How My Trip to Morocco Inspired My Design Style

A few months have passed since my trip to Morocco with Intrepid Travel, and I continue to marvel at the distinctive way the destination has affected me since my trip. Unlike some of the other places I’ve visited, I don’t find myself craving the food, or missing the sites and scenery, or longing for friends I made in country. (Frankly I may never eat a tagine again, and I think that will be just fine.)

Instead, I’ve found that my Morocco trip has influenced my personal design style more than any other place I’ve ever been.

Moroccan style inspiration

Moroccan style inspiration

 

I’m sure my appreciation for Moroccan design has much to do with the fact that Morocco was the last new country I visited at the end of my 2nd year of untethered, nomadic living.  It’s no coincidence that the country happens to have an incredibly different look and feel than what I’m used to. Its geometric patterns and colors still linger in my imagination. Now when I see Moroccan design influence in a store window, I’m transported to a Marrakech riad or the tiled floors of the market stalls in Fes.

Patterns and colors from Marrakech, Casablanca and Fes

Patterns and colors from Marrakech, Casablanca and Fes

 

Memories of intricate patterns, bright colors and tiled mosaics have served me well in my brand new apartment – the first home base I’ve had in almost 2.5 years, and the first place I’ve ever had all to myself to decorate as I please.

My blank slate

My blank canvas

 

My new place is tiny by some standards, but huge in comparison to my Hell’s Kitchen apartment! I sold/left all my furniture back in NYC when I left to travel the world in 2010, so standing in my empty new place, all I could see was possibilities for a completely fresh start.

Funny… it’s quite the same feeling I get when I embark on a trip to a brand new place.

Moroccan style in my apartment

Moroccan style patterns in my apartment -a throw pillow, welcome mat (World Market), bed spread (curtain from Target) and shower curtain (Target)

 

Once I decided on a general design/color scheme (blue/green/gold/silver & globes/maps for the living room; coral/gray in the bedroom), I got to work… and by work, I mean spending heaps of money I don’t have. Whoops.

New sofa & ottoman from Rooms to Go

New sofa & ottoman from Rooms to Go

 

I purchased 3 new pieces of furniture: a bed (the first new one I’ve ever owned!), a sectional sofa and a leather ottoman that folds out into a bed. (I just love multi-use pieces.)

Homemade headboard and makeshift jewelry holder

Homemade headboard and makeshift jewelry holder

 

I bought a second-hand desk and dresser at Goodwill and with a bit of digging on Pinterest, transformed them into two pieces of furniture I’m really proud of. (DIY details coming soon!)

Lesson: don't let perfectionism mess up DIY projects!

From boring to Moroccan!

My fabulous DIY desk - I LOVE how it turned out!

My DIY desk – I LOVE how it turned out!

 

With some paint, some colorful scrapbook paper and a few gallons of Mod Podge, I took what I saw in Morocco and made it work for a Floridian apartment. What do you think of my DIY efforts?

Patterns & colors - the hallmarks of Moroccan design

Patterns & colors – the hallmarks of Moroccan design. Welcome Mat from World Market; Tieks shoes in Cardinal Red; Shower Curtain from Target.

 

While my Intrepid trip to Morocco certainly enhanced and inspired my personal decorating style, I’m still not too wild with colors and patterns, as you can tell. Where Moroccan design can be cacophonous, with 100 patterns and colors all jumbled together, I prefer muted accents, quiet colors (bright coral dresser aside!) and gentle patterns.

I see this first round of decorating as an experiment in personal design growth. If nothing else, that’s what travel is all about, right?

Bits & bobs in my world traveler-inspired apartment

Bits & bobs in my world traveler-inspired apartment. Globe clock from IKEA. Solar-powered Queen of England: gift from little sis

 

At the end of the day, or the end of an epic adventure, the bottom line is that travel is something that’s always a part of you… whether you’re a constant nomad or someone with a home base. Though I never expected it would be possible, my new place doesn’t feel like home because it happens to be located in the place where I grew up just a few miles from grandparents, siblings, parents and cousins.

It feels like home because it reminds me of where I’ve always felt at home: abroad. 

Finished DIY desk

Finished DIY desk & some favorite knick-knacks

Where the magic (aka work!) happens

Where the magic (aka work!) happens. Moroccan lantern from Target; Globe Bar from Amazon.com; Tray from IKEA; Travelocity Roaming Gnome courtesy of Travelocity.com

 

I know I’m not the only one to love both traveling AND home design. What country or region most inspired your design style?

COME AWAY WITH ME!
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  • May 07, 2013

    LOVE it! Good DIY job on that dresser. That’s amazing. I always love having trip inspiration at home. I’m dying to go to Morocco just to see all of the tiles. Great post. 🙂
    Natalie T. recently posted..AFAR: Where to Eat in ChicagoMy Profile

  • May 07, 2013

    Love it! I can definitely see all the Moroccan influences. I LOVE what you did with that desk!
    Amanda recently posted..Postcards from Eastern EuropeMy Profile

  • May 07, 2013

    Wow, that’s pretty impressive what you’ve done with the DIY projects. Morocco is definitely an inspiration, that’s for sure. My husband and I tried to do different themes for each room in our apartment … Mediterranean/Middle East for living room and African-themed bed room. I’ll definitely do things different next time, so thanks for the inspiration! I’m glad to hear it’s starting to feel like “home” for you. God bless.
    Ellen Billard recently posted..Reflections on the passing of a ragamuffinMy Profile

    • May 17, 2013

      I wanted to do a different country/region for each room, too, but I think I’ll save that idea for when I have more than one bedroom! Would love a breezy Bahamas bedroom and a Balinese bathroom! Someday 😉
      Angie Away recently posted..The Beautiful Traveler – May 2013 EditionMy Profile

  • May 07, 2013

    wow Im totally digging the jewelry holder idea!

    great designs! I love when travel influences personal style. I’ve got Turkish and Balinese touches goin on in my place thanks to travel…
    Annie of TravelShus recently posted..Photo Inspiration: Sleeping Mallard in NapervilleMy Profile

    • May 17, 2013

      I’m considering a jaunt back to Bali just to pick up gorgeous imported goodies for my place… I just know I could have a booming import business with all the amazing stuff I found in Indo!
      Angie Away recently posted..The Beautiful Traveler – May 2013 EditionMy Profile

  • May 07, 2013

    Oh my goodness. I love this! The only reason I even want a home one day is to fill is with goodies from or inspired by my travels. You’ve done a great job!
    Bobbi Lee Hitchon recently posted..The ‘Great Gatsby’ world tourMy Profile

  • May 07, 2013

    “I LOVE what you did with that desk” was my initial response but I realized someone else had just posted that above. lol After 3 months in Brazil, I found myself adding brighter colors to my wardrobe.

  • May 07, 2013

    I felt the same way moving into a new room when I got home – that blank canvas feeling. It’s amazing! I really love what you’ve accomplished with your place. The desk especially. I love the desk!
    Lindsey recently posted..Roadtripping BoholMy Profile

    • May 17, 2013

      Thank you! There’s nothing quite like starting from scratch, is there?

  • May 09, 2013
    amber

    LOVE IT! it looks awesome. can’t believe you’re back in Florida with an apartment. must be that fancy new car holding you in one place! xx

  • May 11, 2013

    I love how your trip has influenced your decor! I love buying things on trips that I can decorate my home with that will remind me of my travel adventures. One of my favorite travel momentos is my silk rug in my hallway that I purchased in Morocco.
    Katherine Belarmino – Travel the World recently posted..A Hindu Temple in Southern CaliforniaMy Profile

    • May 17, 2013

      I didn’t buy a whole lot of souvenirs while traveling – I just didn’t have the room in my bag – but I wish I did now! I think now that I’m taking shorter trips, I’ll be picking up much more goodies as I go =)

  • May 13, 2013

    I love how you’ve infused Moroccan style into your new apartment! Great job fixing up the dresser and desk; they look fantastic. How great that your surroundings conjure up fun memories of your travels!
    Erica recently posted..Starscape Over CoromandelMy Profile

  • May 13, 2013

    OMG, I love it all! Funny, while in Morocco for my third time, I was just saying that Moroccan design has always been my favorite, so I don’t think it’s necessarily just because it was your last country visited. And I have similar patterns to yours from West Elm and Z Gallerie, so clearly we’re in the majority with our love for Moroccan patterns!

    And girl, I am OBSESSED with your DIY furniture. Want to come to TN and do the same for some of mine? 😉
    Camels & Chocolate recently posted..Photo Friday: Florence, ItalyMy Profile

    • May 17, 2013

      I would LOVE to come DIY some furniture with you. Let’s set a date – that would be a blast!

  • May 15, 2013

    Wow, you’ve been a busy bee! Looks gorgeous. Morocco is the only place I’ve been where I brought back so many things for my home. I loved all the lanterns and bright cushions.
    Monica recently posted..A photo journey through Ostend, BelgiumMy Profile

    • May 17, 2013

      I wish I’d bought a cushion, but I just didn’t have space! Thinking of going back to Marrakech with an empty suitcase and a full wallet =)

  • June 30, 2013

    Oh. my. goodness. As a fellow travel and Pinterest lover, AND someone who just moved into her own place after years of travel and home-hopping, I am full-on geeking out over this. Your place is absolutely adorable – full of the same type of style and decor I have also been working on, but you are so much better at it. Thanks sooooo much for sharing this – I am so inspired! And enjoy your new pad! 🙂
    Becky recently posted..Happy 1-Year Anniversary!My Profile

    • August 06, 2013

      Thank you so much! I’m hoping to do some DIY posts in the coming months so maybe it’ll help as you decorate your place. =)

  • July 11, 2013

    Wow! You are so much inspired from Morocco. I have heard a lot about Trips to Morocco. Also was planning a visit last year but plans didn’t work. Now after reading your blog, I want even more to go Morocco. Thanks for sharing.

  • August 13, 2013

    Absolutely gorgeous!!! Love every little detail.
    Andi of My Beautiful Adventures recently posted..Ask Andi Anything + Giveaway (Part 5)My Profile

  • August 13, 2013

    Wow, Angie! I am seriously impressed. You did an amazing job with that dresser and desk. I love the whole look of your apartment. Very chic and looks like it should be in a magazine!
    Jennifer recently posted..The Curse of Castello di MiramareMy Profile

  • February 19, 2015

    The designs are amazing and very colorful, this is perfect for a bright colored living room or bedroom. These designs also perfect for carpet.

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