5 design lessons I learned from spending the holidays in Morocco that will add richness and character to my own home

Sun, sea, and souk-inspired, Morocco left me joyous with new design lessons to bring home

Moroccan design lessons
(Image credit: Future)

When my family suggested we spend the holidays in Morocco, I am quite sure they must already have known the answer. It is a beautiful country, steeped in rich history, and cultural traditions, with delicious food around every corner. But the part that excites me the most, is its unique interior design style that never fails to lift your spirits and make you feel inspired.

Go to Marrakesh, as I did some years back, and revel in the beauty of The Majorelle Garden, or the lavish luxury of La Mamounia Hotel, while the souks will bring vibrancy to the soul. So to do things a little differently, I was delighted to spend the holidays on the coast of North Africa, soaking up some winter sun, enjoying the surf, and seeking out some Moroccan-inspired design lessons, not to mention my next home decor buys for the new year.

5 tips to take from Moroccan style

As well as argan and orange blossom oil (which I bought home to make my home smell beautiful), jewelry, and leather slippers, I am keeping these style lessons in mind to bring back to my own spaces. 

1. Decorate with plenty of rustic, characterful ceramics

Sideboard with pink wallpaper

(Image credit: Future)

No one does ceramics quite like they do in Morocco, and the beautifully architectural pots that adorned foyers, as they did the poolside and sidewalk, were almost enough to make me increase my baggage allowance. Naturally, the warm climate means that palm trees, Sansevieria (a fairly low-maintenance indoor plant), other types of mother-in-law's tongues, cacti, and many more beautiful plants sculpt the landscape. And so for any plant that needs a pot, it must be big for maximum design impact to anchor a setting, be it indoors or out. 

Admittedly, I did do somewhat of a smaller houseplant cull in my home some months ago, sharing many a propagated spider plant and fern with friends, in a bid to distill our interior design style a little more. This has left room for plants and pots with more impact. 

2. Tiles should always add texture

Shower with neutral geometric wall tiles by Bert & May

(Image credit: Bert & May x Kitesgrove)

As you might expect in a warm country, everywhere you look in Morocco, there is tile, and it is beautiful. It would be rude to not comment. Tile is a canvas of intricate detail that tells a beautiful design story in a home. Though tile trends come and go, the checkerboard formations and textured finish of Zellige tiles as designers predicted would be everywhere this year, caught my eye in Morrocco. Colors were varied but I was pulled particularly to amber tones and dark marble, punctuated with coral found on a staircase – the latter an unexpected but beautiful combination.

What struck me was how every tile style was so well suited to its environment, and purpose. It seems obvious to say, but ensuring you consider the natural bones of your home, the space you have, and the climate you live in will all be essential to choosing the right type of tile, which will naturally bring a timeless element to your home.

3. Seating must have personality

Rustic entryway with vintage bench


(Image credit: Photography Douglas Friedman/Styling Mieke ten Have)

To create a truly convivial atmosphere where household members and guests alike can all feel comfortable, having a variety of seating on offer is a must. I adored the small leather poufs, with intricate detailing, as much as the carved wooden benches and stained wicker chairs. 

What's more is that every seat had a big personality, and the craftsmanship was evident. From embroidered throw pillows to the upholstered cushioning, the patterns were thoughtful and exciting, textures were layered and there was an inviting element about every seat. Comfortable seating that provides a talking point is perfect for hosting. 

4. Low-level lighting brings ambiance and delight

Garden lighting ideas

(Image credit: Future / Sarah Hogan)

From outdoor lanterns that provided visual warmth in restaurants, to smaller recessed lighting that paved the way through buildings and city streets, Moroccans clearly know how to use outdoor lighting to best design benefit. It made me realize how easy it is to overlook low or ground level lighting, but that it can make a significant difference to ambiance. 

Moreover, choosing both outdoor and indoor designs that nod to surrounding pendants and sconces in some form of detail or the material, can frame a space and give it elevated design appeal. I have come back in need of grand lanterns for our patio area, and I can't wait to see how they will add a sculpted element to our small backyard, not to mention, bounce light around at sunset.

5. Where there is color, you can afford a little white

Colorful bedroom with fabric headboard

(Image credit: Future)

I think it is easy to avoid and dislike 'white' altogether, even when decorating with neutrals. We fear it is cold and will leave our space with a sterile appearance. Of course, the climate in Morocco is not the same as London's, or perhaps even the East Coast's, however, seeing just a splash of white, not just on buildings, but also indoors on ceramic pots, dinnerware, tile, or on part of a wall, worked well to bring balance and freshness to a space drenched in bright colors and earthy pattern. 

I have many white walls to play with in my own home, and I will be trying to counteract their blandness with intricate patterns and exotic colors elsewhere. To get me started, I purchased two beautiful area bedroom rugs

Camille Dubuis-Welch
Contributing Editor

Camille is the former deputy editor of Real Homes where she covered a broad range of topics, including house tours, small space design, and gardens. She studied English language and Italian at the University of Manchester and during a year abroad studying linguistics and history of art in Bologna, Italy she started documenting her adventures and observations in a blog. Camille is always creating and spends her downtime painting, taking photos, traveling, and writing short stories.