a pic of the bathroom. You got toilet paper or the hand bidet?

    After using the hand bidet I find using toilet paper barbaric. If someone wiped poo on your face would you use toilet paper to wipre it off or wash it?

    Im just saying…. anyway take care guys PEACE!

  23. ahahahaha! Thanks for reading, Sean! And kudos for noticing the lack of bathroom photo ;) We do have a standard North American toilet that we use toilet paper with, however, the bathroom is quite awkward to photograph and my basic digital lens couldn’t capture it. The bathroom is a nice size, and the cold shower is pretty spacious.

  24. Good to hear! Wish I could be in the same boat! Some day…

  25. Well, if you’re in Panama you’re welcome to stop by :) We have a profile on…we’re open to hosting anyone who’s willing to hang out and enjoy a cold shower LOL

  26. Wow Tania I want to know when you can come to Sydney and do some after shots of my place – please!!!!! Oh and by the way congratualations to you and Jeff xxxx

  27. Thank you, Terese. I’m still working on getting to Sydney…one of these days ;) Hope all is well with everyone over there.

  28. Loving it Tania! You showed how a few changes and some vision can really make a house a home. Enjoy!

  29. Ah, there’s no place like home, no matter where in the world you make it. I think I like the front door treatment best of all.

    Your home decorating takes me back to my own little abode in the ricefields in Bali where I lived in 2006 – complete with those bloody gas bottles. Actually, I avoided having one in the kitchen by having a “kompor listrik” instead of “kompor gas” . Trouble was when I boiled the kettle at the same time as using the toaster oven, the “listrik” [electricity] used to go off and I’d have to phone the local laundry to get it switched on. But those gas bottles gave me hot water, most of the time, for which I was most grateful.

    Your little travelling companions, Ganesha and Buddha, add a special touch and I know there’ll always be something comforting in knowing they’ve been there and done that with you.

    And the tangerine tree – what a bonus. I just love tangerine juice. If I win lotto, you can ready one of those bunk beds for me!

  30. You’re right, Connie :) Thanks so much for reading!

  31. I can always count on you for a thorough comment, Indounik! The bunk bed is ready any time, it would be a pleasure to have you here :) I must know where your place in Bali was. I often imagine what this little house would look like if it were in Bali. I know there would be much less plaster and much more wood (a dream come true for me!).
    Thanks for reading! :)

  32. Tania, you are sooo talented, the tranformation is very adorable considering your limited resources. I’m am sooo happy to see both of you sooo happy. Enjoy your stay and keep us informed.Stay HEALTHY and HAPPY. LOVE YOU LOTS!!! Zia Rosa

  33. A house is what a carpenter builds.
    A Home is what your heart builds.
    From your pictures and description it’s evident that it’s your home… happiness and good health!

  34. Hola Tania y Jeff,
    Ah que bonita tu casita. You have done a beaut of a job> it’s sooooo inviting!! I love it!!!!!!Bravo!!!

  35. Tania,
    very proud to say you are a friend and how I have seen you grow into a fine young women with courage and talent!
    Stay safe and stay positive! Remember that what you think about you shall become!!
    See you soon,

  36. You sure did alot with a little! Nice work!

  37. What a life, Tania!! So happy for you guys, an amazing adventure together! :D

  38. Thanks, Sunny :) We’re so lucky and very happy here!

  39. Nice write-up! This is a exceptionally informative weblog which you have.

  40. Genuinely we appreciate you an individual discussing your blog write-up. Seriously thank you! Great.

  41. I’m impressed, I need to say. Actually rarely do I encounter a weblog that? each educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you’ve got hit the nail on the head. Your idea is excellent; the difficulty is something that not enough people are talking intelligently about.

  42. Very good decorating. Not bad

  43. Great point of view! Can’t agree more, will sure be your loyal fans.

  44. You have this for rent or are you renting this property from someone?


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