Tuesday, March 8, 2011

FS Furniture and Housing

This Friday I'm hosting the Weekly FS Blog Round Up. In keeping with DiploPundits suggestion that we use our blogs to debunk the myth of the Foreign Service "cushy" lifestyle, I want to hear about housing at post. I want to hear about the good, the bad, the ugly, and the just plain weird. Yes, as employees of the state department overseas we do get housing. Let me tell you it isn't always all that it is cracked up to be. Unless you are the ambassador your housing bears very little resemblance to the fancy diplomatic houses you see in the movies, sometimes not even being ambassador helps. I am sure that all the newbies, as well as everyone looking at bidding this summer, would like to know about the housing at various posts.

While you FS folks are looking around your house considering a blog post about housing, take a look at your couch. Zoe at Something edited this way comes is hosting a contest this month for the best disguised FS couch. Yes, we get furniture too. It goes with the house. Before anyone out there gets all "Hey that's cool!" think about. Do you want someone else to choose all your furniture? That kinda makes it a bit more challenging to personalize a house. Generally our furniture looks a bit like it was chosen by someone's Great Aunt Edna.

I don't really need to disguise my current sofa, it is part of the new collection and is pretty nice, or at least it isn't brocade, it is a nice solid color, which is more than I can say for my curtains.


I had the dreaded blue brocade in Frankfurt. After pricing slip covers and deciding I really didn't like the way slip covers looked anyway, I just embrace the ugly for the two years we were there. It sort of grows on you after a while. Sad isn't it?


However I do have an entry for the contest. I think the the best way to disguise a FS couch starts with being assigned to a post where labor and textiles are cheap. When we arrived in Jakarta our sofa set all matched this chair.


More lovely Drexel Heritage brocade, only in cream this time instead of blue. To make it even better the last family had cats, with claws. The chairs were in good shape, but the sofa and love seat were clawed up pretty badly. No worries, Jakarta has an upholstery allowance. Shortly after we arrived I put in my request to have the sofas repaired. A gentleman showed up with stacks of fabric sample books. I made my selection (after nearly having a heart attack from too many choices) and a few weeks later my sofas were picked up, recovered and returned to me better than new.


I would actually buy these sofas. I like the brown chenille. It wears well, the kid stains washed out easily, and it was super soft and comfy to sit on. It even matches almost any pillow you could throw on it. All in all it is a very nice sofa.

Of course there is a down side to this plan. This love seat for example. It was recovered by somebody before me. It was a crushed velvet in a color David referred to as "bordello red". We stuck it in the kids play room figuring there wasn't much they could do to make it worse. As far as I could tell this fabric was kid proof. Sadly for the next people it was still in perfect shape when we left.


Just one more thing. And yes, I know these aren't sofas, but you just know that someone is totally hating these polka-dot dining chairs. For the record I LOVED them! Polka-dots Rule!

24 comments:

Kate said...

As a lover of interior design and all things NOT ugly, I am terrified of what the furniture at our first post will be. I LOVE this Round-up theme!

PS, I dig the polka dot chairs too.

Camille said...

This is a genius round-up idea. I'm excited to see what happens!

P.S. I love the polka dots, too.

Jill said...

We had the new couches in India - and I was pleasantly surprised at 1) how comfy they were and 2) how unobtrusive they were ... totally blending in with the house and the color scheme compared to our last few homes.

We had the chocolate brown chenille couches - and I'll admit, I kinda liked them. PLUS - the colors were so dark they hid any stains. :)

P.S. DIG the polka dots too. :)

Jen said...

The polka dots are awesome...and look at those little guys! Great retrospective, I don't know if we even have photos from our old couches in Caracas...I just remember thinking that they could have come from my parents house, circa 1977 if only they had been covered in those plastic slipcovers...*shudder*

Connie said...

I'd take crushed velvet bordello red over the pee yellow brocade, any day!

Stephanie said...

We have the yellow brocade. It hides the baby vomit quite nicely. That should never, ever be a selling point.

Connie said...

Here's my post on housing http://whaleears.blogspot.com/2011/03/fs-housing-round-up-theme.html :)

Sadie said...

Polka-dot chairs rock! so much better than anything I've seen yet :-).

This post is a couple months old, but it accurately reflects my frustration with FS housing: http://sadieabroad.blogspot.com/2011/01/am-i-wrong-to-complain.html.

For some bed-bug horrors, another older post: http://sadieabroad.blogspot.com/2010/11/uab-for-lack-of-clever-title.html.

Thanks for hosting!

Donna said...

My housing post is up!

And I've never seen the polka dots before.

We have the fancy white dining chairs here. I dread dinner time on pasta nights...

Nomads By Nature said...

Count us in! Hoping we are not too late!

http://webtexans.wordpress.com/2011/03/09/because-you-asked/

Thanks for hosting this week -- we are looking forward to the results of this week's topic!

SassAndSweet said...

Hi there - here's my quickie post on housing... :) Thanks for hosting!!

http://sassandsweet.blogspot.com/2011/03/foreign-service-housing.html

Kelly Bembry Midura said...

Oh boy, one of my favorite subjects. Here you go:
http://wellthatwasdifferent.wordpress.com/2011/03/10/drexel-hell/

adventuresin said...

Count me in: http://cyberbones.blogspot.com/2011/03/fs-furniture-and-housing.html

I previously showed some other pics at:
http://adventuresin.wordpress.com/2010/10/24/wild-tile/

and: http://adventuresin.wordpress.com/2010/10/21/fso-furniture/

adventuresin said...

oops, I linked incorrectly. My post this week is at: http://adventuresin.wordpress.com/2011/03/10/post-housing/

Smallbits said...

Sadie, We got bedbugs with our HHE shipment too. So. much. fun.

We tend to embrace the weird/ugly stuff and just go with it. The tapestry couches might push my limits though. I wouldn't cry if the FAM made solid colored, neutral colored couches the norm.

Here's my post:
http://smallbitsfs.blogspot.com/2011/03/housing-72-of-365.html

meanderingmemos said...

I had to jump in on this one...
http://meanderingmemos.wordpress.com/2011/03/10/housing-in-the-foreign-service/
Thanks for hosting the roundup!

john said...

Really cool ones. I have never thought of it in my mind :) Lets see what happened next?
-Home theater furniture

Kristi said...

I think I already told you I met the person who got the polka dot chairs. She lives at FOA. So funny how those things get around!

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Masha said...

I love the polka dots too! We have the cream-on-cream stripe dining set ... and a 5.5-month-old and an 18-month-old. I need to cover those cushions or we'll be stuck with a big bill when we leave here.

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