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Foreign Service

Furniture: The Good,

the Bad and the

Just Plain Ugly


n the Foreign Service, there is the good,

the bad and the ugly—post furniture,

that is. So popular is the topic that a

simple Google search of “Foreign Service

furniture” yields hundreds of results. Here

are a few that caught our eye.

One common thread of contention

resurfaces frequently: the plain ugliness

of State-provided Drexel furniture. Luck-

ily, there are some creative workarounds.

• An FS spouse, Liz, of Adaptation House , has a list of “Drexel Hacks.” Sh


explains how to camouflage furniture, like

the Drexel “Queen Anne” bookshelves,

with a tension rod and fabric and even

how to make a headboard with cardboard

boxes. She suggests temporary furniture

modifications like swapping out dated

draw pulls with modern ones.

• FSO Victoria Reppert’s Tunisian home was spotlighted on the popular blog, Design Sponge . When decoratin


she utilizes the host country’s interior

design trends and breaks up big rooms by

using screens. She uses muted slipcov-

ers to hide the dated State-provided

couches—a tip repeated by many other

FS bloggers.

Hardship Homemaking

is a

collaborative blog effort to “make

life overseas at hardship posts

easier.” Tips shared include how to temporarily reupholster chairs with nothing more than a screw- driver and fabric.

• There’s even an entire

Pinterest board, “Foreign Service- friendly decorating,” dedicated to

ways to repurpose furniture and

add flair to your home at post.

Perhaps you’ve accepted your fate of

being surrounded by decades-old Drexel

furniture for the rest of your career. Don’t

worry; you’re not alone.

• The Tumblr blog Foreign Service Problems certainly understands. In fa


the site tackles a variety of awkward or

annoying topics unique to the Foreign

Service, such as the furniture situation.

• Z. Marie, of the blog Something EditedThis Way Comes , hosted an informal “Best-Disguised Foreign Service Couch” contest. Entries included one

hidden in laundry and one enhanced with

Photoshop—apparently, some things just

can’t be fixed.

• FS Spouse Kelly Bembry Midura

has an entire category (“Drexel Hell”) dedicated to post furniture woes on her blog, Well That Was Different . She writes

about dated furniture such as “the poopy

blue brocade sofa of doom,” which has

followed her to each post since 1989.

Consequently, Midura is also very fond of

furniture slipcovers.

The Diplopundit blog

doesn’t shy

away from the FS furniture discussion.

Topics tackled include the State Depart- ment’s hefty $5 million contract for handcrafted glasses and the decision to

send “critical pool and picnic resources to

Sudan.” Or, check out a rap video featur- ing the infamous Drexel furniture (you’ll

probably recognize the avocado green


—Brittany DeLong, Assistant Editor

State Issues 2015

Greening Diplomacy



n May 13, the State Department held

its annual Greening Diplomacy Ini- tiative program. Three awards were given:

the Greening Council Award, the People’s

Choice Award and the honorable mention

for Excellence in Utility Management.

The awards are designed to “recog-

nize innovative leadership within the

department for sustainability, energy and

environmental diplomacy.”

State’s Greening Council Award went to

Embassy Ouagadougou. The embassy staff

achieved a substantial reduction in water

and energy use, and engaged in environ-

mental diplomacy to promote the same

sort of reductions across the country.

Specifically, they supported the cre-

ation of local-level recycling programs,

Drexel “Queen Anne” bookshelves.

Temporary reupholstering.

The “poopy blue brocade sofa of doom.”