In the past several weeks, I have made some purchases that have provided my apartment with missing accoutrements and will allow me to better host guests, should anyone choose to visit me in Doha in the foreseeable future. When I was back in the US, from time to time, I would read Apartment Therapy and oggle the trendy, creative apartment decors that people featured on the website put together. I found these apartments part envy-inducing and part aspirational: driving me to be more creative with how I decorated my own apartment and motivating me to be more discerning with the pieces that I selected for this purpose.
For this week’s blog post, I thought I would write about my space here in Qatar and discuss my process and decisions when decorating the rooms in my apartment. Hopefully, a combination of pictures and prose will give everyone a better sense of the materiality of my dwelling. And, after you finish reading my post, maybe some of you will be more apt to visit me and my abode. Inshallah.
Living Room/Dining Room
When I accepted my housing placement towards the end of the Fall 2017 semester, I was given a housing allowance to furnish my apartment, about 17,000 QAR or roughly $4700 USD. This sum would be forgiven over the course of four years of work in Qatar. Every year, 25% of the original amount would be knocked off, so if I left after the end of my contract in three years, I would still need to pay back the remaining 25% of the original allowance. Anyway, the majority of my allowance went towards furnishing my living room/dining room space—and sometimes ad hoc office. Since I needed the room to perform two (sometime three) functions, it would only make sense that I invest more of my moola here.
With the room, I wanted to establish three discernible parts: the first being my reading corner. Because a window comprises an entire wall of the space, I envisioned placing a reading chair with a foot stool in the corner for me to sit against the window with plenty of natural light as I read, grade, or regale guests sitting in the second part of the room. As I have lived in my apartment these past several months, I have been trying to add more color and plants to this part of the room. A couple weeks back, as I was browsing through Nabina Ceramics, an upscale home decor store in Doha, I spotted an area with interesting glass blocks and chose some that would add color to the sunlight entering the room. Additionally, my next door neighbor is moving at the end of this semester, so I have been purchasing household items from him. When he is finally ready to move, I will acquire all his houseplants and probably situate them on this side of the room. Finally, about a week ago, I grew tired of the idea of people in the unoccupied apartments in the building across from mine possibly gazing into my apartment when I go about my business at night; thus, I bought curtains to prevent such a scenario and paid some workers to hang them up for me.
The second part of this room is my couch and TV area. Though 90-95% of the time I’m the only one using the space, I wanted to be able to accomodate guests when they visit or stay with me. This prompted me to purchase a three-person sofa instead of a two-person—and part of me feels that, for even more entertaining capabilities, I should purchase the chaise add-on that was optional at Ikea for my couch. With this part of the room, I really wanted a nice rug to tie the space together. So much of the flooring in Doha is tile or ceramic, and the Midwesterner in me needed a little cloth underfoot in order to really relax when I am home. Moreover, I wanted to see some woodgrains in this space in order to break up the austere whiteness of the plaster and tile. But Doha is, as I described to a friend, “wood poor,” so I had to settle on a wood veneer entertainment stand and side table for the room. The TV came courtesy of a friend/colleague at Qatar University who sold it to me for a very fair price of 600 QAR, or about $170 USD! After first decorating this room, I felt I went a little H.A.M. with my selection of black or grey colors, so I have been trying to add splashes of colors and patterns to the room to make it more interesting. To this end, when I was in Barcelona, I came upon some printed throw pillow cases of the charming octagonal blocks of Eixample. These made perfect accent pieces for the couch and soften the room a bit from being too masculine with my aesthetic choices.
The third and final part of the room is my dining area. I have a table that folds down and can be extended to seat two or six diners. In addition, I really liked a red storage locker at Ikea and wanted to put it on this side of the room. Right now, this part of the room is too diametrically white and red, so I will probably purchase some red seat cushions for my chairs and try to do something with the wall space over the table to add more color. Maybe I will hang the Jack Kirby prints that I brought with me from the US on the walls; however, I am worried that too much white and red on this side of the room will evoke the idea of candy canes. I need to mull a little longer on what to do with side of my room. Ideas from you, dear reader, are appreicated.
This past weekend, I put the finishing touches on my guest room. Two of the room’s pieces came via my soon-to-be-moving neighbor. I bought an extendable day bed from him and a large dining room table that I am using as a desk for my projects. In addition, I bought an as-is Ikea wardrobe that was too big to fit in my building’s elevators as-is, so I had to disassemble it, transport it up my elevator, and reassemble it in my apartment. I was about to pay some workers to do this for me; however, with the help of the night security guard, I was able to do this myself. The do-it-yourself rugged individualism in me hasn’t been completely eroded by the ever-present swirling inexpensive labor of the region. Now, my room is ready for guests—or for me to figure out what my projects are.
While I initially spent most of my furnishing allowance on my living room, the most expensive thing that I purchased for my apartment had to be my mattress. As I get older, I realize that a good mattress is so important for sleep and my well-being. But part of me was tempted to not purchase a bed frame because I like to sleep low to the ground, and it would have saved me a little bit of money. However, I once read an article about women complaining about dudes with mattresses on the ground. Additionally, I just read an article about mattresses proximate to the floor making it easy for bedbugs to homestead. So, for both of these reasons, it was good that I decided to splurge a little bit and elevate my mattress off the ground. Lastly, the other nice thing about the master bedroom is the vertigo-inducing balcony that affords me a view of the sea—until more construction in my area of Lusail City eventually blocks my vista.
Haven’t done too much with my bathroom except purchase a birch shelf that moves most of my healthcare products off of the counter. This provides more space for my beard trimmings to collect.
Note: this picture was taken the day after a maid came and cleaned my entire apartment. Also, every two weeks, I visit a barber who shaves my head and trims my beard; thus, cutting down on the stray clips of hair that collect in my bathroom, but making me sound doubly like a powdered bottom fancy lad.
Haven’t done too much here either except purchase a rug that I didn’t realize was so pink. The showroom model was more red. Still, it doesn’t really matter. The only other point of interest in this room is my refrigerator. I have magnets that I made of my boys. As I travel, I purchase magnets to help me remember the places that I visit. I hope to continue this tradition until the refrigerator door falls off.
Thanks for letting me take you through my apartment and reading about my decorating decisions. Shokrun!