Given the extent of globalization, I’m often surprised when a solution which is obviously better is applied in one place and not another. The case I want to talk about here is the solution to the problem of seating a lot of people in your house. In the U.S., if you want to have any sort of large gathering, it involves having to drag in a lot of chairs from around the house, to the point where you’ve got people seated on a hodge-podge of sofas, chairs, and stools. It’s not that comfortable and it doesn’t look very good. Moroccans solve this problem by using ponjes.

A ponj is just a mattress that sits on a wooden pallet against the wall where you put cushions for guests to sit against. Setting it up is easy; I’ll demonstrate using pictures of our own ponjes. You start by plonking down the pallets (we just have some kinda old and battered ones, but there are wonderfully intricately-carved ones available too):

Then you rest the ponj mattresses on them:

Then you cover the ponjes with whatever fabric you’ve chosen. We happened to choose this gold pattern because it suited the wall, but there are many potential options. We know Moroccans who adjust the ponj fabrics by the season.

The covers slide on like a fitted sheet, but you also secure them with these ties to keep them in place:

Afterwards, you just place the pillows around the backs of the ponjes:

And voila! You now have stylish wall to wall couches for the total price of about $250. This is how every traditional Moroccan salon is furnished, and I don’t know why we don’t do the same thing in the U.S. If I could just find a supplier for the ponj mattresses, I’d like to replace our old couches with ponjes. They look better, are cheaper, and you can fit a lot more people. No more sitting on stools or overturned buckets for your next family reunion!

As a bonus, they double as forts for the little ones: