Morocco Part 2- My Favorite Architectural Moments

With January winding down already, I find myself holding onto my Morocco memories as long as possible.  Two weeks ago I talked about all the rugs I saw (and bought!) so today I want to talk about from of my favorite architectural moments.  Morocco has some amazing arches, fountains, mosques and dormitories full of mosaic tiles, intricate woodwork and carved plaster.  My favorite moments were often the gorgeous courtyards.   A little private outdoor space with plants, gorgeous tile and a fountain? Yes, Please.  It’s official, I need to have a courtyard in my someday home.

Day 1: Tangier

tangier gate

tangier tile

tangier ceiling

A gorgeous painted wood ceiling marred by a street light.  Awe modern technology.

We only got to spend one day in Tangier, and it was our first day in Morocco.  (Read: Culture Shock/ Exhausted/ didn’t take it in fully.)  It’s a seaside town and said to be the most European due it’s proximity to Spain.  There is a ton of development going on there right now and people seem really excited about it.  I would love to go back in 5 years and see what’s happening here.

Day 2 Tétouan

Tetouaen 2

We stopped in Tétouan for like literally 20 minutes on our way to the next stop.  I loved the balconies in this city!  You don’t see a lot of balconies in Morocco, except in the old Jewish Quarters.

Day 2-4 Chefchaouen

chefchaouen arch

Chefchauoen naomi

chefchaouen fountain

chefchaouen with balcony

Chefchoauen sunset

I was obsessed with this blue mountain town!!  The slower pace, friendly people and dreamy blue walls were just what I needed to feel relaxed and explore.  We were invited into a local’s home for dinner and live music.  My only regret is that I didn’t take home any of their famous blue dye.

Day 5 Fez

fez palace

fez doors

fes blue city

fez riad 3

This was inside our Riad!

carved plaster ceiling

This was a carved plaster ceiling.  So beautiful!

fez details 2

Mosaic Tile, Plaster and Carved Wood were paired together on walls.

fez details

fez dilapidated courtyard

Fez is where the tile and woodwork really exploded.  This city has so much history and is full of intricate artistry everywhere in it’s architecture.  We really fell for the dilapidated riad (last pic.)  This place was huge with a few courtyards and dozens of rooms.  I was drooling imaging remodeling into a new kind of glory.

Day 6 & 7 Desert, Mountains, Dades Gorge

naomi in the desert

Ait Benhaddou

No architecture to report here, but I did ride a camel.  Oh and we saw the city of Ait Benhaddou, where Laurence Arabia and Game of Thrones have been filmed.

Day 8-10 Marrakech

marrkech badii

marrakech ceiling (2)

marrakech ceiling

marrakech bahia palace

marrakech tile

marrakech merdersa

marrakech majorelly garden

I loved the Klein Blue modern building in Majorell Garden.  It was such a nice change of pace.

marrakech minaertte

Marrakech was like Fez only a little younger and and more flashy.  It has plenty of the old/ traditional like palaces mosques and universities.  But then it definitely has its modern side like the Majorelle Garden.  It felt a little more hip and touristy.  As the last leg of our trip we were definitely a little worn down at this point.  Luckily we could just wander in a daze and enjoy the view.

marrakech mirror

Design Takeaways

I found the intricate details to be really inspiring and so perfect in their setting.  It really made me think how plain (and cheap) American buildings are.  This kind of artistry takes several skilled artisans, and most Americans don’t put that kind of money into residential architecture.  If I were to incorporate more of this Moroccan style, I’d love to simplify it.  Just the tile, or just the woodwork or just plaster instead of all three together.  Modern furnishings to balance out the ornate details.  Modern, Minimal, Moroccan.  Who wants to go there!? :)

****

PS- Thanks to everyone who checked out our new Etsy shop.  Last week was a great first week of retail for us.  Two wedding blankets sold and we only have 1 left for sale.  We will continue to be adding new items as well.  See our shop HERE.

 

xo

N

Another Day, Another Rug Store: Morocco Part 1

I am back from Morocco!  What an incredible trip.  Morocco is a such a beautiful country.  The natural landscape for one is stunning (and quite varied!)  The people are also incredibly talented artisans.  Intricate Mosaic Tile, woodwork, plaster, metalwork, leather, textiles, ceramics, color, pattern, there was just so much to take in everywhere you looked.  While overwhelming at times, it was also incredibly dazzling and inspiring.  We would walk the city medinas and see brass tabletops being etched by hand and tiles being chiseled into perfect little mosaic stars.  Vendors would put a flame right on a pouf you were eyeing up just to prove their leather was of the utmost quality.  (Which apparently means not flammable or burnable in anyway.)  But by far my favorite shopping was of the rug variety.

chefchaouen medina

{A typical street we walked in Chefchaouen, Morocco}

rug piles in fez

{so. many. choices.}

Oh Moroccan rugs, You put a hurting on my wallet for sure.  But I don’t have a regret.  Their rugs are ART . Little handmade masterpieces.  We visited Tangier, Chefchaouen, Fez and Marrakech and I bought at least one rug in each city.   The saying between my friend (and traveling buddy,) Maria and I was, “another day another rug store.”  I would drag her around from shop to shop and never cease to get excited about the options.  Luckily she was an obliging accomplice.

Photo Dec 27, 5 55 51 PM

{Despite my best intentions, I succumbed to rug shopping my very first day in Morocco}

 

marrakech rug store

{I couldn’t walk buy this rug display without stopping in.  3 rugs later we did our best bargaining of the trip.}

A few things about Moroccan rugs:

They are made by hand and dyed by natural materials.  You want yellow?  You need saffron.  

loomed rug

{We watched a young lady work on this rug.  It looks like it’s gonna be a beaut.}

tribal rugs

{We went gaga for these candy colored tribal rugs in Fez.  The symbols on the rugs are Berber.  Each rug tells its own story. Our guide translated our rugs for us.  It was so cool!}

 

Most are reversible with a beautiful pattern on the back.  People will flip them to the back side during warmer months.  This also helps clean them.  

backside of moroccan rug

{The backside of a prayer rug I bought for my brother.}

Rugs are made from a variety of materials.  The best wool rugs are “live wool” meaning it is shaved from the animal while it is still alive.

beni ourain rug unwrapped in guest room

{I picked up the most scrumptious live wool Beni Ourain rug.  It is currently occupying my guest room.}

Other common materials for rugs are camel hair (tufted rugs that are not quite as soft/shaggy) or bamboo silk (flatweaves with a bit of sheen.)

camel hair rug in naomis lounge

{This pretty pink and yellow camel hair rug came home with me.}

silk bamboo flatweave morrocan rug detail of magic carpet

{Detail of a bamboo silk “magic carpet” I bought for my 3yr old niece.}

Some Moroccan have high pile, some are flatweave… some are a mixture of several styles of weaving.  Some are neutral (think Beni Ourain or moroccan wedding blankets) and some are quite colorful.

the perfect selection of moroccan wedding blankets

{We were on a quest to find the perfect wedding blanket for Maria.  Spoiler alert: we succeeded.}

tangier rug showroom boucherouite

{I came really close to buying a rag rug or a boucherouite, but I chickened out.}

Rugs are everywhere in Morocco.  Every hotel, every restaurant, every house- humble or grand – were full of rugs.  I noticed it was more common to use a few smaller layered rugs in key locations as opposed to one large rug.

Photo Jan 02, 3 24 56 AM

{I lusted after this colorful rug in our modest, family run hotel.  Note the layers of rugs.}

faded vintage pink and red moroccan rug

{This old rug was in a roadside restaurant.  I loved it so hard I considered making the owner an offer on it.  Kicking myself that I let it go.  I Loooove old faded rugs.}

I tend to favor the tribal patterns made by Berbers in the mountains.  there are other styles local to Fez and other areas of Morocco.  We would commonly see striped/patterned carpets with lower pile and lots of symbols.  I found them to be a bit busy, but I know Maria liked a few of them.  These rugs are like art- selecting the right one for you can be quite personal.

Photo Dec 30, 3 45 05 PM

Rug shopping in Morocco is a non-linear adventure.  Bargaining is the way it’s done there.  You never know a price and it can be quite hard to tell if you got a good deal, or were terribly swindled.  Ultimately what was important to us is that we felt good about our purchase.  

naomi contemplating rugs

{Me, in the midst of haggling with a rug dealer.  Which ones did I really, really want?  Deep thoughts.}

morroccan rugs

{By the end I was so bargained out that I walked away from these pretties before even asking their prices.  I just didn’t have the energy that day.  Sorry pink geometric rug.  You were special}

In the end I am super happy with my purchases.  I know they are excellent quality, authentic and one of a kind.  Plus I have a great story behind then :)

I’m still sorting through what I can keep and what just won’t fit in my house.  The good news is there are few pieces I will offer up for sale.  Definitely a few GORGEOUS wedding blankets and possibly a bit more.  Stay tuned for news on that very soon!!

I hope you enjoyed my Moroccan rug round up.

For me, this trip was such an amazing escape and source of inspiration.  It was the perfect way to start 2016.  I’ve gotten my decorating juju back and I’m excited to dive back into it.  Happy New Year guys!  Thanks for the continued support.

xo

Nay

Moroccan Curves in the bathroom

One of my favorite elements in the bathroom design I featured last week is the curvy shower valance we plan to hang over the tub.  The curves remind me of a Moroccan archway and they feel like the perfect eclectic surprise in an otherwise classic room.  With all of the tile and hard fixtures, bathrooms are just begging for a little warmth and softness.  Whether it’s a fabric valance, a built-in or even a mirror, these curves are my new favorite accessory for the bath. 

oversized

We are all attracted to drama a little bit, aren’t we?  While I’m try my best to purge it from my own life, I don’t mind drama in the form of over sized accessories.  That huge lantern?  What an attention whore.   Those ginormous vases?  Who do they think they are showing off like that?  I say bring it on.  Sometimes our visual scales need to be rocked a little bit.

image: elle decoration uk, diversion project