When we moved into our Algiers home, I did what we always do and set to rid the place of the clunky and fancy government-provided furniture. I did, however, decide to keep a wood desk that was in the house. It wasn’t bad, especially after I switched out its shiny chrome knobs for matte black ones, and it would be a placeholder until I found an antique desk in one of Algier’s many antique stores. There was a hutch atop the desk and I sat that on the floor until someone could come and pick it up. One morning, I walked by the hutch and thought “Hey, this is the exact height of a bar and this dead zone here would be a really cool home bar.” (The area is opposite our long, narrow living room. It’s a bit basement feeling, but does have a nice door and windows that let some morning light in). I realized if I flipped the hutch around so the shelves were facing the back wall and then plastered some very cool wallpaper on the plywood backside, I’d have something neat (and I could return the hutch unscathed at the end of our three-year tour in Algiers).
I knew just what wallpaper to get. Ever since I’d seen Justina Blakeney’s Phoenix wallpaper I’d been thinking about what I could do with it. It is luscious and lively, playful, but sort of sexy and makes me think of hiking through a sweaty jungle to earn my mai tai which I greedily gulp whilst swinging in a handwoven hammock. (If you don’t know of Justina Blakeney, she’s an artist and designer and founder of the Jungalow, an online shop that sells beautiful boho, colorful, nature-inspired home goods. Her designs and her style are an inspiration).
So first I ordered one roll of the Phoenix wallpaper in the vino color, not cheap by the way. To paper the “bar,” I removed the plywood backing of the hutch, wrapped it with the wallpaper like a present (not activating the paste on the wallpaper), and then screwed the now-wrapped piece of plywood back to the hutch. It looked good. Especially with three barstools that we had in our modern Jerusalem apartment, but hadn’t used since. I had three of these rustic floating wall shelves installed (which I ordered from Amazon).
But the whiteness of the wall bothered me and I could hear Justina Blakeney telling me “It’s okay to be a little extra.” I wasn’t positive that I wanted to spend the money or do the work so I turned to Instagram and did a little poll, which came back evenly split for leaving the white wall or being a little extra and adding the paper. I decided to be a little extra. It was always going to be this way.
I ordered another roll of the wallpaper and a few weeks later, I took off the shelves (the workmen had drilled anchors into the wall, so those holes were easy enough to locate after the paper went up to re-screw the shelving hardware back in). This was my first time installing wallpaper and it was not easy. Getting the patterns to match up was no joke, and the job I did was far from perfect. Luckily, there is so much going on visually that it’s not easy to see a tiny gap in the paper, or where a floral pattern doesn’t quite match up. Six hours after I had started, it was done and I knew I had made the right decision. Now, when I walk by this space, I can’t help but smile, it’s so stylish and happy.
A few weeks ago we had a dinner party and our guests moved downstairs to the bar area after the meal. I mixed up some boulevardiers backdropped by a lush plummy jungle oasis and felt fairly certain that I had created one of the more inviting places in which to imbibe in the city of Algiers. This isn’t too much of a brag; I have not found a single bar in Algiers (although some restaurants serve wine and beer) and when “cocktail” is listed on the menu, what they actually mean is a fruit smoothie. Womp womp. Adam and I had our big annual holiday party this past weekend and this area of our (rather strangely laid out) house was one of the most popular. It’s a good feeling to create a cool and inviting space and it’s even better to see others enjoying it.
Sánte to the home bar!