Sunday, September 21, 2014

HOUSE UPDATE HORRORS: why I don't go into business with relatives

Thankfully, I don't have to deal with this, but my SIL {sister-in-law} just had her foundation collapse. The foundation for her dream home. She's dealing with a contractor that she'd love to fire, but of course can't, because "we're Omani ya'll" and her contractor is our relative.

Of course, her engineer TOLD HER this would happen, but our cousin/nephew/what-have-you/her contractor knew better.

"Ma mishkila" to do it differently than the 30-years experienced engineer whose done some lovely things like Chedi-style infinity pools and 'my-gosh that's fine' examples of government architecture informed her. Until it was a "mishkila".

Since the house is practically a palace (compared to my humble townhouse-style abode to-be) it will be so sad to see all that marble and mouldings and fabulous furniture overshadowed by bad wiring, cracking walls, and 12 toilets out of 18 that never work...

But they can afford the finest bukhoor {that's Arabic for insence} ya'll, so they can't possibly fire the humble relative contractor now can they? Even if stinking bathrooms that require buckets for flushing will be the result...

Saturday, September 20, 2014

HOUSE UPDATE: floorplans are finally moving along... almost to the architectural concept phase

The new engineer working on the floor plan for our villa/Muscat townhouse actually seems to have listened to what I need and have in mind. I like how he also came up with alternatives to my suggestions so that we have options. I meet with him in a couple of days to see if I approve the finalized floor plan since his design did need a few minor changes (doors to open differently---kitchen to be increased in size, and balconies to be added). Following that, and during the process of getting the plan approved by Muscat Municipalities, I'll meet with his consultancy's architect to come up with prospective sketches for the facade and landscape. I've already been toying with a few ideas of my own... and have a couple of prospective sketches so we'll see where that goes... based on the new revised floorplans of course, and the buyer/owner of the other half of our twin villa design. Since it is a twin villa design, everything has to flow together, from the paint colour to the lighting fixtures and planting, when it comes to the facades. There can be two distinct styles... but they have to match somehow. That'll be tricky. 
The trick is curb appeal, since I am a very traditional girl but I don't necessarily use a home like your average Omani family...: My style is either full out traditional Arabic architecture (I like dark, earthy paint colours, natural, uneven surfaces, and more Arabian elements) or definately very English. For example, Omani and Qatari rooflines... smaller windows, beautiful dark wood doors, plain square walls but with intricate detailing... My other options are Georgian townhouse (I love Georgian architecture) or some sort of new take on Tudor since Omani cement engineering just doesn't suit the timber and plaster architecture I grew up on. My other requirement for myself is that the facade, and the interior match.
Not so for Omanis, who like to mix and match. Interior and exterior totally don't have to go together.
So the other owner/buyer and myself, we've been trying to come up with inspiration photos to see how we can go it in a way that doesn't skimp or sacrifice on either of our styles.
My architectural loves:
So, some ideas resultant (not sure yet however):
The second villa will have an Omani buyer/owner who will use it in a very Omani-way. However, they grew up in a mud brick and stone house with small windows. The result of that is a love for modern shapes, and big windows. However, European shutters and balconies rule supreme.

So...if we are to do my first preference for a house in Oman (Contemporary Arabian) these styles require compromise.

The other villa's inspirations:
Possible result????:
So that's it for now....  it's coming along.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

HOUSE UPDATE: The floor plans are finished did you say?

My Muscat land for my future house (inshaAllah)
Well, coming back to my adventure of building and buying my own house/villa here in Oman... remember how back in June I blogged that our floor plans were finished?

Well, turns out the Engineer said he could do some things that Muscat Municipalities says we can't....(like put the stairs right to the side)  and also that we couldn't do some things that we could (such as build a bit wider to the sides... and change the parking to save more of the land.

So we switched our Engineer and started a new plan. That was going all well and all until he up and left the country for two months and was like, don't worry, I'll email it to you soon, inshaAllah, ma mishkila.

Well, mishkila.

He was beyond late. Two weeks turned into two months. Then we gave him a little more time, and he was like, excuses, excuses.

Canadian me is not patient. I don't like liars. Just tell us you can't if you can't.

Anyways, when he got us the plan it totally sucked.

And I was very very clear with what I wanted.

I want a living room (no majlis) that opens to a yard. This can be from the side or the back but not the front of the house (as the front has no good yard).

In his plan, the living room was, of course, to the front, with no entry to a yard. In fact... he didn't leave space for a yard.... at all.

I said I wanted the stairs seperate from any rooms. An entry hall is fine and then stairs, but not stairs and the living room.

So of course, the stairs opened from the living room----or, worse, an open concept kitchen.

I said I wanted a kitchen in the front of the house AND NOT OPEN CONCEPT---- because I am Western, and repeat, over and over again, no I do not need a maid's room, a maid's toilet, and a store attached to my kitchen.... somehow this must mean I want an open concept kitchen.

I do not.

Not with Omani inlaws with bazillions of children having the possibility of visiting. I don't like guests going through my fridge and kitchen cupboards.


Anyways... the upstairs was also kind of a disaster. One I could live with but a total aboration from anything that I asked for.

So, we got ourselves a new Engineer.

And I drew my plan for him.

With measurements.

My plan, on the land, includes a twin villa. Why? Because the land can be split. The twin villa is being built in an Omani style (way bigger than what I need but perfect for rental or resale to Omani families) but it should still have space for a yard or a garden at the very least.

For some reason all the engineers kept puting the bigger villa on the land with less space. I guess because the land is wider in the back at one side, but the Omani style villa needs more on the ground floor, so why not use the awkward space with more land to the side and have the living room open to a side yard/garden?

To me, this is a no-brainer.

I am almost convinced I should get a degree in architecture or engineering and start my own construction company....

Ugh. My husband thinks it is a great idea and is willing to take out a loan for it. I am like,  "whoa... when would I have time for that??????"

I am not really business woman. I have no ambition whatsoever.

Anyways, our new Engineer is Omani. He seems to understand (and listen) better than the others, so I'll see in two weeks what he comes up with. INshaAllah it is on time, and he sticks to my drawings and measurements. He charges 1 OMR per square meter of the plan I believe, and his plans are available in 3D. If he is good, I tell you his name and consultancy office address... until then, stay tuned for this whole misadventure;)

Saturday, September 6, 2014

OOTD+abaya: polk-a-dots & pearls + visiting family

 I love polk-a-dots. You could say I am addicted to them. So even if I find a really cheap 8 OMR abaya at the Exhibition (in polk-a-dots) I buy it. Who cares if the tailor sewed two connecting pieces of fabric together because he was too cheap to use a whole piece of fabric in a wider length? Who cares if the chiffon is poly-crap?---Not me, certainly, if it is done in dots. Now, of course, my Omani husband, who comes from a more conservative family (some of them believe plain black is the only way for an abaya to be an abaya) doesn't like head-to-toe printed abayas (even something so conservative to me as a splash of white dots on black). However, when my family was visiting back a couple months, this particular abaya was perfect. My father doesn't like the whole-abaya-and-hijab thing about my converstion to Islam very much, and prefers me in colours and prints. So polka-a-dots it was... especially since my little sister and father packed me back some of my old wardrobe... including vintage furs and 1930s polk-a-dot dress I wore underneath of my front-open polk-a-dot print abaya for a day out in Mutrah/Old Muscat visiting Museums and galleries, and strolling around Riyam park (for the two-year-old). {the photos weren't taken for an outfit-of-the-day post, and are thus cropped family photos so forgive, but that particular abaya is long gone now... and the other day I was missing it soooooo;) }

Thursday, September 4, 2014

To my best friend forever, congratulations on your wedding day. You deserved the sunshine, forever a summer girl, with the perfect white sand beach wedding.

You were a beautiful bride. I cried. I was jealous of your maid of honour;). I wish I could have been there.

Since I cannot, I wish that all your joys be as deep as the ocean, and all your troubles as light as the foam on the sea.... I wish you health, and happiness, and lots of laughter. He's lucky to have you, because no stronger, kinder, lighter-souled, less prejudiced human being have I ever known. You have a light in you, like sunshine... I feel confident that you will have a lasting marriage, because the life that you live, and the way that you love,  (quietly but fiercely) (simply but encompassingly), are the trappings of a beautiful life and healthy marriage, not just a  beautiful wedding day and bride.

But you were so, sooooooooooooo so beautiful! {{{mashaAllah}}}

To the bride, and her husband, all my best, forever and always.....

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

KHALEEJI DESIGNER ABAYAS: Bedazzled Spring 2014 Collection

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