A Bit Less Shiny Brass and Harvest Gold Please

By the time we leave Warsaw, I will have spent 19 years of my life in Embassy housing, 17 of them surrounded by Drexel furniture. In other words, each post may be just temporary, but sadly, this is my life!

I am no longer a college student, people. I’m at a stage of my life in which, in normal circumstances, I might be able to choose furniture that I actually like. So, it’s worth it to me to put a little time and effort into my housing and make it at least sort of my own.

The first stage of Drexel hacking is always to get rid of some Drexel! Any furniture that isn’t absolutely necessary goes back to the warehouse. In this apartment, the initial list included four of these chairs, along with a few lamps.

I just can't imagine who thought these were a good idea.
I just can’t imagine who thought these were a good idea.

Next: curtains.  Now, I must say, I am thankful that this apartment came with window coverings. Our first apartment in Vienna featured west-facing, full-exposure windows without a stitch of covering in the living room. Not even blinds. Bedrooms and bathrooms had either hot pink or dark brown curtains. It was a hot mess!

So, to whoever ordered and painstakingly hung custom-made curtains all over our apartment, thank you. Even though the nifty built-in blinds on the windows would have been fine on their own, I know you meant well. Truly, I do.

But, shiny yellow damask?  Really?


Actually, when out of the full sun, these curtains are revealed as Harvest Gold, “a whitish-gold color popular with kitchen and other appliances in the 1970s.” I knew I’d seen it before somewhere.

Taz tries not to look at the curtains.
Taz tries not to look at the curtains.

After two or three weeks, I just couldn’t deal anymore and took them down in the living room. I’d like to take them down everywhere, but I know my husband won’t let me take them down in the bedroom because it gets light out so early here. Oh well, my eyes are mostly closed in there anyway.

Phew, that's better.
Phew, that’s better. Less Marriott lobby, more my home.

About that shiny brass. I have renovated two houses, and the first thing I did in both was to remove all the builder-grade (cheap) shiny brass fixtures. Read any article about upgrading a house for resale, and that will be on the list: ditch the builder brass. No one wants it anymore!

Unfortunately, the State Department didn’t get the memo. The furniture we got here is in much better shape than the last batch we had, and newer than some, but it’s still the “old” style, loaded with brass fittings. Fortunately, I have a secret weapon.

DeWalt 12V cordless drill/screwdriver. Thanks, Mom!
DeWalt 12V cordless drill/screwdriver. Thanks, Mom!

I thought about replacing hardware, as Adaptation House did. It’s a great idea, but there is SO MUCH hardware in my living room alone that it could get pretty expensive. But I thought, what if I just take some of it off?

It only took about ten minutes to take the shiny scrolly bits off my china hutch, buffet, and entertainment center.


OK, so it’s not a big change. But every little bit helps!

For the rest of the furniture, I am employing my usual strategy of tossing my collection of textiles over everything.  Cheap, easy, and protects the furniture too, for what that’s worth. (If you haven’t been posted to the fabric countries, try eBay for some cool stuff! Or stock up at thrift shops while you are in the States.)

Brass out of sight.
Brass out of sight under a Guatemalan throw.

Now, about these “new” lamps. They are not brass, and that is a good thing. But, they are some kind of metallic-finish plastic, and they look like bronze pineapples. They are clearly hotel furniture. Real people don’t have these in their homes.

The bedroom lamps are like this only pregnant.
The bedroom lamps are like this–only pregnant.

I would just go buy some lamps to replace them, but I already have a bunch of lamps in storage so I kind of hate to spend a lot in that category. Any ideas for how to hack these babies?


  1. I love some of these ideas. I think wrapping is definitely the key, just need to figure out what to wrap with. Maybe some inspiration will strike me once I find the thrift stores here!


  2. Our furniture is the exact match of yours (surprise, not) and I got curious to what else they could have picked out rather than mustard. Here are the results: couch: http://www.drexelheritage.com/Furniture/Product-Detail.aspx?ItemID=436317 …. chairs are more or less the same fabric http://www.drexelheritage.com/Furniture/Product-Detail.aspx?ItemID=435765#. Should I feel grateful? I like the idea of removing the butter dipped drapes in the main living area, but ours have some sort of a crib-like-bumper-guard in two different patterns of yellow/gold. sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We have 2 of the very same chairs and of course all of the furniture you de-shined. For curtains I might have liked yellow better than caca – the color they chose for all our bedrooms!!! Abominable but no shutters so we have to live with it.

    For lamps since I had mine I gave the pineapples back to GSO upon arrival. That was only possible 2 years ago. Then supposedly a new rule arrived in EUR (only applied at our post?) where you cannot give back anything and also not request anything more.


  4. I gave back those exact chairs here in Brussels! I also have custom beige drapes- I turned turned them so the dark grey blackout position faces the room instead. As for those lamps, I replaces the shades with drum shades which made a big difference.

    Liked by 1 person

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