Friday, March 28, 2014

Dakar Nest: Living Room Before, Inspiration, and Progress

Happy Friday!

I haven't forgotten about sharing the before pictures of our new apartment; in fact I've been astutely avoiding the task. That MAMMOTH post has been a bitch to format, and things have already evolved. So rather than put it off a day longer, today I'm diving in with the living room and some of my current design inspiration! This is a whole lot of content jammed into one post: before, inspiration, and progress. On y va!

Let's start with the BEFORE shots of the living room.

^^We are on the ground floor and the living room is in the front of the apartment, on the street. I knew this room would be dark and there's not much we can do about it. That large window is completely obstructed by a privacy bush. Don't mind the prison bars, those are standard here, especially on the ground floor. Safety first.

^^Here we are looking back out of the living room. You can see how there is a nice amount of light flowing in from the open double doors on the left (not in view)... this is especially lovely in the morning as this room faces east. Glass half-full, right?!

^^And the view from another corner. You step out those doors into a small but pleasant patio area, which is nice for the dog and maybe for us once we get some outdoor furniture. Baby steps ;)

Initial thoughts on the living room: let's face it, the light sucks. It's also a bit noisy, but I'm used to city sounds so it doesn't bother me much. I'm just thankful the bedroom is in the back of the apartment and very quiet. The good news is this space is huge! I also like the dramatic crown moulding, and the tile isn't offensive.

My plan all along was to create two separate spaces: a (casual) dining area in front of the sliding doors and an L-shaped couch/seating space with gallery walls in the larger part of the living room. Kind of like this:

I love white walls with bright pops of color, and my weaknesses are shades of coral, fuscia, teal, and aqua. I am going for a modern bohemian vibe incorporating African design and inspiration, trinkets from our travels, personal photos, art, and coziness - all without veering too adolescent. I've been collecting visual inspiration for awhile now...

Follow Kim @ Six Bougies's board ..Dream Apartment.. on Pinterest.

These are some of my top inspiration shots:

Now for our PROGRESS photos. First, a disclaimer: I'm going to elaborate on our adventures in furniture and upholstery in Senegal in another post, just know it has NOT gone according to plan. There have been several bumps in the road and weeks of discontent, closing off the dark living room and looking the other way.

I finally threw my plans out the window and I'm choosing to embrace where this process is leading us. That being said, this room is VERY MUCH in progress. But now that we have furniture, I can start to feel the flow of the room and I'm excited for its potential! I'll let the pictures do the rest of the talking...

^^Now when you walk in, a nice seating area to your left. Quite the mishmash of furniture. Believe it or not, the wooden chair and sofa were sold as a "set" with that coffee table. I'm testing textiles for future pillows, and the couch is actually draped in blue-black fabric at the moment (soon to be reupholstered). I also ordered some coral throws from West Elm to drape over the dark couch and chairs for more warmth. Normally I prefer light couches, but with the dust and dirt in Senegal its just not practical. So instead... high contrast!

^^Move slightly to your right and you see the reading/conversation nook by the window... I'm very pleased with the layout solution. All those chairs felt so crowded in one group and I really like having three separate spaces. The reading chairs will be reupholstered in the same dark fabric as the couch. And obviously we need to add curtains - I'm thinking white with a colorful trim.

^^I plan on spray painting the feet of those reading chairs in gold. I also want to add a bookshelf/credenza under the window in between those two chairs, with lamps and decor items on top.  Can't wait for a cozy nook ;) I also find the wood chair quite handsome. The mud cloth is just a placeholder until I make pillows and find the right spot for that Malian fabric.

^^We will be spray painting the dining table and chairs white soon... and replacing the glass top (its broken) or covering it with a table cloth in the interim. The coffee table top needs some major rehab. Paint? Darker stain? I am leaning towards a light top and darker stained bottom. I spy pups and C. in the background...

^^Did the grey upholstery turn out exactly how I imagined? No. But I am learning to accept things not turning out quite so. The wood stain issue really bothers me - next up on the agenda! I also plan on a large mirror (maybe like this?) above one of the couches to reflect light.

^^View from the back corner. Notice the pops of teal and pink ;)

^^Here you can see all three spaces: reading chairs, couches to the right, and C. at our new bamboo table set in the background. I love the coral weaving (handmade in Senegal) on the blue chair. I will be using some of it to make pillows!

^^The start of a styled coffee table... if I can only figure out how to make the wood more attractive.

I welcome any suggestions or input on how to further transform this space! Should we consider painting? How else can I lighten the space despite the super dark couch color? Or should I embrace the contrast? Thoughts on the wood stain dilemma?

Alright, I will now conclude this novel of a post. I had a lot of catching up to do ;) If you made it this far, I salute you. And if you're in the mood for even more of my decor ramblings, check out these past posts:
     - Living Room inspiration from over a year ago... has my vision changed?
     - African masks and textiles in decor.
     - My Design Manifesto, in a nutshell.

Have a lovely, inspiration-filled weekend!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Expat Diaries: A Family Affair {NYC circa 1970}

Over the holidays, my grandmother gave me something priceless: folders upon folders of photos she's been electronically archiving over the past several years. I have been pouring over the baby pictures of my dad romping around Paris in jumpers, army scenes from the first world war, vacations in the Alps and the South of France in the '60s, raucous New Years celebrations of decades past, and more. Some of the very old photographs from great-great-great-great grandparents depicting Paris and the French countryside are absolutely mesmerizing and I will have to share them on here.

But a few weeks ago I stumbled upon a true gem: my dad's family's first trip to the U.S. in 1970, to visit friends living outside of New York City. It was like discovering a time capsule, and I had to share some of the vintage images with you all. I sometimes forget my dad is a true expat; although he's lived in the U.S. for the past 22 years (nearing half his life now!), he is still French through and through. And to think I pride myself on living in Senegal for a mere four years... I guess expat-ism runs in the family ;) 

Harlem 1970
^^An eventful welcome to New York City: their train broke down and the commuters walked off the tracks in Harlem. My grandmother still loves sharing this story.

Harlem 1970
^^Harlem seemed to have really fascinated my grandmother, probably because of the famous riots of the previous decade and the urban grit not seen too often in Paris.

Rockefeller Center 1970

^^My twelve-year-old dad and grandmother at Rockefeller Center.

Rockefeller Center 1970
United Nations 1970

Empire State building 1970

^^Atop the Empire State building, trusty guidebook in hand.

NYC 1970

^^ Organizing a two-year memorial for Martin Luther King's assassination, the organizer dressed in wax pagne, no less.

NYC 1970
^^Street scenes of NYC.

NYC 1970

^^This photo seriously channels Mad Men. Or rather, Mad Men seriously channels this photo. Love it!

NYC 1970
NYC 1970

^^ I'm pretty sure this photo was highlighting the trash next to the produce.
NYC 1970
NYC 1970

^^"A surprising street for the French," my grandmother's thoughts at the time.

NYC 1970

^^Hare Krishna, apparently completely unheard of in France at the time. (Mad Men is clearly my reference for this era... and its spot on again!)

NYC 1970
^^ Matching outfits and loafers :) Where is this, New Yorkers??

NYC 1970
^^MOMA. I love this picture of my grandparents.

NYC 1970
^^ Just some French tourists hanging out in front of the Met ;) 

NYC 1970

^^ Hippies in Central Park :) /Is this picture being taken from a tour bus?!

I guess my expat roots run deep ;)

P.S. I'm linking up for the Expat Diaries - be sure to check out more expat posts at the link below!

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