Friday, November 25, 2011

House Tour~ The Salon

Welcome to our "salon", also known as gurfit id'dayuf, or guest room. When we first moved to Jordan 22 years ago, I was put off by the formality of the Arab guest room. Popular furniture sets were in the style of of Louis XVI, with elaborate curlicues and gilding, and entire walls were draped in heavy fabric. One didn't purchase individual pieces of furniture, but rather a complete seven seat set (couch, love-seat, two chairs) all upholstered in the same fabric.

Our salon, as decorated here, is how I've made peace with the concept of a formal guest room. We had this set of furniture made (common here) about 15 years ago and I chose complimentary fabrics rather than just one for all the seats. In a bold move, I also mixed chair styles. Some of my friends really liked it and some others asked why I didn't use all the same fabric. This is the largest room in our home, and the dimensions/layout are almost exactly those of our previous home. While I have eschewed the opulent faux-crystal chandeliers, I have embraced the oriental carpets.

A view from the front sunroom entrance

Ideally the couch would be away from the door, and we may still move it, as the most inside seat, the one farthest from the door, is considered the most honorable place to seat a guest. Often a guest will begin to take the seat closest to the door, but the host who seeks to honor his guest should insist that he be seated away from the door. Nesting tables which are located between the two larger chairs are essential furniture as they are placed near the guests when refreshments are served. Here is a view taken from the other end of the salon:

The other end of our salon in our formal dining area. I am lacking the traditional, ornate china cupboard, but have instead an antique Damascus wedding chest, with which Dear Husband surprised me on our 20th wedding anniversary.

It is made of heavy oak (the lid is all one piece) and is inlaid with mother of pearl outlined with silver. Dear Husband once wondered aloud what we would do with it if we ever move overseas to which a male friend instantly replied, "Take it with you, of course." I told our friend thank you, of course!

The main modification we made to this room before we moved in was adding the large, Arab-style double door which opens up into our family room. We usually keep the doors open but can also close them when Dear Husband is entertaining male guests.

That completes the tour of the two rooms of our home that I keep picked-up and uncluttered all the time. The other rooms will likely need to be tidied before I photograph them!


Mrs. Edwards said...

Your salon is beautiful! That chest is absolutely exquisite. Is there are story behind the center table? Is the base octagonal?

Woman of the House said...

You have a sunroom *and* a salon! The room is lovely. I am enjoying reading the cultural notes. Very interesting! Asking a guest to move to the seat of honor away from the door reminds me of the biblical of story in which the guest at a wedding takes a low seat and is urged to move higher. I suppose the ideas are related?

Quotidian Life said...

Amy, the octagonal table base is an expensive Indian made base my husband found in a local souvenir store. He was searching for something to hold the brass plate he brought back from Damascus last spring. Jordan doesn't have much local handicrafts--the best things come from Syria and Egypt.

Martha, yes, the ideas are related. Many of the ancient Middle Eastern traditions found in the Bible have come alive from living in Jordan. I have come appreciate many of the traditional customs and greetings, still practiced here.

Pictoria said...

Melissa, I enjoyed the tour! I want to see the kitchen!

Jodi said...

I love the spaceousness of your home, and learning the custom of where to sit a guest. Best of all, the Damascus wedding chest--I'm drooling. My daughter lives overseas. There are certain wedding gifts she had been given. She told me that if they ever move to the States, she hopes her husband will understand that those items will be shipped back with her. :)

llasblog said...

Hi Melissa,

I've been meaning to comment here for days. I really appreciated this explanation of the Arab concept of a guest room. Interesting that we Americans spend so much time trying to get an eclectic look with different styles and fabrics, while the Arab idea is to have everything match.

Here in Torino, chandeliers are also popular, but a surprising number of them are real. Now every time I see one, I think of your sentence about "eschewing the opulent faux-crystal chandeliers." We have eschewed them, all right, but for different reasons, perhaps. Our ceilings still sport bare bulbs hanging from wires.

I really do appreciate how you've blended American and Jordanian culture in your home. And I'm a bit amazed at how quickly and well you've settled into the new place!

Quotidian Life said...

Opps--Amy, I meant to say that the table base is an inexpensive base, not an expensive one, but maybe you caught that.

Quotidian Life said...

Laura, I think we were able to settle in so quickly because Tom went through all the trouble of the repairs, painting, etc. with some hired workers before we moved in. As I read your kitchen story I found it to be similar to what Tom had had to oversee during the summer. One benefit of our location/culture: it would have been completely inappropriate for me to oversee the repairs/painting--that is strictly man's work! Maybe in Amman I could have helped a bit more, but our new location is much more traditional.

llasblog said...

Ah, there you have it--why I have never volunteered to learn how to use a lawn mower! Not that we've had one for the past 15 years.