Hello from Algiers! After three trips to Michigan in the past four months, my cancer scare ordeal is over and behind me. The biopsy from the last surgery on my cervix revealed no cancer and do disease of any kind. I arrived back to Algeria a week ago, and have been getting re-acclimated (melatonin has helped a great deal), getting back to work, getting vaccinated, etc.
One of the best parts about being back home – especially as I’m required to quarantine for 10 days – is hanging out in our house. Going and away and returning only makes me like our Algiers home even more, with its weird layout, but abundant windows, and sweet outdoor space (currently blooming: the loquat trees, the bougainvillea, and cherry blossoms).
This post is about our living room, which is the only room in our Algiers house that I have yet to share on this blog, even thought it’s the room that came together the fastest, as I more or less just recreated our Rabat living room. (Photo of our Rabat living room below).
But the Algiers living room is weird in a few ways. One, it’s quite narrow. When I first saw it, my inclination was to put the sofa on the long wall and the chairs on the other long wall. I texted a photo to my mom who immediately responded back “Looks like a doctor’s waiting room.” This became an important lesson learned about furniture placement in a long, narrow room: If you want to have furniture facing each other in a narrow room, arrange the furniture parallel to the short sides of the room.
Thankfully, the most beautiful sofa in the world, which is very long, actually fit just fine against the short wall. Bonus that it covers up the radiator and lots of outlets. (Sidenote on outlets: I’ve found while outlets are almost always low to the ground the the U.S., abroad, well, it’s anyone’s guess. We’ve lived in places with outlets mid-wall, up high, down low, wherever!) All we really wanted from this room was were some comfy places to sit, and, eventually, a TV. We didn’t need a ton of floor space – it’s not where we work out, although we once moved most of the furniture aside and had a dance party here. So while the space isn’t huge, and the bowling alley shape is not ideal, it’s a visually pleasing, happy, interesting, and legitimately comfy living room.
Once I decided how I’d set up the room, I hardly even had to think about how to decorate it, as I basically recreated what we had in Morocco: An eclectic and blue-forward (with pops of pink and green) room with some whimsical shapes (round Moroccan baskets, wavy oval wooden bowl, the carved wooden whale, the sunburst pattern on the matching blue and green armchairs, a little table shaped like the Iberian peninsula). Same Ikea hack gold-leaf coffee table from back in the Spain days. (Back when I had easy access to an IKEA and a Leroy Merlin. Those were the days!) Same rocky seascape oil painting that we bought in one of my favorite places I’ve ever been: Cadaques, Spain; and our beloved paintings by Adam’s grandfather, which we call “The Italian whores” as they were inspired by his WWII service in a brothel, as the story goes.
Things we’ve added since moving to Algeria: A framed poster of Max Beckman’s Quappi in Pink Jumper from one of my favorite museums, the Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid; the carved cedar cabinet from Oulja Artisan Village in Rabat; some hand-painted Algerian coasters from Boho Concept store, and Picasso-esque painted vase from local artist Bilaid.
Another quirky thing about the living room is it is located on the lower level of the house, which gives it a bit of a basement-y feel. There are a few windows in this space, but they all look out to the wall that surrounds our house so there are no views. Also, the windows all have a little overhang, so when it rains, the windows collect stray cats who are trying to get out of the wet. It’s cute but also kind of sad. Since it’s on the lower level of the house, and one can just walk up the stairs into what I consider to be the “main” part of the house, and completely bypass this area, it takes some effort to actually hang out here. Adam might just prefer living his live upstairs in his moody study, and I can be found often in our sunny, high-ceilinged dining room. Of course, we both like our boho bar and lounge area a whole lot, which is essentially at the other end of a long narrow living room, so that does bring us downstairs regularly.
One thing that made us use the living room a lot more: Getting a proper TV! The TV has always been an issue with Adam and me. He doesn’t like the look of a TV in the living room, and I grew sick of craning our necks down at an 11-inch Macbook screen every time we watched TV together. I showed him the Samsung Frame, beloved by designers, it has the tagline “TV when it’s on; art when it’s off.” There’s a magnetic frame that clips around the TV, making it look like a framed work of art. The Samsung Frame is motion-censored, so when you walk into the room, voila, there’s a work of art ready for your viewing. While the image isn’t matte like a real painting, we’ve found more often than not, we’ve had to point out to people that it’s a television. There is also an Art.com membership involved, so you can have a bigger selection of paintings. I really liked some of the ones that came included, so I haven’t yet bothered to activate my Art.com membership. And as a TV, the Samsung Frame is great. Nice picture, decent sound. There is the small issue of having a smart TV (ie, a TV connected to the Internet) at a post with less-than-stellar Internet, but overall, we’re super happy with the TV. (And if any Foreign Service people wonder how in the world we got this television shipped to us in Algeria, well, the answer is we lucked out and had some friends who were moving to work in the embassy. I had this sent to their Washington DC house and they packed it in their HHE shipment.)
So there you have it. A cheerful room that is somehow still rather light and airy, despite having limited windows and a somewhat basement-y feel.
To living rooms!