It has been about a month and a half since we shifted our office into a bigger and more fabulous space and we have started transforming the old space into a proper apartment. After living in a room for two years and making polite jokes about "I live where I work, no wait, I work where I live," I am really relieved, ecstatic and rather over excited to finally have an apartment to decorate and lord over.
The apartment has a huge open living room, a balcony, a kitchen, 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. It really is a decent-sized flat. After all, it served as a full-functioning office since 2009 and I had only one room to myself in which I could take off my owner-and-manager-of-an-IT-company hat.
Almost all the traces of it ever having hosted an IT office are gone and everyone who comes over is shocked to see it. Gone are the yellow walls and replaced with a pale blue/turquoise and deep red combination. Gone are the desks, the shelves, the cables, and the files and instead, we have a living and dining space where we can display our quirky belongings, host dinner parties and watch TV.
I have been obsessed with creating a stylish and chic apartment ever since we got the apartment back, wanting to unleash two years worth of domestic creativity that was trapped in that one room which served as a sleeping, TV-watching, dressing, and reading room.
Every night I would spend hours intensely browsing at pictures of apartments and homes for inspiration. One of my favourite sites thusfar is the fantastic http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/. I also really like House of Turquoise.
I love how creative people can be when it comes to their homes and it is really not about buying expensive furniture and pieces for your home but about one's own personal style and its expression. These sites, especially Apartment Therapy, has some great pictures of living rooms, bedrooms and nooks. Cool apartments are those that do not follow any rules. These spaces reflect the owners' passions and interests. All kinds of textures, objects and colours are thrown in together to create a certain mood and project a certain fantasy. And let's not forget, you want a fabulous apartment to show off to everyone how creatively clever you are which is exactly what I am determine to do..
Infused with all kinds of midnight-internet-surfing and two-years-of-bubbling-creativity, I embarked on apartment therapy and apartment snobbery of my own, assisted by a few decorating sidekicks, which includes Haresh (or Radish, as Mama Susu likes to call him).
Not only am I relishing (I type this with my eyes closed, lips slightly parted in apartment ecstasy) being able to live in an entire apartment of my own again but also enjoying being in what I think is an exceptionally cool and cozy space.
How did I come up with this marvelous colour combo for the walls? Well, please don't laugh but I was watching the Indian flick "Robot" with Rajnikant and Aishwarya Rai and there's a dreamy track with the two prancing on a pristine white beach with turquoise waters. I first thought of painting the walls an ocean blue and later, decided on off setting such a pale and tranquil colour with some intense red drama to reflect the two sides of my crazy moody personality.
I started muttering "deep red, cool blue, cool blue, deep red" over and over to myself and started fantasising about my apartment until we went and got the paint from Chicri Brothers in Vai Town. These guys have all the colours you can think of so you can effectively convert your apartment dreams into reality. They had a Burgandy Red and two shades of turquoise; it was quite expensive though, $ 45/gallon. We spent $ 500.00 on painting the living room and re-did our balcony in a terra cotta orange. Gulp! but well worth it.
There is an off-tangent but extremely nostalgic and amazing story to be told here regarding Chicri Brothers. This is apparently Haresh's first (and only) employer when he was a young kid of 17, newly come to Liberia for a job. He was staying across the bridge and was promised that he would be hooked up with potential employers very soon but he got fed up after a month of waiting - during which he furiously smoked an entire box of cigarettes - and proceeded to find a job himself. He actually struck lucky on the first day of job hunting and with the very first door he knocked on: Chicri Brothers. He worked there for almost a year and at that time, the business was the authorised dealer for Volvo. For most of the time he worked on taking stock of all the Volvo parts. After a year, he started his own business of Volvo spare parts. (No, I am just kidding.)
So there we were, buying paints for our apartment at Chicri Brothers, a place where Haresh got his first job. He was getting pretty misty remembering his boss and how loved to smoke cigars and looked like a movie star. He met a former co-worker who has been working at Chicri Brothers the whole time and never left. Talk about continuity!
Continuing with my story about my apartment, I am truly enjoying the luxury of having separated my home and work spaces. Sure, it was really fun and adventurous in the beginning when I decided to take over my dear Wesley's IT company, in a fit of lucidity, after he was killed; I had witnessed the birth and evolution of Wes' company that set and maintained standards of excellence and trained from scratch dozens of IT techies. I made the decision to give it shot - to see whether I could keep the dream alive.
Hence, I immediately took over the company after Wesley's funeral. I shifted NLTC (now known as NATC) from its premises to the apartment in order to live and work in the same space and save costs. This is the apartment where Wesley was murdered by 2 Chinese criminals on Sunday, 6 September 2009 in this very apartment and since, then, I and the IT company moved in there. I've run the show from here since then.
My life became stripped down to the essentials. I was living out of a room in a very basic apartment with the most basic necessities. I enjoyed all the challenges that came with it, especially having to live so simply. Living in the same apartment where Wesley was gruesomely murdered did not freak me out too much either. Over the time, the business started to pick up, I added new clients, I constantly made efforts to keep the apartment-office into a smart-looking place of work, even entertained guests in the balcony and consciously made happy memories. It felt a bit like constructing a new city on the ruins of an ancient one. The apartment is like my own Jericho, one of the oldest cities in the world, built on the layers of 7 older cities.
But, two years of living and working out of the same space is long enough and I am tremendously relieved that my self-imposed challenge is over. I get my life back, yes sir! To hell with living simply. Dafa karo! I want to have a stylish apartment with lots of lamps, lots of funky artwork on my crazy-coloured walls, and shelves and shelves and shelves of my collections of books and DVDs. I am a compulsive collector and love displaying the junk. I want to be able to come home after work and just crash in front of the TV. I want to host dinner parties with enough space to go around. I am enjoying having a guest room (in fact, Haresh and I just hosted a friend from Pakistan) which I have taken extra care to decorate. I love having a huge wardrobe and a couple of dressers to arrange more neatly my clothes and shoes. It's wonderful to have things organised and in their place. I recently organised my DVDs into themes and it was just SO FREAKINGLY COOL to see my amazing collections proudly displayed. What a kick I got!
I am also fortunate to also have an easy-going partner who is helping me to indulge my pleasures. He is doing all the work: he got the carpenter to make some new furniture for us and, it all turned out beautifully. Yess!
I look forward to enjoying my apartment for a long time to come. I love it so much I don't feel like going out at all these days. After our hectic days, Haresh and I come home at around 6 PM. We proceed straight to our wonderful terrace which is on the roof of our building, have our evening tea and cookies, and watch the sun go down. We then come down and eat dinner at home (we also happen to be amazing cooks), have some Sharks ice-cream, and watch TV and go to sleep.