How To Master a Moroccan Theme

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There are few places in the world with as much exotic mystique as Morocco. The north African country, which is home to cities Casablanca, Marrakech and Tangier, has a seductive air of mystery mixed with a whole lot of glamour. The country’s very distinct style, which takes influence from numerous cultures including French and Islamic, is the hottest way to spice up bland-feeling interiors lately.

“Walk the streets of Morocco and all you see are beautiful textures, fabrics and colors,” says Meg Caswell, star of HGTV’s “Meg’s Great Room.” “People here are starting to bring those iconic elements into their own homes to give them a unique flair.”

After years of white walls and neutral accessories, it seems people are ready to add some visual interest to their interiors.

“I’ve noticed that people want their homes to have a more obvious personality, and Moroccan design has personality in spades,” says Maryam Montague, author of the new book, “Marrakesh by Design” (Artisan Books, 2012). “Plus, using Moroccan-influenced décor can be a daily reminder of a faraway and beautiful destination.”

But just what does a Moroccan-inspired home look like? Think furniture that’s inlaid with bone, octagonal tables with intricately carved wooden legs, lanterns crafted out of pressed tin, stuffed leather poufs, beautiful tiled floors and arched doorways.
Bold spices found in Moroccan markets inspire the vibrant color palette in design: orange, pink, fuchsia, inky blue and gold.

Another key element designers use is layering. Whether it’s fabrics, patterns or colors, the more you combine and layer, the better.

There’s no need to book a ticket overseas to get the look, either. “More and more mass-market stores are carrying Moroccan-inspired items,” Caswell says. “And the best part about a bold look, like Moroccan, is that you don’t have to go overboard and completely overhaul your interior.”

A few well-placed items can create the look without breaking the bank. “Just add an unexpected piece or two to what you already own as a way of freshening up the look in your home,” she says. “Don’t be afraid to combine styles. Mixing up the type of styles in a home is something designers do all the time.”

And dipping your toe in the Moroccan décor waters is actually pretty easy to do. Caswell suggests lighting as the first step: “All you have to do is replace your standard chandelier or ceiling light with a pressed tin lantern.”

And that’s just the beginning of little swaps you can make. “Leather poufs can be used for an ottoman. They don’t take up much space and can fit in to any room,” says Mohamed Tazi, president of Badia Design, a Los Angeles interior design store that focuses on Moroccan and Middle Eastern pieces.

He suggests, “Take a raw silk throw and put it on your sofa, fold it at the foot of your bed or hang it over a window as curtains.”

Tazi also says you can toss some colorful, hand-embroidered pillows onto a sofa as a way to bring color and life into a room.

To do something a little more permanent, Montague says to visit a nearby paint store.

“Draw on the Moroccan color palette to paint a coffee table, nightstand or stair risers,” Montague says. “Or if you’re really feeling bold, paint your walls a dramatic but gorgeous deep blue.”

Those who are looking for a DIY challenge should consider stenciling a geometric pattern on the inside of the front door, she suggests.

Tags: decor, moroccan, color