As most of you know, the USG generously provides our housing and its furnishings at the majority of posts across the globe. We are allowed to ship a certain weight allowance of our own things based on family size. In a post like Luanda where daily movement is restricted and options for weekend exploration are limited, creating a comfy, clean and colorful home is paramount to one’s happiness. We were told by others to bring small items (lamps, side tables, rugs, art, tchotchkes, etc) to personalize and in doing so, rid the space of that predictable ‘foreign service look” that we all know and love. I hope to post more entries from other rooms in our house as I complete them, but since decorating activity is dictated by nap time windows, it’s just the living room for now.
The below “before” shot could have been taken at any number of foreign service homes around the world: standard issue Drexel Heritage sofa with brown lacquered side and coffee tables, brass lamps with dusty pleated white shades, and creamy white walls. I began by having the warehouse guys haul away as much as possible. They have a tendency to pack these places to the gills.
First on the agenda was to address the sofas. The color combo wasn’t doing favors for anyone but the dirt it was clearly designed to camouflage. That strong pattern insisted that I wouldn’t be able to solve this problem by simply tossing on a couple of fresh throw pillows. I’d have preferred to make slipcovers myself to get exactly what I was looking for, but since fabrics here are limited to African prints, I decided that might be a bit much. Plus I’d already replaced the dark brown curtains (in this next photo which is on the opposite side of the living room) with some more airy and casual fabric I found here in Luanda.
After consulting the facebook “foreign service blogger” group, I was pointed in the direction of these slipcovers from IKEA. They come in many different colors, patterns and price points. Of course the ones I decided on were on the pricier end, but what a difference! The key is that they are multiple pieces, a separate cover for every cushion. I am amazed at how well they fit, pretty close to tailor made.The second order of business was greenery. I’ve always had a lush collection of houseplants, our home felt so sterile without them. I had found a lovely fern at the grocery store a while back, but I wasn’t willing to part with the $90 it was commanding to join us. In the end, I dug some spiky snake plants from our yard and transplanted them into containers we dragged along. I also nip branches from the scraggly front yard for other green little flourishes.
The photo wall was a project I’ve always wanted to tackle, even more so now that we’re far away. I found this frame set, which shipped hassle-free through the diplomatic pouch. Our walls are concrete so hanging things requires a work order and workmen with a masonry bit. Since the fish to fry in the Luanda housing pool are WAY bigger than my decorating issues, I opted to use these sticky 3m strips to hang everything in place. They’ve worked great so far. Nothing has come crashing down. Of course there are loads of other things I’d like to tweak, but for now this will do. I never really feel like I’m “done” decorating, do you? There will always be fresh temptations and treasures to add and edit. And God willing, plenty of safe and snuggly places to nap.