some home work- before & after

IMG_3877After 3 months of our arrival, I’ve finally gotten our place together enough to share some pictures. **TONS of photos to follow, I apologize if you’re working with a super slow internet.** We are just entering into fall with cooler nights and low 70s sunny days. Sometimes a little hazy and though there’s talk about the terrible pollution, thankfully none of us have had any respiratory issues. In our neighborhood, this sort of apartment building is common, surrounded by window boxes which are spilling over with all sorts of flowering plants, tropicals and herbs. Our boxes have some existing geraniums, but beyond that they could use some TLC. The Bushbaby and I have set up a little composting area in one of them for finely ground juicer scraps. She loves to dig in and surprise the worms with lunch.

IMG_3875The doormen are out early each morning, mopping the walks and tidying up after fallen leaves. The grounds for our building are immaculate. There’s a family of cats who live in our complex. Though indolent with sunshine, they slink beneath the rosemary bushes when a certain curious toddler approaches. Not a bad life for a bunch of strays.

One of my favorite things about “all this moving business” (as my grandmother would’ve said with her brows furrowed, shaking her head) is that I am allowed to rearrange, dream up new ways to camouflage and gussy up our government issued furnishings to make this house a home. My budget was very minimal, as in nonexistent. That whole buying a row house in DC thing tends to put a little strain on a one paycheck family. I NEED A JOB!!! But enough talking. Before and after photos are so much fun.

The apartment is half of the floor, split down the center by the entrance hall. To the left is the kitchen and living space, to the right are the 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms and straight ahead is the office. When we arrived there was only the mirror in this area.IMG_4553IMG_4554The living room, to the left leads to the dining room and sitting area which lead to the kitchen, and back through to the half bath and entrance hall. IMG_3658 IMG_4551IMG_3656 IMG_4545IMG_3672 IMG_4552 IMG_4548 IMG_4549IMG_4546

Onward to the dining room and sitting area-IMG_3650 IMG_4536 IMG_4540 IMG_4542 IMG_4498 IMG_4483 IMG_4491IMG_4490IMG_4508 IMG_4503I covered the couches with the IKEA Ektorp slip covers. I spent a few hours one Saturday afternoon recovering the dining chairs with a hearty upholstery fabric I picked up last summer at a DC yard sale. The cushion covers on the sofa are from fabrics I bought in Luanda.

The kitchen’s not much to look at, it wasn’t bad to start. White, basic and with a good layout, gas stove top(!!) and plenty of counter space. It has a built-in breakfast nook and tons of cabinets. IMG_3660IMG_4556 IMG_4560As far as the rest of the house, I’ve got the Bushbaby’s room in good order but the others still need a little love. Started out impossibly dull but with a roll of washi tape, a pair of scissors and a level to make a grid, we ended up with a pretty fun space for our senorita!IMG_3639IMG_4522IMG_4525IMG_4511IMG_4515IMG_4518IMG_4532I’m so pleased with how the polkadot wall turned out. Even though we are allowed to paint in our apartments, we are required to turn them back to beige when we’re leaving. As much as I love color, it sounds like another major hassle during transfer time. I actually cut the washi tape pieces into circles, about half way through I wished I’d have cut them into little raindrops instead. Always next time. The whole project took a couple of hours and since someone is currently in a “sticker phase”, I had a very committed little helper. It’s cute, right?


20 thoughts on “some home work- before & after

  1. Love the map and globe theme that touches each room… I offered my wall with National Geographic pull out maps when I was a teen. Is it any wonder I ended up in this life?

    1. Funny that I didn’t even realize that until your comment. I went for a walk through the house and you’re right!! I think I used to have them all clustered together as a collection. Nicer spread throughout!

  2. Place looks great and Colette is beyond beautifuI! Hope you’re adventuring to all the fabulous wineries. The murals are awesome. I did a DC trip with the kids and rented a basement apartment in Columbia Heights via airbnb – worked out fantastic! Thanks for the advice. Kids loved DC but I was exhausted when we came home. Just spent 48 hours in NOLA for Thurs. jazz fest – saw just about everybody – wonderful – miss that city!! Ashley Hansen was headed out to NYC to receive a James Beard award for the sno-ball stand…

    1. I wish we could’ve been there with you in DC!! It is a playground for kids. Between the metro, the zoo, the museums, there is so much to do for free!
      We always talk about retiring to NOLA. Maybe you guys should too!! I keep up with Hansen’s through their FB page. Ashley’s so incredible. I miss that girl. A James Beard award, such an honor!!
      Hope your Chile dinner went well at the restaurant! We are way overdue for a chat. I’ll try the number I have sometime this week.
      Kisses all around! xxxooo

  3. Amazing job, as always. And yes, the polka dots are totally adorable! I hope you wont be offended if I steal the idea one day. Or better yet, come decorate the whole place for me? 🙂

  4. I love this before and after tour of your home. You’re turned it into a very warm and welcoming space. I also love the polka dots and want to steal the idea as well. Do you have some tips for making all the lines straight or did you just eye ball it?

    1. I used a level. There is a ruler on one of the sides, so I held it up, made dots 8″ apart, then staggered for the next row. Repeat, repeat, repeat!

  5. This looks amazing!! I take about 6 months it even get all the pictures out of their frames…consider me inspired. But seriously, it looks amazing. What a lovely place for you and your family to relax and find refuge.

    1. thanks, brooke. I always feel like with these 2 year posts, I need to hammer things out as efficiently as possible because we’ll be leaving before too long, all the while shuffling around boxes and closets jammed with things I don’t want to deal with. Best to just get it over with! And plus- I’m not working outside of the home….so there’s that.

  6. Painting was so affordable in Nairobi that we could have painted the whole house for very little… except that I could not, just couldn’t, decide on colors. When we came to Chisinau, I had all the colors picked out for the various rooms and then I found out how expensive it was to paint here. A very sad day… so in the end we just painted the nursery. Next time around I think I might consider some wall decals. I’m inspired by what you did with Colette’s room. Did you have GSO take off the headboard to the bed? It comes apart from the frame that the box spring sits on? Love, love both sets of your chairs in the sitting room and living room. Where are they from?


    1. S- DIY, girl. There’s a bolt on either side of headboard that just needs to be loosened. It’s incredibly simple. I remove them from all of the beds and just slide them underneath. I figure it makes less work for the gso folks since they’d have to have to drag them all back over again once we leave.
      The chairs in the living room were actually made by my great grandfather. The ones in the reading area are from a garage sale in Detroit. Hoping to be stationed somewhere someday where upholstery is affordable. Or more likely I’ll just end up doing it myself eventually.

  7. Place looks super inviting…you are very talented!! How about offering up your decorating eye for a little extra moola?

    1. would love to! Are you implying that you’d like to hire me?? I should mention that my fee would also need to cover a plane ticket for me and blondie….

  8. I love Before After! You transformed your home to a beautiful home with personality! Well done and your kids room is so adorable! I also love the idea of polkadots! I thought about it, but never did for my kids! You inspired me!

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