Moroccan Style Decorating Ideas

October 27, 2010 | By | Comments (0)

Oh my goodness what a great work/vacation I had! I’m back from an 8 day retreat in Marrakesh where I took 10 amazing ladies through the souks to shop, gave each a one-on-one consultation, and taught about how to live a more creative life and also ways to bring Moroccan design into the home without turning the room into Epcot Center! It’s a challenge, especially when you are immersed in a culture so far from home, to not buy everything you see only to return home to find that it looks ridiculous in your space. It was fun to work with so many lovely women who had such open minds and hearts, we had a terrific time. I thought I’d share a few Moroccan decorating ideas with you today in case you are intrigued and interested in bringing a little Moorish splendor into your own home.


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A traditional Moroccan vintage Beni Ourain rug shown in the New York home of Jenna Lyons of J.Crew featured in Domino magazine.


First, a quick lesson on Moroccan design. It combines the best of European and Moorish influences to form a beautiful union of architecture and style. This gorgeous mix of Spanish, Arab, Berber style and French art deco entices and when done right, adds an elegant, well-traveled sophistication to any room. Features of Moroccan design include geometric and floral patterns, intricate tile work, lanterns, lush pile carpets and hand woven flat weaves, tea sets in silver, decorative tea glasses and silver tea trays in all sizes but always circular, arched doorways, and lots and lots of symbolism – many of their carpets have images meant to ward off the “evil eye” and to protect the home from genies.


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Another Beni Ourain rug, this time shown in a more rustic space with modern pop art in Elle Decor.


Traditional Moroccan design is very ornate and over-the-top as all walls are highly decorative, along with floors, and they don’t stop there — the ceiling is a fifth wall to them and is also painted, stenciled… and you’ll always find a lantern or grouping of lanterns. When it comes to seating, it’s always low and casual — a sofa usually looks like a long bench, about the width of a twin bed, and has pillows across the back for comfort. Tea tables and pouffes are also in the room. There is a lot of layering and curtains are always long and usually in a solid hue.


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A wedding quilt at the foot of the bed is elegant and rich. This is a guest villa designed by Jonathan Adler for the Parker Palm Springs hotel and resort.


Rugs are a huge part of Moroccan design, as are wedding quilts that can be used on the bed, wall or floor and are richly adorned with sequins and fringe in creamy tones of white. Earth tones are common, but even more popular are the gorgeous strong colors of blue, red, orange, green — the palette is very welcoming and sensual even.


A modernized version of Moroccan style has been popular now for several years and still can be seen in the design world — the modern version takes classic Moroccan-design motifs, colors, materials and styles and gives them a new spin — cleans them up a bit to make them less busy and more modern. For instance, a traditional geometric motif on a tile would be translated into a rug, the pattern would be used large-scale on the rug but the colors would be removed and only black and white would be used making it feel very fresh and current.  


Would you like to bring in a little Moroccan design? To effectively do so, as I taught the ladies on the retreat, keep it simple. I think it’s best to focus on key elements and edit, edit, edit to avoid a “theme park” look. A gorgeous vintage Beni Ourain Rug, some striped toss pillows, a metal lantern and tea table or leather pouf is more than enough and can bring so much personality into a space.


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Leather Moroccan poufs from Cox & Cox grouped around a coffee table make for a lovely space to dine and relax with friends and family.


Moroccan design also uses the gorgeous chevron pattern, mostly two-toned, and that alone can be an amazing addition to a room through wallpaper, a pillow or a throw rug.


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