House Updates and…Being Left Behind

8 Jan

Each house has its own feel, personality and needs (even expat rental houses). Our new house is a lot bigger than our last, we have a total of 6 bathrooms in this one whereas we had half that before. However, our resolution to keep all decor cheap and cheerful remains unchanged. We have no intention of spending vast amounts of money on a house that is not ours. We would like to stay in Qatar for at least 5 years BUT we also know that anything can happen and moving on may be forced upon or chosen by us at any point in time, so we ain’t decorating for life here. We  need to make this house feel like a family home as we spend much of our time in it. We are happy to spend some money on making it so but not too much. 

This is the family room. It is on your left, through an open archway (so to speak) as you enter the front door. It’s where we hangout most of the time. It’s also attached to the kitchen in an open-plan sort of way, which we love. It’s a good cooking, eating, slouching around watching TV kind of room. 

I took these photo’s the first time we saw the house.

 Obviously we went with the furnished option, as most expats do, and getting our own furniture shipped over makes no sense to our current lifestyle.

 We moved on to this a week or two later.

 We unpacked the boxes, took a while to find a place for everything but eventually we got to a state of sub-normality.


I’m dying to paint but the thought of repainting before we leave one day puts me off doing anything too severe. So I’ve left the walls ‘practical-expat-cream’ and rather added some art. Maybe art is too strong a word, it’s more of a collection of memories, photos and things we like. All home-made, all cost absolutely nothing as we had everything already, I just needed to find it, sort it out and put it all together – the fun part. The ‘collection’ includes some art that Luka made, mementos from events we’ve attended like the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, things from places we’ve visited like stones from a beach in the south of France and even a map of good old Riyadh including the area we lived in there.

I added some Chinese paper lanterns I had lying in a cupboard for colour. And no I would probably not use paper lanterns in my real house and rather keep them for the garden but there you go. Improvisation.

I had to get rid of the curtains. There was nothing wrong with them in terms of quality but they were heavy, not my style and the red swags just killed me. I quickly whipped up a really simple set of tab top curtains in the course of a Friday morning from a large piece of cheap calico I’ve been carrying around and slowly cutting pieces off for various projects over the last few years. They are like a breath of fresh air although I’m thinking of dyeing them a very pale grey-blue to add some contrast to the cream walls. 

So with a few changes and a bit of effort our family room feels a bit more like home. And the only thing we bought was the table lamp which we got on a sale. Everything else we already owned/were given/found at the dump. I am refining my cheap and nasty economical style of decorating with every new country we move to.

On a completely unrelated and probably more interesting note. Olaf and, our 3-year-old,  Luka will be leaving the country tomorrow. In a bizarre twist of visa related events, my temporary visa was extended and Luka’s not. It’s complicated and I shall not bore you with the details but Luka needs to exit and then re-enter Qatar in order to get a new visa as his will no longer be valid within the next 2 days. Olaf is the only one of the two of us who can take him so the boys will fly to Dubai for dinner tomorrow. A few hours after dinner they will jump back on a plane and fly the hour back so that Luka can have his passport stamped with a new visa. It should be a fun father/son bonding session. Obviously, I am absolutely devastated at being left behind. I have already booked to have my hair cut, nails done etc while I have all those hours to MYSELF.

Oh the joys of expat living!


10 Responses to “House Updates and…Being Left Behind”

  1. Bianca January 8, 2012 at 7:42 pm #

    Hi there! Loved your story and especially your wall art! You are very creative!!! I will def be doing a yearly DVD / movie fir Gino! Been meaning to ask u for the recipe of that delicious rice dish u made for Lukas birthday, if u can refer me to some inspiration, I’d appreciate it! Always again just loved your wall art!! Enjoy your pampering!! X

    • Philippa Brinkmann January 9, 2012 at 8:40 am #

      Hi Bianca

      I am sure you will be very pleased, in the years to come, that you have a quick movie highlighting each year of little Gino’s life. I know I am. And I have no doubt that yours will be spectacular with all your graphic design knowledge. Just a couple of weeks until he turns 1! Tt all passes so fast.
      I will send you the receipe today.

  2. Toni Carter January 9, 2012 at 3:48 am #

    House looks lovely. Hope Luka got his Visa sorted and enjoyed his quick trip with Daddy. Big kisses xxxx

    • Philippa Brinkmann January 9, 2012 at 8:41 am #

      Thanks TC. I’m sure they will have a great time together without me for a change. The boy does love his Dad.

  3. Helena January 9, 2012 at 6:45 am #

    Philippa, you are a domestic genius. We’ve been in Riyadh three years now and the only personal touch to our houses has been Hansi’s grubby foot prints on the cream walls. Love the story of Luka and Olaf’s jetsetting.

    • Philippa Brinkmann January 9, 2012 at 8:45 am #

      Hey Helena

      You know I enjoy playing around inside the house so it doesn’t feel like a chore to do it. It keeps my little spark of creativity satisfied and always makes me feel happy to come home.
      Each to their own I say, Hansi’s little footprints, soon to be followed by Astrid’s are just as good as any adults attempts to decorate.

  4. OPA & OMA January 9, 2012 at 5:29 pm #

    You’re really doing a great job Philippa .We hope all went well with my son and grandson’s dinner date and you enjoyed your day off .
    cant wait to see you all.

  5. Philippa Brinkmann January 9, 2012 at 7:23 pm #

    The boys got back all chatty and happy after their trip. Luka had an absolute blast, he turned to Olaf during the trip home and told him he was his best friend. So sweet.

  6. Fay January 11, 2012 at 7:59 pm #

    Hi Philippa, the house looks great!! Good to hear the boys are “back in town” ;-). ENJOY LIFE!! We are still in Holland but not sure for how long….. South of Spain is calling us so who knows were we end up….
    Take care and say hi to hubbie and son. Love your stories 😉 Fay x

    • dustbusting January 12, 2012 at 7:05 am #

      Hi Fay
      After all your travels, will you ever be able to be still again? The South of Spain sounds like a glorius place to settle, will offer a little more sunshine than Oude Water and loads more aventures for you and Jan.
      Hope we get to meet up with you guys again sometime in the not too distant future, whether it be somewhere in Europe or South Africa.
      Keep well, thanks for stopping by.

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