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Modern Moroccan: Interior Design for Bohemian (Boho) Babes 2015

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by Tina Boomerina (Christina Gregoire)

If you ever check out bohemian gypsy home decorating online, you will see that almost all of the rooms have modern Moroccan elements... groovy accessories from the Middle East, such as lamps from Turkey or India, leather poufs from Morocco, and Kilim or Berber rugs (and pillows) from similarly exotic lands.

read about moroccan boho gypsy design

Talitha Getty in Marrakesh Morocco

So, if you like the boho gypsy look, here are some ideas to help you unleash your inner Talitha Getty.

Note: In reality, I’m writing this interior design article for myself, because I’m moving to another state, and I want to ditch my old, threadbare French Country chairs, my torn leather sofa (formerly a puppy chew toy), and a couple of stupid ceramic French roosters. And, at the moment, I’m leaning towards the fun, hip, boho decorating trend called Modern Moroccan.

Okay, I call it Modern Moroccan.

You can call it whatever you want: Middle Eastern design, Bedouin tent style, colorful gypsy-wagon remake, Turkish Sultana palace on a shoestring, Laurence of Arabia artsy decor or... just... a beautiful collection of handmade things with cool patterns.

Bohemian Interior Design and Home Accessories:

As a former hippie, I’ve found myself dreaming about the eclectic Marrakesh look from the 70s. Once again, I'm falling in love with romantic, Middle Eastern, folk-inspired rooms with Persian-rug covered cushions, block-printed paisley bedspreads (from India), Turkish pendant lanterns made of brass, and glossy blue-and-orange Iznik tiles.

Back in my college days, everyone scattered real Moroccan items (and cheap knockoffs) throughout their apartments to create something like a giant hookah-loving dreamscape. And, I know this "Moroccan" style has been a big boho look for the last few years, but I'm finally getting a chance to create my own cozy, gypsy-caravan living room... and bedroom... and everything... because moving to a new area is a chance for me to recreate my life.

The only downside is that I'm retired, and buying new stuff costs money. Well, this will be a project that will last the rest of my life.

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Boho Bohemian Mosaic Door in Morocco

I'm Not an Interior Designer:

Since, I’m doing research for my own desert dwelling (in Eastern Oregon), I thought I'd turn my thoughts into some kind of article, however don't take anything in this post too seriously, because I've had my fair share of design flops and fiascos.

I am usually able to take any group of unrelated furniture and tie it together through new paintings, but if you're not a painter, you're at a disadvantage. Yes, I'm very good with clothing styles, but I've never had the kind of money that one needs to put together an amazing home. (My French Country look was a flop... but I only tried that style because my husband insisted that I use his American Country furniture and I was stupid enough to listen to him. French Country was something of a compromise. However, with this house, I'm getting the kind of bohemian styles I want and he can kiss my ass.)

Well, even though I don't have much experience with interior design, I know I’m good with anything related to color. And, in all honesty, my new house may come out absolutely stunning or it may come out as a total disaster. But, this post is just a pep talk to myself... a place where I can go when I'm trying to decide whether or not to commit money to this crazy, artistic vision of mine.

Will it work? Who knows.

read about marakesh home decoration

Morocco Harem Home Decor Inspiration: Orientalist Paintings

Orientalist Paintings as Inspiration for my New Home:

All I know is that I want something exotic and glamorous. I just don't know exactly how to make everything work. Sure, I could play it safe and buy some typically bland American furniture and accessories, but that doesn't sound like much fun.

If you want to see better versions of the feeling I'm going for, check out Orientalist painters in Wikimedia Commons. Orientalism (with it's sexy harem girls and exotic warriors and wild, beastly tigers) was a huge trend in Britain during the 1700s and 1800s. Well... I'm not really going to recreate an Arabian harem. After all, I AM married to a man from New Hampshire and he would freak out big time if I painted the living room dark plum, placed Persian rugs all over the floors, and tiled every square inch (that remained bare) with blue-patterned tiles from Isnik, Turkey.

You, on the other hand, would probably love the look... but we'll never know... will we?

read about moroccan gypsy boho interiors

Modern Moroccan Living Rooms

I'm going to start out "normal" and I'll be adding small Moroccan accessories whenever my husband is not looking... and whenever I find something I love that I can afford.

And... it's easy to be experimental on canvas, but I don't want to risk being known as "the crazy lady down the street with the purple living room".

Modern Moroccan Style Interiors:

As much as I want to have daybeds and floor cushions instead of sofas... and as much as I want to cover every surface with exotic features from faraway lands... I know I am going to end up with something similar to a typical suburban house.

  • A. I'm not an heiress.
  • B. I don't want to go through divorce number three.

See the photo above entitled "Modern Moroccan Living Rooms" for reference: I would love to have the living room with the huge wallpaper in the top photo, but I am not the only occupant of the house, and Mr. Boomerina doesn't like frou-frou walls. So, I'll probably start my "exotic" living room with something tame... more like the blue living room in the bottom pic.

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Carved Chair & Poufs for Morocco-Inspired Room

Later on, when my husband gets used to the new furniture, I will add some carved wooden chairs, several Kilim-covered pillows, a couple of leather poufs, and a bunch of wonderful Moroccan-inspired cushions and ceramics and stuff like that. I have looked around online and, unfortunately, many of the beautiful handmade things I love are out of my price range. So, I will be looking through secondhand shops and, possibly, saving up for a trip to Turkey or Morocco or somewhere similar... in the hope that things are cheaper in those places.

read about moroccan lamps

Islamic Lamps from Museums & Modern Lamps

Check out the photo above entitled "Islamic Lamps from Museums & Modern Lamps". The three antique lamps on the left are from the Doris Duke Museum. I put them here to use for reference when I want to find something with the same shape or a similar feel. The fourth lamp is from a public building in Nebraska and the last two lights are pendant lamps from 2015 that could be hung in a group of three to get a modern Marrakesh look.

I'll probably play it safe in the living room, but when it comes to the bedrooms, bathrooms, and other private areas, I might go more exotic and Middle Eastern.

read about boho style for house or apartment

Morocco Print Sheets for Bed

Morocco Tile Print Sheets, Pillows, Towels for House:

The bedroom is the place where I can go for broke... if I'm not broke by the time we pay the real estate agent's fees, the excise tax, and all those other fun, unavoidable expenses.

When I look at the photo above, entitled "Morocco Print Sheets for Bed", I'm not sure which look would be better for my new house. I love the turquoise and pink in the top pic, but I also love the rich jewel tones with the neutrals in the bottom pic. If I could, I would buy both bedroom sets and use the brighter colors for summer and the neutral colors for winter.

DIY Moroccan Antiques for Interior Decorating:

Museum-quality antiques are out of the question for all of us, but some of you can buy real, handmade camel-bone furniture, groovy lamps, decorated metalwork, intricate carpets, and other goods from Istanbul, Marrakesh, Damascus, Tibet, and Kashmir. If you're a rich boho babe with a good job or a trust fund, you should buy the real thing. If you're a DIY boho chick, like me, you should go online to find ways to copy the look of ancient pottery, Moroccan tiles, and things like that. (If you can't afford heavy brass teapots and trays, put your cheap, tinny ones high up on a bookshelf or on a wall, so no one will know how cheap and flimsy your stuff is.)

Online Interior Decor Companies & Resources:

I'm keeping a growing list of online stores with accessories in all price ranges, along with a list of interesting boho design resources... all the things I want to check out a bit more when I have the time:

  • Horchow.com (I want their towels)
  • DotAndBo.com (Boho housewares, nice Moroccan tea table, well-designed modern lamps.)
  • Modcloth.com (Inexpensive folk accessories)
  • BadiaDesign.com (Hand painted furniture)
  • PotteryBarn.com (Might want Melamine serving bowl)
  • JustMorocco.com (Lamps)
  • BerberTrading.com (Ceramics)
  • JossAndMain.com (Constantly changing home accessories at sale prices)
  • Amara.com (High end cushions)
  • Lushome.com (Decorating ideas)
  • Calypsostbarth.com (Great pillows and furnishings - a little too rich for my blood but maybe something on sale)

Here are some photos of ancient museum pieces to help with color ideas and for DIY inspiration:

read about moroccan and turkish home decor

Middle East Antiques, Rugs, Tiles from Museums

Middle East Antiques, Rugs, Tiles from Museums:

From what I've seen in my research, you can't go wrong using blue or rusty orange (or blue AND rusty orange) for your base colors. If you can't find real handmade Moroccan tiles, try Mexican versions. There are a lot of similarities between Moroccan and Southwestern styles. And, these two types of ceramics, wood carvings, and textiles definitely look great together.

I'm planning to make a lot of the decorative items myself because it's cheaper and because I don't live in the UK... where it's easier to find Moroccan style decor. Hopefully, I'll be able to come up with Moroccan tile-print sheets and dishes... However, I hope to try my hand at ceramic pottery, patterned tiles, faux antique pottery, modern mosaics in traditional colors, and basic wall decor... and... whatever I think I can do... except for carved furnishings. (I don't want to try anything that involves sharp knives.)

Notes for Myself: How to give my house a groovy desert feel without looking like the set of "I Dream of Jeannie":

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Muted Pink Purple & Neutral Brown

  • Limit the colors. I love every color on the planet, but I can NOT put them all in one room. I will probably look for major pieces in blue or rust. Black, white, and tan are other options.
  • I'm going to try for a house that's muted and elegant. I will make sure my pinks, reds, and purples are muted or blended with other colors in a way that they'll look like neutrals. Bright pinks and purples might make my living room look like a child's bedroom. It's easy to add bright touches later, but as much as I love bright colors, I will NOT allow myself to use too many brights!
  • I am free to experiment because I'm not locked into a specific design style. I can add items from Denmark, India, China, England, Mexico, Africa, Portugal, France, the local pawn shop... or anywhere. This eclectic look will make my house feel like a collection from my travels... or like something from the Silk Road.
  • I love different layers of patterns. Always be on the lookout for accessories with patterns.
  • I will take a pottery class. If I can't learn how to build pottery, I will make friends with people who can.
  • If I don't try a few outrageous things, my living room will look like every other house on the block. Expect a few flops.
  • It will be easier to make my house look like an archeological dig (or a Marrakesh peasant's house) than to make it look like a copy of a Saudi princess's apartment.
  • Don't match everything. Matching makes things look too "store bought". Try to find things that look "handmade" instead.
  • Look for metal bowls, metal pitchers, metal vases, and such.
  • Take a class (or study videos) on Youtube to learn how to cover trays and end tables with mosaics. I will not try to reproduce the intricate Islamic designs found in palaces and mosques because I will become discouraged. Instead, I will try simple designs where it's unnecessary to relearn geometry.
  • Quality is more important than quantity.
  • Early Islamic ceramics had deer, camels, horses, birds, and other animals. Orientalist paintings had leopard and tiger skins. Try to include a few animals in paintings and pottery.
  • Even though I have less money than most people, I have more taste than most people.
  • It will take a while to put this look together from scratch. Don't expect to be wowed if you visit me this year.
  • I can do this... even if it means going to London or Morocco on vacation.

More Articles for Chic Boho Women:

Take a Look Around: Does Your Interior Design Get You Down?

I Want a Hippie Airstream Camper Trailer: Retro RV Dreams

Moroccan Tile Print Maxi Dresses: Tunics for Women Over 40, 50, 60

Photo Credits:

Wikimedia Commons (artwork and antiques, mostly from museums) and Prshots.com (clothing and modern decor). Unfortunately, I was unable to check to see if the modern items are still for sale. I'm having trouble with the wi-fi in this cheapie hotel.

  • Main Photo: Painting by Frederick Arthur Bridgman.
  • Talitha Getty in Marrakesh Morocco: Found on Pinterest. I believe it's from an advert on Vogue magazine.
  • Boho Bohemian Mosaic Door in Morocco: Blue jumpsuit outfit from Phase Eight.
  • Morocco Harem Home Decor Inspiration: Orientalist Paintings: Juan Gimenez Martin, Eisenhut, Constant, Chataud, Seel.
  • Modern Moroccan Living Rooms: Amara, Occa-Home.
  • Carved Chair & Poufs for Morocco-Inspired Room: Carved chair in photo for Monsoon's kimono and jeans outfit, Missoni pouf from Amara, Cushions and square pouf in photo for Monsoon's jean shorts outfit.
  • Islamic Lamps from Museums & Modern Lamps: Ceiling lamp from Syria or Egypt late 1800s, hanging lamp from North Africa, ceiling lamp from Damascus (all three from Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art), Saint Johannes lamp in Nebraska, blue pendant lamp and two-tone lamp from Amara.
  • Morocco Print Sheets for Bed: Debenhams, M&S.
  • Middle East Antiques, Rugs, Tiles from Museums: Antique Persian Mashad rug, tile from mausoleum, tile from Iran, mosaic from Morocco, antique tiles, antique metal ewer, Azerbaijanian carpet, footrest in the Louvre, Cypress tree Iznik plate, Taj Mahal entry dome, antique vase LACMA, antique ceramic tile LACMA.
  • Muted Pink-Purple & Neutral Brown: Epigraph tile, Persian rug.

What do you think of this article? Leave a comment about what you think of bohemian (Moroccan) style Interior decorating at the bottom of the page. It won't show up until I get a better wi-fi connection so I can approve your comment.

Tina Boomerina (AKA Christina Gregoire) is a Baby Boomer born at the end of 1952. Her mission is to make the internet a kinder and gentler place for Baby Boomer women around the world. Tina's specialty is fashion for women over 50.

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7 Comments

  1. Sara

    LOVE your take on Modern Moroccan! I work with York Wallcoverings and they have some fabulous new patterns with this theme... and they're easy to install while clean removal is guaranteed when it's time for a change. I'd love to connect with you. Shout out if you'd like to chat more!

  2. Tina-Boomerina

    I wonder if this http://www.martinmarcom.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/006-IshamIdenienne.jpg comes in other colorways.

    I'm not sure it's quite right, but it feels like an old British version of India.

    I would like it more earthtoned/orange/rust/marsala/plum/maybe more muted... but it's so amazing. Something like this is so wild but beautiful... don't know where I could put it. Maybe just a little bit of this in some unexpected place... or I could turn my bedroom into a harem and find a hippie boyfriend.... haha

  3. Julie Hager

    Nice article! I love the Mod Moroccan look. I few additional stores to check out:
    -Urban Outfitters has great bedding
    -World Market is great for many things, bedding, towels, furniture, pillows, etc.
    -Home Decorators has a few nice items - furniture, wall art, etc.
    -West Elm - LOVE their Moroccan Headboard!

    Thanks for this great article!
    -julie

  4. Aimee

    Hi! I just came across this post in wave of home decorating inspiration and absolutely love it!! I can totally relate to your expressions of your husband. "Honey, I just got this new chandelier. Can you please wire it up and hang it right exactly here?" " what was wrong with the old one? Once it's installed, it's impossible to move. ". Ok…sure…whatever…I know we will be moving it in a year or so! Anyway, thank you! I appreciate your style and blog. I'll be on the lookout for your progress!