What mixed emotions I have regarding choosing paint colors. When Ben and I bought our first house in 2004 in Denver Colorado I couldn’t wait to pick and paint the small rooms. Every room was a different color and I loved it! So much fun and energy for our small house. I had a red kitchen, Koala colored living room, yellow, dark green and robin egg blue bedrooms and a bright blue bathroom. When we built our home in Leeds Utah it was a much bigger project. After designing and building the custom home I had serious decision fatigue. So when it came to choosing paint colors for our large rooms, with high ceilings, on three stories I was out of ideas. And truthfully a bit afraid. Poor choices would be much bigger and more expensive mistakes. We ended up with white for almost everywhere, light green for the little boys room, yellow for Dannica’s room and Koala for the outside. Yep I still love that color and will use it again for sure. 10 years in that home and I never got around or had the courage and money to paint it all the vibrant colors I had in my mind. When we arrived in Lagos we were told that there was a $500 allowance to be used on items to make our home more usable to our custom needs. Some people put in shelving etc but most people use it to paint. While Ben and I were pouring over bid options for our second tour I used painting as a distraction. It sort of worked. 🙂 I am very happy with our choices. We could choose whatever we wanted but it needs to be able to be covered with 3 coats of paint, done by the Consulate maintenance, when we leave.
Coming into this lifestyle I read so many decorating posts and everyone complained about the white walls. The exact same color of white in every consulate or embassy provided house around the world. I was prepared for white. I have so much vibrant art that white walls aren’t a poor choice. What I wasn’t prepared for were the yellowy cream walls we got. Evidently white it the most expensive paint color in Nigeria so they paint the walls yellowish. I did not love it. It made my brown furniture and brown tile look even more drab. I hate brown. I don’t own a single speck of brown clothing. Not even brown leather shoes. Of course I have all brown furniture provided by the Consulate. I made it work. The lighting, all florescent, is terrible. The rooms are always dark but with the energy issues in Africa I understand their choice. I am constantly opening and closing the curtains to adjust things so we have light but still some privacy as we look directly across to the other apartment building and can see EVERYTHING they do if you don’t close the curtains. I used to laugh at my sweet grandma as she would move her car several times a day to be sure it always stayed in the shade of a tree. Now I feel the same way about my curtains. Adjusting them constantly to keep the perfect balance.
*Please note the messy bedrooms. Yes I have a full time housekeeper. My bedroom, the living room, dining room and kitchen look pretty much like these pictures all the time. My kids rooms are their own. They get to decorate how ever they want. Margaret vacuums for them, changes sheets, does laundry etc. but I asked her to please not clean up their toys and other items. That is their responsibility. They have their blankets they like arranged a certain way on their beds. It is their beds they can do what they want. Matching duvets, color coordinated wall hangings, books on a bookshelf not on the bedside table are not in my future any time soon. So even with full time help my house is messy and not Pottery Barn worthy. I have come to terms with it.*
The kitchen is all tile. So it is the same. You can see pictures we took of the apartment when we first got here, and before all of our personal belongings arrived in this post.
It feels like home. To be honest even though it is plenty big we are a little bit squished. With six people, two teenagers, a dog and cat we fill it up all 4 bedrooms. It makes me feel guilty even saying it as it is 1,700 sf and families of 6 live in one bedroom here regularly. But coming from a house with 3,400 sf, with the layout (who needs 5 bathrooms!!!) and the large furniture and no garage to store things it makes it harder. No family room for an office etc. Those white boxes on the walls in every room are air conditioning units. No Central air here folks. Water will sometimes come pouring out of them and they are constantly being changed and repaired so no furniture or anything of value can go under them. That really affects the flow of a room. People who have fewer kids than we do do just fine with the space. The singles and couples are swimming in their huge apartments. If I wasn’t so attached to my king size bed I would have put all three boys into the over sized master bedroom. But I like my bed and it wouldn’t fit in the other rooms. When we were in DC we were in 2 and then 3 bedrooms and due to the furniture, layout, storage, and not having all our stuff it felt much bigger than here. Our next post the housing won’t be much bigger so we will see. I am learning and see it as a welcome challenge.