Moroccan Pattern Mixes

If you like global style, you’ve probably seen many photos of the sights of Morocco on Pinterest, Flickr, traveler blogs or the famous My Marrakesh blog. Of course there are the big sights that everyone photographs. But each person might photograph things differently at these places. Different things catch our eyes. What caught my eye were the mixes of patterns. Small scenes. Little snippets. Now that I look back over photos, those are my favorites. Instead of an entire door, I want to drink in the detail of part of the door. Because it’s easy to whiz by and not take a moment to stop and appreciate the close-ups while there. Here are some Moroccan pattern mixes …

This was captured my first night in Marrakech:

Marrakech Door in Souks

That first night I bravely forged ahead into the souks by myself and quickly got lost. After walking what felt like 20 miles, I eventually found our riad again. I wasn’t sure where to go, but I knew when I was going in the wrong direction. Finally after asking people and a guy on a bike watching out for me (and never asking me for any money), I found the Jemaa el Fna and the familiar lane to our riad. Whew! After that I made sure to notice more “visual bread crumbs” instead of gaping at the tile patterns and all the stuff hanging around.

This next one was photographed by Melanie Royals of Royal Design Studio, who hosted our Paint and Play trip. It’s layers of patterns from a Moroccan pierced metal lantern and a wood screen in Le Tanjia restaurant:

Moroccan Lantern and Screen Patterns

These are painted doors in our riad, Maison du Tresor, and tiled floor. The door and floor work well together:

Maison du Tresor Painted Door and Tile

This tile and carved marble is at Bahia Palace. I have a lot more photos from the palace to share in a future post:

Bahia Palace Patterns

A mix of patterns at the Saadian Tombs:

Saadian Tombs Patterns

I love this motif at the entrance to Dar Moha restaurant. I want a stencil of this!

Dar Moha

Do these pics all look fuzzy to you? They look fuzzy to me. For someone who’s so visual, my eyes are really bad! So I’m not sure if they really are blurry or I’m having a bad eye day like some people have bad hair days.

Between the chair, the chest and the rug, this is a lively pattern mix in Mustapha Blaoui’s shop. I’d be very happy if my house looked like this:

Patterns in Mustapha Blaoui

Spotted on a wall in the souks. Love this:

Scene on Marrakech Souk Wall

More Marrakech pics and posts coming soon!

Marrakech Souk Shopping

I can’t remember the last time I shopped in a mall, like you know, the Great American Shopping Mall. Where everything is so shiny and new and machine manufactured and perfect. I’d far rather be where I’ve been the last few days – walking a souk like the Marrakech souks. Have a look …

Marrakech Souks

Marrakech Souk Jewelry

Marrakech Souk Lanterns

Bone Platter in Marrakech Souk

At first in places like this, your eye won’t know where to focus. It’s dripping with stuff. But go in and take a look and you will find fascinating things, like the platter above:

Souk Shopping in Marrakech

The lady who is attached to this arm bought a bunch of these enormous tassels:

Tassels in Marrakech Souk

And of course, the impossibly stacked spices:

Marrakech Spices

For the occasion, I wore what I call the “souk necklace.” I made it to look like something you’d find in the souks of Damascus (when it was safe) or Delhi or Jordan. Instead, I found the pieces of this necklace at Michaels and Etsy, and I strung them all together, and all together they make me think of a souk souvenir:

DIY Souk Necklace

I don’t know that there will be a lot of nomadic decorating going on though – I think I am here looking for something else other than a “shop till you drop” experience. What I am looking for I am not really sure. But I do believe that what you can learn about yourself when you travel is far more valuable than the stuff you can buy.

Although I did find this really cool brass faucet and it would look great in one of the India pied-a-terre’s bathrooms, whenever we get around to finishing the place. It’s exactly the look I’m going for – the Can’t Find It At Home Depot look.

Brass Faucet in Marrakech

I did not get the faucet though because what do I know about plumbing? And especially, plumbing in India. Absolutely nothing. Other than water flows through it. We are already the owners of four toilets for a place that has two bathrooms! But that is another story for another day …

The Royal Mansour

Tomorrow I’m on the way to Marrakech! So excited. I’m going on Royal Design Studio’s “Paint and Play” Retreat in Morocco. If you like what you see here in the coming weeks, you can go too! There will be more trips to Morocco in 2015.

One place we’ll see is the Royal Mansour. Check out these photos and then I’ll tell you more about it, because you shouldn’t have to wade through a bunch of words first.

Royal Mansour in Marrakech

Glimpse of the Royal Mansour

Marrakech Royal Mansour

Royal Mansour Bathroom Tile

Royal Mansour Patterns

Royal Mansour Tile

Royal Mansour Morocco

These scenes of rooms are stunning. But so are the little details. Here’s a snapshot of a tassel by Slim Paley who wrote a gorgeous post about her visit to the Royal Mansour. A tassel? Ha, big deal, you say? Well not at the Royal Mansour. They do their tassels like this:

Tassels at the Royal Mansour by Slim Paley

And, this blue moment she spotted there:

True Blue Moment at Royal Mansour by Slim Paley

A pattern mix on the floor, via Slim Paley’s blog post:

Royal Mansour Pattern Mix via Slim Paley

Is this place for real?!? Soon I shall see for myself! I won’t believe it until then.

I feel like I need to widen this blog’s image format to 800 pixels wide so you can truly see the details! Like my eyes are straining, I want to see more more more!

Aren’t the tiles breath-taking. And all the patterns that somehow work together without fighting each other. The strength of the symmetry.

There are over 50 multi-story private riads at the Royal Mansour. Like, entire little homes, not rooms. And all the riads are connected by underground tunnels for service staff. It’s owned by the king of Morocco and was built by his artisans, so if it feels more like a palace than a hotel to you, you may be right. It’s definitely luxury but if you cannot afford to stay there, you can stop by for a drink or meal, or the spa, and enjoy the public areas.


Senegal Style

What? Senegal style? I know. I hadn’t ever given much thought to style in Senegal. It’s not like bookstore shelves are lined with books about this style. But earlier this year, while I was looking for a free award flight to Marrakech this week, one of the return trip routes went through Dakar. I didn’t choose that option. But I thought about it. Still thinking about it. I did call United Airlines and ask if I could change to that routing. But no go, nothing available now.

Darn. Because I need a bit of adventure in life right now.

I racked up 80,000+ award miles on United flying to places like Austin, San Antonio, Portland, Washington DC, Newark, San Diego, Nashville, Houston, Minneapolis, Harrisburg, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Baltimore, Columbus, Toronto, San Francisco. Ping-ponging through the air, all over North America. There’s interesting things for travelers in all these places. But still, none of them are … Senegal!

So what’s in Senegal? Let’s find out …

You will find bold, colorful confident style in Senegal. Photo by FireflyUSC on Flickr:

Woman in Senegal by FireflyUSC on Flickr

Or this “Fashion in Dakar,” photographed by Sibylle Bergemann:

Fashion in Dakar by Sibylle Bergemann

How about this color combo, captured by ElectricSprout:

Senegal Color

No words I could write would add to this image. It’s the French-Senegalese Alliance in Senegal by architect Patrick Dujarric:

French-Senegalese Alliance in Senegal by architect Patrick Dujarric

My sister-in-law teaches French at the Alliance Française in Chennai, India!  But their building, while nice, looks nothing like this!

From Elle Decor France, here are tabletop patterns inspired by Senegal style (as Senegal is a former French colony):

Senegal Style Tabletop

That scene is inspired by the bold West African wax print fabrics like this one from Senegal, via Goree Shop Chicago, which imports goods from Africa:

West African Wax Print Fabric from Senegal via Goree Shop Chicago

This colorful chair with personality PLUS, sold at Anthropologie, is made in Senegal:

Anthropologie Chair Made in Senegal

Are you smitten with Senegal style now too? You can find plenty more on this Pinterest Board:

Follow Nomadic Decorator’s board Senegal Style on Pinterest.



Opium Bed Style

Normally I would tell you to not get involved with anything related to opium. Except when it involves a table. A table styled like an opium bed.

The opium bed style is from Asia, and you would find these style of beds in opium dens in China and Southeast Asia. Beds were available for reclining in a way that a writer might try to romanticize with words like “lanquid.” I am  not sure I’d romanticize smoking opium! But nowadays tourists like to collect the opium pipes and other paraphernalia when they travel to the Golden Triangle of opium dealers around Thailand, Myanmar and Laos. Travelers have exported the look of entire dens, like this brocaded French opium den of the early 1900s, set up by people who returned from the Indochine colonies and brought their addictions back with them.

French Opium Den of the early 1900s

The reality is obviously far less beautiful. Like this opium den in Manila which is really sad.

I am only addicted to the style. I love those curvy table legs. And in fact I did bring an opium bed table back with me from Thailand! Way back in 2001. Please don’t think it was an extravagant thing to do. It cost us only $100! That is, folks, only $7.69 per year so far, for a large teak coffee table.

We ordered it custom made, about 3 feet by 5 feet, by a lady near Chiang Mai. We got to see it being made, under a tent on the family’s front lawn! It cost only a small fraction of what American retailers charge for a large teak table (including shipping) and we felt good about our money going directly to a family. Here it is in our living room:

Opium Coffee Table

Chinese Style Opium Coffee Table

Those are from a post from a year ago that gave you a peek into our living room. After almost 13 years, the table is a bit scratched and needs sanding and restaining, but I still love it and use it almost daily.

Can I entice you with more opium tables?

Opium Table

Opium Bed and Thai Style

Here’s an antique Chinese opium coffee table from Mecox with nice old details, as it should as it’s from the late 1700s:

Antique Opium Coffee Table from Mecox

Here’s an opium table from Golden Triangle in Chicago:

Opium Table at Golden Triangle

While it has a distinctive shape, this table can fit in many decor styles. It can be elegant and sophisticated, like in the photo above. But with woven cane in the middle, it is more casual. Paint it white and it can fit in a beach house. Could you see one in your house?

Happy Diwali!

I hope whether you are in India or elsewhere in the world celebrating Diwali, that it’s a happy one for you, your family and friends!

Last year, I was on top of the roof of our India pied-à-terre on the night of Diwali, capturing video of the booming fireworks 360 degrees all the way around us. So exciting! Because we were up on a tall roof, we had a clear view all around. It was my first time in India on Diwali. I will post some videos later to show you the fireworks.

For now, this is “Lovers playing with fireworks.” A painting on paper circa 1800 from the British Museum.

Lovers with Fireworks Painting on paper via British Museum

Guilty of the Filler Things in Life

No, you did not misread the title. I did not intend to write “finer things.” I DID intend to write “filler things” which might be the opposite of finer things.

Something I read over at Teal and Lime blog a few months ago has been bugging me. It was a post about money management and how we actually might have the money for the more expensive things we want if the money weren’t being frittered away bit by bit. Frittered away on fillers. Fillers. That stuck with me.

What is a filler? My definition reflects my values and bias. My definition is, it’s a thing you buy to fill a spot on a shelf. It’s just a thing you buy to add some visual element like a color or a metallic touch. It doesn’t have much meaning to you other than that. It could be a cheap small $5 frame one month, then a small $9 frame the next month, and on and on. Until you have a busy collection of small inexpensive frames. But you could have had one powerful impactful large frame. If the money hadn’t been frittered away on the small stuff.

This post is just something to chew on. It doesn’t come with pictures, because I don’t want to choose a picture that offends somebody by showing what I think is a filler, but maybe you own that filler! And are proud of it. It’s okay – my house is full of fillers I’m proud of. But maybe, just maybe I should think more carefully before bringing more fillers into the house.

Maybe we should all choose things carefully so that we either love them for some other reason than filling a “hole” on a shelf, or they have a story or sentimental value. When you’re exposed to blogs, it’s really easy to start believing you need the fillers. Because a lot of stuff written about and photographed out there is, honestly, filler material.

I’m now thinking rather than just a mindless display of more stuff, what about things that have more meaning to us? What about the process of creating because we get joy from making something?

Some posts that got me thinking about fillers were Jackie from Teal and Lime’s posts about how much you should spend in your home and why she quit DIY. I wouldn’t quit all DIY, but some DIY I’ve intended to do for months and haven’t done yet is maybe a big fat message! As with buying things, the things we make should be aligned with a meaningful purpose that’s personal to us. I forget the majority of what I read online. There’s something to the fact that this point about wasting money, time and energy on fillers stuck in my mind.